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SECOND DIVISION

GOVERNMENT SERVICE G.R. No. 170414


INSURANCE SYSTEM,
Petitioner,

- versus -

PACIFIC AIRWAYS CORPORATION,


ELY BUNGABONG, and
MICHAEL GALVEZ,
Respondents.
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PHILIPPINE AIRLINES, INC., G.R. No. 170418


ROGELIO CASIO, and
RUEL ISAAC,
Petitioners,

- versus -

PACIFIC AIRWAYS CORPORATION,


ELY BUNGABONG and
MICHAEL GALVEZ,
Respondents.
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AIR TRANSPORTATION OFFICE, G.R. No. 170460
DANILO ALZOLA, and
ERNESTO* LIM, Present:
Petitioners,
CARPIO, J., Chairperson,
PERALTA,
- versus - ABAD,
PEREZ,** and
MENDOZA, JJ.
PACIFIC AIRWAYS CORPORATION,
ELY BUNGABONG, and
MICHAEL GALVEZ,
Respondents,

GOVERNMENT SERVICE Promulgated:


INSURANCE SYSTEM,
Intervenor. August 25, 2010
x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - x

DECISION

CARPIO, J.:

The Case

Before the Court are three consolidated petitions for review[1] of the 28 October
2004 Decision[2] and the 15 November 2005 Resolution[3] of the Court of Appeals
in CA-G.R. CV No. 73214. The 28 October 2004 Decision affirmed the 27 July
2001 Decision[4] of the Regional Trial Court (Branch 112) of Pasay City. The 15
November 2005 Resolution modified the 28 October 2004 Decision of the Court of
Appeals.

The Antecedent Facts


On 2 April 1996, at around 6:45 p.m., the Twin Otter aircraft of Philippine
Airways Corporation (PAC) arrived at the Manila International Airport[5] from El
Nido, Palawan.[6] In command of the aircraft was Ely B. Bungabong.[7] With
Bungabong in the cockpit was Michael F. Galvez as co-pilot.[8]

Upon touchdown, the Twin Otter taxied along the runway and proceeded to the
Soriano Hangar to disembark its passengers.[9] After the last passenger
disembarked, PACs pilots started the engine of the Twin Otter in order to proceed
to the PAC Hangar located at the other end of the airport. [10] At around 7:18 p.m.,
Galvez contacted ground control to ask for clearance to taxi to taxiway
delta.[11] Rogelio Lim, ground traffic controller on duty at the Air Transportation
Office (ATO), issued the clearance on condition that he be contacted again upon
reaching taxiway delta intersection.[12]

PACs pilots then proceeded to taxi to taxiway delta at about 7:19 and 19
seconds.[13] Upon reaching the intersection of taxiway delta, Galvez repeated the
request to taxi to taxiway delta, which request was granted.[14] Upon reaching fox
1, Galvez requested clearance to make a right turn to fox 1 and to cross runway 13
in order to proceed to fox 1 bravo.[15] ATO granted the request.[16] At this point, the
Twin Otter was still 350 meters away from runway 13.[17] Upon reaching runway
13, PACs pilots did not make a full stop at the holding point to request clearance
right before crossing runway 13.[18] Without such clearance, PACs pilots proceeded
to cross runway 13.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Airlines (PAL) Boeing 737, manned by pilots Rogelio
Casio and Ruel Isaac, was preparing for take-off along runway 13. The PAL pilots
requested clearance to push and start[19] on runway 13. Ernesto Linog, Jr., air traffic
controller on duty at the ATO issued the clearance.[20] Subsequently, at 7:20 and 18
seconds, Linog, Jr. gave PALs Boeing 737 clearance to take off.[21] Pilots Casio
and Isaac then proceeded with the take-off procedure.[22] While already on take-off
roll, Casio caught a glimpse of the Twin Otter on the left side of the Boeing 737
about to cross runway 13.[23]

While the Twin Otter was halfway through runway 13, Galvez noticed the Boeing
737 and told Bungabong that an airplane was approaching them from the right
side.[24]Bungabong then said, Diyos ko po and gave full power to the Twin
Otter.[25] The PAL pilots attempted to abort the take-off by reversing the thrust of
the aircraft.[26] However, the Boeing 737 still collided with the Twin Otter.[27]

The Boeing 737 dragged the Twin Otter about 100 meters away.[28] When the Twin
Otter stopped, PACs pilots ran away from the aircraft for fear it might
explode.[29] While observing the Twin Otter from a safe distance, they saw
passengers running down from the Boeing 737.[30] When PACs pilots returned to
the aircraft to get their personal belongings, they saw that the Twin Otter was a
total wreck.[31]

At 7:21 and 2 seconds on that fateful evening, the PAL pilots informed ATOs
control tower that they had hit another aircraft, referring to the Twin
Otter.[32] Bungabong suffered sprain on his shoulder while Galvez had laceration
on his left thumb.[33] An ambulance brought the two pilots to Makati Medical
Center where they were treated for serious and slight physical injuries.[34]

On 7 May 1996, PAC, Bungabong, and Galvez filed in the Regional Trial Court
(Branch 112) of Pasay City a complaint[35] for sum of money and damages against
PAL, Casio, Isaac, ATO, Lim, Linog, Jr., and ATOs traffic control supervisor,
Danilo Alzola. The Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), as insurer of
the Boeing 737 that figured in the collision, intervened.

The Ruling of the Trial Court

The trial court ruled that the proximate cause of the collision was the negligence of
Alzola, Lim, and Linog, Jr., as ATOs traffic control supervisor, ground traffic
controller, and air traffic controller, respectively, at the time of the collision. The
trial court further held that the direct cause of the collision was the negligence
of Casio and Isaac, as the pilots of the Boeing 737 that collided with the Twin
Otter. The decretal portion of the trial courts decision reads:

PREMISES CONSIDERED, judgment is hereby rendered ordering defendants


Philippine Air Lines and its pilots, Rogelio Casio and Ruel Isaac, and Air
Transportation Office and its comptrollers, Danilo Alzola, Rogelio Lim and
Ernesto Linog, Jr., jointly and severally, to pay:

a) Plaintiff Pacific Airways Corporation the amount of Php15,000,000.00 and


the further amount of Php100,000.00 a day from April 2, 1996 until it is fully
reimbursed for the value of its RP-C1154 plane, as actual damages, and the
amount of Php3,000,000.00, as exemplary damages, and the amount of
Php1,000,000.00, as and for attorneys fees and expenses of litigation;

b) Plaintiffs Ely B. Bongabong[36] and Michael F. Galvez, the amount of


Php5,000.00 each, as actual damages; the amount of Php500,000.00, as and for
moral damages; Php500,000.00 as and for exemplary damages, and the amount
of Php50,000.00, as and for attorneys fees;

c) Defendants are, likewise, ordered to pay, jointly and severally, to plaintiffs


the costs of this suit.

SO ORDERED.[37]

PAL, Casio, Isaac, GSIS, ATO, Alzola, Lim, and Linog, Jr., all appealed the trial
courts Decision to the Court of Appeals.

The Ruling of the Court of Appeals

The Court of Appeals found that the trial court did not commit any reversible error.
In its 28 October 2004 decision, the Court of Appeals affirmed in toto the decision
of the trial court, thus:

WHEREFORE, the instant appeal is hereby DISMISSED. The decision of the


Regional Trial Court, Branch 112, Pasay City dated July 27, 2001 is hereby
AFFIRMED in toto.

SO ORDERED.[38]

PAL, Casio, Isaac, GSIS, ATO, Alzola, Lim, and Linog, Jr., filed their respective
motions for reconsideration. The appellate court denied for lack of merit all the
motions for reconsideration except the one filed by Linog, Jr.

The Court of Appeals gave weight to the 20 March 2003 Decision[39] on appeal of
the RTC (Branch 108) of Pasay City in Criminal Case No. 02-1979 acquitting
Linog, Jr., who was convicted in the original Decision together with Alzola and
Lim, of reckless imprudence resulting in damage to property with serious and
slight physical injuries in connection with the collision. Since Alzola and Lim did
not appeal, the judgment of conviction against them became final. Alzola and Lim
were sentenced to arresto mayor or imprisonment for two (2) months.[40]

The Court of Appeals reasoned that since the trial court in the criminal case has
ruled that Linog, Jr. was not negligent, then the act from which the civil liability
might arise did not exist. In its 15 November 2005 Resolution, the Court of
Appeals decreed:

WHEREFORE, the decision subject of the motions for reconsideration is


MODIFIED in that the case against defendant-appellant ERNESTO LINOG,
JR. is dismissed. The decision is AFFIRMED in all other respects.

SO ORDERED.[41]

Hence, the instant consolidated petitions for review.

In G.R. No. 170418, petitioners PAL, Casio, and Isaac argue that the Court of
Appeals should have applied the emergency rule instead of the last clear chance
doctrine. Petitioners claim that even if the PAL pilots were negligent, PAL had
exercised due diligence in the selection and supervision of its pilots.
Petitioners contend that the Court of Appeals awarded damages without any
specific supporting proof as required by law. Petitioners also claim that the Court
of Appeals should have awarded their counterclaim for damages.

In G.R. No. 170414, petitioner GSIS points out that PACs pilots were the ones
guilty of negligence as they violated the Rules of the Air, which provide that right
of way belongs to the aircraft on take-off roll and the aircraft on the right side of
another. GSIS stresses that such negligence was the proximate cause of the
collision. GSIS posits that PAC, Bungabong, and Galvez should be held solidarily
liable to pay GSIS the cost of repairing the insured aircraft.

In G.R. No. 170460, petitioners ATO, Alzola, and Lim call our attention to the fact
that PAC was a mere lessee, not the owner of the Twin Otter. They argue that
PAC, as mere lessee, was not the real party-in-interest in the complaint seeking
recovery for damages sustained by the Twin Otter. Petitioners maintain that ground
and air traffic clearances were the joint responsibility of ATO and the pilots-in-
command. Petitioners aver that Bungabong and Galvez were negligent in asking
for clearance to cross an active runway while still 350 meters away from the
runway. Petitioners claim that PAL had the right of way and that PACs pilots had
the last clear chance to prevent the collision.
The Issue

The sole issue for resolution is who among the parties is liable for negligence
under the circumstances.

The Courts Ruling


The petitions are meritorious.

In a petition for review under Rule 45, only questions of law may be raised. This
rule, however, admits of certain exceptions as when the judgment of the Court of
Appeals is premised on a misapprehension of facts or the Court of Appeals fails to
notice certain relevant facts which, if properly considered, will justify a different
conclusion.[42]

After thoroughly going over the evidence on record in this case, we are unable to
sustain the finding of fact and legal conclusion of the Court of Appeals.

To ascertain who among the parties is liable for negligence, we must refer to the
applicable rules governing the specific traffic management of aircrafts at an
airport. The Rules of the Air[43] of the Air Transportation Office apply to all
aircrafts registered in the Philippines.[44] The Boeing 737 and the Twin Otter in this
case were both registered in the Philippines. Both are thus subject to the Rules of
the Air. In case of danger of collision between two aircrafts, the Rules of the Air
state:

2.2.4.7 Surface Movement of Aircraft. In case of danger of collision


between two aircrafts taxiing on the maneuvering area of an aerodrome, the
following shall apply:

a) When two aircrafts are approaching head on, or approximately so, each shall
stop or where practicable, alter its course to the right so as to keep well clear.

b) When two aircrafts are on a converging course, the one which has the
other on its right shall give way.[45] (Emphasis supplied)
In this case, however, the Boeing 737 and the Twin Otter were not both taxiing at
the time of the collision. Only the Twin Otter was taxiing. The Boeing 737 was
already on take-off roll. The Rules of the Air provide:
2.2.4.6 Taking Off. An aircraft taxiing on the maneuvering area of an
aerodrome shall give way to aircraft taking off or about to take
off.[46] (Emphasis supplied)

Therefore, PALs aircraft had the right of way at the time of collision, not simply
because it was on the right side of PACs aircraft, but more significantly, because it
was taking off or about to take off.

PACs Pilots

For disregarding PALs right of way, PACs pilots were grossly negligent. Gross
negligence is one that is characterized by the want of even slight care, acting or
omitting to act in a situation where there is a duty to act, not inadvertently but
willfully and intentionally with a conscious indifference to consequences insofar as
other persons may be affected.[47]

We find it hard to believe that PACs pilots did not see the Boeing 737 when they
looked to the left and to the right before approaching the runway. It was a clear
summer evening in April and the Boeing 737, only 200 meters away, had its
inboard lights, outboard lights, taxi lights, and logo lights on before and during the
actual take-off roll.[48] The only plausible explanation why PACs pilots did not see
the Boeing 737 was that they did not really look to the left and to the right before
crossing the active runway.
Records show that PACs pilots, while still 350 meters away, prematurely requested
clearance to cross the active runway.[49] ATO points out that PACs pilots should
have made a full stop at the holding point to ask for updated clearance right before
crossing the active runway.[50] Had PACs pilots done so, ATO would by then be in
a position to determine if there was an aircraft on a take-off roll at the runway. The
collision would not have happened.

ATO, Alzola, Lim, and Linog, Jr.

The Rules of Air Control govern airplane traffic management and clearance at the
then Manila International Airport. It contains several provisions indicating that
airplane traffic management and clearance are not the sole responsibility of ATO
and its traffic controllers, but of the pilots-in-command of aircrafts as well. The
Rules of Air Control state:
1.3 The pilot-in-command of an aircraft shall, whether manipulating the
controls or not, be responsible for the operation of the aircraft in accordance
with the rules of the air, except that he may depart from these rules in
circumstances that render such departure absolutely necessary in the
interest of safety. (Emphasis supplied)

1.5 The pilot-in-command of an aircraft shall have final authority as to the


disposition of the aircraft while he is in command.[51] (Emphasis supplied)

3.1 Clearances are based solely on expediting and separating aircraft and do
not constitute authority to violate any applicable regulations for
promoting safety of flight operations or for any other purpose. (Emphasis
supplied)
xxxx
If an air traffic control clearance is not suitable to the pilot-in-command
of an aircraft, he may request, and, if practicable, obtain an amended
clearance. [52] (Emphasis supplied)

10.1.5 Clearances issued by controllers relate to traffic and aerodrome


conditions only and do not relieve a pilot of any responsibility whatsoever
in connection with a possible violation of applicable rules and
regulations.[53] (Emphasis supplied)

Therefore, even if ATO gave both PALs pilots and PACs pilots clearance to take
off and clearance to cross runway 13, respectively, it remained the primary
responsibility of the pilots-in-command to see to it that the respective clearances
given were suitable. Since the pilots-in-command have the final authority as to
the disposition of the aircraft, they cannot, in case a collision occurs, pass the
blame to ATO for issuing clearances that turn out to be unsuitable.

The clearance to cross runway 13, premature as it was, was not an absolute license
for PACs pilots to recklessly maneuver the Twin Otter across an active
runway. PACs pilots should have stopped first at the holding point to ask for
clearance to cross the active runway. It was wrong for them to have relied on a
prematurely requested clearance which was issued while they were still 350 meters
away. Their defense, that it did not matter whether the clearance was premature or
not as long as the clearance was actually granted,[54] only reveals their poor
judgment and gross negligence in the performance of their duties.

On the other hand, evidence on record shows that the air traffic controller properly
issued the clearance to take off to the Boeing 737. Nothing on record indicates any
irregularity in the issuance of the clearance. In fact, the trial court, in the criminal
case for reckless imprudence resulting in damage to property with serious and
slight physical injuries in connection with the collision, ruled that air traffic
controller Linog, Jr. was not negligent. The Court of Appeals, in its 15 November
2005 Resolution, absolved Linog, Jr. of civil liability for damages based on his
acquittal in the criminal case.

While Alzola and Lim, as found by the trial court in the criminal case for reckless
imprudence, may have been negligent in the performance of their functions, such
negligence is only contributory.[55] Their contributory negligence arises from their
granting the premature request of PACs pilots for clearance to cross runway 13
while the Twin Otter was still 350 meters away from runway 13. However, as
explained earlier, the granting of their premature request for clearance did not
relieve PACs pilots from complying with the Rules of the Air.

PALs Pilots

Records show that PALs pilots timely requested clearance to take off. Linog, Jr.,
ATOs air traffic controller, duly issued the clearance to take off.[56] Under the
Rules of the Air, PALs aircraft being on take-off roll undisputedly had the right of
way.[57] Further, the Rules of Air Control provide:

2.2.4.1 The aircraft that has the right of way shall maintain its heading and
speed, x x x. [58] (Emphasis supplied)

Thus, even if Casio noticed from the corner of his eye a small airplane taxiing on
the left side and approaching halfway of fox 1,[59] it was fairly reasonable for PALs
pilots to assume that they may proceed with the take-off because the taxiing
aircraft would naturally respect their right of way and not venture to cross the
active runway while the Boeing 737 was on take-off roll.
Applicable by analogy is the case of Santos v. BLTB,[60] where the Court applied
the principle that a motorist who is properly proceeding on his own side of the
highway, even after he sees an approaching motorist coming toward him on the
wrong side, is generally entitled to assume that the other motorist will return to his
proper lane of traffic.

Proximate Cause

After assiduously studying the records of this case and carefully weighing the
arguments of the parties, we are convinced that the immediate and proximate case
of the collision is the gross negligence of PACs pilots. Proximate cause is defined
as that cause, which, in natural and continuous sequence, unbroken by any efficient
intervening cause, produces the injury, and without which the result would not
have occurred.[61] In this case, the fact that PACs pilots disregarded PALs right of
way and did not ask for updated clearance right before crossing an active runway
was the proximate cause of the collision. Were it not for such gross negligence on
the part of PACs pilots, the collision would not have happened.

The Civil Code provides that when a plaintiffs own negligence is the immediate
and proximate cause of his injury, he cannot recover damages.
Art. 2179. When the plaintiffs own negligence was the immediate and
proximate cause of his injury, he cannot recover damages. But if his
negligence was only contributory, the immediate and proximate cause of the
injury being the defendants lack of due care, the plaintiff may recover
damages, but the courts shall mitigate the damages to be awarded. (Emphasis
supplied)
Under the law and prevailing jurisprudence,[62] PAC and its pilots, whose own
gross negligence was the immediate and proximate cause of their own injuries,
must bear the cost of such injuries. They cannot recover damages. Civil Case No.
96-0565 for sum of money and damages, which PAC, Bungabong, and Galvez
filed against PAL, Casio, Isaac, ATO, Alzola, Lim, and Linog, Jr. should have
been dismissed for lack of legal basis.

PALs Counterclaims
We find supported by law and evidence on record PALs counterclaim for actual or
compensatory damages but only in the amount of US$548,819.93 [63] representing
lease charges during the period the Boeing 737 was not flying. The said amount
cannot be claimed against the insurance policy covering the Boeing 737. In this
connection, the Civil Code provides:
Art. 2207. If the plaintiffs property has been insured, and he has received
indemnity from the insurance company for the injury or loss arising out of the
wrong or breach of contract complained of, the insurance company shall be
subrogated to the rights of the insured against the wrongdoer or the person who
has violated the contract. If the amount paid by the insurance company does
not fully cover the injury or loss, the aggrieved party shall be entitled to
recover the deficiency from the person causing the loss or injury.
(Emphasis supplied)

Under the law, GSIS, as insurer subrogee of PALs right to claim actual or
compensatory damages in connection with the repair of the damaged Boeing 737,
is entitled to reimbursement for the amount it advanced. GSIS claims
reimbursement for the amount of US$2,775,366.84.[64] In support of its claim,
GSIS presented statements of account, check vouchers, and invoices [65] proving
payment for the repair of the Boeing 737 in the total amount of US$2,775,366.84.
We find the claim fully supported by evidence on record and thus we resolve to
grant the same.

With regard to PALs other counterclaims, settled is the rule that the award of moral
and exemplary damages as well as attorneys fees is discretionary based on the facts
and circumstances of each case. The actual losses sustained by the aggrieved
parties and the gravity of the injuries must be considered in arriving at reasonable
levels.[66]Understandably, Casio and Isaac suffered sleepless nights and were
temporarily unable to work after the collision. They are thus entitled to moral
damages as well as exemplary damages considering that PACs pilots acted with
gross negligence.[67] Attorneys fees are generally not recoverable except when
exemplary damages are awarded[68] as in this case. We thus deem the amounts
of P100,000 in moral damages, P100,000 in exemplary damages, and P50,000 in
attorneys fees to be in accordance with prevailing jurisprudence and appropriate
given the circumstances.
WHEREFORE, we GRANT the petitions. We SET ASIDE the 28 October 2004
Decision and the 15 November 2005 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-
G.R. CV No. 73214 affirming in toto the 27 July 2001 Decision of the Regional
Trial Court (Branch 112) of Pasay City. However, we SUSTAIN the dismissal of
the case against Ernesto Linog, Jr.

Civil Case No. 96-0565 for sum of money and damages, filed by Pacific Airways
Corporation (PAC), Ely B. Bungabong, and Michael F. Galvez,
is DISMISSED for lack of legal basis.

Pacific Airways Corporation, Ely B. Bungabong, and Michael F. Galvez


are ORDERED to solidarily pay:

(1) Philippine Airlines, Inc. actual or compensatory damages in the amount of


US$548,819.93;
(2) Rogelio Casio and Ruel Isaac individually moral damages in the amount
of P100,000, exemplary damages in the amount of P100,000, and
attorneys fees in the amount of P50,000; and
(3) the Government Service Insurance System, as insurer subrogee of
Philippine Airlines, actual or compensatory damages in the amount
of US$2,775,366.84.

No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
WE CONCUR:

DIOSDADO M. PERALTA
Associate Justice

ROBERTO A. ABAD JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ


Associate Justice Associate Justice

JOSE C. MENDOZA
Associate Justice

ATTESTATION
I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation
before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.
ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
Chairperson

CERTIFICATION
Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, and the
Division Chairpersons Attestation, I certify that the conclusions in the above
Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the
writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.

RENATO C. CORONA
Chief Justice

*
Rogelio in some parts of the Records.
**
Designated additional member per Raffle dated 23 August 2010.
[1]
Under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court.
[2]
Rollo (G.R. No. 170414), pp. 11-35. Penned by Associate Justice Eloy R. Bello, Jr., with Associate Justices
Regalado E. Maambong and Lucenito N. Tagle, concurring.
[3]
Id. at 36-38. Penned by Associate Justice Mario L. Guarina III, with Associate Justices Roberto A. Barrios and
Mariflor Punzalan Castillo, concurring.
[4]
Id. at 155-180. Penned by Judge Manuel P. Dumatol.
[5]
Now Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
[6]
Stipulation of Facts. Records, p. 1503.
[7]
Bongabong in some parts of the Records. TSN, 6 October 1997, pp. 6-7
[8]
TSN, 6 October 1997, p. 6.
[9]
Id. at 9.
[10]
Id. at 10.
[11]
Id. at 11.
[12]
Id. at 12.
[13]
TSN, 12 October 1998, p. 32.
[14]
TSN, 6 October 1997, p. 12.
[15]
Id.
[16]
TSN, 12 October 1998, p. 33.
[17]
TSN, 7 January 1999, p. 15.
[18]
Records, p. 776.
[19]
TSN, 12 October 1998, p. 36.
Q: What is this push and start clearance?
A: Push and start clearance, when the aircraft is already ready the passenger they have to be pushed to the
starting point and start the engine.
[20]
Id. at 36-37.
[21]
Id. at 38.
[22]
Id. at 37.
[23]
TSN, 17 May 1999, p. 55.
[24]
TSN, 6 October 1997, pp. 15-16.
[25]
Id. at 16.
[26]
TSN, 8 June 2000, pp. 17-18.
[27]
TSN, 16 June 1999, pp. 4-5.
[28]
TSN, 6 October 1997, p. 17.
[29]
Id.
[30]
Id. at 18.
[31]
Id. at 19.
[32]
TSN, 12 October 1998, p. 38.
[33]
TSN, 6 October 1997, pp. 19-20.
[34]
Id. at 20.
[35]
Records, pp. 1-11.
[36]
See note 7.
[37]
Records, pp. 1495-1520.
[38]
Rollo (G.R. No. 170414), p. 206.
[39]
Rollo (G.R. No. 170418), pp. 144-150. Penned by Judge Priscilla C. Mijares.
[40]
Id. at 146.
[41]
Rollo (G.R. No. 170414), p. 38.
[42]
MEA Builders, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 490 Phil. 565 (2005).
[43]
Formally offered by ATO as Exhibit 9.
[44]
1.1.1 of the Rules of the Air.
[45]
Records, p. 779.
[46]
Id.
[47]
Magaling v. Ong, G.R. No. 173333, 13 August 2008, 562 SCRA 152.
[48]
TSN, 17 May 1999, pp. 45-49.
[49]
TSN, 7 January 1999, pp. 14-15.
[50]
Rollo (G.R. No. 170460), ATOs Memorandum, pp. 640-641.
[51]
Records, p. 777.
[52]
Id. at 776.
[53]
Id. at 778.
[54]
Rollo (G.R. No. 170418), p. 178. Consolidated Comment of Respondents, p. 20.
[55]
Ramos v. C.O.L. Realty Corporation, G.R. No. 184905, 28 August 2009, 597 SCRA 526.
[56]
TSN, 12 October 1998, pp. 36-37.
[57]
Records, p. 779.
[58]
Id.
[59]
TSN, 17 May 1999, pp. 60-61.
[60]
145 Phil. 422 (1970).
[61]
Ramos v. C.O.L. Realty Corporation, supra note 55.
[62]
Id.
[63]
Rollo (G.R. No. 170418), p. 373. Defendants Formal Offer of Exhibits, Exhibit 29, p. 25.
[64]
Rollo (G.R. No. 170414), p. 723.
[65]
Records, pp. 1439, 1450. Defendants Formal Offer of Exhibits, Exhibit 24-b, p. 16.
[66]
Pleno v. Court of Appeals, 244 Phil. 213 (1988).
[67]
Article 2231 of the Civil Code provides:

Art. 2231. In quasi-delicts, exemplary damages may be granted if the defendant acted with gross negligence.
[68]
Article 2208 of the Civil Code provides:

Art. 2208. In the absence of stipulation, attorneys fees and expenses of litigation, other than judicial costs,
cannot be recovered, except:
(1) When exemplary damages are awarded;
xxxx

THIRD DIVISION

CRESENCIO BAO AND HEIRS OF THE G.R. No. 191703


DECEASED AMANCIO ASUMBRADO,
NAMELY: ROSALINDA ASUMBRADO,
VICENTE ASUMBRADO, ROEL Present:
ASUMBRADO, ANNALYN ASUMBRADO,
ARNIEL ASUMBRADO, ALFIE
ASUMBRADO and RUBELYN
ASUMBRADO, VELASCO, JR., J., Chairperson
Petitioners,
PERALTA,

- versus - ABAD,

MENDOZA, and
BACHELOR EXPRESS, INC./ CERES
LINER, INC. and WENIFREDO SALVAA, PERLAS-BERNABE, JJ.
Respondents.
Promulgated:

March 12, 2012

x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - x

DECISION

PERLAS-BERNABE, J.:

This petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court assails the
February 20, 2009 Decision and February 9, 2010 Resolution of the Court of Appeals
1 2

(CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 00190, which reduced the amount of damages awarded to
petitioners by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Tagum City, Branch 30 in its June
30, 2004 Decision. 3

The Facts
In the early afternoon of November 6, 1993, respondent Wenifredo Salvaa
(Salvaa) was driving the bus owned by respondent Bachelor Express, Inc./Ceres
Liner, Inc. with plate number LVD-273 and body number 4042 (Bus 4042) along the
national highway at Magdum, Tagum City bound for Davao City. At about 1:20 in the
afternoon, he overtook a Lawin PUJ jeepney while negotiating a blind curve in a
descending road at Km. 60, causing him to intrude into the opposite lane and bump
the 10-wheeler Hino dump truck of petitioner Cresencio Bao (Bao) running uphill
from the opposite direction. The collision resulted in damage to both vehicles, the
subsequent death of the truck driver, Amancio Asumbrado (Asumbrado), and serious
physical injuries to bus driver Salvaa.

On March 11, 1994, Bao and the heirs of Asumbrado (collectively called
petitioners) filed a complaint for quasi-delict, damages and attorney's fees against
4

respondents, accusing Salvaa of negligently driving Bus 4042 causing it to collide


with the dump truck.

Respondents denied liability, claiming that prior to the collision, Bus 4042 was
running out of control because of a problem in the steering wheel system which could
not have been avoided despite their maintenance efforts. Instead, they claimed that
Asumbrado had the last clear chance to avoid the collision had he not driven the dump
truck at a very fast speed.

The RTC Decision

After due proceedings, the RTC found that the immediate and proximate cause
of the accident was the reckless negligence of the bus driver, Salvaa, in attempting to
overtake a jeepney along a descending blind curve and completely invading the
opposite lane. The photographs taken immediately after the collision, the Traffic
Accident and Investigation Report, and the Sketch all showed the dump truck at the
shoulder of its proper lane while the bus was positioned diagonally in the same lane
with its right side several feet from the center line.

Having established the negligence of its employee, the presumption of fault or


negligence on the part of the employer, respondent Bachelor Express, Inc./Ceres
Liner, Inc., arose, which it failed to rebut by evidence that it exercised due diligence
in the selection and supervision of its bus driver Salvaa. The RTC thus disposed of the
case as follows:

In View Of All The Foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered in


favor of the plaintiffs and against the defendants; ordering the
defendants to solidarily pay:

1. To plaintiff Cresencio Bao -

(a) P700,000.00, as payment for his Hino dump truck


which was rendered a total wreck;

(b) P296,601.50 per month, as loss of earning of the Hino


dump truck, to be computed from November 6, 1993 with
legal interest thereon until the P700,000.00 mentioned in
the next preceding number will be fully paid by the
defendants to plaintiff Cresencio Bao;

(c) P100,000.00 and P50,000.00, as moral damages and


exemplary damages, respectively;

2. To the Heirs of the late Amancio Asumbrado -

(a) P50,000.00, as civil indemnity for the death of


Amancio Asumbrado;
(b) P20,268.45, as reimbursement for the medicines,
hospitalization and funeral expenses incurred by the late
Amancio Asumbrado;

(c) P576,000.00, as loss of earning capacity of the late


Amancio Asumbrado;

(d) P100,000.00 and P50,000.00, as moral damages and


exemplary damages, respectively;

3. To the Plaintiffs -

(a) P25,000.00, as reimbursement of the expenses incurred


initially by them in the preparation of this complaint and
other expenses in instituting the suit;

(b) Attorney's fee in the sum of equivalent to 25% of


plaintiffs' total claim against the defendants plus
P14,500.00, as appearance fees;

(c) Costs of suit.

SO ORDERED. 5

The CA Ruling

On appeal, the CA affirmed the RTC's findings on respondents' negligence and


liability for damages, but deleted the separate awards of exemplary damages in favor
of petitioners for their failure to prove that respondents acted with gross negligence.
Similarly, the appellate court deleted the awards for the value of and lost
income from the dump truck for lack of sufficient basis, awarding in their stead
temperate damages in the sums of P100,000.00 and P200,000.00, respectively. The
CA also deleted the award of moral damages to Bao for the damage to his property.

With respect to petitioner Heirs, the CA reduced the RTC's awards of actual
damages representing the hospital and funeral expenses from P20,268.45 to
P19,136.90; loss of earning capacity from P576,000.00 to P415,640.16; and moral
damages from P100,000.00 to P50,000.00.

Finally, the appellate court deleted the award of litigation expenses and reduced
the award of attorney's fees from 25% of petitioners' claims to P50,000.00.

The Issues Before The Court

In the instant petition, petitioners posit that respondent Salvaa was grossly negligent
in continuing to drive the bus even after he had discovered the malfunction in its
steering wheel. They further averred that the CA erred in reducing the amounts of
damages awarded by the RTC despite sufficient evidence.

The Court's Ruling


While the courts a quo, in their respective decisions, have concurred that the
proximate cause of the collision was the negligence of the bus driver, Salvaa, in
overtaking the jeepney in front as the bus traversed a curve on the highway, they,
however, imputed varied degrees of negligence on him. Thus, although the issue of
negligence is basically factual, the Court may properly pass upon this question under
6

Rule 45 of the Rules of Court.

In the case of Government Service Insurance System v. Pacific Airways


Corporation, the Court has defined gross negligence as one that is characterized by
7

the want of even slight care, acting or omitting to act in a situation where there is a
duty to act, not inadvertently but willfully and intentionally with a conscious
indifference to consequences insofar as other persons may be affected.

In the present case, records show that when bus driver Salvaa overtook the jeepney in
front of him, he was rounding a blind curve along a descending road. Considering the
road condition, and that there was only one lane on each side of the center line for the
movement of traffic in opposite directions, it

would have been more prudent for him to confine his bus to its proper place. Having
thus encroached on the opposite lane in the process of overtaking the jeepney, without
ascertaining that it was clear of oncoming traffic that resulted in the collision with the
approaching dump truck driven by deceased Asumbrado, Salvaa was grossly
negligent in driving his bus. He was remiss in his duty to determine that the road was
clear and not to proceed if he could not do so in safety.8

Consequently, the CA erred in deleting the awards of exemplary damages, which the
law grants to serve as a warning to the public and as a deterrent against the repetition
of similar deleterious actions. However, the award should be tempered as it is not
intended to enrich one party or to impoverish another. Thus, the Court reinstates
9

the separate awards of exemplary damages to petitioners in the amount of


P50,000.00.
With respect to Bao, the award of moral damages for the loss of his dump truck was
correctly deleted since the damage to his vehicle was not shown to have been made
willfully or deliberately. However, the Court finds the grant of P100,000.00 as
10

temperate damages for the damaged vehicle to be insufficient considering its type as a
10-wheeler dump truck and its good running condition at the time of the incident.
Instead, the Court finds the amount of P400,000.00 as fair and reasonable under the
circumstances. With respect to the adjudged lost income from the dump truck, the
Court sustains, for being just and equitable, the award of temperate damages in the
sum of P200,000.00.

On the other hand, the Court upholds the grant to petitioner Heirs of P19,136.90 as
actual damages corresponding to the pecuniary loss that they have actually sustained,
P50,000.00 as death indemnity, the reduced awards of P50,000.00 as moral damages
and P415,640.16 as loss of earning capacity of the deceased Asumbrado, which are all
in conformity with prevailing jurisprudence.11

Finally, the attorney's fees of P50,000.00 as awarded by the CA is increased


to P100,000.00 considering the length of time that this case has been pending, or a
period of about 18 years since the complaint a quo was filed on March 11, 1994.

WHEREFORE, the assailed February 20, 2009 Decision and February 9, 2010
Resolution of the Court of Appeals
are AFFIRMED with MODIFICATIONS. Respondents are ordered to solidarily
pay:

(1) petitioner Heirs of Amancio Asumbrado:


(a) P19,136.90 as actual damages representing hospital and
funeral expenses;
(b) P415,640.16 as loss of earning capacity of the deceased
Asumbrado;
(c) P50,000.00 as death indemnity;
(d) P50,000.00 as moral damages; and
(e) P50,000.00 as exemplary damages.

(2) petitioner Cresencio Bao:

(a) P400,000.00 as temperate damages for his damaged dump truck;

(b) P200,000.00 as lost income of the said truck; and

(c) P50,000.00 as exemplary damages.

(3) attorney's fees of P100,000.00 to petitioners collectively.

SO ORDERED.

ESTELA M. PERLAS-BERNABE

Associate Justice
WE CONCUR:

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.

Associate Justice

Chairperson

DIOSDADO M. PERALTA ROBERTO A. ABAD

Associate Justice Associate Justice

JOSE C. MENDOZA

Associate Justice
ATTESTATION

I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation
before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court's Division.

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.

Associate Justice

Chairperson, Third Division

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, and the Division
Chairperson's Attestation, I certify that the conclusions in the above Decision had
been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion
of the Court's Division.
RENATO C. CORONA

Chief Justice
1 Penned by Associate Justice Michael P. Elbinias and concurred in by Associate Justices Rodrigo F. Lim, Jr. and
Ruben C. Ayson; Rollo, pp. 42-55.

2 Id. at pp. 96-97.

3 RTC records, pp. 735-754.

4 Id. at pp. 1-9.

5 Supra note 3, at pp. 753-754.

6 Vallacar Transit, Inc. v. Catubig, G.R. No. 175512, May 30, 2011, 649 SCRA 281.

7 G.R. No. 170414, August 25, 2010, 629 SCRA 219, 230.

8 Section 41(a), Republic Act No. 4136 otherwise known as the Land and Transportation and Traffic Code, as
amended provides:

Section 41. Restrictions on overtaking and passing.

(a) The driver of a vehicle shall not drive to the left side of the center line of a highway in overtaking or passing
another vehicle proceeding in the same direction, unless such left side is clearly visible, and is free of oncoming
traffic for a sufficient distance ahead to permit such overtaking or passing to be made in safety.

xxx

9 Tan v. OMC Carriers, Inc., G.R. No. 190521, January 12, 2011, 639 SCRA 471, 485.

10 B.F. Metal (Corporation) v. Lomotan, G.R. No. 170813, April 16, 2008, 551 SCRA 618, 630-631.

11 OMC Carriers, Inc. v. Nabua, G.R. No. 148974, July 2, 2010, 622 SCRA 624, 639-641; Philippine Hawk
Corporation v. Lee, G.R. No. 166869, February 16, 2010, 612 SCRA 576, 591-592.
THIRD DIVISION

[ G.R. No. 178467, April 26, 2017 ]

SPS. CRISTINO & EDNA CARBONELL, PETITIONERS, VS.


METROPOLITAN BANK AND TRUST COMPANY, RESPONDENT.

DECISION
BERSAMIN, J.:
The petitioners assail the decision promulgated on December 7,
2006,[1] whereby the Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed with modification the
decision rendered on May 22, 1998[2] by the Regional Trial Court, Branch
157, in Pasig City (RTC) dismissing the petitioners' complaint in Civil Case
No. 65725 for its lack of merit, and awarded attorney's fees under the
respondent's counterclaim.

Antecedents

The petitioners initiated against the respondent Civil Case No. 65725, an
action for damages, alleging that they had experienced emotional shock,
mental anguish, public ridicule, humiliation, insults and embarrassment
during their trip to Thailand because of the respondent's release to them of
five US$100 bills that later on turned out to be counterfeit. They claimed
that they had travelled to Bangkok, Thailand after withdrawing
US$1,000.00 in US$100 notes from their dollar account at the
respondent's Pateros branch; that while in Bangkok, they had exchanged
five US$100 bills into Baht, but only four of the US$100 bills had been
accepted by the foreign exchange dealer because the fifth one was "no
good;" that unconvinced by the reason for the rejection, they had asked a
companion to exchange the same bill at Norkthon Bank in Bangkok; that
the bank teller thereat had then informed them and their companion that
the dollar bill was fake; that the teller had then confiscated the US$100 bill
and had threatened to report them to the police if they insisted in getting
the fake dollar bill back; and that they had to settle for a Foreign Exchange
Note receipt.[3]

The petitioners claimed that later on, they had bought jewelry from a shop
owner by using four of the remaining US$100 bills as payment; that on the
next day, however, they had been confronted by the shop owner at the hotel
lobby because their four US$100 bills had turned out to be counterfeit; that
the shop owner had shouted at them: "You Filipinos, you are all cheaters!;"
and that the incident had occurred within the hearing distance of tel low
travelers and several foreigners.

The petitioners continued that upon their return to the Philippines, they
had confronted the manager of the respondent's Pateros branch on the fake
dollar bills, but the latter had insisted that the dollar bills she had released
to them were genuine inasmuch as the bills had come from the head office;
that in order to put the issue to rest, the counsel of the petitioners had
submitted the subject US$100 bills to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas
(BSP) for examination; that the BSP had certified that the four US$100 bills
were near perfect genuine notes;[4] and that their counsel had explained by
letter their unfortunate experience caused by the respondent's release of
the fake US dollar bills to them, and had demanded moral damages of P10
Million and exemplary damages.[5]

The petitioners then sent a written notice to the respondent, attaching the
BSP certification and informing the latter that they were giving it five days
within which to comply with their demand, or face court action.[6] In
response, the respondent's counsel wrote to the petitioners on March 1996
expressing sympathy with them on their experience but stressing that the
respondent could not absolutely guarantee the genuineness of each and
every foreign currency note that passed through its system; that it had also
been a victim like them; and that it had exercised the diligence required in
dealing with foreign currency notes and in the selection and supervision of
its employees.[7]
Prior to the filing of the suit in the RTC, the petitioners had two meetings
with the respondent's representatives. In the course of the two meetings,
the latter's representatives reiterated their sympathy and regret over the
troublesome experience that the petitioners had encountered, and offered
to reinstate US$500 in their dollar account, and, in addition, to underwrite
a round-trip all-expense-paid trip to Hong Kong, but they were adamant
and staged a walk-out.[8]

In its judgment rendered on May 22, 1998,[9] the RTC ruled in favor of the
respondent, disposing as follows:

WHEREFORE, in the light of all the foregoing, judgment is hereby


rendered:

1. Dismissing plaintiffs complaint for lack of merit;

2. On the counterclaim, awarding Metrobank the amount of


P20,000.00 as attorney's fees.

SO ORDERED.[10]

The petitioners appealed, but the CA ultimately promulgated its assailed


decision on December 7, 2006 affirming the judgment of the RTC with the
modification of deleting the award of attorney's fees,[11] to wit:

As to the award of attorneys fees, we agree with appellants that there is


simply no factual and legal basis thereto. Unquestionably, appellants filed
the present case for the humiliation and embarrassment they suffered in
Bangkok. They instituted the complaint in their honest belief that they were
entitled to damages as a result of appellee's issuance of counterfeit dollar
notes. Such being the case, they should not be made answerable to
attorney's fees. It is not good public policy to put a premium on the right to
litigate where such right is exercised in good faith, albeit erroneously.

WHEREFORE, the appealed decision is AFFIRMED with modification


that the award of attorney's tees is deleted.

SO ORDERED.

Issues

Hence, this appeal, with the petitioners contending that the CA gravely
erred in affirming the judgment of the RTC. They insist that inasmuch as
the business of banking was imbued with public interest, the respondent's
failure to exercise the degree of diligence required in handling the affairs of
its clients showed that it was liable not just for simple negligence but for
misrepresentation and bad faith amounting to fraud; that the CA erred in
giving weight and relying on the news clippings allegedly showing that the
"supernotes" had deceived even the U.S. Secret Service and Central
Intelligence Agency, for such news were not based on facts.[12]

Ruling of the Court

The appeal is partly meritorious.

The General Banking Act of 2000 demands of banks the highest standards
of integrity and performance. As such, the banks are under obligation to
treat the accounts of their depositors with meticulous care.[13] However, the
banks' compliance with this degree of diligence is to be determined in
accordance with the particular circumstances of each case.

The petitioners argue that the respondent was liable for failing to observe
the diligence required from it by not doing an act from which the material
damage had resulted by reason of inexcusable lack of precaution in the
performance of its duties.[14] Hence, the respondent was guilty of gross
negligence, misrepresentation and bad faith amounting to fraud.

The petitioners' argument is unfounded.

Gross negligence connotes want of care in the performance of one's duties;


it is a negligence characterized by the want of even slight care, acting or
omitting to act in a situation where there is duty to act, not inadvertently
but wilfully and intentionally, with a conscious indifference to
consequences insofar as other persons may be affected. It evinces a
thoughtless disregard of consequences without exerting any effort to avoid
them.[15]

In order for gross negligence to exist as to warrant holding the respondent


liable therefor, the petitioners must establish that the latter did not exert
any effort at all to avoid unpleasant consequences, or that it wilfully and
intentionally disregarded the proper protocols or procedure in the handling
of US dollar notes and in selecting and supervising its employees.

The CA and the RTC both found that the respondent had exercised the
diligence required by law in observing the standard operating procedure, in
taking the necessary precautions for handling the US dollar bills in
question, and in selecting and supervising its employees.[16] Such factual
findings by the trial court are entitled to great weight and respect especially
after being affirmed by the appellate court, and could be overturned only
upon a showing of a very good reason to warrant deviating from them.
In this connection, it is significant that the BSP certified that the falsity of
the US dollar notes in question, which were "near perfect genuine notes,"
could be detected only with extreme difficulty even with the exercise of due
diligence. Ms. Nanette Malabrigo, BSP's Senior Currency Analyst, testified
that the subject dollar notes were "highly deceptive" inasmuch as the paper
used for them were similar to that used in the printing of the genuine notes.
She observed that the security fibers and the printing were perfect except
for some microscopic defects, and that all lines were clear, sharp and well
defined.[17]

Nonetheless, the petitioners contend that the respondent should be liable


for moral and exemplary damages[18] on account of their suffering the
unfortunate experience abroad brought about by their use of the take US
dollar bills withdrawn from the latter.

The contention cannot be upheld.

The relationship existing between the petitioners and the respondent that
resulted from a contract of loan was that of a creditor-debtor.[19] Even if the
law imposed a high standard on the latter as a bank by virtue of the
fiduciary nature of its banking business, bad faith or gross negligence
amounting to bad faith was absent. Hence, there simply was no legal basis
for holding the respondent liable for moral and exemplary damages. In
breach of contract, moral damages may be awarded only where the
defendant acted fraudulently or in bad faith. That was not true herein
because the respondent was not shown to have acted fraudulently or in bad
faith. This is pursuant to Article 2220 of the Civil Code, to wit:

Article 2220. Willful injury to property may be a legal ground for awarding
moral damages if the court should find that, under the circumstances, such
damages are justly due. The same rule applies to breaches of
contract where defendant acted fraudulently or in bad faith.
With the respondent having established that the characteristics of the
subject dollar notes had made it difficult even for the BSP itself as the
country's own currency note expert to identify the counterfeiting with ease
despite adhering to all the properly laid out standard operating procedure
and precautions in the handling of US dollar bills, holding it liable for
damages in favor of the petitioners would be highly unwarranted in the
absence of proof of bad faith, malice or fraud on its part. That it formally
apologized to them and even offered to reinstate the USD$500.00 in their
account as well as to give them the all-expense-paid round trip ticket to
Hong Kong as means to assuage their inconvenience did not necessarily
mean it was liable. In civil cases, an offer of compromise is not an
admission of liability, and is inadmissible as evidence against the offeror.[20]

Even without taking into consideration the news clippings to the effect that
the US Secret Service and Central Intelligence Agency had themselves been
deceived by the 1990 series of the US dollar notes infamously known as the
"supernotes," the record had enough to show in that regard, not the least of
which was the testimony of Ms. Malabrigo as BSP's Senior Currency
Analyst about the highly deceptive nature of the subject US dollar notes and
the possibility for them to pass undetected.

Also, the petitioners' allegation of misrepresentation on the part of the


respondent was factually unsupported. They had been satisfied with the
services of the respondent for about three years prior to the incident in
question.[21] The incident was but an isolated one. Under the law, moral
damages for culpa contractual or breach of contract are recoverable only if
the defendant acted fraudulently or in bad faith, or is found guilty of gross
negligence amounting to bad faith, or in wanton disregard of his
contractual obligations.[22]The breach must be wanton, reckless, malicious
or in bad faith, oppressive or abusive.[23] In order to maintain their action
for damages, the petitioners must establish that their injury resulted from a
breach of duty that the respondent had owed to them, that is, there must be
the concurrence of injury caused to them as the plaintiffs and legal
responsibility on the part of the respondent. Underlying the award of
damages is the premise that an individual was injured in contemplation of
law. In this regard, there must first be a breach of some duty and the
imposition of liability for that breach before damages may be awarded; and
the breach of such duty should be the proximate cause of the injury.[24] That
was not so in this case.

It is true that the petitioners suffered embarrassment and humiliation in


Bangkok. Yet, we should distinguish between damage and injury. In The
Orchard Golf & Country Club, Inc. v. Yu[25] the Court has fittingly pointed
out the distinction, viz.:

x x x Injury is the illegal invasion of a legal right, damage is the loss, hurt, or
harm which results from the injury; and damages are the recompense or
compensation awarded for the damage suffered. Thus, there can be damage
without injury in those instances in which the loss or harm was not the
result of a violation of a legal duty. These situations are often
called damnum absque injuria. [26]

In every situation of damnum absque injuria, therefore, the injured person


alone bears the consequences because the law affords no remedy for
damages resulting from an act that does not amount to a legal injury or
wrong. For instance, in BPI Express Card Corporation v. Court of
Appeals,[27] the Court turned down the claim for damages of a cardholder
whose credit card had been cancelled after several defaults in
payment, holding therein that there could be damage without injury where
the loss or harm was not the result of a violation of a legal duty towards the
plaintiff. In such situation, the injured person alone should bear the
consequences because the law afforded no remedy for damages resulting
from an act that did not amount to a legal injury or wrong.[28] Indeed, the
lack of malice in the conduct complained of precluded the recovery of
damages.[29]
Here, although the petitioners suffered humiliation resulting from their
unwitting use of the counterfeit US dollar bills, the respondent, by virtue of
its having observed the proper protocols and procedure in handling the US
dollar bills involved, did not violate any legal duty towards them. Being
neither guilty of negligence nor remiss in its exercise of the degree of
diligence required by law or the nature of its obligation as a banking
institution, the latter was not liable for damages. Given the situation being
one of damnum absque injuria, they could not be compensated for the
damage sustained.

WHEREFORE, the Court AFFIRMS the decision promulgated on


December 7, 2006; and ORDERS the petitioners to pay the costs of suit.

SO ORDERED.

Velasco, Jr., (Chairperson), Reyes, Jardeleza, and Tijam, JJ., concur.

NOTICE OF JUDGMENT

Sirs /Mesdames:

Please take notice that on April 26, 2017 a Decision, copy attached hereto,
was rendered by the Supreme Court in the above-entitled case, the original
of which was received by this Office on June 6, 2017 at 9:11 a.m.
Very truly yours,

(SGD.) WILFREDO V. LAPITAN


Division Clerk of Court

Rollo, pp. 35-50; penned by Associate Justice Lucenito N. Tagle (retired)


[1]

and concurred in by Associate Justice Roberto A. Barrios (retired) and


Associate Justice Mario L. Guariña III (retired).

[2] Id. at 53-61; penned by Judge Vivencio S. Baclig (retired).

[3] Id. at 35-37.

[4] Id. at 37-38.

[5] Id. at 38.

[6] Id. at 38.

[7] Id. at 38-39.

[8] Id. at 55.

[9] Supra note 2.

[10] Id. at 48-50.

[11] Supra note 1.

[12] Id. at 18-19.


Philippine Savings Bank v. Chowking Food Corporation, G.R. No.
[13]

177526, July 4, 2008. 557 SCRA 318, 331.

[14] Rollo, p. 26.

Comsaving Banks (now GSIS Family Bank) v. Capistrano, G.R. No.


[15]

170942. August 28, 2013, 704 SCRA 72, 87-88.

[16] Rollo, p. 59.

[17] Id. at 56-58.

[18] Id. at 29-30.

Article 1980 of the Civil Code provides that fixed, savings, current
[19]

deposits of money in banks and similar institutions shall be governed by


the provisions concerning simple loan.

[20] Section 27, Rule 130 of the Rules of Court pertinently states:

Section 27. Offer of compromise not admissible.- In civil cases, an offer of


compromise is not an admission of any liability, and is not admissible in
evidence against the offeror. xxxx

[21] Rollo, pp. 60-61.

Philippine Telegraph & Telephone Corp. v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No.


[22]

139268, September 3, 2002, 388 SCRA 270, 276-277.

Equitable Banking Corporation v. Calderon, G.R. No. 156168;


[23]

December 14, 2004, 446 SCRA 271, 277.

BPI Express Card v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 120639, September 25,
[24]

1998, 296 SCRA 260, 273.


[25] G.R. No. 191033, January 11, 2016, 778 SCRA 404.

Id. at421, citing Custodio v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 116100,


[26]

February 9, 1996, 253 SCRA 483, 490.

[27] Supra, note 24.

[28] Id. at 272-273.

Lagon v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 119107, March 18, 2005, 453 SCRA
[29]

616, 628.

VELASCO JR., J.:


The Case

This is a petition filed under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court assailing the
Decision and Resolution dated January 22, 2013[1] and November 7,
2013,[2] respectively, of the Court of Appeals, Cagayan De Oro City (CA), in
CA-G.R. CV No. 00911-MIN. The CA Decision reversed the Decision dated
September 14, 2004[3] of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 33 in Davao City-
(RTC) in Civil Case No. 27,354-99, a suit for damages thereat which Nilo B.
Rosit (Rosit) commenced against Dr. Rolando Gestuvo (Dr. Gestuvo).

Factual Antecedents

On January 15, 1999, Rosit figured in a motorcycle accident. The X-ray


soon taken the next day at the Davao Doctors Hospital (DDH) showed that
he fractured his jaw. Rosit was then referred to Dr. Gestuvo, a specialist in
mandibular injuries,[4] who, on January 19, 1999, operated on Rosit.

During the operation, Dr. Gestuvo used a metal plate fastened to the jaw
with metal screws to immobilize the mandible. As the operation required
the smallest screws available, Dr. Gestuvo cut the screws on hand to make
them smaller. Dr. Gestuvo knew that there were smaller titanium screws
available in Manila, but did not so inform Rosit supposing that the latter
would not be able to afford the same.[5]

Following the procedure, Rosit could not properly open and close his
mouth and was in pain. X-rays done on Rosit two (2) days after the
operation showed that the fracture in his jaw was aligned but the screws
used on him touched his molar. Given the X-ray results, Dr. Gestuvo
referred Rosit to a dentist. The dentist who checked Rosit, Dr. Pangan,
opined that another operation is necessary and that it is to be performed in
Cebu.[6]

Alleging that the dentist told him that the operation conducted on his
mandible was improperly done, Rosit went back to Dr. Gestuvo to demand
a loan to defray the cost of the additional operation as well as the expenses
of the trip to Cebu. Dr. Gestuvo gave Rosit P4,500.

Rosit went to Cebu on February 19, 1999, still suffering from pain and could
hardly open his mouth.

In Cebu, Dr. Pangan removed the plate and screws thus installed by Dr.
Gestuvo and replaced them with smaller titanium plate and screws. Dr.
Pangan also extracted Rosit's molar that was hit with a screw and some
bone fragments. Three days after the operation, Rosit was able to eat and
speak well and could open and close his mouth normally.[7]

On his return to Davao, Rosit demanded that Dr. Gestuvo reimburse him
for the cost of the operation and the expenses he incurred in Cebu
amounting to P140,000, as well as for the P50,000 that Rosit would have to
spend for the removal of the plate and screws that Dr. Pangan installed. Dr.
Gestuvo refused to pay.[8]

Thus, Rosit filed a civil case for damages and attorney's fees with the RTC
against Dr. Gestuvo and DDH, the suit docketed as Civil Case No. 27,354-
99.

The Ruling of the Regional Trial Court


The RTC freed DDH from liability on the ground that it exercised the
proper diligence in the selection and supervision of Dr. Gestuvo, but
adjudged Dr. Gestuvo negligent and ruled, thus:

FOR ALL THE FOREGOING, finding the plaintiff Nilo B. Rosit to have
preponderantly established his cause of action in the complaint against
defendant Dr. Rolando G. Gestuvo only, judgment is hereby rendered for
the plaintiff and against said defendant, ordering the defendant DR.
ROLANDO G. GESTUVO to pay unto plaintiff NILO B. ROSIT the
following:

the sum of ONE HUNDRED FORTY THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED


NINETY NINE PESOS and 13/100 (P140,199.13) representing
a)
reimbursement of actual expenses incurred by plaintiff in the operation
and re-operation of his mandible;
the sum of TWENTY NINE THOUSAND AND SIXTY EIGHT PESOS
b) (P29,068.00) representing reimbursement of the filing fees and
appearance fees;
the sum of ONE HUNDRED FIFTY THOUSAND PESOS (P150,000.00)
c)
as and for attorney's fees;
the amount of FIFTY THOUSAND PESOS (P50,000.00) as moral
d)
damages;
the amount of TEN THOUSAND PESOS (P10,000.00) as exemplary
e)
damages; and
f) the costs of the suit.

For lack of merit, the complaint against defendant DAVAO DOCTORS


HOSPITAL and the defendants' counterclaims are hereby ordered
DISMISSED.

Cost against Dr. Rolando G. Gestuvo.

SO ORDERED.
In so ruling, the trial court applied the res ipsa loquitur principle holding
that "the need for expert, medical testimony may be dispensed with because
the injury itself provides the proof of negligence."

Therefrom, both parties appealed to the CA.


The Ruling of the Court of Appeals

In its January 22, 2013 Decision, the CA modified the appealed judgment
by deleting the awards made by the trial court, disposing as follows:

WHEREFORE, the appeal filed by Gestuvo is GRANTED. The Decision


dated September 14, 2004 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 33, Davao
City, rendered in Civil Case No. 27,354-99 is hereby MODIFIED. The
monetary awards adjudged in favor of Nilo B. Rosit are hereby DELETED
for lack of basis.

SO ORDERED.
Unlike the RTC, the CA ruled that the res ipsa loquitur principle is not
applicable and that the testimony of an expert witness is necessary for a
finding of negligence. The appellate court also gave credence to Dr.
Pangan's letter stating the opinion that Dr. Gestuvo did not commit gross
negligence in his emergency management of Rosit's fractured mandible.

Rosit's motion for reconsideration was denied in the CA's November 7,


2013 Resolution.

Hence, the instant appeal.

The Issue

The ultimate issue for our resolution is whether the appellate court
correctly absolved Dr. Gestuvo from liability.

The Court's Ruling

The petition is impressed with merit.

In Flores v. Pineda,[9] the Court explained the concept of a medical


negligence case and the elements required for its prosecution, viz:

A medical negligence case is a type of claim to redress a wrong committed


by a medical professional, that has caused bodily harm to or the death of a
patient. There are four elements involved in a medical negligence
case, namely: duty, breach, injury, and proximate causation.

Duty refers to the standard of behavior which imposes restrictions on one's


conduct. The standard in turn refers to the amount of competence
associated with the proper discharge of the profession. A physician is
expected to use at least the same level of care that any other reasonably
competent doctor would use under the same circumstances. Breach of duty
occurs when the physician fails to comply with these professional
standards. If injury results to the patient as a result of this breach, the
physician is answerable for negligence. (emphasis supplied)

An expert witness is not necessary as the res ipsa


loquitur doctrine is applicable

To establish medical negligence, this Court has held that an expert


testimony is generally required to define the standard of behavior by which
the court may determine whether the physician has properly performed the
requisite duty toward the patient. This is so considering that the requisite
degree of skill and care in the treatment of a patient is usually a matter of
expert opinion.[10]

Solidum v. People of the Philippines[11] provides an exception. There, the


Court explained that where the application of the principle of res ipsa
loquitur is warranted, an expert testimony may be dispensed with in
medical negligence cases:

Although generally, expert medical testimony is relied upon in


malpractice suits to prove that a physician has done a negligent
act or that he has deviated from the standard medical procedure,
when the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur is availed by the plaintiff,
the need for expert medical testimony is dispensed with because
the injury itself provides the proof of negligence. The reason is that
the general rule on the necessity of expert testimony applies only to such
matters clearly within the domain of medical science, and not to matters
that are within the common knowledge of mankind which may be testified
to by anyone familiar with the facts. x x x
Thus, courts of other jurisdictions have applied the doctrine in the
following situations: leaving of a foreign object in the body of the patient
after an operation, injuries sustained on a healthy part of the body which
was not under, or in the area, of treatment, removal of the wrong part of the
body when another part was intended, knocking out a tooth while a
patient's jaw was under anesthetic for the removal of his tonsils, and loss of
an eye while the patient plaintiff was under the influence of anesthetic,
during or following an operation for appendicitis, among others.
We have further held that resort to the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur as an
exception to the requirement of an expert testimony in medical negligence
cases may be availed of if the following essential requisites are satisfied: (1)
the accident was of a kind that does not ordinarily occur unless someone is
negligent; (2) the instrumentality or agency that caused the injury was
under the exclusive control of the person charged; and (3) the injury
suffered must not have been due to any voluntary action or contribution of
the person injured.[12]

In its assailed Decision, the CA refused to acknowledge the application of


the res ipsa loquitur doctrine on the ground that the foregoing elements are
absent. In particular, the appellate court is of the position that post-
operative pain is not unusual after surgery and that there is no proof that
the molar Dr. Pangan removed is the same molar that was hit by the screw
installed by Dr. Gestuvo in Rosit's mandible. Further, a second operation
was conducted within the 5-week usual healing period of the mandibular
fracture so that the second element cannot be considered present. Lastly,
the CA pointed out that the X-ray examination conducted on Rosit prior to
his first surgery suggests that he had "chronic inflammatory lung disease
compatible," implying that the injury may have been due to Rosit's peculiar
condition, thus effectively negating the presence of the third element.[13]

After careful consideration, this Court cannot accede to the CA's findings as
it is at once apparent from the records that the essential requisites for the
application of the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur are present.

The first element was sufficiently established when Rosit proved that one of
the screws installed by Dr. Gestuvo struck his molar. It was for this issue
that Dr. Gestuvo himself referred Rosit to Dr. Pangan. In fact, the affidavit
of Dr. Pangan presented by Dr. Gestuvo himself before the trial court
narrated that the same molar struck with the screw installed by Dr. Gestuvo
was examined and eventually operated on by Dr. Pangan. Dr. Gestuvo
cannot now go back and say that Dr. Pangan treated a molar different from
that which was affected by the first operation.

Clearly, had Dr. Gestuvo used the proper size and length of screws and
placed the same in the proper locations, these would not have struck Rosit's
teeth causing him pain and requiring him to undergo a corrective surgery.

Dr. Gestuvo knew that the screws he used on Rosit were too large as, in fact,
he cut the same with a saw.[14] He also stated during trial that common
sense dictated that the smallest screws available should be used. More
importantly, he also knew that these screws were available locally at the
time of the operation.[15] Yet, he did not avail of such items and went ahead
with the larger screws and merely sawed them off. Even assuming that the
screws were already at the proper length after Dr. Gestuvo cut the same, it
is apparent that he negligently placed one of the screws in the wrong area
thereby striking one of Rosit's teeth.

In any event, whether the screw hit Rosit's molar because it was too long or
improperly placed, both facts are the product of Dr. Gestuvo's negligence.
An average man of common intelligence would know that striking a tooth
with any foreign object much less a screw would cause severe pain. Thus,
the first essential requisite is present in this case.

Anent the second element for the res ipsa loquitur doctrine application, it
is sufficient that the operation which resulted in the screw hitting Rosit's
molar was, indeed, performed by Dr. Gestuvo. No other doctor caused such
fact.

The CA finds that Rosit is guilty of contributory negligence in having Dr.


Pangan operate on him during the healing period of his fractured mandible.
What the CA overlooked is that it was Dr. Gestuvo himself who referred
Rosit to Dr. Pangan. Nevertheless, Dr. Pangan's participation could not
have contributed to the reality that the screw that Dr. Gestuvo installed hit
Rosit's molar.

Lastly, the third element that the injury suffered must not have been due to
any voluntary action or contribution of the person injured was satisfied in
this case. It was not shown that Rosit's lung disease could have contributed
to the pain. What is clear is that he suffered because one of the screws that
Dr. Gestuvo installed hit Rosit's molar.
Clearly then, the res ipsa loquitur doctrine finds application in the
instant case and no expert testimony is required to establish the
negligence of defendant Dr. Gestuvo.

Petitioner was deprived of the opportunity to make an "informed


consent"

What is more damning for Dr. Gestuvo is his failure to inform Rosit that
such smaller screws were available in Manila, albeit at a higher price.[16] As
testified to by Dr. Gestuvo himself:

Court This titanium materials according to you were already available in


Alright. the Philippines since the time of Rosit's accident?
WitnessYes, your Honor.
xxxx
Did you inform Rosit about the existence of titanium screws and
Court
plates which according to you is the screws and plates of choice?
WitnessNo, your Honor.
xxxx
The reason I did not inform him anymore Judge because what I
thought he was already hard up with the down payment. And if I
Witness
will further introduce him this screws, the more he will not be able
to afford the operation.
xxxx
This titanium screws and plates were available then it is up to Rosit
Court to decide whether to use it or not because after all the material you
are using is paid by the patient himscll, is it not?
WitnessYes, that is true.
Li v. Soliman[17] made the following disquisition on the relevant Doctrine of
Informed Consent in relation to medical negligence cases, to wit:

The doctrine of informed consent within the context of physician-


patient relationships goes far back into English common law. x x x From a
purely ethical norm, informed consent evolved into a general
principle of law that a physician has a duty to disclose what a
reasonably prudent physician in the medical community in the
exercise of reasonable care would disclose to his patient as to
whatever grave risks of injury might be incurred from a
proposed course of treatment, so that a patient, exercising
ordinary care for his own welfare, and faced with a choice of
undergoing the proposed treatment, or alternative treatment, or
none at all, may intelligently exercise his judgment by
reasonably balancing the probable risks against the probable
benefits.

xxxx

There are four essential elements a plaintiff must prove in a


malpractice action based upon the doctrine of informed consent:
"(1) the physician had a duty to disclose material risks; (2) he
failed to disclose or inadequately disclosed those risks; (3) as a
direct and proximate result of the failure to disclose, the patient
consented to treatment she otherwise would not have consented
to; and (4) plaintiff was injured by the proposed treatment." The
gravamen in an informed consent case requires the plaintiff to "point to
significant undisclosed information relating to the treatment which would
have altered her decision to undergo it." (emphasis supplied)
The four adverted essential elements above are present here.

First, Dr. Gestuvo clearly had the duty of disclosing to Rosit the risks of
using the larger screws for the operation. This was his obligation as the
physician undertaking the operation.

Second, Dr. Gestuvo failed to disclose these risks to Rosit, deciding by


himself that Rosit could not afford to get the more expensive titanium
screws.

Third, had Rosit been informed that there was a risk that the larger screws
are not appropriate for the operation and that an additional operation
replacing the screws might be required to replace the same, as what
happened in this case, Rosit would not have agreed to the operation. It
bears pointing out that Rosit was, in fact, able to afford the use of the
smaller titanium screws that were later used by Dr. Pangan to replace the
screws that were used by Dr. Gestuvo.

Fourth, as a result of using the larger screws, Rosit experienced pain and
could not heal properly because one of the screws hit his molar. This was
evident from the fact that just three (3) days after Dr. Pangan repeated the
operation conducted by Dr. Gestuvo, Rosit was pain-free and could already
speak. This is compared to the one (1) month that Rosit suffered pain and
could not use his mouth after the operation conducted by Dr. Gestuvo until
the operation of Dr. Pangan.

Without a doubt, Dr. Gestuvo is guilty of withholding material information


which would have been vital in the decision of Rosit in going through with
the operation with the materials at hand. Thus, Dr. Gestuvo is also guilty of
negligence on this ground.

Dr. Pangan's Affidavit is not admissible

The appellate court's Decision absolving Dr. Gestuvo of negligence was also
anchored on a letter signed by Dr. Pangan who stated the opinion that Dr.
Gestuvo did not commit gross negligence in his emergency management of
Mr. Rosit's fractured mandible.[18]Clearly, the appellate court overlooked
the elementary principle against hearsay evidence.

In Dantis v. Maghinang, Jr.,[19] the Court reiterated the oft-repeated rule


that "an affidavit is merely hearsay evidence where its affiant/maker did
not take the witness stand." Here, Dr. Pangan never took the witness stand
to affirm the contents of his affidavit. Thus, the affidavit is inadmissible and
cannot be given any weight. The CA, therefore, erred when it considered the
affidavit of Dr. Pangan, mpreso for considering the same as expert
testimony.

Moreover, even if such affidavit is considered as admissible and the


testimony of an expert witness, the Court is not bound by such testimony.
As ruled in Ilao-Quianay v. Mapile:[20]

Indeed, courts are not bound by expert testimonies. They may place
whatever weight they choose upon such testimonies in accordance with the
facts of the case. The relative weight and sufficiency of expert testimony is
peculiarly within the province of the trial court to decide, considering the
ability and character of the witness, his actions upon the witness stand, the
weight and process of the reasoning by which he has supported his opinion,
his possible bias in favor of the side for whom he testifies, and any other
matters which serve to illuminate his statements. The opinion of an expert
should be considered by the court in view of all the facts and circumstances
of the case. The problem of the evaluation of expert testimony is left to the
discretion of the trial court whose ruling thereupon is not revicwable in the
absence of an abuse of that discretion.
Thus, the belief of Dr. Pangan whether Dr. Gestuvo is guilty of negligence or
not will not bind the Court. The Court must weigh and examine such
testimony and decide for itself the merits thereof.

As discussed above, Dr. Gestuvo's negligence is clearly demonstrable by the


doctrines of res ipsa loquitur and informed consent.

Damages

For the foregoing, the trial court properly awarded Rosit actual damages
after he was able to prove the actual expenses that he incurred due to the
negligence of Dr. Gestuvo. In Mendoza v. Spouses Gomez,[21] the Court
explained that a claimant is entitled to actual damages when the damage he
sustained is the natural and probable consequences of the negligent act and
he adequately proved the amount of such damage.

Rosit is also entitled to moral damages as provided under Article 2217 of


the Civil Code,[22] given the unnecessary physical suffering he endured as a
consequence of defendant's negligence.

To recall, from the time he was negligently operated upon by Dr. Gestuvo
until three (3) days from the corrective surgery performed by Dr. Pangan,
or for a period of one (1) month, Rosit suffered pain and could not properly
use his jaw to speak or eat.

The trial court also properly awarded attorney's fees and costs of suit under
Article 2208 of the Civil Code,[23] since Rosit was compelled to litigate due
to Dr. Gestuvo's refusal to pay for Rosit's damages.

As to the award of exemplary damages, the same too has to be affirmed.


In Mendoza,[24] the Court enumerated the requisites for the award of
exemplary damages:

Our jurisprudence sets certain conditions when exemplary damages may be


awarded: First, they may be imposed by way of example or correction only
in addition, among others, to compensatory damages, and cannot be
recovered as a matter of right, their determination depending upon the
amount of compensatory damages that may be awarded to the claimant.
Second, the claimant must first establish his right to moral, temperate,
liquidated or compensatory damages. Third, the wrongful act must be
accompanied by bad faith, and the award would be allowed only if the guilty
party acted in a wanton, fraudulent, reckless, oppressive or malevolent
manner.
The three (3) requisites are met. Dr. Gestuvo's actions are clearly negligent.
Likewise, Dr. Gestuvo acted in bad faith or in a wanton, fraudulent,
reckless, oppressive manner when he was in breach of the doctrine of
informed consent. Dr. Gestuvo had the duty to fully explain to Rosit the
risks of using large screws for the operation. More importantly, he
concealed the correct medical procedure of using the smaller titanium
screws mainly because of his erroneous belief that Rosit cannot afford to
buy the expensive titanium screws. Such concealment is clearly a valid basis
for an award of exemplary damages.

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is GRANTED. The CA Decision


dated January 22, 2013 and Resolution dated November 7, 2013 in CA-G.R.
CV No. 00911-MIN are hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Further, the
Decision dated September 14, 2004 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 33
in Davao City in Civil Case No. 27,345-99 is
hereby REINSTATED and AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.

Peralta, Villarama, Jr., Reyes, and Jardeleza, JJ., concur.

December 18, 2015

NOTICE OF JUDGMENT

Sirs / Mesdames:
Please take notice that on December 7, 2015 a Decision, copy attached
hereto, was rendered by the Supreme Court in the above-entitled cases, the
original of which was received by this Office on December 18, 2015 at 10:20
a.m.

Very truly yours,


(SGD)WILFREDO V. LAPITAN
Division Clerk of Court

Rollo, pp. 56-67. Penned by Associate Justice Henri Jean Paul B. Inting
[1]

and concurred in by Associate Justices Edgardo T. Lloren and Jhosep Y.


Lopez.

[2] Id. at 82-85.

[3] Id. at 40-54.

[4] Id. at 40-41.

[5] Id. at 41-42.

[6] Id. at 42-43.

[7] Id. at 43-44.

[8] Id. at 44.

[9] G.R. No. 158996, November 14, 2008, 571 SCRA 83, 91-92.

[10] Id.

[11] G.R. No. 192123, March 10, 2014.


[12] Id.

[13] Rollo, p. 64.

[14] Id. at 42.

[15] Id.

[16] TSN, July 4, 2002, pp. 40-42.

[17] G.R. No. 165279, June 7, 2011, 651 SCRA 32, 56-59.

[18] Id. at 63.

[19]G.R. No. 191606, April 10, 2013, 695 SCRA 599, 610; see also Unchuan
v. Lozada, G.R. No. 172671, April 16, 2009, 585 SCRA 421, 435; People v.
Quidato, Jr., G.R. No. 117401, October 1, 1998, 297 SCRA 1, 8. See
also People v. Manhuyod, G.R. No. 124676, May 20, 1998, 290 SCRA 257,
270-271.

[20] G.R. No. 154087, October 25, 2005, 474 SCRA 246, 255.

[21] G.R. No. 1601 10, June 18, 2014, 726 SCRA 505, 521-522.

Article 2217. Moral damages include physical suffering, mental


[22]

anguish, fright, serious anxiety, besmirched reputation, wounded feelings,


moral shock, social humiliation, and similar injury. Though incapable of
pecuniary computation, moral damages may be recovered if they are
the proximate result of the defendant's wrongful act for
omission. (emphasis supplied)

[23]Art. 2208. In the absence of stipulation, attorney's fees and expenses of


litigation, other than judicial costs, cannot be recovered, except:

xxxx

(2) When the defendant's act or omission has compelled the plaintiff to
litigate with third persons or to incur expenses to protect his interest.
[24] Supra note 21, at 525.

G.R. No. 217426, December 04, 2017

ST. MARTIN POLYCLINIC, INC., Petitioner, v. LWV CONSTRUCTION CORPORATION, Respondent.

DECISION

PERLAS-BERNABE, J.:

Assailed in this petition for review on certiorari1 are the Decision2 dated July 11, 2014 and the
Resolution3 dated February 27, 2015 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 125451, which affirmed
with modification the Decision4 dated December 15, 2011 and the Order dated May 25, 2012 of the Regional
Trial Court of Mandaluyong City, Branch 211 (RTC) in SCA Case No. MC11-879 (Civil Case No. 21881), and
thereby ordered herein petitioner St. Martin Polyclinic, Inc. (petitioner) to pay respondent LWV Construction
Corporation (respondent) temperate damages in the amount of P50,000.00.

The Facts

Respondent is engaged in the business of recruiting Filipino workers for deployment to Saudi Arabia.5On the
other hand, petitioner is an accredited member of the Gulf Cooperative Council Approved Medical Centers
Association (GAMCA) and as such, authorized to conduct medical examinations of prospective applicants for
overseas employment.6

On January 10, 2008, respondent referred prospective applicant Jonathan V. Raguindin (Raguindin) to
petitioner for a pre-deployment medical examination in accordance with the instructions from GAMCA.7 After
undergoing the required examinations, petitioner cleared Raguindin and found him "fit for employment," as
evidenced by a Medical Report8 dated January 11, 2008 (Medical Report).9

Based on the foregoing, respondent deployed Raguindin to Saudi Arabia, allegedly incurring expenses in the
amount of P84,373.41.10 Unfortunately, when Raguindin underwent another medical examination with the
General Care Dispensary of Saudi Arabia (General Care Dispensary) on March 24, 2008, he purportedly
tested positive for HCV or the hepatitis C virus. The Ministry of Health of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
(Ministry of Health) required a re-examination of Raguindin, which the General Care Dispensary conducted
on April 28, 2008.11 However, the results of the re-examination remained the same, i.e., Raguindin was
positive for HCV, which results were reflected in a Certification12 dated April 28, 2008 (Certification). An
undated HCV Confirmatory Test Report13likewise conducted by the Ministry of Health affirmed such finding,
thereby leading to Raguindin's repatriation to the Philippines.14

Claiming that petitioner was reckless in issuing its Medical Report stating that Raguindin is "fit for
employment" when a subsequent finding in Saudi Arabia revealed that he was positive for HCV, respondent
filed a Complaint15 for sum of money and damages against petitioner before the Metropolitan Trial Court of
Mandaluyong City, Branch 60 (MeTC). Respondent essentially averred that it relied on petitioner's
declaration and incurred expenses as a consequence. Thus, respondent prayed for the award of damages in
the amount of P84,373.41 representing the expenses it incurred in deploying Raguindin abroad.16

In its Answer with compulsory counterclaim,17 petitioner denied liability and claimed that: first, respondent
was not a proper party in interest for lack of privity of contract between them; second, the MeTC had no
jurisdiction over the case as it involves the interpretation and implementation of a contract of
employment; third, the action is premature as Raguindin has yet to undergo a post-employment medical
examination following his repatriation; and fourth, the complaint failed to state a cause of action as the
Medical Report issued by petitioner had already expired on April 11, 2008, or three (3) months after its
issuance on January 11, 2008.18
The MeTC Ruling

In a Decision19 dated December 17, 2010, the MeTC rendered judgment in favor of respondent and ordered
petitioner to pay the amount of P84,373.41 as actual damages, P20,000.00 as attorney's fees, and the costs
of suit.20

At the onset, the MeTC held that it had jurisdiction over the case, since respondent was claiming actual
damages incurred in the deployment of Raguindin in the amount of P84,373.41.21 It further ruled that
respondent was a real party in interest, as it would not have incurred expenses had petitioner not issued the
Medical Report certifying that Raguindin was fit to work.

On the merits, the MeTC found that respondent was entitled to be informed accurately of the precise
condition of Raguindin before deploying the latter abroad and consequently, had sustained damage as a
result of the erroneous certification.22 In this relation, it rejected petitioner's contention that Raguindin may
have contracted the disease after his medical examination in the Philippines up to the time of his
deployment, there being no evidence offered to corroborate the same.23

Aggrieved, petitioner appealed to the RTC, contending,24 among others, that respondent failed to comply
with the requirements on the authentication and proof of documents under Section 24,25 Rule 132 of the
Rules of Court, considering that respondent's evidence, particularly the April 28, 2008 Certification issued by
the General Care Dispensary and the HCV Confirmatory Test Report issued by the Ministry of Health, are
foreign documents issued in Saudi Arabia.

The RTC Ruling

In a Decision26 dated December 15, 2011, the RTC dismissed petitioner's appeal and affirmed the MeTC
Decision in its entirety.27 Additionally, the RTC pointed out that petitioner can no longer change the theory of
the case or raise new issues on appeal, referring to the latter's argument on the authentication of
respondent's documentary evidence.28

Petitioner's motion for reconsideration29 was denied in an Order30 dated May 25, 2012. Dissatisfied,
petitioner elevated the case to the CA.31

The CA Ruling

In a Decision32 dated July 11, 2014, the CA affirmed the RTC Decision, with the modification deleting the
award of actual damages and instead, awarding temperate damages in the amount of P50,000.00.33

The CA held that petitioner failed to perform its duty to accurately diagnose Raguindin when it issued its
Medical Report declaring the latter "fit for employment", considering that he was subsequently found
positive for HCV in Saudi Arabia.34 Further, the CA opined that the Certification issued by the General Care
Dispensary is not a public document and in such regard, rejected petitioner's argument that the same is
inadmissible in evidence for not having been authenticated. Moreover, it remarked that petitioner's own
Medical Report does not enjoy the presumption of regularity as petitioner is merely an accredited
clinic.35 Finally, the CA ruled that petitioner could not disclaim liability on the ground that Raguindin tested
positive for HCV in Saudi Arabia after the expiration of the Medical Report on April 11, 2008, noting that the
General Care Dispensary issued its Certification on April 28, 2008, or a mere seventeen (17) days from the
expiration of petitioner's Medical Report.36 Hence, the CA concluded that "it is contrary to human experience
that a newly-deployed overseas worker, such as Raguindin, would immediately contract a serious virus at
the very beginning of a deployment."37

However, as the records are bereft of evidence to show that respondent actually incurred the amount of
P84,373.41 as expenses for Raguindin's deployment, the CA deleted the award of actual damages and
instead, awarded temperate damages in the amount of P50,000.00.38

Aggrieved, petitioner filed a motion for partial reconsideration,39 which the CA denied in a Resolution40 dated
February 27, 2015; hence, this petition.
The Issue Before the Court

The essential issue advanced for the Court's resolution is whether or not petitioner was negligent in issuing
the Medical Report declaring Raguindin "fit for employment" and hence, should be held liable for damages.

The Court's Ruling

The petition is granted.

I.

At the outset, it should be pointed out that a re-examination of factual findings cannot be done acting on a
petition for review on certiorari because the Court is not a trier of facts but reviews only questions of
law.41 Thus, in petitions for review on certiorari, only questions of law may generally be put into issue. This
rule, however, admits of certain exceptions, such as "when the inference made is manifestly mistaken,
absurd or impossible"; or "when the findings are conclusions without citation of specific evidence on which
they are based."42 Finding a confluence of certain exceptions in this case, the general rule that only legal
issues may be raised in a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court would not
apply, and the Court retains the authority to pass upon the evidence presented and draw conclusions
therefrom.43

II.

An action for damages due to the negligence of another may be instituted on the basis of Article 2176 of the
Civil Code, which defines a quasi-delict:

Article 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.

The elements of a quasi-delict are: (1) an act or omission; (2) the presence of fault or negligence in
the performance or non-performance of the act; (3) injury; (4) a causal connection between the
negligent act and the injury; and (5) no pre-existing contractual relation.44

As a general rule, any act or omission coming under the purview of Article 2176 gives rise to a cause of
action under quasi-delict. This, in turn, gives the basis for a claim of damages.45 Notably, quasi-delict is one
among several sources of obligation. Article 1157 of the Civil Code states:

Article 1157. Obligations arise from:

(1) Law;
(2) Contracts;
(3) Quasi-contracts;
(4) Acts or omissions punished by law; and
(5) Quasi-delicts.

However, as explained by Associate Justice Marvic M.V.F. Leonen (Justice Leonen) in his opinion in Alano v.
Magud-Logmao46 (Alano), "Article 2176 is not an all-encompassing enumeration of all actionable
wrongs which can give rise to the liability for damages. Under the Civil Code, acts done in
violation of Articles 19, 20, and 21 will also give rise to damages."47These provisions - which were
cited as bases by the MTC, RTC and CA in their respective rulings in this case - read as follows:

Article 19. Every person must, in the exercise of his rights and in the performance of his duties, act with
justice, give everyone his due, and observe honesty and good faith.

Article 20. Every person who, contrary to law, willfully or negligently causes damage to another, shall
indemnify the latter for the same.
Article 21. Any person who willfully 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.

"[Article 19], known to contain what is commonly referred to as the principle of abuse of rights, sets certain
standards which must be observed not only in the exercise of one's rights, but also in the performance of
one's duties."48 Case law states that "[w]hen a right is exercised in a manner which does not conform with
the norms enshrined in Article 19 and results in damage to another, a legal wrong is thereby committed for
which the wrongdoer must be held responsible. But while Article 19 lays down a rule of conduct for the
government of human relations and for the maintenance of social order, it does not provide a remedy for its
violation. Generally, an action for damages under either Article 20 or Article 21 would [then] be
proper."49 Between these two provisions as worded, it is Article 20 which applies to both willful and
negligent acts that are done contrary to law. On the other hand, Article 21 applies only to willful acts
done contra bonos mores.50

In the Alano case, Justice Leonen aptly elaborated on the distinctive applications of Articles 19, 20 and 21,
which are general provisions on human relations, vis-a-vis Article 2176, which particularly governs quasi-
delicts:

Article 19 is the general rule which governs the conduct of human relations. By itself, it is not the basis of an
actionable tort. Article 19 describes the degree of care required so that an actionable tort may arise when it
is alleged together with Article 20 or Article 21.

Article 20 concerns violations of existing law as basis for an injury. It allows recovery should the act
have been willful or negligent. Willful may refer to the intention to do the act and the desire to achieve the
outcome which is considered by the plaintiff in tort action as injurious. Negligence may refer to a situation
where the act was consciously done but without intending the result which the plaintiff considers as
injurious.

Article 21, on the other hand, concerns injuries that may be caused by acts which are not necessarily
proscribed by law. This article requires that the act be willful, that is, that there was an intention to do the
act and a desire to achieve the outcome. In cases under Article 21, the legal issues revolve around whether
such outcome should be considered a legal injury on the part of the plaintiff or whether the commission of
the act was done in violation of the standards of care required in Article 19.

Article 2176 covers situations where an injury happens through an act or omission of the defendant. When
it involves a positive act, the intention to commit the outcome is irrelevant. The act itself must not be a
breach of an existing law or a pre-existing contractual obligation. What will be considered is whether
there is "fault or negligence� attending the commission of the act which necessarily leads to the outcome
considered as injurious by the plaintiff. The required degree of diligence will then be assessed in relation to
the circumstances of each and every case.51 (Emphases and underscoring supplied)

Thus, with respect to negligent acts or omissions, it should therefore be discerned that Article 20 of the
Civil Code concerns "violations of existing law as basis for an injury", whereas Article 2176
applies when the negligent act causing damage to another does not constitute "a breach of an
existing law or a pre-existing contractual obligation."

In this case, the courts a quo erroneously anchored their respective rulings on the provisions of Articles 19,
20, and 21 of the Civil Code. This is because respondent did not proffer (nor have these courts mentioned)
any law as basis for which damages may be recovered due to petitioner's alleged negligent act. In its
amended complaint, respondent mainly avers that had petitioner not issue a "fit for employment" Medical
Report to Raguindin, respondent would not have processed his documents, deployed him to Saudi Arabia,
and later on - in view of the subsequent findings that Raguindin was positive for HCV and hence, unfit to
work - suffered actual damages in the amount of P84,373.41.52Thus, as the claimed negligent act of
petitioner was not premised on the breach of any law, and not to mention the incontestable fact that no pre-
existing contractual relation was averred to exist between the parties, Article 2176 - instead of Articles 19,
20 and 21 - of the Civil Code should govern.

III.
Negligence is defined as the failure to observe for the protection of the interests of another person, that
degree of care, precaution and vigilance which the circumstances justly demand, whereby such other person
suffers injury.53

As early as the case of Picart v. Smith,54 the Court elucidated that "the test by which to determine the
existence of negligence in a particular case is: Did the defendant in doing the alleged negligent act
use that reasonable care and caution which an ordinarily prudent person would have used in the
same situation? If not, then he is guilty of negligence."55 Corollary thereto, the Court stated that "[t]he
question as to what would constitute the conduct of a prudent man in a given situation must of course be
always determined in the light of human experience and in view of the facts involved in the particular
case. Abstract speculation cannot here be of much value x x x: Reasonable men govern their conduct
by the circumstances which are before them or known to them. They are not, and are not supposed to
be, omniscient of the future. Hence[,] they can be expected to take care only when there is
something before them to suggest or warn of danger."56

Under our Rules of Evidence, it is disputably presumed that a person takes ordinary care of his concerns and
that private transactions have been fair and regular.57 In effect, negligence cannot be presumed, and
thus, must be proven by him who alleges it.58 In Huang v. Philippine Hoteliers, Inc.:59

[T]he negligence or fault should be clearly established as it is the basis of her action. The burden of proof is
upon [the plaintiff]. Section 1, Rule 131 of the Rules of Court provides that "burden of proof is the duty of a
party to present evidence on the facts in issue necessary to establish his claim or defense by the amount of
evidence required by law." It is then up for the plaintiff to establish his cause of action or the defendant to
establish his defense. Therefore, if the plaintiff alleged in his complaint that he was damaged
because of the negligent acts of the defendant, he has the burden of proving such negligence. It
is even presumed that a person takes ordinary care of his concerns. The quantum of proof required
is preponderance of evidence.60 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

The records of this case show that the pieces of evidence mainly relied upon by respondent to establish
petitioner's negligence are: (a) the Certification61 dated April 28, 2008; and (b) the HCV Confirmatory Test
Report.62 However, these issuances only indicate the results of the General Care Dispensary and Ministry of
Health's own medical examination of Raguindin finding him to be positive for HCV. Notably, the examination
conducted by the General Care Dispensary, which was later affirmed by the Ministry of Health, was
conducted only on March 24, 2008, or at least two (2) months after petitioner issued its Medical
Report on January 11, 2008. Hence, even assuming that Raguindin's diagnosis for HCV was correct, the
fact that he later tested positive for the same does not convincingly prove that he was already under the
same medical state at the time petitioner issued the Medical Report on January 11, 2008. In this regard, it
was therefore incumbent upon respondent to show that there was already negligence at the time the
Medical Report was issued, may it be through evidence that show that standard medical procedures were
not carefully observed or that there were already palpable signs that exhibited Raguindin's unfitness for
deployment at that time. This is hardly the case when respondent only proffered evidence which
demonstrate that months after petitioner's Medical Report was issued, Raguindin, who had already been
deployed to Saudi Arabia, tested positive for HCV and as such, was no longer "fit for employment".

In fact, there is a reasonable possibility that Raguindin became exposed to the HCV only after his medical
examination with petitioner on January 11, 2008. Based on published reports from the World Health
Organization, HCV or the hepatitis C virus causes both acute and chronic infection. Acute HCV infection is
usually asymptomatic,63 and is only very rarely associated with life-threatening diseases. The incubation
period64 for HCV is two (2) weeks to six (6) months, and following initial infection, approximately 80%
of people do not exhibit any symptoms.65 Indisputably, Raguindin was not deployed to Saudi Arabia
immediately after petitioner's medical examination and hence, could have possibly contracted the same only
when he arrived thereat. In light of the foregoing, the CA therefore erred in holding that "[h]ad petitioner
more thoroughly and diligently examined Raguindin, it would likely have discovered the existence of the HCV
because it was contrary to human experience that a newly-deployed overseas worker, such as Raguindin,
would immediately have contracted the disease at the beginning of his deployment"66

While petitioner's Medical Report indicates an expiration of April 11, 2008, the Court finds it fitting to clarify
that the same could not be construed as a certified guarantee coming from petitioner that Raguindin's
medical status at the time the report was issued on January 11, 2008 (i.e., that he was fit for employment)
would remain the same up until that date (i.e., April 11, 2008). As earlier intimated, the intervening period
could very well account for a number of variables that could have led to a change in Raguindin's condition,
such as his deployment to a different environment in Saudi Arabia. If at all, the expiration date only means
that the Medical Report is valid - and as such, could be submitted - as a formal requirement for overseas
employment up until April 11, 2008; it does not, by any means, create legal basis to hold the issuer
accountable for any intervening change of condition from the time of issuance up until expiration. Truly,
petitioner could not be reasonably expected to predict, much less assure, that Raguindin's medical status of
being fit for employment would remain unchanged. Thus, the fact that the Medical Report's expiration date
of April 11, 2008 was only seventeen (17) days away from the issuance of the General Care Dispensary's
April 28, 2008 Certification finding Raguindin positive for HCV should not - as it does not - establish
petitioner's negligence.

IV.

At any rate, the fact that Raguindin tested positive for HCV could not have been properly established since
the courts a quo, in the first place, erred in admitting and giving probative weight to the Certification of the
General Care Dispensary, which was written in an unofficial language. Section 33, Rule 132 ofthe Rules of
Court states that:

Section 33. Documentary evidence in an unofficial language. - Documents written in an unofficial


language shall not be admitted as evidence, unless accompanied with a translation into English or
Filipino. To avoid interruption of proceedings, parties or their attorneys are directed to have such
translation prepared before trial.67

A cursory examination of the subject document would reveal that while it contains English words, the
majority of it is in an unofficial language. Sans any translation in English or Filipino provided by respondent,
the same should not have been admitted in evidence; thus their contents could not be given probative
value, and deemed to constitute proof of the facts stated therein.

Moreover, the due execution and authenticity of the said certification were not proven in accordance with
Section 20, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court:

Section 20. Proof of private document. - Before any private document offered as authentic is received in
evidence, its due execution and authenticity must be proved either:

(a) By anyone who saw the document executed or written; or

(b) By evidence of the genuineness of the signature or handwriting of the


maker.

(c) Any other private document need only be identified as that which it is
claimed to be.

Notably, the foregoing provision applies since the Certification does not fall within the classes of public
documents under Section 19, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court68 - and hence, must be considered as private. It
has been settled that an unverified and unidentified private document cannot be accorded
probative value.69 In addition, case law states that "since a medical certificate involves an opinion of
one who must first be established as an expert witness, it cannot be given weight or credit
unless the doctor who issued it is presented in court to show his qualifications. It is precluded
because the party against whom it is presented is deprived of the right and opportunity to cross-examine
the person to whom the statements or writings are attributed. Its executor or author should be presented as
a witness to provide the other party to the litigation the opportunity to question its contents. Being mere
hearsay evidence, failure to present the author of the medical certificate renders its contents suspect and of
no probative value,"70 as in this case.
Similarly, the HCV Confirmatory Test Report issued by the Ministry of Health of Saudi Arabia should have
also been excluded as evidence. Although the same may be considered a public document, being an alleged
written official act of an official body of a foreign country,71 the same was not duly authenticated in
accordance with Section 24,72 Rule 132 of the Rules of Court. While respondent provided a
translation73 thereof from the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos, Bureau of External Relations, Office
of the President, the same was not accompanied by a certificate of the secretary of the embassy or legation,
consul-general, consul, vice-consul, or consular agent or any officer in the foreign service of the Philippines
stationed in Saudi Arabia, where the record is kept, and authenticated by the seal of his office.74

To be sure, petitioner - contrary to respondent's contention75 - has not changed its theory of the case by
questioning the foregoing documents. As petitioner correctly argued, it merely amplified its defense76 that it
is not liable for negligence when it further questioned the validity of the issuances of the General Care
Dispensary and Ministry of Health. In Limpangco Sons v. Yangco77, the Court explained that "[t]here is a
difference x x x between a change in the theory of the case and a shifting of the incidence of the emphasis
placed during the trial or in the briefs." "Where x x x the theory of the case as set out in the pleadings
remains the theory throughout the progress of the cause, the change of emphasis from one phase of the
case as presented by one set of facts to another phase made prominent by another set of facts x x x does
not result in a change of theory x x x".78 In any case, petitioner had already questioned the validity of these
documents in its Position Paper79 before the MeTC.80 Hence, there is no change of theory that would
preclude petitioner's arguments on this score.

All told, there being no negligence proven by respondent through credible and admissible evidence,
petitioner cannot be held liable for damages under Article 2176 of the Civil Code as above-discussed.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. Accordingly, the Decision dated July 11, 2014 and the Resolution
dated February 27, 2015 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 125451 are REVERSEDand SET ASIDE,
and a NEW ONE is entered, DISMISSING the complaint of respondent LWV Construction Corporation for
lack of merit.

SO ORDERED.

Carpio (Chairperson), Peralta, Caguioa, and Reyes, Jr., JJ., concur.

FIRST DIVISION

G.R. No. 161151, March 24, 2014

BJDC CONSTRUCTION, REPRESENTED BY ITS MANAGER/PROPRIETOR JANET S. DELA


CRUZ, Petitioner, v. NENA E. LANUZO, CLAUDETTE E. LANUZO, JANET E. LANUZO, JOAN BERNABE E.
LANUZO, AND RYAN JOSE E. LANUZO, Respondents.

DECISION

BERSAMIN, J.:

The party alleging the negligence of the other as the cause of injury has the burden to establish the
allegation with competent evidence. If the action based on negligence is civil in nature, the proof required is
preponderance of evidence.

This case involves a claim for damages arising from the death of a motorcycle rider in a nighttime accident
due to the supposed negligence of a construction company then undertaking re�blocking work on a national
highway. The plaintiffs insisted that the accident happened because the construction company did not
provide adequate lighting on the site, but the latter countered that the fatal accident was caused by the
negligence of the motorcycle rider himself. The trial court decided in favor of the construction company, but
the Court of Appeals (CA) reversed the decision and ruled for the plaintiffs.
Hence, this appeal.

Antecedents

On January 5, 1998, Nena E. Lanuzo (Nena) filed a complaint for damages1 against BJDC Construction
(company), a single proprietorship engaged in the construction business under its Manager/Proprietor Janet
S. de la Cruz. The company was the contractor of the re�blocking project to repair the damaged portion of
one lane of the national highway at San Agustin, Pili, Camarines Sur from September 1997to November
1997.

Nena alleged that she was the surviving spouse of the late Balbino Los Ba�os Lanuzo (Balbino) who figured
in the accident that transpired at the site of the re�blocking work at about 6:30 p.m. on October 30, 1997;
that Balbino�s Honda motorcycle sideswiped the road barricade placed by the company in the right lane
portion of the road, causing him to lose control of his motorcycle and to crash on the newly cemented road,
resulting in his instant death; and that the company�s failure to place illuminated warning signs on the site
of the project, especially during night time, was the proximate cause of the death of Balbino. She prayed
that the company be held liable for damages, to wit: (a) P5,000.00 as the actual damage to Balbino�s
motorcycle; (b) P100,000.00 as funeral and burial expenses; (c) P559,786.00 representing the �unearned
income in expectancy� of Balbino; (d) P100,000.00 as moral damages; (e) P75,000.00 as attorney�s fees,
plus P1,500.00 per court appearance; and (f) P20,000.00 as litigation costs and other incidental expenses.

In its answer,2 the company denied Nena�s allegations of negligence, insisting that it had installed warning
signs and lights along the highway and on the barricades of the project; that at the time of the incident, the
lights were working and switched on; that its project was duly inspected by the Department of Public Works
and Highways (DPWH), the Office of the Mayor of Pili, and the Pili Municipal Police Station; and that it was
found to have satisfactorily taken measures to ensure the safety of motorists.

The company further alleged that since the start of the project in September 1997, it installed several
warning signs, namely: (a) big overhead streamers containing the words SLOW DOWN ROAD UNDER
REPAIR AHEAD hung approximately 100 meters before the re�blocking site, one facing the Pili�bound
motorists and another facing the Naga�bound motorists; (b) road signs containing the words SLOW DOWN
ROAD UNDER REPAIR 100 METERS AHEAD placed on the road shoulders below the streamers; (c) road signs
with the words SLOW DOWN ROAD UNDER REPAIR 50 METERS AHEAD placed 50 meters before the project
site; (d) barricades surrounded the affected portion of the highway, and a series of 50�watt light bulbs
were installed and switched on daily from 6:00 p.m. until the following morning; (e) big warning signs
containing the words SLOW DOWN ROAD UNDER REPAIR and SLOW DOWN MEN WORKING were displayed
at both ends of the affected portion of the highway with illumination from two 50�watt bulbs from 6:00
p.m. until the following morning; and (f) the unaffected portion of the highway was temporarily widened in
the adjacent road shoulder to allow two�way vehicular traffic.

The company insisted that the death of Balbino was an accident brought about by his own negligence, as
confirmed by the police investigation report that stated, among others, that Balbino was not wearing any
helmet at that time, and the accident occurred while Balbino was overtaking another motorcycle; and that
the police report also stated that the road sign/barricade installed on the road had a light. Thus, it sought
the dismissal of the complaint and prayed, by way of counterclaim, that the Nena be ordered to pay
P100,000.00 as attorney�s fees, as well as moral damages to be proven in the course of trial.

The RTC subsequently directed the amendment of the complaint to include the children of Nena and Balbino
as co�plaintiffs, namely: Janet, Claudette, Joan Bernabe and Ryan Jose, all surnamed Lanuzo. Hence, the
plaintiffs are hereinafter be referred to as the Lanuzo heirs.

Decision of the RTC

On October 8, 2001, the RTC rendered judgment in favor of the company, as follows: chanRoble svirtual Lawlib ra ry

Plaintiffs are the survivors of Balbino Los Ba�os Lanuzo who met a traumatic death on 30 October, 1997 at
about 6:30 p.m., when he bumped his motorcycle on a barricade that was lighted with an electric bulb,
protecting from traffic the newly�reblocked cement road between San Agustin and San Jose, Pili, Camarines
Sur; they claim defendant�s OMISSION in lighting up the barricaded portion of the reblocking project being
undertaken by defendant was the proximate cause of the accident, leaving them bereaved and causing them
actual and moral damages.
Defendant DENIED the claim of plaintiffs; both parties offered testimonial and documentary evidence, from
which this Court,

FINDS

that: plaintiff DID NOT present an eyewitness account of the death of their decedent; on the contrary, the
flagman of defendant was present when the accident occurred, which was caused by the decedent having
overtaken a motorcycle ahead of [him] and on swerving, to avoid the barricade, hit it, instead, breaking the
lighted electric bulb on top of the barricade, resulting in the fall of the decedent about 18 paces from where
his motorcycle fell on the reblocked pavement; the police investigator, policeman Corporal, by Exh. 1,
confirmed the tale of the flagman, aside from confirming the presence of the warning devices placed not
only on the premises but at places calculated to warn motorists of the ongoing reblocking project.

OPINION

From the foregoing findings, it is the opinion of this Court that the plaintiffs were unable to make out a case
for damages, with a preponderance of evidence.

WHEREFORE, Judgment is hereby rendered, DISMISSING the complaint. 3

Decision of the CA

The Lanuzo heirs appealed to the CA.

On August 11, 2003, the CA promulgated its decision declaring that the issue was whether the company had
installed adequate lighting in the project so that motorists could clearly see the barricade placed on the
newly cemented lane that was then still closed to vehicular traffic,4 thereby reversing the judgment of the
RTC, and holding thusly: chanRoble svirtual Lawli bra ry

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the present appeal is hereby GRANTED and the decision appealed from
in Civil Case No. P�2117 is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. A new judgment is hereby entered ordering
the defendant�appellee to pay the plaintiff�appellants, heirs of the victim Balbino L. B. Lanuzo, the sums of
P50,000.00 as death indemnity, P20,000.00 by way of temperate damages and P939,736.50 as loss of
earning capacity of the deceased Balbino L. B. Lanuzo.

SO ORDERED.5

The CA ruled that the following elements for the application of the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur were present,
namely: (1) the accident was of such character as to warrant an inference that it would not have happened
except for the defendant�s negligence; (2) the accident must have been caused by an agency or
instrumentality within the exclusive management or control of the person charged with the negligence
complained of; and (3) the accident must not have been due to any voluntary action or contribution on the
part of the person injured.

The CA regarded as self�serving the testimony of Eduardo Zamora, an employee of the company who
testified that there was an electric bulb placed on top of the barricade on the area of the accident. It held
that Zamora�s statement was negated by the statements of Ernesto Alto and Asuncion Sandia to the effect
that they had passed by the area immediately before the accident and had seen the road to be dark and lit
only by a gas lamp. It noted that SPO1 Corporal, the police investigator, had noticed the presence of lighted
electric bulbs in the area, but the same had been installed on the other side of the street opposite the
barricade.

The CA ruled that the placing of road signs and streamers alone did not prove that the electric bulbs were in
fact switched on at the time of the accident as to sufficiently light up the newly re�blocked portion of the
highway. It opined that �[t]he trial court gave undue weight to the self�serving statement of appellee�s
employee, Eduardo Zamora, which was supposedly corroborated by SPO1 Pedro Corporal. SPO1 Corporal
arrived at the scene only after the accident occurred, and thus the electric bulbs could have already been
switched on by Zamora who was at the area of the project.� It concluded that the negligence of the
company was the proximate cause of Balbino�s death; hence, the company was liable for damages.
The company filed a motion for reconsideration,6 but the CA denied the motion in the resolution
promulgated on November 13, 2003.

Issues

In this appeal, the company submits the following issues, namely: chanRoblesvi rtua lLawl ib rary

I. The application by the Honorable Court of Appeals of the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur to the case at bar,
despite and contrary to the finding, among others, by the trial court that the proximate cause of the
accident is the victim�s own negligence, is �not in accord with the law or with the applicable decisions of
the Supreme Court� [Sec. 6 (a), Rule 45, Rules of Court].

II. The Honorable Court of Appeals, by substituting its own findings of fact and conclusion with those of the
trial court despite the lack of �strong or cogent reasons� therefor, �has so far departed from the accepted
and usual course of judicial proceedings ... as to call for an exercise of the power of supervision� by this
Honorable Supreme Court [Sec. 6 (b), Ibid.].

III. The findings by the Honorable Court of Appeals that respondents (appellants therein) �had satisfactorily
presented a prima facie case of negligence which the appellee (petitioner herein) had not overcome with an
adequate explanation� and which alleged negligence is �the proximate cause of death of Lanuzo� are
manifestations of grave abuse of discretion in the appreciation of facts, and constitute a judgment based on
a misinterpretation of facts, which justify a review by this Honorable Supreme Court.7

The company reiterates the categorical finding of the RTC that the proximate cause of the accident was
Balbino�s own negligence, and that such finding was based on the conclusion stated by SPO1 Corporal in
his investigation report to the effect that the incident was �purely self accident,� and on the unrebutted
testimony of Zamora to the effect that Balbino was driving his motorcycle at a fast speed trying to overtake
another motorcycle rider before hitting the barricade. On the other hand, it insists that its documentary and
testimonial evidence proved its exercise of due care and observance of the legally prescribed safety
requirements for contractors.

The company maintains that Balbino was familiar with the re�blocking project that had been going on for
months because he had been passing the area at least four times a day during weekdays in going to and
from his place of work in the morning and in the afternoon; and that he could have avoided the accident had
he exercised reasonable care and prudence.

The company assails the application of the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur, positing that the Lanuzo heirs did
not establish all the requisites for the doctrine to apply.

Anent the first requisite, the company states that the Lanuzo heirs did not successfully counter its
documentary and testimonial evidence showing that Balbino�s own negligence had caused the accident. It
cites the fact that Balbino was familiar with the road conditions and the re�blocking project because he had
been passing there daily; and that Balbino had been driving too fast and not wearing the required helmet for
motorcycle drivers, which were immediately evident because he had been thrown from his motorcycle and
had landed �18 paces away� from the barricade that he had hit.

On the second requisite, the company argues that Balbino�s driving and operation of his motorcycle on the
day of the accident indicated that the accident was not within its exclusive management and control; and
that as to the matters that were within its control, it sufficiently showed its observance of due and
reasonable care and its compliance with the legally prescribed safety requirements.

Regarding the third requisite, the company reminds that Zamora and SPO1 Corporal revealed that Balbino
was overtaking another motorcycle rider before hitting the barricade. The credibility of said witnesses was
not challenged, and their testimonies not rebutted; hence, the CA erred in relying on the recollections of
Asuncion Sandia and Ernesto Alto who were not present when the incident took place. Sandia and Alto�s
testimonies could not be accorded more weight than Zamora�s eyewitness account, considering that the
latter was believed by the trial judge who had the first�hand opportunity to observe the demeanor of the
witnesses.

Whose negligence was the proximate cause of the death of Balbino?

Ruling of the Court


Inasmuch as the RTC and the CA arrived at conflicting findings of fact on who was the negligent party, the
Court holds that an examination of the evidence of the parties needs to be undertaken to properly determine
the issue.8 The Court must ascertain whose evidence was preponderant, for Section 1, Rule 133 of the Rules
of Court mandates that in civil cases, like this one, the party having the burden of proof must establish his
case by a preponderance of evidence.9

Burden of proof is the duty of a party to present evidence on the facts in issue necessary to establish his
claim or defense by the amount of evidence required by law.10 It is basic that whoever alleges a fact has the
burden of proving it because a mere allegation is not evidence.11 Generally, the party who denies has no
burden to prove.12 In civil cases, the burden of proof is on the party who would be defeated if no evidence is
given on either side.13 The burden of proof is on the plaintiff if the defendant denies the factual allegations of
the complaint in the manner required by the Rules of Court, but it may rest on the defendant if he admits
expressly or impliedly the essential allegations but raises affirmative defense or defenses, which if proved,
will exculpate him from liability.14

By preponderance of evidence, according to Raymundo v. Lunaria:15

x x x is meant that the evidence as a whole adduced by one side is superior to that of the other. It refers to
the weight, credit and value of the aggregate evidence on either side and is usually considered to be
synonymous with the term �greater weight of evidence� or �greater weight of the credible evidence.� It
is evidence which is more convincing to the court as worthy of belief than that which is offered in opposition
thereto.

In addition, according to United Airlines, Inc. v. Court of Appeals,16 the plaintiff must rely on the strength of
his own evidence and not upon the weakness of the defendant�s.

Upon a review of the records, the Court affirms the findings of the RTC, and rules that the Lanuzo heirs, the
parties carrying the burden of proof, did not establish by preponderance of evidence that the negligence on
the part of the company was the proximate cause of the fatal accident of Balbino.

Negligence, the Court said in Layugan v. Intermediate Appellate Court,17 is �the omission to do something
which a reasonable man, guided by those considerations which ordinarily regulate the conduct of human
affairs, would do, or the doing of something which a prudent and reasonable man would not do,18 or as
Judge Cooley defines it, �(t)he failure to observe for the protection of the interests of another person, that
degree of care, precaution, and vigilance which the circumstances justly demand, whereby such other
person suffers injury.��19 In order that a party may be held liable for damages for any injury brought about
by the negligence of another, the claimant must prove that the negligence was the immediate and
proximate cause of the injury. Proximate cause is defined as �that cause, which, in natural and continuous
sequence, unbroken by any efficient intervening cause, produces the injury and without which the result
would not have occurred.�20

The test by which the existence of negligence in a particular case is determined is aptly stated in the leading
case of Picart v. Smith,21 as follows:
cha nRoblesv irt ual Lawlib rary

The test by which to determine the existence of negligence in a particular case may be stated as follows: Did
the defendant in doing the alleged negligent act use that reasonable care and caution which an ordinarily
prudent person would have used in the same situation? If not, then he is guilty of negligence. The law here
in effect adopts the standard supposed to be supplied by the imaginary conduct of the
discreet paterfamiliasof the Roman law. The existence of negligence in a given case is not determined by
reference to the personal judgment of the actor in the situation before him. The law considers what would
be reckless, blameworthy, or negligent in the man of ordinary intelligence and prudence and determines
liability by that.

The question as to what would constitute the conduct of a prudent man in a given situation must of course
be always determined in the light of human experience and in view of the facts involved in the particular
case. Abstract speculation cannot here be of much value but this much can be profitably said: Reasonable
men govern their conduct by the circumstances which are before them or known to them. They are not, and
are not supposed to be, omniscient of the future. Hence they can be expected to take care only when there
is something before them to suggest or warn of danger. Could a prudent man, in the case under
consideration, foresee harm as a result of the course actually pursued? If so, it was the duty of the actor to
take precautions to guard against that harm. Reasonable foresight of harm, followed by the ignoring of the
suggestion born of this prevision, is always necessary before negligence can be held to exist. Stated in these
terms, the proper criterion for determining the existence of negligence in a given case is this: Conduct is
said to be negligent when a prudent man in the position of the tortfeasor would have foreseen that an effect
harmful to another was sufficiently probable to warrant his foregoing the conduct or guarding against its
consequences.

First of all, we note that the Lanuzo heirs argued in the trial and appellate courts that there was a total
omission on the part of the company to place illuminated warning signs on the site of the project, especially
during night time, in order to warn motorists of the project. They claim that the omission was the proximate
cause of the death of Balbino.22 In this appeal, however, they contend that the negligence of the company
consisted in its omission to put up adequate lighting and the required signs to warn motorists of the project,
abandoning their previous argument of a total omission to illuminate the project site.

During the trial, the Lanuzo heirs attempted to prove inadequacy of illumination instead of the total omission
of illumination. Their first witness was Cesar Palmero, who recalled that lights had been actually installed in
the site of the project. The next witness was Ernesto Alto, who stated that he had seen three light bulbs
installed in the site, placed at intervals along the stretch of the road covered by the project. Alto further
stated that he had passed the site on board his tricycle on October 30, 1997 prior to the accident, and had
seen only a gas lamp, not light bulbs, on his approach. Another witness of the plaintiffs, Asuncion Sandia,
claimed that she had also passed the site on board a bus on the night just prior to the accident, and had
seen the site to be dark, with only one lane open to traffic, with no light at all. Obviously, the witnesses of
the plaintiffs were not consistent on their recollections of the significant detail of the illumination of the site.

In contrast, the company credibly refuted the allegation of inadequate illumination. Zamora, its flagman in
the project, rendered an eyewitness account of the accident by stating that the site had been illuminated by
light bulbs and gas lamps, and that Balbino had been in the process of overtaking another motorcycle rider
at a fast speed when he hit the barricade placed on the newly cemented road. On his part, SPO1 Corporal,
the police investigator who arrived at the scene of the accident on October 30, 1997, recalled that there
were light bulbs on the other side of the barricade on the lane coming from Naga City; and that the light
bulb on the lane where the accident had occurred was broken because it had been hit by the victim�s
motorcycle. Witnesses Gerry Alejo and Engr. Victorino del Socorro remembered that light bulbs and gas
lamps had been installed in the area of the project.

Secondly, the company presented as its documentary evidence the investigation report dated December 3,
1997 of SPO1 Corporal (Annex 1), the relevant portions of which indicated the finding of the police
investigator on the presence of illumination at the project site, viz: cha nRoblesvi rtu alLaw lib rary

SUBJECT: Investigation Report Re: Homicide Thru Reckless Imprudence (Self Accident)

xxxx

II. MATTERS INVESTIGATED: chanRoble svirtual Lawli bra ry

1. To determine how the incident happened.


2. To determine the vehicle involved.

III. FACTS OF THE CASE:

3. At 6:45 P.M. October 30, 1997, Elements of Pili Municipal Police Station led by SPO2 Melchor
Estallo, SPO2 Cesar Pillarda, both members of the patrol section and SPO1 Pedro D. Corporal,
investigator reported having conducted an on the spot investigation re: vehicular incident (Self
Accident) that happened on or about 6:30 o�clock in the evening of October 30, 1997 along
national highway, San Agustin, Pili, Camarines Sur, wherein one Balbino Lanuzo y Doe, of legal age,
married, a public school teacher, a resident of San Jose, Pili, Camarines Sur while driving his Honda
motorcycle 110 CC enroute to San Jose, Pili, Camarines Sur from Poblacion, this municipality and
upon reaching at road re: blocking portion of the national highway at barangay San Agustin, Pili,
Camarines Sur and while overtaking another motorcycle ahead incidentally side�swiped a road
sign/barricade installed at the lane road re: blocking of the national highway, causing said
motorcycle rider to swerved his ridden motorcycle to the right and stumble down and fell to the
concrete cemented road. Victim was rushed to Bicol Medical Center, Naga City for treatment but
was pronounced dead on arrival.
4. That upon arrival at the scene of the incident it was noted that road sign/barricade
installed on the road has a light.

5. That said road was under repair for almost a month which one lane portion of the national highway
is possible of all passing vehicles from south and north bound.

6. That said motorcycle stumble down on the newly repair portion of the national highway and the
driver lying down beside the motorcycle.

xxxx

7. That one of the passerby revealed that the victim possibly be miscalculated the road block that
made him to tumble down when he applied sudden brake.

IV. FINDINGS/DISCUSSION: chanRoble svirtual Lawli bra ry

8. The time of the incident was at about 6:30 o�clock in the evening a time wherein dark of the night
is approaching the vision of the driver is affected with the changing condition and it is all the time
when driver should lights his driven vehicle, as to this case, the driver Balbino Lanuzo y Doe (victim
has exercise all precautionary measures to avoid accident but due to self accident he incidentally
sideswiped the road sign/barricade of the re: Blocking portion of the national highway resulting him
to stumble down his motorcycle and fell down to the concrete cement road.

9. The driver/victim met unexpectedly (sic) along that one lane potion of the re: blocking and
considering it was night time, confusion overthrew him and because of sudden impulse, he lost
control on the motorcycle he was driving.

10. That the driver/victim has no crush (sic) helmet at the time of the incident considering that it should
be a basic requirement as to prevent from any accident.

V. RECOMMENDATION: chanRoblesvirtual Lawlib rary

11. Basing on the above discussion and facts surroundings the case was purely self accident resulting to
Homicide Thru Reckless Imprudence and the case must be closed. (Emphasis ours.) 23

Additionally, the company submitted the application for lighting permit covering the project site (Annex 7) to
prove the fact of installation of the electric light bulbs in the project site.

In our view, the RTC properly gave more weight to the testimonies of Zamora and SPO1 Corporal than to
those of the witnesses for the Lanuzo heirs. There was justification for doing so, because the greater
probability pertained to the former. Moreover, the trial court�s assessment of the credibility of the
witnesses and of their testimonies is preferred to that of the appellate court�s because of the trial court�s
unique first�hand opportunity to observe the witnesses and their demeanor as such. The Court said in Cang
v. Cullen:24

The findings of the trial court on the credibility of witnesses are accorded great weight and respect � even
considered as conclusive and binding on this Court � since the trial judge had the unique opportunity to
observe the witness firsthand and note his demeanor, conduct and attitude under grueling examination.
Only the trial judge can observe the furtive glance, blush of conscious shame, hesitation, flippant or
sneering tone, calmness, sigh of a witness, or his scant or full realization of an oath � all of which are useful
aids for an accurate determination of a witness' honesty and sincerity. He can thus be expected to
determine with reasonable discretion which testimony is acceptable and which witness is worthy of belief.

Absent any showing that the trial court�s calibration of the credibility of the witnesses was flawed, we are
bound by its assessment. This Court will sustain such findings unless it can be shown that the trial court
ignored, overlooked, misunderstood, misappreciated, or misapplied substantial facts and circumstances,
which, if considered, would materially affect the result of the case.25

The Court observes, too, that SPO1 Corporal, a veteran police officer detailed for more than 17 years at the
Pili Police Station, enjoyed the presumption of regularity in the performance of his official duties.26 The
presumption, although rebuttable, stands because the Lanuzo heirs did not adduce evidence to show any
deficiency or irregularity in the performance of his official duty as the police investigator of the accident.
They also did not show that he was impelled by any ill motive or bias to testify falsely.

Thirdly, the CA unreasonably branded the testimonies of Zamora and SPO1 Corporal as �self�serving.�
They were not. Self�serving evidence refers to out�of�court statements that favor the declarant�s
interest;27 it is disfavored mainly because the adverse party is given no opportunity to dispute the statement
and their admission would encourage fabrication of testimony.28 But court declarations are not self�serving
considering that the adverse party is accorded the opportunity to test the veracity of the declarations by
cross�examination and other methods.

There is no question that Zamora and SPO1 Corporal were thoroughly cross�examined by the counsel for
the Lanuzo heirs. Their recollections remained unchallenged by superior contrary evidence from the Lanuzo
heirs.

Fourthly, the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur had no application here. In Tan v. JAM Transit, Inc.,29 the Court
has discussed the doctrine thusly: chanRoble svirtual Lawlib ra ry

Res ipsa loquitur is a Latin phrase that literally means �the thing or the transaction speaks for itself.� It is
a maxim for the rule that the fact of the occurrence of an injury, taken with the surrounding circumstances,
may permit an inference or raise a presumption of negligence, or make out a plaintiff�s prima facie case,
and present a question of fact for defendant to meet with an explanation. Where the thing that caused the
injury complained of is shown to be under the management of the defendant or his servants; and the
accident, in the ordinary course of things, would not happen if those who had management or control used
proper care, it affords reasonable evidence � in the absence of a sufficient, reasonable and logical
explanation by defendant � that the accident arose from or was caused by the defendant�s want of care.
This rule is grounded on the superior logic of ordinary human experience, and it is on the basis of such
experience or common knowledge that negligence may be deduced from the mere occurrence of the
accident itself. Hence, the rule is applied in conjunction with the doctrine of common knowledge.

For the doctrine to apply, the following requirements must be shown to exist, namely: (a) the accident is of
a kind that ordinarily does not occur in the absence of someone�s negligence; (b) it is caused by an
instrumentality within the exclusive control of the defendant or defendants; and (c) the possibility of
contributing conduct that would make the plaintiff responsible is eliminated.30

The Court has warned in Reyes v. Sisters of Mercy Hospital,31 however, that �res ipsa loquitur is not a rigid
or ordinary doctrine to be perfunctorily used but a rule to be cautiously applied, depending upon the
circumstances of each case.�

Based on the evidence adduced by the Lanuzo heirs, negligence cannot be fairly ascribed to the company
considering that it has shown its installation of the necessary warning signs and lights in the project site. In
that context, the fatal accident was not caused by any instrumentality within the exclusive control of the
company. In contrast, Balbino had the exclusive control of how he operated and managed his motorcycle.
The records disclose that he himself did not take the necessary precautions. As Zamora declared, Balbino
overtook another motorcycle rider at a fast speed, and in the process could not avoid hitting a barricade at
the site, causing him to be thrown off his motorcycle onto the newly cemented road. SPO1 Corporal�s
investigation report corroborated Zamora�s declaration. This causation of the fatal injury went
uncontroverted by the Lanuzo heirs.

Moreover, by the time of the accident, the project, which had commenced in September 1997, had been
going on for more than a month and was already in the completion stage. Balbino, who had passed there on
a daily basis in going to and from his residence and the school where he then worked as the principal, was
thus very familiar with the risks at the project site. Nor could the Lanuzo heirs justly posit that the
illumination was not adequate, for it cannot be denied that Balbino�s motorcycle was equipped with
headlights that would have enabled him at dusk or night time to see the condition of the road ahead. That
the accident still occurred surely indicated that he himself did not exercise the degree of care expected of
him as a prudent motorist.

According to Dr. Abilay, the cause of death of Balbino was the fatal depressed fracture at the back of his
head, an injury that Dr. Abilay opined to be attributable to his head landing on the cemented road after
being thrown off his motorcycle. Considering that it was shown that Balbino was not wearing any protective
head gear or helmet at the time of the accident, he was guilty of negligence in that respect. Had he worn
the protective head gear or helmet, his untimely death would not have occurred.

The RTC was correct on its conclusions and findings that the company was not negligent in ensuring safety
at the project site. All the established circumstances showed that the proximate and immediate cause of the
death of Balbino was his own negligence. Hence, the Lanuzo heirs could not recover damages.32

WHEREFORE, the Court GRANTS the petition for review on certiorari; REVERSES and SETS ASIDEthe
decision promulgated on August 11, 2003 by the Court of Appeals; REINSTATES the decision rendered on
October 8, 2001 by the Regional Trial Court, Branch 32, in Pili, Camarines Sur dismissing the complaint;
and MAKES no pronouncements on costs of suit.

SO ORDERED.

Sereno, C.J., Leonardo�De Castro, *Brion, and Reyes, JJ., concur.

Endnotes:

*
Vice Associate Justice Martin S. Villarama, Jr., who penned the decision under review, pursuant to the
raffle of May 8, 2013.

1
Records, pp. 2�6.

2
Id. at 17�22.

Rollo, pp. 52�53; penned by Presiding Judge Nilo A. Malanyaon.


3

4
Id. at 40�49; penned by Associate Justice Martin S. Villarama, Jr. (now a Member of the Court), with
Associate Justice Cancio C. Garcia (later Presiding Justice, and a Member of this Court, since retired) and
Associate Justice Mario L. Guari�a III (retired) concurring.

5
Id. at 48.

6
CA rollo, pp. 90�106.

Rollo, pp. 19�20.


7

8
Sealoader Shipping Corporation v. Grand Cement Manufacturing Corporation, G.R. Nos. 167363 & 177466,
December 15, 2010, 638 SCRA 488, 509�510.

9
Section 1, Rule 133 of the Rules of Court states: chanRoblesvi rtual Lawli bra ry

Section 1. Preponderance of evidence, how determined. � In civil cases, the party having burden of proof
must establish his case by a preponderance of evidence. In determining where the preponderance or
superior weight of evidence on the issues involved lies, the court may consider all the facts and
circumstances of the case, the witnesses' manner of testifying, their intelligence, their means and
opportunity of knowing the facts to which there are testifying, the nature of the facts to which they testify,
the probability or improbability of their testimony, their interest or want of interest, and also their personal
credibility so far as the same may legitimately appear upon the trial. The court may also consider the
number of witnesses, though the preponderance is not necessarily with the greater number.

10
People v. Macagaling, G.R. Nos. 109131�33, October 3, 1994, 237 SCRA 299, 320.

11
Luxuria Homes, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 125986, January 28, 1999, 302 SCRA 315,
325; Coronel v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 103577, October 7, 1996, 263 SCRA 15, 35.

12
Martin v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 82248, January 30, 1992, 205 SCRA 591, 596.

Pacific Banking Corporation Employees Organization v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 109373, March 27,
13

1998, 288 SCRA 197, 206].


14
Sambar v. Levi Strauss & Co., G.R. No. 132604, March 3, 2002, 378 SCRA 365.

15
G.R. No. 171036, October 17, 2008, 569 SCRA 526, 532.

16
G.R. No. 124110, April 20, 2001, 357 SCRA 99, 107.

17
No. L�73998, November 14, 1988, 167 SCRA 363, 372�373.

18
Id., citing Black Law Dictionary, Fifth Edition, 930.

19
Id., citing Cooley On Torts, Fourth Edition, Vol. 3, 265.

Allied Banking Corporation v. Lim Sio Wan, G.R. No. 133179, March 27, 2008, 549 SCRA 504, 518.
20

21
37 Phil 809, 813 (1918).

22
Records, p. 3; CA rollo, pp. 31, 38.

23
Records, pp. 178�179.

24
G.R. No. 163078, November 25, 2009, 605 SCRA 391, 398.

25
Id. at 401�402.

26
Section 3 (m), Rule 131of the Rules of Court states: chanRoblesvirtual Lawlibra ry

Section 3. Disputable presumptions. � The following presumptions are satisfactory if uncontradicted, but
may be contradicted and overcome by other evidence: chanRob lesvi rt ualLawl ibra ry

xxxx

(m) That official duty has been regularly performed;

xxxx

National Development Co. v. Workmen�s Compensation Commission, 19 SCRA 861, 865�866.


27

28
Hernandez v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 104874, December 14, 1993, 228 SCRA 429, 436.

29
G.R. No. 183198, November 25, 2009, 605 SCRA 659, 667�668.

Macalinao v. Ong, G.R. No. 146635, December 14, 2005, 477 SCRA 740, 755.
30

31
G.R. No. 130547, October 3, 2000, 341 SCRA 760, 772.

32
The Civil Code states: chanRoblesvi rtua lLaw lib rary

Article 2179. When the plaintiff�s own negligence was the immediate and proximate cause of his
injury, he cannot recover damages. But if his negligence was only contributory, the immediate and
proximate cause of the injury being the defendant�s lack of due care, the plaintiff may recover damages,
but the courts shall mitigate the damages to be awarded

SECOND DIVISION
[G.R. No. 130003. October 20, 2004]

JONAS AONUEVO, petitioner vs. HON. COURT OF APPEALS and


JEROME VILLAGRACIA, respondent

DECISION
TINGA, J.:

The bicycle provides considerable speed and freedom of movement to the rider. It
derives a certain charm from being unencumbered by any enclosure, affording the
cyclist the perception of relative liberty. It also carries some obvious risks on the part of
the user and has become the subject of regulation, if not by the government, then by
parental proscription.
The present petition seeks to bar recovery by an injured cyclist of damages from the
driver of the car which had struck him. The argument is hinged on the cyclists failure to
install safety devices on his bicycle. However, the lower courts agreed that the motorist
himself caused the collision with his own negligence. The facts are deceptively simple,
but the resolution entails thorough consideration of fundamental precepts on
negligence.
The present petition raises little issue with the factual findings of the Regional Trial
Court (RTC), Branch 160, of Pasig City, as affirmed by the Court of Appeals. Both
courts adjudged petitioner, Jonas Aonuevo ( Aonuevo ), liable for the damages for the
injuries sustained by the cyclist, Jerome Villagracia (Villagracia). Instead, the petition
hinges on a sole legal question, characterized as novel by the petitioner: whether Article
2185 of the New Civil Code, which presumes the driver of a motor vehicle negligent if
he was violating a traffic regulation at the time of the mishap, should apply by analogy to
non-motorized vehicles.[1]
As found by the RTC, and affirmed by the Court of Appeals, the accident in question
occurred on 8 February 1989, at around nine in the evening, at the intersection of Boni
Avenue and Barangka Drive in Mandaluyong (now a city). Villagracia was traveling
along Boni Avenue on his bicycle, while Aonuevo, traversing the opposite lane was
driving his Lancer car with plate number PJJ 359. The car was owned by Procter and
Gamble Inc., the employer of Aonuevos brother, Jonathan. Aonuevo was in the course
of making a left turn towards Libertad Street when the collision occurred. Villagracia
sustained serious injuries as a result, which necessitated his hospitalization several
times in 1989, and forced him to undergo four (4) operations.
On 26 October 1989, Villagracia instituted an action for damages against Procter
and Gamble Phils., Inc. and Aonuevo before the RTC.[2] He had also filed a criminal
complaint against Aonuevo before the Metropolitan Trial Court of Mandaluyong, but the
latter was subsequently acquitted of the criminal charge. [3] Trial on the civil action
ensued, and in a Decision dated 9 March 1990, the RTC rendered judgment against
Procter and Gamble and Aonuevo, ordering them to pay Villagracia the amounts of One
Hundred Fifty Thousand Pesos (P150, 000.00). for actual damages, Ten Thousand
Pesos (P10,000.00) for moral damages, and Twenty Thousand Pesos (P20,000.00) for
attorneys fees, as well as legal costs.[4] Both defendants appealed to the Court of
Appeals.
In a Decision[5] dated 8 May 1997, the Court of Appeals Fourth Division affirmed the
RTC Decision in toto[6]. After the Court of Appeals denied the Motion for
Reconsideration in a Resolution[7] dated 22 July 1997, Procter and Gamble and
Aonuevo filed their respective petitions for review with this Court. Procter and Gambles
petition was denied by this Court in a Resolution dated 24 November 1997. Aonuevos
petition,[8] on the other hand, was given due course,[9] and is the subject of this Decision.
In arriving at the assailed Decision, the Court of Appeals affirmed the factual
findings of the RTC. Among them: that it was Aonuevos vehicle which had struck
Villagracia;[10] that Aonuevos vehicle had actually hit Villagracias left mid-thigh, thus
causing a comminuted fracture;[11] that as testified by eyewitness Alfredo Sorsano,
witness for Villagracia, Aonuevo was umaarangkada, or speeding as he made the left
turn into Libertad;[12] that considering Aonuevos claim that a passenger jeepney was
obstructing his path as he made the turn. Aonuevo had enough warning to control his
speed;[13] and that Aonuevo failed to exercise the ordinary precaution, care and diligence
required of him in order that the accident could have been avoided. [14] Notably, Aonuevo,
in his current petition, does not dispute the findings of tortious conduct on his part made
by the lower courts, hinging his appeal instead on the alleged negligence of Villagracia.
Aonuevo proffers no exculpatory version of facts on his part, nor does he dispute the
conclusions made by the RTC and the Court of Appeals. Accordingly, the Court, which
is not a trier of facts,[15] is not compelled to review the factual findings of the lower courts,
which following jurisprudence have to be received with respect and are in fact generally
binding.[16]
Notwithstanding, the present petition presents interesting questions for resolution.
Aonuevos arguments are especially fixated on a particular question of law: whether
Article 2185 of the New Civil Code should apply by analogy to non-motorized
vehicles.[17] In the same vein, Aonuevo insists that Villagracias own fault and negligence
serves to absolve the former of any liability for damages.
Its is easy to discern why Aonuevo chooses to employ this line of argument.
Aonuevo points out that Villagracias bicycle had no safety gadgets such as a horn or
bell, or headlights, as invoked by a 1948 municipal ordinance.[18] Nor was it duly
registered with the Office of the Municipal Treasurer, as required by the same
ordinance. Finally, as admitted by Villagracia, his bicycle did not have foot
brakes.[19] Before this Court, Villagracia does not dispute these allegations, which he
admitted during the trial, but directs our attention instead to the findings of Aonuevos
own negligence.[20] Villagracia also contends that, assuming there was contributory
negligence on his part, such would not exonerate Aonuevo from payment of damages.
The Court of Appeals likewise acknowledged the lack of safety gadgets on Villagracias
bicycle, but characterized the contention as off-tangent and insufficient to obviate the
fact that it was Aonuevos own negligence that caused the accident.[21]
Aonuevo claims that Villagracia violated traffic regulations when he failed to register
his bicycle or install safety gadgets thereon. He posits that Article 2185 of the New Civil
Code applies by analogy. The provision reads:

Article 2185. Unless there is proof to the contrary, it is presumed that a person driving
a motor vehicle has been negligent if at the time of the mishap he was violating any
traffic regulation.

The provision was introduced for the first time in this jurisdiction with the adoption in
1950 of the New Civil Code.[22] Its applicability is expressly qualified to motor vehicles
only, and there is no ground to presume that the law intended a broader coverage.
Still, Aonuevo hypothesizes that Article 2185 should apply by analogy to all types of
vehicles[23]. He points out that modern-day travel is more complex now than when the
Code was enacted, the number and types of vehicles now in use far more numerous
than as of then. He even suggests that at the time of the enactment of the Code, the
legislators must have seen that only motor vehicles were of such public concern that
they had to be specifically mentioned, yet today, the interaction of vehicles of all types
and nature has inescapably become matter of public concern so as to expand the
application of the law to be more responsive to the times.[24]
What Aonuevo seeks is for the Court to amend the explicit command of the
legislature, as embodied in Article 2185, a task beyond the pale of judicial power. The
Court interprets, and not creates, the law. However, since the Court is being asked to
consider the matter, it might as well examine whether Article 2185 could be interpreted
to include non-motorized vehicles.
At the time Article 2185 was formulated, there existed a whole array of non-
motorized vehicles ranging from human-powered contraptions on wheels such as
bicycles, scooters, and animal-drawn carts such as calesas and carromata. These
modes of transport were even more prevalent on the roads of the 1940s and 1950s than
they are today, yet the framers of the New Civil Code chose then to exclude these
alternative modes from the scope of Article 2185 with the use of the term motorized
vehicles. If Aonuevo seriously contends that the application of Article 2185 be expanded
due to the greater interaction today of all types of vehicles, such argument contradicts
historical experience. The ratio of motorized vehicles as to non-motorized vehicles, as it
stood in 1950, was significantly lower than as it stands today. This will be certainly
affirmed by statistical data, assuming such has been compiled, much less confirmed by
persons over sixty. Aonuevos characterization of a vibrant intra-road dynamic between
motorized and non-motorized vehicles is more apropos to the past than to the present.
There is a fundamental flaw in Aonuevos analysis of Art. 2185, as applicable today.
He premises that the need for the distinction between motorized and non-motorized
vehicles arises from the relative mass of number of these vehicles. The more pertinent
basis for the segregate classification is the difference in type of these vehicles. A
motorized vehicle operates by reason of a motor engine unlike a non-motorized vehicle,
which runs as a result of a direct exertion by man or beast of burden of direct physical
force. A motorized vehicle, unimpeded by the limitations in physical exertion. is capable
of greater speeds and acceleration than non-motorized vehicles. At the same time,
motorized vehicles are more capable in inflicting greater injury or damage in the event
of an accident or collision. This is due to a combination of factors peculiar to the motor
vehicle, such as the greater speed, its relative greater bulk of mass, and greater
combustability due to the fuels that they use.
There long has been judicial recognition of the peculiar dangers posed by the motor
vehicle. As far back as 1912, in the U.S. v. Juanillo[25], the Court has recognized that an
automobile is capable of great speed, greater than that of ordinary vehicles hauled by
animals, and beyond doubt it is highly dangerous when used on country roads, putting
to great hazard the safety and lives of the mass of the people who travel on such
roads.[26] In the same case, the Court emphasized:

A driver of an automobile, under such circumstances, is required to use a greater


degree of care than drivers of animals, for the reason that the machine is capable of
greater destruction, and furthermore, it is absolutely under the power and control of
the driver; whereas, a horse or other animal can and does to some extent aid in
averting an accident. It is not pleasant to be obliged to slow down automobiles to
accommodate persons riding, driving, or walking. It is probably more agreeable to
send the machine along and let the horse or person get out of the way in the best
manner possible; but it is well to understand, if this course is adopted and an accident
occurs, that the automobile driver will be called upon to account for his acts. An
automobile driver must at all times use all the care and caution which a careful and
prudent driver would have exercised under the circumstances. [27]

American jurisprudence has had occasion to explicitly rule on the relationship


between the motorist and the cyclist. Motorists are required to exercise ordinary or
reasonable care to avoid collision with bicyclists.[28] While the duty of using ordinary care
falls alike on the motorist and the rider or driver of a bicycle, it is obvious, for reasons
growing out of the inherent differences in the two vehicles, that more is required from
the former to fully discharge the duty than from the latter.[29]
The Code Commission was cognizant of the difference in the natures and attached
responsibilities of motorized and non-motorized vehicles. Art. 2185 was not formulated
to compel or ensure obeisance by all to traffic rules and regulations. If such were indeed
the evil sought to be remedied or guarded against, then the framers of the Code would
have expanded the provision to include non-motorized vehicles or for that matter,
pedestrians. Yet, that was not the case; thus the need arises to ascertain the
peculiarities attaching to a motorized vehicle within the dynamics of road travel. The fact
that there has long existed a higher degree of diligence and care imposed on motorized
vehicles, arising from the special nature of motor vehicle, leads to the inescapable
conclusion that the qualification under Article 2185 exists precisely to recognize such
higher standard. Simply put, the standards applicable to motor vehicle are not on equal
footing with other types of vehicles.
Thus, we cannot sustain the contention that Art. 2185 should apply to non-
motorized vehicles, even if by analogy. There is factual and legal basis that
necessitates the distinction under Art. 2185, and to adopt Aonuevos thesis would
unwisely obviate this distinction.
Even if the legal presumption under Article 2185 should not apply to Villagracia, this
should not preclude any possible finding of negligence on his part. While the legal
argument as formulated by Aonuevo is erroneous, his core contention that Villagracia
was negligent for failure to comply with traffic regulations warrants serious
consideration, especially since the imputed negligent acts were admitted by Villagracia
himself.
The Civil Code characterizes negligence as the omission of that diligence which is
required by the nature of the obligation and corresponds with the circumstances of the
persons, of the time and of the place.[30] However, the existence of negligence in a given
case is not determined by the personal judgment of the actor in a given situation, but
rather, it is the law which determines what would be reckless or negligent. [31]
Aonuevo, asserts that Villagracia was negligent as the latter had transgressed a
municipal ordinance requiring the registration of bicycles and the installation of safety
devices thereon. This view finds some support if anchored on the long standing
principle of negligence per se.
The generally accepted view is that the violation of a statutory duty constitutes
negligence, negligence as a matter of law, or negligence per se.[32] In Teague vs.
Fernandez,[33] the Court cited with approval American authorities elucidating on the rule:

The mere fact of violation of a statute is not sufficient basis for an inference that such
violation was the proximate cause of the injury complained. However, if the very
injury has happened which was intended to be prevented by the statute, it has been
held that violation of the statute will be deemed to be the proximate cause of the
injury. (65 C.J.S. 1156)

The generally accepted view is that violation of a statutory duty constitutes


negligence, negligence as a matter of law, or, according to the decisions on the
question, negligence per se, for the reason that non-observance of what the legislature
has prescribed as a suitable precaution is failure to observe that care which an
ordinarily prudent man would observe, and, when the state regards certain acts as so
liable to injure others as to justify their absolute prohibition, doing the forbidden act is
a breach of duty with respect to those who may be injured thereby; or, as it has been
otherwise expressed, when the standard of care is fixed by law, failure to conform to
such standard is negligence, negligence per se or negligence in and of itself, in the
absence of a legal excuse. According to this view it is immaterial, where a statute has
been violated, whether the act or omission constituting such violation would have
been regarded as negligence in the absence of any statute on the subject or whether
there was, as a matter of fact, any reason to anticipate that injury would result from
such violation. x x x. (65 C.J.S. pp.623-628)

But the existence of an ordinance changes the situation. If a driver causes an accident
by exceeding the speed limit, for example, we do not inquire whether his prohibited
conduct was unreasonably dangerous. It is enough that it was prohibited. Violation of
an ordinance intended to promote safety is negligence. If by creating the hazard which
the ordinance was intended to avoid it brings about the harm which the ordinance was
intended to prevent, it is a legal cause of the harm. This comes only to saying that in
such circumstances the law has no reason to ignore the causal relation which
obviously exists in fact. The law has excellent reason to recognize it, since it is the
very relation which the makers of the ordinance anticipated. This court has applied
these principles to speed limits and other regulations of the manner of driving. (Ross
vs. Hartman, 139 Fed. 2d 14 at 15).

x x x However, the fact that other happenings causing or contributing toward an injury
intervened between the violation of a statute or ordinance and the injury does not
necessarily make the result so remote that no action can be maintained. The test is to
be found not in the number of intervening events or agents, but in their character and
in the natural and probable connection between the wrong done and the injurious
consequence. The general principle is that the violation of a statute or ordinance is not
rendered remote as the cause of an injury by the intervention of another agency if the
occurrence of the accident, in the manner in which it happened, was the very thing
which the statute or ordinance was intended to prevent. (38 Am Jur 841) [34]

In Teague, the owner of a vocational school stricken by a fire resulting in fatalities


was found negligent, base on her failure to provide adequate fire exits in contravention
of a Manila city ordinance.[35] In F.F. Cruz and Co., Inc. v. Court of Appeals[36], the failure
of the petitioner to construct a firewall in accordance with city ordinances sufficed to
support a finding of negligence.[37] In Cipriano v. Court of Appeals, [38]the Court found that
the failure of the petitioner to register and insure his auto rustproofing shop in
accordance with the statute constituted negligence per se, thus holding him liable for
the damages for the destruction by fire of a customers vehicle garaged therein.
Should the doctrine of negligence per se apply to Villagracia, resulting from his
violation of an ordinance? It cannot be denied that the statutory purpose for requiring
bicycles to be equipped with headlights or horns is to promote road safety and to
minimize the occurrence of road accidents involving bicycles. At face value, Villagracias
mishap was precisely the danger sought to be guarded against by the ordinance he
violated. Aonuevo argues that Villagracias violation should bar the latters recovery of
damages, and a simplistic interpretation of negligence per se might vindicate such an
argument.
But this is by no means a simple case. There is the fact which we consider as
proven, that Aonuevo was speeding as he made the left turn, and such negligent act
was the proximate cause of the accident. This reckless behavior would have imperiled
anyone unlucky enough within the path of Aonuevos car as it turned into the
intersection, whether they are fellow motorists, pedestrians, or cyclists. We are hard put
to conclude that Villagracia would have avoided injury had his bicycle been up to par
with safety regulations, especially considering that Aonuevo was already speeding as
he made the turn, or before he had seen Villagracia. Even assuming that Aonuevo had
failed to see Villagracia because the bicycle was not equipped with headlights, such
lapse on the cyclists part would not have acquitted the driver of his duty to slow down as
he proceeded to make the left turn.
This court has appreciated that negligence per se, arising from the mere violation of
a traffic statute, need not be sufficient in itself in establishing liability for damages.
In Sanitary Steam Laundry, Inc. v. Court of Appeals,[39] a collision between a truck and a
privately-owned Cimarron van caused the death of three of the vans passengers. The
petitioner therein, the owner of the truck, argued that the driver of the Cimarron was
committing multiple violations of the Land Transportation and Traffic Code [40] at the time
of the accident. Among these violations: the Cimarron was overloaded at the time of the
accident; the front seat of the van was occupied by four adults, including the driver; and
the van had only one functioning headlight. Similar as in this case, petitioner therein
invoked Article 2185 and argued that the driver of the Cimarron should be presumed
negligent. The Court, speaking through Justice Mendoza, dismissed these arguments:

[It] has not been shown how the alleged negligence of the Cimarron driver contributed
to the collision between the vehicles. Indeed, petitioner has the burden of showing a
causal connection between the injury received and the violation of the Land
Transportation and Traffic Code. He must show that the violation of the statute was
the proximate or legal cause of the injury or that it substantially contributed thereto.
Negligence consisting in whole or in part, of violation of law, like any other
negligence, is without legal consequence unless it is a contributing cause of the injury.
Petitioner says that driving an overloaded vehicle with only one functioning headlight
during nighttime certainly increases the risk of accident, that because the Cimarron
had only one headlight, there was decreased visibility, and that the fact that the
vehicle was overloaded and its front seat overcrowded decreased its maneuverability.
However, mere allegations such as these are not sufficient to discharge its burden of
proving clearly that such alleged negligence was the contributing cause of the injury. [41]

Sanitary Steam[42] is controlling in this case. The bare fact that Villagracia was
violating a municipal ordinance at the time of the accident may have sufficiently
established some degree of negligence on his part, but such negligence is without legal
consequence unless it is shown that it was a contributing cause of the injury. If anything
at all, it is but indicative of Villagracias failure in fulfilling his obligation to the municipal
government, which would then be the proper party to initiate corrective action as a
result. But such failure alone is not determinative of Villagracias negligence in relation to
the accident. Negligence is relative or comparative, dependent upon the situation of the
parties and the degree of care and vigilance which the particular circumstances
reasonably require.[43] To determine if Villagracia was negligent, it is not sufficient to rely
solely on the violations of the municipal ordinance, but imperative to examine
Villagracias behavior in relation to the contemporaneous circumstances of the accident.
The rule on negligence per se must admit qualifications that may arise from the
logical consequences of the facts leading to the mishap. The doctrine (and Article 2185,
for that matter) is undeniably useful as a judicial guide in adjudging liability, for it seeks
to impute culpability arising from the failure of the actor to perform up to a standard
established by a legal fiat. But the doctrine should not be rendered inflexible so as to
deny relief when in fact there is no causal relation between the statutory violation and
the injury sustained. Presumptions in law, while convenient, are not intractable so as to
forbid rebuttal rooted in fact. After all, tort law is remunerative in spirit, aiming to provide
compensation for the harm suffered by those whose interests have been invaded owing
to the conduct of others.[44]
Under American case law, the failures imputed on Villagracia are not grievous
enough so as to negate monetary relief. In the absence of statutory requirement, one is
not negligent as a matter of law for failing to equip a horn, bell, or other warning devise
onto a bicycle.[45] In most cases, the absence of proper lights on a bicycle does not
constitute negligence as a matter of law[46] but is a question for the jury whether the
absence of proper lights played a causal part in producing a collision with a
motorist.[47] The absence of proper lights on a bicycle at night, as required by statute or
ordinance, may constitute negligence barring or diminishing recovery if the bicyclist is
struck by a motorist as long as the absence of such lights was a proximate cause of the
collision;[48] however, the absence of such lights will not preclude or diminish recovery if
the scene of the accident was well illuminated by street lights, [49] if substitute lights were
present which clearly rendered the bicyclist visible,[50] if the motorist saw the bicycle in
spite of the absence of lights thereon,[51] or if the motorist would have been unable to see
the bicycle even if it had been equipped with lights. [52]A bicycle equipped with defective
or ineffective brakes may support a finding of negligence barring or diminishing recovery
by an injured bicyclist where such condition was a contributing cause of the accident.[53]
The above doctrines reveal a common thread. The failure of the bicycle owner to
comply with accepted safety practices, whether or not imposed by ordinance or statute,
is not sufficient to negate or mitigate recovery unless a causal connection is established
between such failure and the injury sustained. The principle likewise finds affirmation in
Sanitary Steam, wherein we declared that the violation of a traffic statute must be
shown as the proximate cause of the injury, or that it substantially contributed
thereto.[54] Aonuevo had the burden of clearly proving that the alleged negligence of
Villagracia was the proximate or contributory cause of the latters injury.
On this point, the findings of the Court of Appeals are well-worth citing:

[As] admitted by appellant Aonuevo, he first saw appellee Villagracia at a distance of


about ten (10) meters before the accident. Corrolarily, therefore, he could have
avoided the accident had he [stopped] alongside with an earlier (sic) jeep which was
already at a full stop giving way to appellee. But according to [eyewitness] Sorsano,
he saw appellant Aonuevo umaarangkada and hit the leg of Villagracia (TSN March
14, 1990 p. 30). This earlier (sic) jeep at a full stop gave way to Villagracia to proceed
but Aonuevo at an unexpected motion (umarangkada) came out hitting Villagracia
(TSN March 9, 1990 p. 49). Appellant Aonuevo admitted that he did not blow his
horn when he crossed Boni Avenue (TSN March 21, 1990 p. 47). [55]

By Aonuevos own admission, he had seen Villagracia at a good distance of ten (10)
meters. Had he been decelerating, as he should, as he made the turn, Aonuevo would
have had ample opportunity to avoid hitting Villagracia. Moreover, the fact that Aonuevo
had sighted Villagracia before the accident would negate any possibility that the
absence of lights on the bike contributed to the cause of the accident. [56] A motorist has
been held liable for injury to or death of a bicyclist where the motorist turned suddenly
into the bicyclist so as to cause a collision.[57]
Neither does Aonuevo attempt before this Court to establish a causal connection
between the safety violations imputed to Villagracia and the accident itself. Instead, he
relied on a putative presumption that these violations in themselves sufficiently
established negligence appreciable against Villagracia. Since the onus on Aonuevo is to
conclusively prove the link between the violations and the accident, we can deem him
as having failed to discharge his necessary burden of proving Villagracias own liability.
Neither can we can adjudge Villagracia with contributory negligence. The leading
case in contributory negligence, Rakes v. Atlantic Gulf[58] clarifies that damages may be
mitigated if the claimant in conjunction with the occurrence, [contributes] only to his
injury.[59] To hold a person as having contributed to his injuries, it must be shown that he
performed an act that brought about his injuries in disregard of warnings or signs of an
impending danger to health and body.[60] To prove contributory negligence, it is still
necessary to establish a causal link, although not proximate, between the negligence of
the party and the succeeding injury. In a legal sense, negligence is contributory only
when it contributes proximately to the injury, and not simply a condition for its
occurrence.[61]
As between Aonuevo and Villagracia, the lower courts adjudged Aonuevo as solely
responsible for the accident. The petition does not demonstrate why this finding should
be reversed. It is hard to imagine that the same result would not have occurred even if
Villagracias bicycle had been equipped with safety equipment. Aonuevo himself
admitted having seen Villagracia from ten (10) meters away, thus he could no longer
claim not having been sufficiently warned either by headlights or safety horns. The fact
that Aonuevo was recklessly speeding as he made the turn likewise leads us to believe
that even if Villagracias bicycle had been equipped with the proper brakes, the cyclist
would not have had opportunity to brake in time to avoid the speeding car. Moreover, it
was incumbent on Aonuevo to have established that Villagracias failure to have
installed the proper brakes contributed to his own injury. The fact that Aonuevo failed to
adduce proof to that effect leads us to consider such causal connection as not proven.
All told, there is no reason to disturb the assailed judgment.
WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals is
AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioner.
SO ORDERED.
Puno, (Chairman), Austria-Martinez, Callejo, Sr. and Chico-Nazario, JJ., concur.

[1]
Rollo, p.14.
[2]
Id. at 25. Docketed as Civil Case No. 58784.
[3]
Id. at 27.
[4]
Id. at 25.
[5]
Penned by Justice B. Adefuin-De La Cruz, concurred in by Justices G. Paras and R. Galvez.
[6]
Rollo, pp. 25-39.
[7]
Id. at 52.
[8]
Docketed as C.A. G.R. No. 129966
[9]
In a Resolution dated 8 December 1996.
[10]
Rollo, p. 33.
[11]
Ibid.
[12]
Id. at 31-32.
[13]
Id. at 32.
[14]
Id. at 31.
[15]
W-Red Construction v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 122648, August 17, 2000, 392 Phil. 888, 899
(2000).
[16]
Engreso vs. De La Cruz, G.R. No. 148727, April 9, 2003, 401 SCRA 217, 220.
[17]
Rollo, p. 14.
[18]
Id. at 18. Particularly Municipal Ordinance No. 2, Series of 1948. Section 3 thereof states: x x x [No]
bicycle shall be issued a registration certificate and plate unless the bicycle is equipped with a
headlight and a bicycle horn or bell.
[19]
Id. at 20.
[20]
Id. at 118.
[21]
Id. at 34.
[22]
Tolentino, in his annotations on the Civil Code, states that the article restates a principle enunciated in
the U.S. v. Crame, 30 Phil. 2 (1915). See A. Tolentino, V Civil Code of the Philippines (1999 ed.),
at 625. While the said case does not expressly state such a rule, its conclusion of negligence,
derived from the appreciation of the various traffic violations of the defendant therein, is in accord
with the principle behind the rule.
[23]
Rollo, p. 16. He cites the definition of vehicle as every description of carriage or other artificial
contrivance used, or capable of being used, as a means of transportation. Id., citing Philippine
Law Dictionary, p. 618; and Woodward v. Collector of Customs, 39 Phil. 516 (1919).
[24]
Rollo, p. 16.
[25]
23 Phil. 212 (1912).
[26]
Id. at 222.
[27]
Id. at 225.
[28]
8 AM JUR 2d 675.
[29]
Id., citing Luther v. State, 177 Ind. 619, 98 N.E. 640 (1912).
[30]
See Art. 1173, New Civil Code.
[31]
See Picart v. Smith, 37 Phil. 809, 813 (1918); Civil Aeronautics Administration v. Court of Appeals, G.R
No. L-51806, 8 November 1988, 167 SCRA 28, 39; Layugan v. Intermediate Appellate Court,
G.R. No. L-73998, 14 November 1988, 167 SCRA 363, 372-373; Leao v. Domingo, G.R No.
84378, 4 July 1991, 198 SCRA 800, 804; PBCom v. Court of Appeals, 336 Phil. 667,676 (1997);
BPI v. Court of Appeals, 383 Phil. 538, 555 (2000).
[32]
65 C.J.S., p. 623. See also J.C Sangco, I Torts and Damages (1993), at 12.
[33]
151-A Phil. 648 (1973).
[34]
Teague v. Fernandez, 151-A Phil. 648, 652-653 (1973).
[35]
Id. at 651-652.
[36]
G.R. No. L-52732, 29 August 1988, 164 SCRA 731.
[37]
Id. at 736.
[38]
331 Phil. 1019 (1996).
[39]
360 Phil. 199 (1998).
[40]
Republic Act No. 4136.
[41]
Sanitary Steam Laundry, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 360 Phil. 199, 208-209 (1998).
[42]
Id.
[43]
Corliss v. Manila Railroad Company, 137 Phil. 101, 107-108 citing Ahern v. Oregon Telephone Co., 35
Pac 549 (1894).
[44]
See M. Brazier, Street on torts 3 (8th ed., 1988).
[45]
8 AM JUR 2d 678; citing Longie v. Exline, 659 F. Supp. 177 (D. Md. 1987); Green v. Pedigo, 75 Cal.
App. 2d 300, 170 P.2d 999 (2d Dist. 1946).
[46]
Id. citing Taylor v. Yukeic, 273 A.D. 915, 77 N.Y.S. 2d 620; Masters v. Alexander, 424 Pa. 225 A.2d
905 (1967).
[47]
Id. citing Howie v. Bardwell, 287 mass. 121, 191 N.E. 640 (1934); Brown v. Tanner, 281 Mich. 150, 274
N.W. 744 (1937); Bauman by Chapman v. Crawford, 104 Wash. 2d 241, 704 P.2d 1181 (1985).
[48]
Id. citing Johnson v. Railway Exp. Agency, 131 F.2d 1009 (C.C.A 7 th Cir. 1942); Longie v. Exline, 659
F. Supp. 177 (D. Md. 1987); Zachary v. Travelers Indm. Co., 533 So. 2d 1300 (La. Ct. App. 3d
Cir. 1988); Haskins v. Carolina Power and Light Co., 47 N.C app. 664, 267 S.E 2d 587 (1980);
Everest v. Riecken, 26 Wash. 2d 542, 174 P. 2d 762 (1946).
[49]
Id. citing La Count v. Pasarich, 205 Cal. 181, 270 P. 210 (1928).
[50]
Id. citing Landis v. Wick, 154 Or. 199, 59 P. 2d 403 (1936).
[51]
Id. citing Anderson v. Sterrit, 95 Kan. 483, 148 P. 635 (1915).
[52]
Id. citing Howie v. Bardwell, 287 Mass. 121, 191 N.E. 640 (1934).
[53]
Id. citing Longie v. Exline, 659 F. Supp. 177 (D. Md. 1987); Green v. Pedigo, 75 Cal. App. 2d 300, 170
P.2d 999 (2dDist. 1946).
[54]
Supra note 41.
[55]
Rollo,p. 34.
[56]
See supra note 42.
[57]
Tennessee Mill & Feed Co. v. Giles, 211 Ala. 44, 99 So. 84 (1924), cited in 8 AM JUR 2d 675.
[58]
7 Phil. 359 (1907).
[59]
Id. at 375.
[60]
Ma-ao Sugar Central Co., Inc. and Araneta vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 83491, 27 August 1990, 189
SCRA 88, 93.
[61]
Fuentes v. NLRC, G.R. No. L-75955, 28 October 1988, 166 SCRA 752, 757.

THIRD DIVISION

G.R. No. 200055, September 10, 2014

STANDARD INSURANCE CO., INC., Petitioner, v. ARNOLD CUARESMA AND JERRY B.


CUARESMA, Respondents.

DECISION

PERALTA, J.:

Before the Court is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court seeking to reverse
and set aside the Decision1 and Resolution,2 dated June 22, 2011 and January 16, 2012, respectively, of the
Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 117785.

The antecedent facts are as follows: cha nRoblesv irt ual Lawlib rary

On March 20, 2004, two vehicles, one driven by Jefferson Cham and insured with petitioner Standard
Insurance Co., Inc., and the other owned by respondent Arnold Cuaresma and driven by respondent Jerry B.
Cuaresma, figured in an accident at North Avenue, Quezon City.3 Consequently, the damage on the vehicle
driven by Cham was repaired, the cost of which was borne by petitioner. Cham then executed a Release of
Claim in favor of petitioner subrogating the latter to all his rights to recover on all claims, demands, and
rights of action on account of the loss, damage, or injury sustained as a consequence of the accident from
any person liable thereto.4 Based on said document, petitioner, in its letter5 dated April 15, 2004 addressed
to respondents, demanded the payment of the sum spent on repairing the vehicle driven by Cham.

Meanwhile, on August 10, 2004, an Information6 was filed with the Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC) of
Quezon City charging Cham of the crime of Reckless Imprudence Resulting in Damage to Property docketed
as Criminal Case No. 020256. During the pendency thereof, on March 17, 2008, petitioner, claiming that
respondents collided with Cham's vehicle in a reckless and imprudent manner, filed a Complaint7 for Sum of
Money with the MeTC of Manila against respondents, docketed as Civil Case No. 184854, demanding
payment of the sum of P256,643.26 representing the cost of repairs on Cham's vehicle.

Respondents, however, were declared in default on December 12, 2008 for failure to file their responsive
pleading to petitioner's Complaint despite several opportunities granted by the MeTC of Manila.8 As a result,
petitioner was allowed to present its evidence exparte.

Finding that petitioner sufficiently proved its claims by preponderance of evidence, the MeTC ruled in favor
of petitioner in its Decision9 dated January 8, 2010, the dispositive portion of which reads:
chanRoble svirtual Lawli bra ry
IN VIEW THEREOF, judgment is hereby rendered ordering defendants Arnold Cuaresma and Jerry B.
Cuaresma, jointly and severally, to: chanRoble svirtual Lawlib ra ry

1. Pay plaintiff the sum of TWO HUNDRED FIFTY-SIX THOUSAND� SIX� HUNDRED� FORTY-THREE�
PESOS� AND TWENTY-SIX CENTAVOS (Php256,643.26) with interest at the rate of 12% per annum from
the date of the filing of the complaint;

2. Pay plaintiff the sum of Php 10,000.00 as and for attorney's fees;

3. Pay the costs of the suit.

SO ORDERED.

The RTC, however, reversed the ruling of the MeTC in its Decision10 dated September 17, 2010. Contrary to
the findings of the MeTC, the RTC found that not only were there inconsistencies in the evidence presented
by petitioner as to its corporate identity as well as the amount of the supposed cost of indemnification, but
petitioner also failed to sufficiently prove that the proximate cause of the damage incurred by Cham's
vehicle was respondents' fault or negligence. In addition, on respondents' argument that the instant case
must be consolidated with the prior criminal suit they filed against Cham, the RTC disagreed and ruled that
criminal and civil cases can proceed independently.11 c ralawlawl ibra ry

On appeal, the CA likewise found that the evidence proffered by petitioner is insufficient to support its
averment of negligence. Consequently, it affirmed the RTC's Decision and further denied petitioner's Motion
for Reconsideration in its Resolution12 dated January 16, 2012.

Hence, the present petition.

Petitioner essentially invokes the following ground to support its petition: chanRob lesvi rtua lLawl ibra ry

I.

THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE CONCLUSIONS OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT THAT
PETITIONER'S EVIDENCE, SPECIFICALLY THE TESTIMONY OF ITS ASSURED, JEFFERSON CHAM AND ITS
ASSISTANT VICE-PRESIDENT FOR CLAIMS, CLETO D. OBELLO, JR., AS WELL AS THE TRAFFIC ACCIDENT
REPORT, ARE INSUFFICIENT TO PROVE ITS CLAIMS BY THE REQUIRED QUANTUM OF EVIDENCE.

Petitioner contends that the testimonies of its witnesses Cham and Obello sufficiently prove its claims, since
the former has personal knowledge on the events that transpired during the vehicular accident and the
latter was in a position to prove the amount incurred for the repair of the damages on Cham's vehicle. It
also argues that its failure to present SPO2 Felicisimo V. Cuaresma, the police investigator who prepared the
traffic accident report submitted in evidence, is not fatal to its cause of action.

In their Comment,13 respondents counter that the bare allegations of Cham on negligence cannot be
deemed sufficient to prove petitioner's claim. They also claim that in order for the traffic accident report to
obtain probative value, the police officer who prepared it must be identified in court. On a procedural
matter, respondents allege that petitioner, in failing to disclose the pendency of the criminal suit against its
assured Cham, is guilty of forum shopping.

Prefatorily, We address the issue of forum shopping in saying that the essence of forum shopping is the
filing by a party against whom an adverse judgment has been rendered in one forum, seeking another and
possibly a favorable opinion in another suit other than by appeal or special civil action for certiorari.14 It is
the act of filing multiple suits involving the same parties for the same cause of action, either simultaneously
or successively for the purpose of obtaining a favorable judgment.15However, as the RTC already mentioned,
there exists no forum shopping herein for the filing of the instant suit is expressly allowed to proceed
independently of the criminal action filed by respondents.

In the similar case of Casupanan v. Laroya,16 wherein as a result of a vehicular accident, a party involved
therein filed a criminal case for reckless imprudence resulting in damage to property against the other party,
who, in turn, filed a civil suit against the party instituting the criminal action, We held that the party filing
the separate civil action cannot be liable for forum shopping in the following wise: chanRoble svi rtual La wlibra ry
xxx However, there is no forum shopping in the instant case because the law and the rules
expressly allow the filing of a separate civil action which can proceed independently of the
criminal action.

Laroya filed the criminal case for reckless imprudence resulting in damage to property based on the Revised
Penal Code, while Casupanan and Capitulo filed the civil action for damages based on Article 2176 of the
Civil Code. Although these two actions arose from the same act or omission, they have different
causes of action. The criminal case is based on culpa criminal punishable under the Revised Penal Code,
while the civil case is based on culpa aquiliana actionable under Articles 2176 and 2177 of the Civil Code.
These articles on culpa aquiliana read:chanRoblesvi rtua lLawl ibra ry

"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.

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."

Any aggrieved person can invoke these articles provided he proves, by preponderance of
evidence, that he has suffered damage because of the fault or negligence of another. Either the
private complainant or the accused can file a separate civil action under these articles. There is
nothing in the law or rules that state only the private complainant in a criminal case may invoke
these articles.

Moreover, paragraph 6, Section 1, Rule 111 of the 2000 Rules on Criminal Procedure ("2000 Rules" for
brevity) expressly requires the accused to litigate his counterclaim in a separate civil action, to wit: chanro blesvi rt uallawl ibra ry

"SECTION 1. Institution of criminal and civil actions. - (a) x x x.

No counterclaim, cross-claim or third-party complaint may be filed by the accused in the criminal case, but
any cause of action which could have been the subject thereof may be litigated in a separate civil
action." (Italics supplied)
Since the present Rules require the accused in a criminal action to file his counterclaim in a
separate civil action, there can be no forum-shopping if the accused files such separate civil
action.

xxxx

The crucial question now is whether Casupanan and Capitulo, who are not the offended parties in the
criminal case, can file a separate civil action against the offended party in the criminal case. Section 3, Rule
111 of the 2000 Rules provides as follows: chan roble svirtual lawlib rary

"SEC 3. When civil action may proceed independently. - In the cases provided in Articles 32, 33, 34 and
2176 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, the independent civil action may be brought by the offended
party. It shall proceed independently of the criminal action and shall require only a preponderance of
evidence. In no case, however, may the offended party recover damages twice for the same act or omission
charged in the criminal action." (Italics supplied)

xxxx
There is no question that the offended party in the criminal action can file an independent civil action
for quasi-delict against the accused. Section 3 of the present Rule 111 expressly states that the "offended
party" may bring such an action but the "offended party" may not recover damages twice for the same act
or omission charged in the criminal action. Clearly, Section 3 of Rule 111 refers to the offended party in the
criminal action, not to the accused.

Casupanan and Capitulo, however, invoke the ruling in Cabaero vs. Cantos12 where the Court held that the
accused therein could validly institute a separate civil action for quasi-delict against the private complainant
in the criminal case. In Cabaero, the accused in the criminal case filed his Answer with Counterclaim for
malicious prosecution. At that time, the Court noted the "absence of clear-cut rules governing the
prosecution on impliedly instituted civil actions and the necessary consequences and implications
thereof." Thus, the Court ruled that the trial court should confine itself to the criminal aspect of
the case and disregard any counterclaim for civil liability. The Court further ruled that the
accused may file a separate civil case against the offended party "after the criminal case is
terminated and/or in accordance with the new Rules which may be promulgated." The Court
explained that a cross-claim, counterclaim or third-party complaint on the civil aspect will only
unnecessarily complicate the proceedings and delay the resolution of the criminal case.

Paragraph 6, Section 1 of the present Rule 111 was incorporated in the 2000 Rules precisely to address the
lacuna mentioned in Cabaero. Under this provision, the accused is barred from filing a
counterclaim, cross-claim or third-party complaint in the criminal case. However, the same
provision states that "any cause of action which could have been the subject (of the
counterclaim, cross-claim or third-party complaint) may be litigated in a separate civil action."
The present Rule 111 mandates the accused to file his counterclaim in a separate civil action
which shall proceed independently of the criminal action, even as the civil action of the offended
party is litigated in the criminal action.17 chan roble slaw

On the basis of the foregoing decision, therefore, petitioner, who is subrogated to the rights of Cham, the
accused in the criminal case instituted by respondents, cannot be guilty of forum shopping for its separate
civil action is expressly allowed to proceed independently of the criminal action involved herein.

It must be noted, however, that notwithstanding the allowance of the instant petition to proceed
independently of the criminal action, the claims of petitioner cannot be sustained in the absence of
satisfactory evidence proving its right thereto.

In civil cases, basic is the rule that the party making allegations has the burden of proving them by a
preponderance of evidence. He must rely on the strength of his own evidence and not upon the weakness of
the defense offered by his opponent. This principle equally holds true, even if the defendant had not been
given the opportunity to present evidence because of a default order.18 c ralawlawli bra ry

Preponderance of evidence is the weight, credit, and value of the aggregate evidence on either side and is
usually considered to be synonymous with the term "greater weight of the evidence" or "greater weight of
the credible evidence." It is evidence which is more convincing to the court as worthy of belief than that
which is offered in opposition thereto.19 The reason for this is that bare allegations, unsubstantiated by
evidence, are not equivalent to proof. Mere allegations, therefore, cannot be deemed as evidence.20 cralawlaw lib rary

To prove the allegations in its complaint, herein petitioner presented testimonies of its assured and its
Assistant Vice-President, the Traffic Accident Investigation Report, and documents evidencing the assured's
insurance policy with petitioner as well as the payment of repair expenses. As aptly ruled by the RTC and
the CA, however, the evidence presented by petitioner failed to preponderantly establish negligence on the
part of the respondents.

While petitioner may have proven the fact of its payment of the expenses for the repair of Cham's vehicle
through the testimony of its Assistant Vice-President and other supporting receipts and documents, it fell
short in proving that the damage caused on said vehicle was due to the fault of the respondents.

As correctly held by the RTC and the CA, the Traffic Accident Investigation Report21 cannot be given
probative weight. Section 44 of Rule 130 provides: chanRob lesvi rtua lLawl ibra ry

SEC. 44. Entries in official records - Entries in official records made in the performance of his duty by a
public officer of the Philippines, or by a person in the performance of a duty specially enjoined by law are
prima facie evidence of the facts therein stated.

Moreover, for the Traffic Accident Investigation Report to be admissible as prima facie evidence of the facts
therein stated, the following requisites must be present: ch anRoblesvi rtua lLawl ibra ry

x x x (a) that the entry was made by a public officer or by another person specially enjoined by law to do
so; (b) that it was made by the public officer in the performance of his duties, or by such other person in the
performance of a duty specially enjoined by law; and (c) that the public officer or other person had sufficient
knowledge of the facts by him stated, which must have been acquired by him personally or through official
information.22chan robles law

Regrettably, in this case, petitioner failed to prove the third requisite cited above. As correctly noted by the
courts below, while the Traffic Accident Investigation Report was exhibited as evidence, the investigating
officer who prepared the same was not presented in court to testify that he had sufficient knowledge of the
facts therein stated, and that he acquired them personally or through official information.23 Neither was
there any explanation as to why such officer was not presented. We cannot simply assume, in the absence
of proof, that the account of the incident stated in the report was based on the personal knowledge of the
investigating officer who prepared it.

Thus, while petitioner presented its assured to testify on the events that transpired during the vehicular
collision, his lone testimony, unsupported by other preponderant evidence, fails to sufficiently establish
petitioner's claim that respondents' negligence was, indeed, the proximate cause of the damage sustained
by Cham's vehicle.

It bears stressing, as the courts below have explained, that subrogation is ultimately the substitution of one
person in the place of another with reference to a lawful claim or right, so that he who is substituted
succeeds to the rights of the other in relation to a debt or claim, including its remedies or securities. The
rights to which the subrogee succeeds are the same as, but not greater than, those of the person for whom
he is substituted, that is, he cannot acquire any claim, security or remedy the subrogor did not have. In
other words, a subrogee cannot succeed to a right not possessed by the subrogor. A subrogee, in effect,
steps into the shoes of the insured and can recover only if the insured likewise could have recovered.24 cra lawlawlib rary

Hence, before We can sustain petitioner's argument that its right to be reimbursed for the repair is by
operation of law upon mere proof of payment of the insurance claim, a determination of the liability of
respondents vis-a-viz the assured in the vehicular collision must first be made, for petitioner cannot acquire
any claim, security or remedy its assured did not have. Considering, however, the insufficiency of
preponderant evidence attributing negligence on respondents resulting in the damage sustained by the
assured's vehicle, it will be unfair to hold respondents liable for the same, payment by petitioner of its costs,
notwithstanding.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant petition is DENIED. The Decision and Resolution, dated
June 22, 2011 and January 16, 2012, respectively, of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 117785 are
hereby AFFIRMED.

Velasco, Jr., (Chairperson), Villarama, Jr., Reyes, and Jardeleza, JJ., concur.

Endnotes:

1
Penned by Associate Justice Mariflor P. Punzalan Castillo, with Associate Justices Josefina Guevara-Salonga
and Franchito N. Diamante, concurring; rollo, pp. 259-268.

Id. at 335-337.
2

Id. at 192.
3

Id.
4

Id. at 61.
5

Id. at 90.
6

Id. at 49-55.
7

Id. at 262.
8

Id. at 160-162.
9

10
Id. at 191-200.

11
Id. at 195.

12
Id. at 335-337.

13
Id. At 345-348.

14
Marasigan v. Chevron Phils., Inc., G.R. No. 184015, February 8, 2012, 665 SCRA 499, 511,
citing, Benedicto v. Lacson, G.R. No. 141508, May 5, 2010, 620 SCRA 82, 97-98.

Id.
15

16
436 Phil. 582 (2002).

Casupanan v. Laroya, supra, at 593-599. (Emphasis ours; citations omitted)


17

Ramos v. Obispo, G.R. No. 193804, February 27, 2013, 692 SCRA 240, 248-249, citing Heirs of Pedro De
18

Guzman v. Perona, G.R. No. 152266, July 2, 2010, 622 SCRA 653, 661-662, citing Gajudo v. Traders Royal
Bank, 519 Phil. 791, 803 (2006).

Penalber v. Ramos, G.R. No. 178645, January 30, 2009, 577 SCRA 509, 526-527, citing Ong v. Yap, 492
19

Phil 188, 196-197 (2005).

20
Dra. Leila A. Dela Llano v. Rebecca Biong, doing business under the name and style of Pongkay Trading,
G.R. No. 182356, December 4, 2013, citing Real v. Belo, 542 Phil. Ill, 122 (2007), citing Domingo v. Robles,
493 Phil. 916 (2005), and Ongpauco v. CA,488 Phil 396, 401 (2004).

Rollo, p. 56.
21

22
D. M. Consunji, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 409 Phil. 275 (2001), citing Africa, et al. v. Caltex (Phil.), Inc., et
al., 123 Phil. 272, 277 (1966).

Rollo, p. 193.
23

Id. at 199 and 266-267, citing Sulpicio Lines, Inc. v. First Lepanto-Taisho Insurance Corporation, 500 Phil
24

514, 525(2005).

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. 182705 July 18, 2014

VICENTE JOSEFA, Petitioner,


vs.
MANILA ELECTRIC COMPANY, Respondent.

DECISION

BRION, J.:

We resolve the petition for review on certiorari1 filed by petitioner Vicente Josefa, doing business
under the name and style of 747 Lumber and Construction Supply, to challenge the January 31,
2008 decision2 and the April 29, 2008 resolution3 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No.
87512.

The Factual Antecedents


At around 1 :45 p.m. on April 21, 1991, a dump truck, a j eepney and a car figured in a vehicular
accident along Ortigas Avenue, Pasig City.4 As a result of the accident, a 45-foot wooden electricity
post, three 75 KVA transformers, and other electrical line attachments were damaged.5 Upon
investigation, respondent Manila Electric Company (Meralco) discovered that it was the truck with
plate number PAK-874 and registered in Josefa’s name that hit the electricity post.6

In a letter dated April 19, 1993, Meralco demanded from Josefa reimbursement for the replacement
cost of the electricity post and its attachments, but Josefa refused to pay.7 Thus, on September 28,
1993, Meralco sued Josefa and Pablo Manoco, the truck driver, for damages before the Regional
Trial Court (RTC) of Pasig City.8

Proceedings before the RTC

In its complaint, Meralco alleged that Manoco’s reckless driving resulted in damage to itsproperties.
It also imputed primary liability on Josefa for his alleged negligence in the selection and supervision
of Manoco. It thus prayed for the indemnification of the amount of ₱384,846.00 as actual damages,
₱50,000.00 as attorney’s fees, ₱10,000.00 as litigation expenses, and the costs of the suit.9

In defense, Josefa denied thatManoco was his employee when the accident occurred. He also
maintained that he exercised the diligence of a good father of a family in the selection and
supervision of all his employees. As a counterclaim, he sought the payment of attorney’s fees for
Meralco’s filing of a baseless complaint.10

On January 11, 1994, Meralco amended its complaint to correct the name "Pablo Manoco" toPablo
Manojo Bautista (Bautista),11 but soon dropped him as a party defendant in the case for failure to
serve him summons.12

A. Evidence for Meralco

During trial, Meralco offered the testimonies of six witnesses as well as documentary evidence to
substantiate its claim for damages against Josefa:

Juan Fernandez, Meralco’s senior legal investigator, testified that he arrived at the scene of the
accident at around 2:30 p.m. on that fateful day and saw Meralco employees installing a new
electricity post. He interviewed the people in the vicinity who told him that it was the truck that
rammed the electricity post.13 He thus proceeded to the police station at Caruncho Complex, Pasig
City and talked toSPO2 Alexander Galang who informed him that the owner of the offending vehicle
was Josefa.14 Fernandez also identified and authenticated the investigation report dated April 21,
199115 (Exhibit "A") summarizing the result of his investigation.16 Elmer Albio identified himself as the
driver of the jeepney that was involved in the accident. He testified thata truck suddenly hit the rear
of his jeepney while he was driving along OrtigasAvenue, Pasig City; he thus lost control of the
jeepney and hit a Nissan car on the other lane of the road. Thereafter, the truck hit the electricity
post.

SPO2 Manuel Valiente testified that he immediately went to the scene of the accident after a
concerned citizen went to the police station and informed him about the accident.17 However, he
could no longer recall the truck’s exact position with reference to the electricity post at the time of his
arrival at the scene of the accident.18

SPO2 Galang stated that one of his functions as a traffic accident investigator was to record
vehicular accidents in the police blotter book. He identified and authenticated a certified true copy of
the police blotter dated January 7, 1994 (Exhibit "B") but admitted that he neither saw nor
investigated the accident.19

Vitaliano Espiritu, Meralco’s foreman,testified that he replaced the damaged electricity post,
transformers, and other electrical line attachments after receiving an emergency radio call from a
Meralco personnel.20

Carlos Zapanta, Meralco’s supervising accountant, affirmed that Meralco incurred actual damages
totaling ₱384,846.00. To support his finding, he identified and authenticated two pieces ofevidence,
the memorandum dated October 7, 1992 (Exhibit "C") and the document dated March 29, 1993
(Exhibit "D"). Exhibit "C" is a letter from Meralco’s legal department requesting the accounting
department for a computation of actual damages.21 On the other hand, Exhibit "D" provides a detailed
computation of actual damages that Meralco allegedly suffered.22On cross-examination, Zapanta
stated that the computation was based on "supplementary time sheets," "trip tickets," and other
documents provided by Meralco’s distribution office;23 however, Meralco did not present these
documents during trial.

In an order dated January 15, 1997, the RTC admitted all documentary evidence that Meralco
offered after its presentation of testimonial evidence.24

B. Evidence for Josefa

Upon Meralco’s presentment of evidence, Josefa filed a demurrer to Evidence25 , but was denied by
the RTC.26Josefa assailed the denial of his demurrer in a petition for certiorari before the CA which,
however, affirmed the RTC rulings.27 Thereafter, Josefa filed a motion for extension to file a petition
for review on certiorari before the Court. After we denied the motion for its procedural infirmities,28 the
RTC ordered Josefa to present his evidence-in-chief. The RTC eventually declared the case as
submitted for decision without Josefa’s evidence-in-chief due to the numerous and unreasonable
delays that he incurred in the presentation of evidence.29

The RTC Ruling

In a decision dated April 10, 2006,the RTC dismissed the complaint for insufficiency of evidence.
The RTC held that Meralco failed to establish that it was the truck that hit the electricity post. The
RTC ruled that SPO2 Galang’s account of the accident was merely hearsay since he did not
personally witness the incident. It alsodid not give probative value to the police blotter entry dated
January 7, 1994 since the accident had long occurred in 1991. The RTC likewise denied Meralco’s
claim for actual damages for lack of evidentiary support.30

The CA Ruling

The CA reversed the RTC ruling and held that the RTC erred in disregarding the parties’ stipulation
at the pre-trial that it was the truck that hit the electricity post. The CA also found that Bautista was
Josefa’s employee when the accident occurred since Josefa did not specifically deny this material
allegation in the amended complaint. It likewise noted that the sheriff’s return stated that Bautista
was under Josefa’s employ until 1993.

The CA concluded that the fact thatthe truck hit the electricity post was sufficient to hold Josefa
vicariously liable regardless of whether Bautista was negligent in driving the truck. In the same
breath, the CA also stated that the employer’s presumptive liability in quasi-delicts was anchored on
injuries caused by the employee’s negligence. It further ruled that Josefa failed to rebut the
presumption that he negligently selected and supervised Bautista in employment since he did not
present his evidence-inchief during trial. Even assuming thatBautista was not Josefa’s employee, the
CA maintained that Josefa would still be liable for damages since the law presumes that the
registered owner has control of his vehicle and its driver at the time of the accident. It thus ordered
Josefa to pay Meralco: (1) ₱384,846.00 as actual damages; (2) ₱50,000.00 as attorney’s fees; (3)
₱10,000.00 as expenses of litigation; and (4) double the costs of the suit.

Josefa filed the present petition after the CA denied31 his motion for reconsideration.32

The Petition

Josefa argues that the CA gravely erred in reversing the RTC’s factual findings. He insists that the
finding that it was the truck that hit the electricity post lacks evidentiary support. Furthermore,
Meralco failed to substantiate its claim for actual damages by competent testimonial and
documentary evidence. Josefa likewise asserts that Meralco is not entitled to attorney’s fees since it
also contributedto the delay in the proceedings. He points out that Meralco sought for
postponements of hearings during trial and failed to assist the sheriff in serving the summons to
Bautista.33

The Respondent’s Position

In its Comment, Meralco takes the opposite view that it is the RTC ruling that is unsupported by
evidence. Meralco maintains that the RTC erroneously ruled in favor of Josefawho did not present
his evidence-inchief during trial. Meralco also posits that Josefa’s vicariously liability finds support in
Articles 2176 and 2180 of the Civil Code which hold the employer primarily liable for damages
caused by the employee who acted within the scope of his assigned tasks. It also asserts that
Josefa’s unjustified refusal to pay its just and valid claim for actual damages warrants the award of
attorney’s fees.34

The Issues

This case presents to us the following issues:

(1) Whether the truck with plate number PAK-874 hit the electricity post;

(2) Whether Bautista exercised due diligence in driving when the truck hit the electricity post;

(3) Whether Josefa is vicariously liable for Bautista’s negligence under paragraph 5, Article
2180 of the Civil Code;

(a) Whether there is an employer-employee relationship between Bautista and Josefa;

(b) Whether Josefa exercised the diligence of a good father of a family in the selection and
supervision of Bautista; and

(4) Whether Meralco is entitled to actual damages, attorney’s fees, and expenses of
litigation.

Our Ruling

We partially affirm the CA’s ruling.


I. The Court may review factual
questions in a petition for review on
certiorari when a conflict exists in
findings of the lower courts

We are aware that the issues beforeus involve factual questions which require us to review the
presented pieces of evidence before the trial court. While a petition for review on certiorariprecludes
this Court from entertaining factual issues, we can review the pieces of evidence, by way of
exception, when a conflict exists in the findings of the RTC and the CA.35 We see this exceptional
situation here and thus examine the relevant pieces of evidence presented before the trial court.

II. Bautista’s negligence was the


proximate cause of the property
damage caused to Meralco

A. The truck hit the electricity post

Whoever by act or omission causes damage to another, there being fault or negligence, is obliged to
pay for the damage done. This fault or negligence, if there is no pre-existing contractual relation
between the parties, is called quasi-delict.36 Thus, for a quasi-delict case to prosper, the complainant
must establish: (1) damages to the complainant; (2) negligence, by act or omission, of the defendant
or by some person for whose acts the defendant must respond, was guilty; and (3) the connection of
cause and effect between such negligence and the damages.37 With respect to the third element, the
negligent act or omission must be the proximate cause of the injury.

Contrary to the CA’s finding, the parties did not stipulate that the truck hit the electricity post. The
pre-trial order shows that the parties merely agreed that the truck "was involvedin an accident on
April 21, 1991 at around 1:45 o’clock in the afternoon along Ortigas Avenue, Rosario, Pasig City."
The parties in fact posed the issue of whether the truck rammed the electricity post as one of the
factual questions to be resolved by the trial court during the pre-trial conference.38

We also agree with Josefa that Fernandez and SPO2 Galang’s testimonies regarding the truck
hitting the electricity post are hearsay and should not be given credence. Fernandez and SPO2
Galang merely testified and conveyed to the court matters only narrated to them by other people
who were not presented in court. Hearsay evidence has no probative value because it is merely the
witness’ recitation of what someone else has told him, whether orally or in writing. A witness can
testify only to those facts which are derived from his own perception.39

Nonetheless, Meralco has sufficiently established the direct causal link between the truck and the
electricity post through Abio’s testimony. Abio categorically stated during trial that he saw the truck
hit the electricity post. We find his first-hand account of the incident during the directexamination
frank and straightforward. More importantly, Josefa failed to impeach the veracity of Abio’s testimony
during the cross-examination. Abio even reiterated that it was Josefa’s truck that rammed the
electricity post.40 We thus give full faith and credence to his positive, unrebutted, and categorical
declaration on the witness stand, made under solemn oath, that it was the truck that caused damage
to Meralco’s property.

Even without Abio’s testimony, it does not escape this Court’s attention that Josefa judicially
admittedin his motions and pleading that his truck hit the electricity post. In a motion to dismiss dated
March 17, 1997, Josefa stated:
"1. This action was commenced by plaintiff to recover from defendant the sum of ₱384,846.00 as
actual damages resulting from the vehicular mishap which occurred on April 21, 1991 along Ortigas
Avenue, Rosario, Pasig City, Metro Manila, whereby defendant’s dump truck with plate No. PAK 874
hit and bumped plaintiff’s 45-foot wooden pole;41 " (emphasis and underline ours)

Josefa further declared in his motion for reconsideration dated February 22, 2008:

[T]he manner who and why the accident occurred was not explained. In the absence of any
description on such important aspect, fault or negligence cannot be properly imputed to Pablo
Manojo Bautista simply because the truck he was then driving bumped to electric post. The causal
connection between the fault or negligence and the damage must be shown. x x x Analyzing the
testimony of Elmer Abio, what was established is the following:

a) Somebodybumped the back of the jeepney he was driving on April 21, 1991;

b) When his back was bumped, he had no control because it was so sudden;

c) He bumped the approaching car, while the truck bumped into the Meralco post that three
(3) transformers;

d) The pole with 3 transformers fell on the truck.

It may be asked: "Who was that somebody that bumped the back of Abio" "What was the reason
why the truck bumped the post?""What happened to the car that was bumped by Abio because he
had no control?" "Which happened first, the bumping of the back of Abio or the bumping of the post
by the truck?" "Was the bumping of the back of Abio and the bumping of the car the proximate cause
why the truck hit the Meralco post?"42 (Emphases and underlines ours) Lastly, Josefa pleaded in his
petition before this Court:

Nowhere in the records was it shown how and why the accident occurred on April 21, 1991.

In the absence of any description on such important aspect, fault or negligence cannot be properly
imputed to petitioner, simply because his truck bumped into Meralco’s electricity post. The causal
connection between the petitioner’s supposed negligence and the damage was not shown. Neither
was it proved tobe the proximate cause of the damage.43 (Emphases and underlines ours)

These statements constitute deliberate, clear and unequivocal admissions of the causation in fact
between the truck and the electricity post.Judicial admissions made by the parties in the pleadings or
in the course of the trial or other proceedingsin the same case are conclusive and do not require
further evidence to prove them. These admissions cannot be contradicted unless previously shown
to have been made through palpable mistake or that no such admission was made.44 A party who
judicially admits a fact cannot later challenge this fact for the reason that judicial admissions remove
an admitted fact from the field of controversy.45

B. Bautista is presumed to be
negligent in driving the truck
under the doctrine of res ipsa
loquitur

Contrary to the CA’s opinion, the finding that it was the truck that hit the electricity post would not
immediately result in Josefa’s liability. It is a basic rule that it is essentially the wrongful or negligent
act or omission that creates the vinculum jurisin extra-contractual obligations.46 In turn, the
employee’s negligence established to bethe proximate cause of the damage would give rise to the
disputable presumption that the employer did not exercise the diligence of a good father of a family
in the selection and supervision of the erring employee.47

Nonetheless, in some cases where negligence is difficult to prove, the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur
permits an inference of negligence on the part of the defendant or some other person who is
charged with negligence where the thing or transaction speaks for itself.48 This doctrine postulates
that, as a matter of common knowledge and experience and in the absence of some explanation by
the defendant who is charged with negligence, the very nature of occurrences may justify an
inference of negligence on the part of the person who controls the instrumentality causing the injury.
In other words, res ipsa loquitur is grounded on the superior logic of ordinary human experience that
negligence may be deduced from the mere occurrence of the accident itself.49

The procedural effect of res ipsa loquiturin quasi-delict cases is that the defendant’s negligence is
presumed. In other words, the burden of evidence shifts to the defendant to prove that he did not
1awp++i 1

act with negligence.50 This doctrine thus effectively furnishes a bridge by which the complainant,
without knowledge of the cause of the injury, reaches over to the defendant, who knows or should
know the cause, for any explanation of care exercised by him to prevent the injury.51 For this doctrine
to apply, the complainant must show that: (1) the accident is of such character as to warrant an
inference that it would not have happened except for the defendant’s negligence; (2) the accident
must have been caused by an agency or instrumentality within the exclusive management or control
of the person charged with the negligence complained of; and (3) the accident must not have been
due to any voluntary action or contribution on the part of the person injured.

The present case satisfiesall the elements of res ipsa loquitur. It is very unusual and extraordinary
for the truck to hit an electricity post, an immovable and stationary object, unless Bautista, who had
the exclusive management and control of the truck, acted with fault or negligence. We cannot also
conclude that Meralco contributed to the injury since it safely and permanently installed the electricity
post beside the street. Thus, in Republic v. Luzon Stevedoring Corp.,52 we imputed vicarious
responsibility to Luzon Stevedoring Corp. whose barge rammed the bridge, also an immovable and
stationary object. In that case, we found it highly unusual for the barge to hit the bridge which had
adequate openings for the passage of water craft unless Luzon Stevedoring Corp.’s employee had
acted with negligence.

In his pleadings, Josefa raises the possibility that the fault or negligence of the jeepney and/or the
car drivers may have been the proximate cause of the damage. As a matter of defense, Josefa
should have substantiated this theory considering that the burden of evidence has shifted against
him after Meralco had established that it was the truck that hit the electricity post. However, Josefa
did not adduce any evidence in support of his defense during trial. Consequently, we sustain the
CA’s finding that there is a direct and proximate causal link between the truck and the injury that
Meralco suffered.

III. Josefa is vicariously liable under


paragraph 5, Article 2180 of the
Civil Code

A. There is an employer-
employee relations between
Bautista and Josefa
The finding that Bautista acted withnegligence in driving the truck gives rise to the application of
paragraph 5, Article 2180 of the Civil Code which holds the employer vicariouslyliable for damages
caused by his employees within the scope of their assigned tasks. In the present case, Josefa
avoids the application of this provision by denying that Bautista was his employee at the time of the
incident.

Josefa cannot evade his responsibility by mere denial of his employment relations with Bautista in
the absence of proof that his truck was used without authorization or that it was stolen when the
accident occurred.53 In quasi-delict cases, the registered owner of a motor vehicle is the employer of
its driver in contemplation of law.54 The registered owner of any vehicle, even if not used for public
service, would primarily be responsible to the public or to third persons for injuries caused while the
vehicle was being driven on highways or streets. The purpose of motor vehicle registration is
precisely to identify the owner so that if any injury is caused by the vehicle, responsibility canbe
imputed to the registered owner.55

B. Josefa failed to show that he


exercised the diligence of a
good father of a family in the
selection and supervision of
Bautista

In order for Josefa to be relieved of his vicarious liability, he must show that he exercised due
diligence in the selection and supervision of Bautista. In concrete terms, Josefa should show by
competent object or documentary evidence that he examined Bautista as to the latter’s
qualifications, experience and service records prior to employment. He should likewise prove by
competent objector documentary evidence that he formulated standard operating procedures,
monitored their implementation and imposed disciplinary measures for breach of these
procedures.56 However, Josefa failed to overcome the presumption of negligence against him since
he waived his right to present evidence during trial. We are thus left with no other conclusion other
than to rule that Josefa is primarily liable for all natural and probable consequences of Bautista’s
negligence.57

IV. Meralco is only entitled to


temperate damages with interest at
legal rate

A. Meralco failed to prove its


entitlement to actual damages

Despite Josefa’s vicarious liability inthis case, Meralco failed to point out the specific facts that
afforda basis for its claim for actual damages.58 Actual damages cannot be presumed; they must be
pleaded and proven in court in order to be recoverable. One is entitled to an adequate compensation
only for the pecuniary loss that he has adequately proved based upon competent proof and on the
best evidence obtainable by him.59

We cannot give weight to Exhibit "D" as to the amount of actual damages for being hearsay.Exhibit
"D" constitutes hearsay evidence since it was derived on alleged pieces of documentary evidence
that were not identified and authenticated in court during trial. The trial court thus erred in even
admitting Exhibit "D" in evidence whose contents were offered without any other competent evidence
to corroborate them. Consequently, we delete the CA’s award of actual damages for lack of
evidentiary support.
B. Meralco is entitled to
temperate damages because it
clearly suffered pecuniary loss
as a result of Bautista and
Josefa’s negligence

Nonetheless, Meralco is entitled totemperate damages because there is no doubt that it suffered
pecuniary loss as a result of Bautista and Josefa’s negligence.60 When the court finds that some
pecuniary loss has been suffered but the amount cannot, from the nature of the case, be proven with
certainty, the court may award temperate damages in the exercise of its sound
discretion.61 Considering the attendant circumstances of this case, we find the amount of
₱200,000.00 to be a fair and sufficient award by way of temperate damages.

C. Meralco is not entitled to


attorney’s fees and expenses
of litigation

The CA likewise erred in awarding Meralco attorney’s fees and expenses of litigation without
explaining its basis. In Buan v. Camaganacan,62 we held that the text of the decision should state the
1âw phi 1

reason why attorney's fees are being awarded; otherwise, the award should be disallowed. Besides,
no bad faith has been imputed to Josefa that would warrant the award of attorney’s fees under
Article 2208 (5) of the Civil Code. It is a settled rule that attorney'sfees shall not be recovered as cost
where the party’s persistence in litigation is based on his mistaken belief in he righteousness of his
cause.63 There is also no factual, legal, or equitable justification that would justify the Court's award
of attorney's fees under Article 2208 (11) of the Civil Code.

D. The award of temperate


damages is subject to 6% per
annum reckoned from the
promulgation of the decision
until fully paid

Finally, we impose an interest rate of 6% per annum on temperate damages pursuant to the
guidelines enunciated in Eastern Shipping Lines v. CA,64 as modified by Nacar v. Gallery
Frames.65 The interest rate shall commence to run from the promulgation of this decision, the date
when the amount of temperate damages has been determined with certainty. WHEREFORE,
premises considered, we PARTIALLY GRANT the petition. The January 31, 2008 decision and the
April 29, 2008 resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV. No. 87512 is AFFIRMED with
MODIFICATION. Petitioner Vicente Josefa is ordered to pay respondent Manila Electric Company
the amount of ₱200,000.00 as temperate damages with legal interest at 6% per annum from the
promulgation of this decision until full payment has been effected. Costs against petitioner Vicente
Josefa.

SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. 152033 March 16, 2011

FILIPINAS SYNTHETIC FIBER CORPORATION, Petitioner,


vs.
WILFREDO DE LOS SANTOS, BENITO JOSE DE LOS SANTOS, MARIA ELENA DE LOS
SANTOS and CARMINA VDA. DE LOS SANTOS, Respondents.

DECISION

PERALTA, J.:

This Petition for Review under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure assails the Decision1 of
the Court of Appeals (CA) dated August 15, 2001, affirming with modification, the Decision2 dated
February 14, 1994 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), and the Resolution dated January 29, 2002 of
the CA, denying petitioner's Motion for Reconsideration.

This all stems from a case for damages filed against the petitioner and one of its employees. The
facts, as found by the RTC and the CA, are as follows:

On the night of September 30, 1984, Teresa Elena Legarda-de los Santos (Teresa Elena), the wife
of respondent Wilfredo de los Santos (Wilfredo), performed at the Rizal Theater in Makati City, Metro
Manila as a member of the cast for the musical play, Woman of the Year.

On that same night, at the request of Wilfredo, his brother Armando de los Santos (Armando),
husband of respondent Carmina Vda. de los Santos, went to the Rizal Theater to fetch Teresa Elena
after the latter's performance. He drove a 1980 Mitsubishi Galant Sigma (Galant Sigma) with Plate
No. NSL 559, a company car assigned to Wilfredo.

Two other members of the cast of Woman of the Year, namely, Annabel Vilches (Annabel) and
Jerome Macuja, joined Teresa Elena in the Galant Sigma.

Around 11:30 p.m., while travelling along the Katipunan Road (White Plains), the Galant Sigma
collided with the shuttle bus owned by petitioner and driven by Alfredo S. Mejia (Mejia), an employee
of petitioner. The Galant Sigma was dragged about 12 meters from the point of impact, across the
White Plains Road landing near the perimeter fence of Camp Aguinaldo, where the Galant Sigma
burst into flames and burned to death beyond recognition all four occupants of the car.

A criminal charge for reckless imprudence resulting in damage to property with multiple homicide
was brought against Mejia, which was decided in favor of Mejia. The family of Annabel filed a civil
case against petitioner and Mejia docketed as Civil Case No. Q-51382, which was raffled to Branch
82 of the RTC of Quezon City. Wilfredo and Carmina, joined by their minor children, also filed
separate actions for damages against petitioner and Mejia. The said cases were eventually
consolidated.
After trial on the merits, the RTC decided in favor of herein respondents. The dispositive portion of
the decision reads:

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, this Court finds the herein plaintiffs in Civil Case Nos. Q-
44498 and Q-45602, namely Wilfredo de los Santos, et al. and Carmina Vda. de los Santos, et al.,
respectively, to have duly proven their causes of action against Filipinas Synthetic Fiber Corporation
and Alfredo S. Mejia, defendants in both cases, thru preponderance of evidence, hence, Judgment
is hereby rendered ordering defendants, jointly and severally, to pay the herein plaintiffs in Civil
Case No. Q-44498, (1) for actual damages, ₱29,550.00, with interest thereon at the legal rate until
paid; (2) the amount of ₱4,769,525.00 as compensatory damages and unrealized income of Teresa
Elena, which is one-half of the amount of ₱9,539,050.00, taking into consideration her status in life,
and that during her lifetime she was not only spending for herself. The latter's average expenses
would either be more or less than one-half of her gross income for the year; (3) ₱100,000.00 as
moral damages to assuage the family of the deceased Teresa Elena for the loss of a love one who
was charred beyond recognition; and (4) attorney's fees of ₱150,000.00. As to exemplary damages,
the same cannot be granted for the reason that no one wanted this unfortunate accident to happen,
which was a costly one.

For Civil Case No. Q-45602, the herein defendants are hereby ordered, jointly and severally, to pay
the plaintiffs (1) ₱20,550.00 for actual damages, with interest thereon at the legal rate until the same
is paid; (2) ₱444,555.00 as compensatory damages and unrealized income of the deceased
Armando de los Santos, for the same reason as the deceased Teresa Elena, who during his lifetime,
Armando was not only spending for himself; (3) ₱100,000.00 as moral damages to assuage the loss
of a love one who was burnt beyond recognition; and (4) ₱100,000.00 as attorney's fees. As to
exemplary damages, the same could not be granted for the same reason as that in Civil Case No.
Q-44498.

SO ORDERED.

After the denial of the motion for reconsideration, petitioner appealed to the CA, and the latter ruled:

WHEREFORE, the assailed February 14, 1994 Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City,
Branch 100 is AFFIRMED, subject to modification that in Civil Case No. Q-44498 the compensatory
damages and unrealized income of deceased Teresa Elena shall be ₱3,120,300.00, and in Civil
Case No. Q-45602 the compensatory damages and unrealized income of deceased Armando shall
be ₱509,649.00.

SO ORDERED.

The subsequent motion for reconsideration was also denied. Hence, the present petition wherein the
petitioner assigned the following errors:

ASSIGNMENT OF ERRORS

I. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN FINDING THE PETITIONER MEJIA


NEGLIGENT, SUCH NOT BEING SUPPORTED BY THE EVIDENCE ON RECORD.

II. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS' FINDING THAT PETITIONER FILSYN DID
NOT EXERCISE THE DUE DILIGENCE OF A GOOD FATHER OF A FAMILY IN THE
SELECTION AND SUPERVISION OF ITS EMPLOYEES IS NOT SUPPORTED BY THE
EVIDENCE ON RECORD.
III. THE DAMAGES AWARDED BY THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS IS NOT IN
ACCORD WITH THE EVIDENCE ON RECORD.

The respondents filed their Comment3 dated June 7, 2002, while the petitioner filed its Reply4 dated
January 29, 2003. Subsequently, their respective memoranda5 were filed.

The petition lacks merit.

Petitioner insists that the CA was not correct in ruling that Mejia was negligent. It argues that the
said conclusion was not derived from the evidence adduced during the trial, which, upon further
analysis, makes the nature of the issue presented to be factual.

Whether a person is negligent or not is a question of fact which this Court cannot pass upon in a
petition for review on certiorari, as its jurisdiction is limited to reviewing errors of law.6 As a rule,
factual findings of the trial court, affirmed by the CA, are final and conclusive and may not be
reviewed on appeal. The established exceptions are: (1) when the inference made is manifestly
mistaken, absurd or impossible; (2) when there is grave abuse of discretion; (3) when the findings
are grounded entirely on speculations, surmises or conjectures; (4) when the judgment of the CA is
based on misapprehension of facts; (5) when the findings of fact are conflicting; (6) when the CA, in
making its findings, went beyond the issues of the case and the same is contrary to the admissions
of both appellant and appellee; (7) when the findings of fact are conclusions without citation of
specific evidence on which they are based; (8) when the CA manifestly overlooked certain relevant
facts not disputed by the parties and which, if properly considered, would justify a different
conclusion; and (9) when the findings of fact of the CA are premised on the absence of evidence and
are contradicted by the evidence on record.7

Not falling under any of the exceptions enumerated above, this Court must defer to the findings of
the RTC and the CA.

Petitioner argues that the RTC admitted that De los Santos made a turn along White Plains Road
without exercising the necessary care which could have prevented the accident from happening. It
quoted the following portion of the RTC's decision:

The Court is convinced that defendant Mejia was running real fast along EDSA when he saw a
vehicle on the opposite side suddenly turn left towards White Plains.

According to petitioner, the sudden turn of the vehicle used by the victims should also be considered
as negligence on the part of the driver of that same vehicle, thus, mitigating, if not absolving
petitioner's liability. However, the said argument deserves scant consideration.

It was well established that Mejia was driving at a speed beyond the rate of speed required by law,
specifically Section 35 of Republic Act No. (RA) 4136.8 Given the circumstances, the allowed rate of
speed for Mejia's vehicle was 50 kilometers per hour, while the records show that he was driving at
the speed of 70 kilometers per hour. Under the New Civil Code,9 unless there is proof to the
contrary, it is presumed that a person driving a motor vehicle has been negligent if at the time of the
mishap, he was violating any traffic regulation. Apparently, in the present case, Mejia's violation of
the traffic rules does not erase the presumption that he was the one negligent at the time of the
collision. Even apart from statutory regulations as to speed, a motorist is nevertheless expected to
exercise ordinary care and drive at a reasonable rate of speed commensurate with all the conditions
encountered10 which will enable him to keep the vehicle under control and, whenever necessary, to
put the vehicle to a full stop to avoid injury to others using the highway.11 To suggest that De los
Santos was equally negligent based on that sole statement of the RTC is erroneous. The entire
evidence presented must be considered as a whole. Incidentally, a close reading of the ruling of the
CA would clearly show the negligence of Mejia. A portion of the decision reads:

A closer study of the Police Accident Report, Investigation Report and the sketch of the accident
would reveal nothing but that the shuttle bus was traveling at such a reckless speed that it collided
with the car bearing the deceased. The impact was such that the bus landed astride the car,
dragged the car across the right lane of White Plains Road, across the concrete island/flower box in
the center of White Plains Road, destroying the lamp post in the island until both vehicles landed by
the petitioner fence of Camp Aguinaldo.

From those evidence, borne out by the records, there was proof more than preponderant to
conclude that Mejia was traveling at an unlawful speed, hence, the negligent driver. We, therefore,
cannot find any error on the part of the trial court in concluding that he (Mejia) was driving more than
his claim of 70 kilometers per hour. Significantly, the claimed speed of Mejia is still unlawful,
considering that Section 35 of RA 4136 states that the maximum allowable speed for trucks and
buses must not exceed 50 kilometers per hour. We are, therefore, unpersuaded by the defendants-
appellants’ claim that it was the driver of [the] Galant Sigma who was negligent by not observing
Sections 42(d) and 43(c) of RA 4136-A. Second sentence of Section 42 provides that the driver of
any vehicle traveling at any unlawful speed shall forfeit any right of way which he might otherwise
have. A person driving a vehicle is presumed negligent if at the time of the mishap, he was violating
a traffic regulation. The excessive speed employed by Mejia was the proximate cause of the collision
that led to the sudden death of Teresa Elena and Armando. If the defendants-appellants truly believe
that the accident was caused by the negligence of the driver of the Galant Sigma, they should have
presented Mejia to the witness stand. Being the driver, Mejia would have been in the best position to
establish their thesis that he was negligent when the mishap happened. Under the RULES OF
EVIDENCE (Section 3[e], Rule 131), such suppression gives rise to the presumption that his
testimony would have been adverse, if presented. It must be stressed further that Mejia left the
scene, not reporting the fatal accident to the authorities neither did he wait for the police to arrive. He
only resurfaced on the day after the incident. This is a clear transgression of Section 55 of RA 4136-
A which provides:

SEC. 55 Duty of driver in case of accident. - In the [event] that any accident should occur as a result
of the operation of a motor vehicle upon a highway, the driver shall stop immediately, and, if
requested by any person present, shall show his driver's license, give his true name and address
and also the true name and address of the owner of the motor vehicle.

No driver of a motor vehicle concerned in a vehicular accident shall leave the scene of the accident
without aiding the victim, except under any of the following circumstances:

1. If he is in imminent danger of being seriously harmed by any person or persons by reason


of the accident;

2. If he reports the accident to the nearest officer of the law; or

3. If he has to summon a physician or nurse to aid the victim.

xxxx

Equally untenable is the defendants-appellants contention that it would be impossible for the shuttle
bus which was traveling at 70 kilometers per hour to stop. In view of this assertion, we quote with
favor the statement of Justice Feliciano in the Kapalaran case that the law seeks to stop and prevent
the slaughter and maiming of people (whether passenger or not) and the destruction of property
(whether freight or not) on our highways by buses, the very size and power of which seem often to
inflame the minds of the drivers. To our mind, if a vehicle was travelling in an allowable speed, its
driver would not have a difficulty in applying the brakes.

Anent the second issue raised, petitioner insists that it exercised the due diligence of a good father
of a family in the selection and supervision of its employees. The RTC and the CA find otherwise.

Under Article 218012 of the New Civil Code, 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. 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. Therefore, it is incumbent upon the private respondents (in this case,
the petitioner) to prove that they exercised the diligence of a good father of a family in the selection
and supervision of their employee.13

Petitioner asserts that it had submitted and presented during trial, numerous documents in support
of its claim that it had exercised the proper diligence in both the selection and supervision of its
employees. Among those proofs are documents showing Mejia's proficiency and physical
examinations, as well as his NBI clearances. The Employee Staff Head of the Human Resource
Division of the petitioner also testified that Mejia was constantly under supervision and was given
daily operational briefings. Nevertheless, the RTC and the CA were correct in finding those pieces of
evidence presented by the petitioner insufficient.

In Manliclic v. Calaunan,14 this Court ruled that:

In the selection of prospective employees, employers are required to examine them as to their
qualifications, experience and service records. In the supervision of employees, the employer must
formulate standard operating procedures, monitor their implementation and impose disciplinary
measures for the breach thereof. To fend off vicarious liability, employers must submit concrete
proof, including documentary evidence, that they complied with everything that was incumbent on
them.

In Metro Manila Transit Corporation v. Court of Appeals, it was explained that:

Due diligence in the supervision of employees on the other hand, includes the formulation of suitable
rules and regulations for the guidance of employees and the issuance of proper instructions intended
for the protection of the public and persons with whom the employer has relations through his or its
employees and the imposition of necessary disciplinary measures upon employees in case of
breach or as may be warranted to ensure the performance of acts indispensable to the business of
and beneficial to their employer. To this, we add that actual implementation and monitoring of
consistent compliance with said rules should be the constant concern of the employer, acting
through dependable supervisors who should regularly report on their supervisory functions.

In order that the defense of due diligence in the selection and supervision of employees may be
deemed sufficient and plausible, it is not enough to emptily invoke the existence of said company
guidelines and policies on hiring and supervision. As the negligence of the employee gives rise to
the presumption of negligence on the part of the employer, the latter has the burden of proving that it
has been diligent not only in the selection of employees but also in the actual supervision of their
work. The mere allegation of the existence of hiring procedures and supervisory policies, without
anything more, is decidedly not sufficient to overcome such presumption.
We emphatically reiterate our holding, as a warning to all employers, that "the formulation of various
company policies on safety without showing that they were being complied with is not sufficient to
exempt petitioner from liability arising from negligence of its employees. It is incumbent upon
petitioner to show that in recruiting and employing the erring driver the recruitment procedures and
company policies on efficiency and safety were followed." x x x.15

Applying the above ruling, the CA, therefore, committed no error in finding that the evidence
presented by petitioner is wanting. Thus, the CA ruled:

In the present case, Filsyn merely presented evidence on the alleged care it took in the selection or
hiring of Mejia way back in 1974 or ten years before the fatal accident. Neither did Filsyn present any
proof of the existence of the rules and regulations governing the conduct of its employees. It is
significant to note that in employing Mejia, who is not a high school graduate, Filsyn waived its long-
standing policy requirement of hiring only high school graduates. It insufficiently failed to explain the
reason for such waiver other than their allegation of Mejia's maturity and skill for the job.

As revealed by the testimony of Rolando Landicho, Filsyn admitted that their shuttle buses were
used to ferry Filsyn's employees for three shifts. It failed to show whether or not Mejia was on duty
driving buses for all three shifts. On the other hand, the trial court found that Mejia, by the different
shifts would have been on the job for more than eight hours. Fylsin did not even sufficiently prove
that it exercised the required supervision of Mejia by ensuring rest periods, particularly for its night
shift drivers who are working on a time when most of us are usually taking rest. As correctly argued
by the plaintiffs-appellees, this is significant because the accident happened at 11:30 p.m., when the
shuttle bus was under the control of a driver having no passenger at all. Despite, the lateness of the
hour and the darkness of the surrounding area, the bus was travelling at a speed of 70 kilometers
per hour.

In view of the absence of sufficient proof of its exercise of due diligence, Filsyn cannot escape its
solidary liability as the owner of the wayward bus and the employer of the negligent driver of the
wayward bus. x x x

As to the amount of the damages awarded by the CA, petitioner claims that it is not in accord with
the evidence on record. It explained that the amounts used in computing for compensatory damages
were based mainly on the assertions of the respondents as to the amount of salary being received
by the two deceased at the time of their deaths. 1awphil

This Court, in its ruling,16 expounded on the nature of compensatory damages, thus:

Under Article 2199 of the New Civil Code, actual damages include all the natural and probable
consequences of the act or omission complained of, classified as one for the loss of what a person
already possesses (daño emergente) and the other, for the failure to receive, as a benefit, that which
would have pertained to him (lucro cesante). As expostulated by the Court in PNOC Shipping and
Transport Corporation v. Court of Appeals:17

Under Article 2199 of the Civil Code, actual or compensatory damages are those awarded in
satisfaction of, or in recompense for, loss or injury sustained. They proceed from a sense of natural
justice and are designed to repair the wrong that has been done, to compensate for the injury
inflicted and not to impose a penalty. In actions based on torts or quasi-delicts, actual damages
include all the natural and probable consequences of the act or omission complained of. There are
two kinds of actual or compensatory damages: one is the loss of what a person already
possesses (daño emergente), and the other is the failure to receive as a benefit that which would
have pertained to him (lucro cesante).18
The burden of proof is on the party who would be defeated if no evidence would be presented on
either side. The burden is to establish one’s case by a preponderance of evidence which means that
the evidence, as a whole, adduced by one side, is superior to that of the other. Actual damages are
not presumed. The claimant must prove the actual amount of loss with a reasonable degree of
certainty premised upon competent proof and on the best evidence obtainable. Specific facts that
could afford a basis for measuring whatever compensatory or actual damages are borne must be
pointed out. Actual damages cannot be anchored on mere surmises, speculations or conjectures. As
the Court declared:

As stated at the outset, to enable an injured party to recover actual or compensatory damages, he is
required to prove the actual amount of loss with reasonable degree of certainty premised upon
competent proof and on the best evidence available. The burden of proof is on the party who would
be defeated if no evidence would be presented on either side. He must establish his case by a
preponderance of evidence which means that the evidence, as a whole, adduced by one side is
superior to that of the other. In other words, damages cannot be presumed and courts, in making an
award, must point out specific facts that could afford a basis for measuring whatever compensatory
or actual damages are borne.19

The records show that the CA did not err in awarding the said amounts, nor was there any mistake
in its computation. The respondents were able to establish their case by a preponderance of
evidence. However, the petitioner is correct when it stated that the award of ₱100,000.00 as moral
damages is excessive. Jurisprudence has set the amount to ₱50,000.00.20

WHEREFORE, the Petition for Review is hereby DENIED. Consequently, the Decision of the Court
of Appeals, dated August 15, 2001, is hereby AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION that the moral
damages be reduced to ₱50,000.00.

SO ORDERED.

DIOSDADO M. PERALTA
Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
Chairperson

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.* ROBERTO A. ABAD


Associate Justice Associate Justice

JOSE CATRAL MENDOZA


Associate Justice

ATTESTATION

I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case
was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court’s Division.
ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
Second Division, Chairperson

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, it is hereby certified that the conclusions in
the above Decision were reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the
opinion of the Court’s Division.

RENATO C. CORONA
Chief Justice

Footnotes

* Designated as an additional member in lieu of Associate Justice Antonio Eduardo B.


Nachura per Special Order No. 933, dated January 24, 2011.

1Penned by Associate Justice Perlita J. Tria Tirona, with Associate Justices Eugenio S.
Labitoria and Eloy R. Bello, Jr., concurring; rollo pp. 24-38.

2 CA rollo, pp. 78-91.

3
Rollo, pp. 48-52.

4 Id. at 59-65.

5 Id. at 71- 85 for the petitioner and 86-93 for the respondents.

6See Estacion v. Bernardo, G.R. No. 144723, February 27, 2006, 483 SCRA 222, 231,
citing Yambao v. Zuñiga, 418 SCRA 266, 271 (2003).

7 Id. at 231-232, citing Child Learning Center Inc. v. Tagario, 476 SCRA 236 (2005).

8 Section 35. Restriction as to speed. – x x x

(a) Any person driving a motor vehicle on a highway shall drive the same at a careful
and prudent speed, not greater nor less than is reasonable and proper, having due
regard for the traffic, the width of the highway, and of any other condition then and
there existing; and no person shall drive any motor vehicle upon a highway at such a
speed as to endanger the life, limb and property of any person, nor at a speed
greater than that will permit him to bring the vehicle to a stop within the assured clear
distance ahead.

(b) Subject to the provisions of the preceding paragraph, the rate of speed of any
motor vehicle shall not exceed the following:
MAXIMUM ALLOWABLE SPEEDS Passengers Motor trucks and buses

Cars and Motorcycle

1. On open country roads, with no 80 km. per hour 50 km. per hour
"blind corners" not closely bordered
by habitations.

2. On "through streets" or boulevards, 40 km. per hour 30 km. per hour


clear of traffic, with no " blind corners,"
when so designated.

3. On city and municipal streets, with 30 km. per hour 30 km. per hour
light traffic, when not designated
"through streets."

4. Through crowded streets, 20 km. per hour 20 km. per hour


approaching intersections at
"blind corners," passing school zones,
passing other vehicles which are stationery,
or for similar dangerous circumstances.

9 Art. 2185.

Caminos, Jr. v. People, G.R. No. 147437, May 8, 2009, 587 SCRA 348, 361, citing Foster
10

v. ConAgra Poultry Co., 670 So.2d 471.

Id., citing Nunn v. Financial Indem. Co., 694 So.2d 630. Duty of reasonable care includes
11

duty to keep the vehicle under control and to maintain proper lookout for hazards.

Art. 2180. The obligation imposed by article 2176 is demandable not only for one’s own
12

acts or omissions, but also for those of persons for whom one is responsible.

xxxx

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 industry.

xxxx

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.

13Manliclic, v. Calaunan, G.R. No. 150157, January 25, 2007, 512 SCRA 642, 662-663,
citing Dulay v. Court of Appeals, 313 Phil. 8, 23 (1995).

14 Id.
15Id. at 663-665, citing Perla Compania de Seguros, Inc. v. Sarangaya III, 474 SCRA 191,
202 (2005) and Metro Manila Transit Corporation v. Court of Appeals, 223 SCRA 521, 540-
541 (1993).

16Marikina Auto Line Transport Corporation, et al. v. People, et al., G.R. No. 152040, March
31, 2006, 486 SCRA 284, 297-298.

17 358 Phil. 38 (1998).

18 Id. at 52-53.

19 Id. at 53-54.

See Metro Manila Transit Corporation v. CA, G.R. No. 116617, with Rosales, et al. v. Court
20

of Appeals, et al., G.R. No. 126395, 359 Phil. 18 (1998).

SECOND DIVISION

FLORDELIZA MENDOZA, G.R. No. 164012

Petitioner,
Present:

QUISUMBING, J., Chairperson,

CARPIO,
- versus -
CARPIO MORALES,

TINGA, and

VELASCO, JR., JJ.

MUTYA SORIANO and Minor JULIE


ANN SORIANO duly represented by
her natural mother
Promulgated:
and guardian ad litem MUTYA
SORIANO,

Respondents. June 8, 2007

x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x

DECISION

QUISUMBING, J.:

In this petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, petitioner
asks this Court to reverse and set aside the Decision [1] dated November 17,
2003 and the Resolution[2] dated May 24, 2004 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R.
CV No. 69037. The appellate court found petitioner, as employer
of Lomer Macasasa, liable for damages.

The facts are as follows:

At around 1:00 a.m., July 14, 1997, Sonny Soriano, while


crossing Commonwealth Avenue near Luzon Avenue in Quezon City, was hit by a
speeding Tamaraw FX driven by Lomer Macasasa. Soriano was thrown five
meters away, while the vehicle only stopped some 25 meters from the point of
impact. Gerard Villaspin, one of Sorianoscompanions, asked Macasasa to bring
Soriano to the hospital, but after checking out the scene of the
incident, Macasasa returned to the FX, only to flee. A school bus brought Soriano
to East Avenue Medical Center where he later died. Subsequently, the Quezon City
Prosecutor recommended the filing of a criminal case for reckless imprudence
resulting to homicide against Macasasa.[3]

On August 20, 1997, respondents Mutya Soriano and Julie Ann Soriano,
Sorianos wife and daughter, respectively, filed a complaint for damages against
Macasasa and petitioner Flordeliza Mendoza, the registered owner of the vehicle. The
complaint was docketed as Civil Case No. C-18038 in
the Regional Trial Court of Caloocan City, Branch 121. Respondents prayed that
Macasasa and petitioner be ordered to pay them: P200,000 moral damages; P500,000
for lost income; P22,250 for funeral services; P45,000 for burial lot; P15,150 for
interment and lapida; P8,066 for hospitalization, other medical and transportation
expenses; P28,540 for food and drinks during the wake; P50,000 exemplary
damages; P60,000 indemnity for Sorianos death; and P25,000 for attorneys fees
plus P500 per court appearance.[4]

In her answer, petitioner Mendoza maintained that she was not liable since
as owner of the vehicle, she had exercised the diligence of a good father of a
family over her employee, Macasasa.

Upon respondents motion, the complaint for damages against Macasasa was
dismissed.

After trial, the trial court also dismissed the complaint against petitioner.[5] It
found Soriano negligent for crossing Commonwealth Avenue by using a small gap
in the islands fencing rather than the pedestrian overpass. The lower court also
ruled that petitioner was not negligent in the selection and supervision of Macasasa
since complainants presented no evidence to support their allegation of petitioners
negligence.[6]

Respondents appealed. The Court of Appeals reversed the trial


court. The dispositive portion of the appellate courts decision reads:
WHEREFORE, the judgment appealed from is REVERSED, and another one
is hereby rendered ordering [petitioner] Flordeliza Mendoza to pay [respondents]
Mutya Soriano and Julie Ann Soriano the following amounts:
1. Hospital and Burial Expenses P80,926.25
2. Loss of earning capacity P77,000.00
3. Moral Damages P20,000.00
4. Indemnity for the death of Sonny Soriano P50,000.00
Actual payment of the aforementioned amounts should, however, be reduced by
twenty (20%) per cent due to the presence of contributory negligence by the
victim as provided for in Article 2179 of the Civil Code.
SO ORDERED.[7]

While the appellate court agreed that Soriano was negligent, it also found
Macasasa negligent for speeding, such that he was unable to avoid hitting the
victim. It observed that Sorianos own negligence did not preclude recovery of
damages from Macasasas negligence. It further held that since petitioner failed to
present evidence to the contrary, and conformably with Article 2180[8] of the Civil
Code, the presumption of negligence of the employer in the selection and
supervision of employees stood.

Petitioners motion for reconsideration was denied by the appellate court in a


Resolution[9] dated May 24, 2004.

Hence, this appeal where petitioner alleges that:


I.
THE TOTAL AMOUNT PRAYED FOR IN THE COMPLAINT IS NOT
WITHIN THE JURISDICTION OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT.

II.
[COROLLARILY], THE AWARD OF DAMAGES IN FAVOR OF THE
RESPONDENTS [HAS] NO BASIS IN LAW.[10]

The issues are simple: (1) Did the Regional Trial Court have jurisdiction to try
the case? and (2) Was there sufficient legal basis to award damages?

Petitioner argues that the amount claimed by respondents is within the


jurisdiction of the Metropolitan Trial Court. She posits that to determine the
jurisdictional amount, what should only be considered are the
following: P22,250 for funeral services; P45,000 for burial lot; P15,150 for
interment and lapida; P8,066 for hospitalization and transportation; P28,540 for
food and drinks during the wake; and P60,000 indemnity for Sorianos death. She
maintains that the sum of these amounts, P179,006, is below the jurisdictional
amount of the Regional Trial Court. She states that under Section 19(8) of the
Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980, the following claims of respondents must be
excluded: P200,000 moral damages, P500,000 for lost income; P50,000 exemplary
damages; P25,000 attorneys fees plus P500 per court appearance. Petitioner thus
prays that the decision of the Court of Appeals be reversed, and the dismissal of
the case by the trial court be affirmed on the ground of lack of jurisdiction.

Section 19(8) of Batas Pambansa Blg. 129,[11] as amended by Republic Act


No. 7691, states the pertinent law.
SEC. 19. Jurisdiction in civil cases.Regional Trial Courts shall exercise
exclusive original jurisdiction:
xxxx
(8) In all other cases in which the demand, exclusive of interest, damages
of whatever kind, attorney's fees, litigation expenses, and costs or the value of the
property in controversy exceeds One hundred thousand pesos (P100,000.00) or, in
such other cases in Metro Manila, where the demand, exclusive of the
abovementioned items exceeds Two hundred thousand pesos (P200,000.00).

But relatedly, Administrative Circular No. 09-94[12] expressly states:


xxxx
2. The exclusion of the term damages of whatever kind in determining the
jurisdictional amount under Section 19(8) and Section 33(1) of BP Blg. 129, as
amended by RA No. 7691, applies to cases where the damages are merely
incidental to or a consequence of the main cause of action. However, in cases
where the claim for damages is the main cause of action, or one of the causes of
action, the amount of such claim shall be considered in determining the
jurisdiction of the court. (Underscoring supplied.)

Actions for damages based on quasi-delicts, as in this case, are primarily and
effectively actions for the recovery of a sum of money for the damages for tortious
acts.[13] In this case, respondents claim of P929,006 in damages and P25,000 attorneys
fees plus P500 per court appearance represents the monetary equivalent for
compensation of the alleged injury. These money claims are the principal reliefs
sought by respondents in their complaint for damages.[14] Consequently then, we hold
that the Regional Trial Court of Caloocan Citypossessed and properly exercised
jurisdiction over the case.[15]
Petitioner further argues that since respondents caused the dismissal of the
complaint against Macasasa, there is no longer any basis to find her liable. She
claims that no iota of evidence was presented in this case to
prove Macasasas negligence, and besides, respondents can recover damages in the
criminal case against him.

Respondents counter that as Macasasas employer, petitioner was presumed


negligent in selecting and supervising Macasasa after he was found negligent by
the Court of Appeals.

The records show that Macasasa violated two traffic rules under the Land
Transportation and Traffic Code. First, he failed to maintain a safe speed to avoid
endangering lives.[16]Both the trial and the appellate courts found
Macasasa overspeeding.[17] The records show also that Soriano was thrown five
meters away after he was hit.[18] Moreover, the vehicle stopped only some 25
meters from the point of impact.[19]

Both circumstances support the conclusion that the FX vehicle driven


by Macasasa was overspeeding. Second, Macasasa, the vehicle driver, did not
aid Soriano, the accident victim, in violation of Section 55,[20] Article V of the Land
Transportation and Traffic Code. While Macasasa at first agreed to bring Soriano to
the hospital, he fled the scene in a hurry.Contrary to petitioners claim, there is no
showing of any factual basis that Macasasa fled for fear of the peoples wrath. What
remains undisputed is that he did not report the accident to a police officer, nor did
he summon a doctor. Under Article 2185[21] of the Civil Code, a person driving a
motor vehicle is presumed negligent if at the time of the mishap, he was violating
traffic regulations.

While respondents could recover damages from Macasasa in a criminal case and
petitioner could become subsidiarily liable, still petitioner, as owner and employer,
is directly and separately civilly liable for her failure to exercise due diligence in
supervising Macasasa.[22] We must emphasize that this damage suit is for the quasi-
delict of petitioner, as owner and employer, and not for the delict of Macasasa, as
driver and employee.
Under Article 2180 of the Civil Code, employers are liable for the damages caused
by their employees acting within the scope of their assigned tasks. The liability
arises due to the presumed negligence of the employers in supervising their
employees unless they prove that they observed all the diligence of a good father
of a family to prevent the damage.

In this case, we hold petitioner primarily and solidarily liable for the damages caused
by Macasasa.[23] Respondents could recover directly from petitioner[24] since
petitioner failed to prove that she exercised the diligence of a good father of a family
in supervising Macasasa.[25] Indeed, it is unfortunate that petitioner harbored the
notion that the Regional Trial Court did not have jurisdiction over the case and opted
not to present her evidence on this point.

Lastly, we agree that the Court of Appeals did not err in ruling
that Soriano was guilty of contributory negligence for not using the pedestrian
overpass while crossing Commonwealth Avenue. We even note that the respondents
now admit this point, and concede that the appellate court had properly reduced by
20% the amount of damages it awarded. Hence, we affirm the reduction[26] of the
amount earlier awarded, based on Article 2179 of the Civil Code which reads:
When the plaintiff's own negligence was the immediate and proximate
cause of his injury, he cannot recover damages. But if his negligence was only
contributory, the immediate and proximate cause of the injury being the
defendant's lack of due care, the plaintiff may recover damages, but the courts
shall mitigate the damages to be awarded.

WHEREFORE, we DENY the petition for lack of merit and


hereby AFFIRM the Decision dated November 17, 2003 and the Resolution
dated May 24, 2004 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 69037.

Costs against petitioner.

SO ORDERED.
LEONARDO A. QUISUMBING

Acting Chief Justice

WE CONCUR:

ANTONIO T. CARPIO

Associate Justice

(On official leave)


DANTE O. TINGA
CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES
Associate Justice
Associate Justice

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.


Associate Justice

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, I certify that the
conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the
case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.

LEONARDO A. QUISUMBING

Acting Chief Justice


Acting Chief Justice.

On official leave.
[1]
Rollo, pp. 40-49. Penned by Associate Justice Bienvenido L. Reyes, with Associate Justices Conrado M. Vasquez,
Jr. and Arsenio J. Magpale concurring.
[2]
Id. at 51-53.
[3]
Id. at 27 and 82.
[4]
Id. at 19.
[5]
Id. at 38.
[6]
Id. at 37-38.
[7]
Id. at 48-49.
[8]
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.
xxxx
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 industry.
xxxx
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.
[9]
Rollo, pp. 51-53.
[10]
Id. at 10.
[11]
Also known as the Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980.
[12]
Guidelines in the Implementation of Republic Act No. 7691, Entitled An Act Expanding the Jurisdiction of the Metropolitan
Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts, Amending for the Purpose Batas Pambansa Blg.
129, Otherwise Known as the Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980.
[13]
Iniego v. Purganan, G.R. No. 166876, March 24, 2006, 485 SCRA 394, 401.
[14]
Id.
[15]
Under Section 5 of Rep. Act No. 7691, the jurisdictional amounts under Section 19(8) shall increase five years
after its effectivity.
[16]
Rep. Act No. 4136, Chapter IVTRAFFIC RULES, Article I.Speed Limit and Keeping to the Right
SEC. 35. Restriction as to speed.(a) Any person driving a motor vehicle on a highway shall drive the same at a careful and
prudent speed, not greater nor less than is reasonable and proper, having due regard for the traffic, the width of the highway,
and of any other condition then and there existing; and no person shall drive any motor vehicle upon a highway at such a
speed as to endanger the life, limb and property of any person, nor at a speed greater than will permit him to bring the
vehicle to a stop within the assured clear distance ahead.
xxxx
[17]
Rollo, pp. 38, 43.
[18]
Id. at 35, 43.
[19]
Id.
[20]
Rep. Act No. 4136, Chapter IVTRAFFIC RULES, Article V.Miscellaneous Traffic Rules SEC. 55. Duty of
driver in case of accident.
No driver of a motor vehicle concerned in a vehicular accident shall leave the scene of the accident without aiding
the victim, except under any of the following circumstances:
1. If he is in imminent danger of being seriously harmed by any person or persons by reason of the accident;
2. If he reports the accident to the nearest officer of the law; or
3. If he has to summon a physician or nurse to aid the victim.
[21]
Art. 2185. Unless there is proof to the contrary, it is presumed that a person driving a motor vehicle has been
negligent if at the time of the mishap, he was violating any traffic regulation.
[22]
See Cerezo v. Tuazon, G.R. No. 141538, March 23, 2004, 426 SCRA 167, 186-187.
[23]
See Victory Liner, Inc. v. Heirs of Andres Malecdan, G.R. No. 154278, December 27, 2002, 394 SCRA 520, 524.
[24]
Id. at 524-525; Cerezo v. Tuazon, supra at 186.
[25]
CIVIL CODE, Art. 2180.
[26]
See Phoenix Construction, Inc. v. Intermediate Appellate Court, No. L-65295, March 10, 1987, 148 SCRA 353,
370-371.

Republic of the Philippines


Supreme Court
Baguio City

FIRST DIVISION

OSCAR DEL CARMEN, JR., G.R. No. 173870

Petitioner,

- versus - Present:

GERONIMO BACOY, Guardian and CORONA, C.J., Chairperson,

representing the children, namely: LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,

MARY MARJORIE B. MONSALUD, BERSAMIN,

ERIC B. MONSALUD, METZIE ANN DEL CASTILLO, and

B. MONSALUD, KAREEN B. VILLARAMA, JR., JJ.

MONSALUD, LEONARDO B.

MONSALUD, JR., and CRISTINA B.

MONSALUD, Promulgated:

Respondents. April 25, 2012


x-------------------------------------------------------------------x
DECISION

DEL CASTILLO, J.:

In this Petition for Review on Certiorari,[1] the registered owner of a motor vehicle
challenges the Decision[2] dated July 11, 2006 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R.
CV No. 67764 which held him liable for damages to the heirs of the victims who were
run over by the said vehicle.

Factual Antecedents

At dawn on New Years Day of 1993, Emilia Bacoy Monsalud (Emilia), along with her
spouse Leonardo Monsalud, Sr. and their daughter Glenda Monsalud, were on their way
home from a Christmas party they attended in Poblacion,
Sominot, Zamboanga Del Sur. Upon reaching Purok Paglaom in Sominot, they were run
over by a Fuso passenger jeep bearing plate number UV-PEK-600 that was being driven
by Allan Maglasang (Allan). The jeep was registered in the name of petitioner Oscar del
Carmen, Jr. (Oscar Jr.) and used as a public utility vehicle plying the Molave,
Zamboanga del Sur to Sominot, Zamboanga del Sur and vice versa route.

Because of the unfortunate incident, Criminal Case No. 93-10347[3] for Reckless
Imprudence Resulting in Multiple Homicide was filed against Allan before the Regional
Trial Court of Molave, Zamboanga del Sur, Branch 23. In a Decision dated March 13,
1997, said court declared Allan guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime charged.[4]

During the pendency of said criminal case, Emilias father, Geronimo Bacoy
(Geronimo), in behalf of the six minor children[5] of the Monsaluds, filed Civil Case No.
96-20219,[6] an independent civil action for damages based on culpa aquiliana. Aside
from Allan, also impleaded therein were his alleged employers, namely, the spouses
Oscar del Carmen, Sr. (Oscar Sr.) and Norma del Carmen (Spouses del Carmen) and the
registered owner of the jeep, their son Oscar Jr. Geronimo prayed for the reimbursement
of funeral and burial expenses, as well as the award of attorneys fees, moral and
exemplary damages resulting from the death of the three victims, and loss of net income
earnings of Emilia who was employed as a public school teacher at the time of her
death.[7]

Defendants refused to assume civil liability for the victims deaths. Oscar Sr.
averred that the Monsaluds have no cause of action against them because he and his wife
do not own the jeep and that they were never the employers of Allan.[8] For his part,
Oscar Jr. claimed to be a victim himself. He alleged that Allan and his friends[9] stole his
jeep while it was parked beside his drivers rented house to take it for a joyride. Both he
and a vehicle mechanic testified that the subject jeep can easily be started by mere
pushing sans the ignition key. The vehicles engine shall then run but without any
headlights on.[10] And implying that this was the manner by which the vehicle was
illegally taken, Oscar Jr. submitted as part of his documentary evidence the
statements[11] of Jemar Alarcon (Jemar) and Benjamin Andujar (Benjamin). The two,
who were with Allan in the jeep at the time of the accident, declared before the
investigating officer that during said time, the vehicles headlights were off. Because of
this allegation, Oscar Jr. even filed before the same trial court a carnapping case against
Allan and his companions docketed as Criminal Case No. 93-10380.[12] The case was,
however, dismissed for insufficiency of evidence.[13]

Oscar Jr. clarified that Allan was his jeep conductor and that it was the latters
brother, Rodrigo Maglasang (Rodrigo), who was employed as the driver.[14] In any event,
Allans employment as conductor was already severed before the mishap occurred on
January 1, 1993 since he served as such conductor only from the first week of December
until December 14, 1992.[15] In support of this, Oscar Jr. presented as witnesses Faustino
Sismundo (Faustino) and Cresencio Junior Baobao (Cresencio). Faustino, a resident of
Molave, testified that when he boarded the jeep heading to Sominot on December 31,
1992, it was Cresencio who was the conductor. He also believed that Crecencio started to
work as such at around December 15 or 16, 1992.[16] Cresencio, for his part, testified that
he worked as Oscar Jr.s conductor from December 15, 1992 to January 1, 1993 and that
Rodrigo was his driver.[17] He stated that upon learning that the jeep figured in an
accident, he never bothered to verify the news. Instead, he went to Midsalip to work there
as a conductor for his brothers vehicle, thereby terminating his employment with Oscar
Jr.[18]

Oscar Jr. likewise testified that it was routinary that after a days trip, the jeep
would be parked beside Rodrigos rented house[19] for the next early-morning operation.
Geronimo, on the other hand, averred that Allan was still Oscar Jr.s employee
subsequent to December 14, 1992. To prove this, he presented as witnesses Saturnino
Jumawan (Saturnino) and Jose Navarro (Jose). Saturnino testified that he would pay his
fare to Allan every time he would board the jeep in going to Molave and that the last time
he rode the subject vehicle was on December 23, 1992. He also claimed that immediately
before January 1, 1993, Rodrigo and Allan used to park the jeep at the yard of his
house.[20] Jose likewise attested that Allan was still the jeep conductor during the said
period as he had ridden the jeep many times in mid-December of 1992.[21]

Ruling of the Regional Trial Court

In its Decision[22] dated April 17, 2000, the RTC exculpated the spouses del
Carmen from civil liability for insufficiency of evidence. However, their son Oscar Jr.
was held civilly liable in a subsidiary capacity. The RTC anchored its ruling primarily on
the principle of res ipsa loquitur, i.e., that a presumption of negligence on the part of a
defendant may be inferred if the thing that caused an injury is shown to be under his
management and that in the ordinary course of things, the accident would not have
happened had there been an exercise of care. Said court ratiocinated that Oscar Jr., as the
registered owner of the jeep, managed and controlled the same through his driver
Rodrigo, in whose house the jeep was usually parked. Since both Oscar Jr. and Rodrigo
were well aware that the jeep could easily be started by a mere push even without the
ignition key, they should have taken the necessary precaution to prevent the vehicle from
being used by unauthorized persons like Allan. The RTC thus concluded that such lack of
proper precaution, due care and foresight constitute negligence making the registered
owner of the vehicle civilly liable for the damage caused by the same.

The RTC disposed of the case as follows:

Wherefore, judgment is hereby entered in favor of the plaintiffs and against the
defendants Allan Maglasang and Oscar del Carmen, Jr. ordering

1. Defendant ALLAN MAGLASANG to pay the plaintiffs, and in case of


insolvency, for defendant OSCAR DEL CARMEN, JR., to pay the plaintiffs, the
following sums:

a. P73,112.00 for their funeral and burial expenses;


b. P1,000,000.00 moral damages for the death of the late Emilia Monsalud;
c. P250,000.00 moral damages for the death of the late Leonardo Monsalud, Sr.;
d. P250,000.00 moral damages for the death of the late Glenda Monsalud;
e. P40, 000.00, for exemplary damages;
f. P20,000.00 attorneys fees; and
g. The cost of this proceedings.

2. The dismissal of the complaint as against the spouses OSCAR DEL CARMEN
SR. and NORMA DEL CARMEN.

SO ORDERED.[23]

Oscar Jr. moved for reconsideration[24] contending that the provision on vicarious
liability of the employer under Article 2180 of the Civil Code[25] requires the existence of
employer-employee relationship and that the employee was acting within the scope of his
employment when the tort occurred. He stressed that even assuming that Allan was his
employee, he was hired not as a driver but as a conductor. Hence, Allan acted beyond the
scope of his employment when he drove the jeep.

Oscar Jr. also stressed that the fact that the jeep was running without its headlights
on at the time of the accident indubitably shows that the same was stolen. He further
alleged that the jeep could not have been taken by only one person. As Rodrigo declared
in Criminal Case No. 93-10380 (carnapping case), based on his experience, the jeep
cannot be pushed by only one person but by at least five people in order for it to
start. This was due to the vehicles mass and the deep canal which separates the parking
area from the curved road that was obstructed by a house.[26]

Setting aside its earlier decision, the lower court in its Order[27] dated June 21,
2000 granted the Motion for Reconsideration and absolved Oscar Jr. from civil
liability. It cited Article 103 of the Revised Penal Code which provides that for an
employer to be subsidiarily liable for the criminal acts of his employee, the latter should
have committed the same in the discharge of his duties. The court agreed with Oscar Jr.
that this condition is wanting in Allans case as he was not acting in the discharge of his
duties as a conductor when he drove the jeep.
The court also declared the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur inapplicable since the
property owner cannot be made responsible for the damages caused by his property by
reason of the criminal acts of another. It then adjudged that only Allan should bear the
consequences of his criminal acts. Thus:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the MOTION FOR
RECONSIDERATION is granted, and defendant OSCAR DEL CARMEN JR. is
hereby absolved from all civil liability arising from the felonious acts of convicted
accused ALLAN MAGLASANG.

IT IS SO ORDERED.[28]

Geronimo appealed.

Ruling of the Court of Appeals


In its July 11, 2006 Decision,[29] the CA granted the appeal.

In resolving the case, the CA first determined the preliminary issue of whether
there was an employer-employee relationship between Oscar Jr. and Allan at the time of
the accident. It ruled in the affirmative and gave more credence to the testimonies of
Geronimos witnesses than to those of Oscar Jr.s witnesses, Faustino and Cresencio. The
CA ratiocinated that unlike the witness presented by Geronimo, Faustino never resided
in Poblacion and thus has limited knowledge of the place. His testimony was also
unreliable considering that he only rode the subject jeep twice[30] during the last two
weeks of December 1992. As regards Cresencios testimony, the appellate court found it
puzzling why he appeared to have acted uninterested upon learning that the jeep was the
subject of an accident when it was his bread and butter. Said court likewise considered
questionable Oscar Jr.s asseveration that Cresencio replaced Allan as conductor when
Cresencio testified that he replaced a certain Sumagang Jr.[31]

With regard to the main issue, the CA adjudged Oscar Jr. liable to the heirs of the
victims based on the principle that the registered owner of a vehicle is directly and
primarily responsible for the injuries or death of third parties caused by the operation of
such vehicle. It disbelieved Oscar Jr.s defense that the jeep was stolen not only because
the carnapping case filed against Allan and his companions was dismissed but also
because, given the circumstances, Oscar Jr. is deemed to have given Allan the implied
permission to use the subject vehicle. To support its conclusion, the CA cited the
following circumstances: siblings Rodrigo and Allan were both employees assigned to
the said jeep; after a days work, said vehicle would be parked just beside Rodrigos house
where Allan also lived; the jeep could easily be started even without the use of an ignition
key; the said parking area was not fenced or secured to prevent the unauthorized use of
the vehicle which can be started even without the ignition key.

The dispositive portion of the CA Decision reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant appeal is GRANTED. The


assailed Order dated 21 June 2000 of the Regional Trial Court (Branch 23), Molave,
Zamboanga del Sur, in Civil Case No. 96-20,219 is SET ASIDE and a new one is hereby
entered. OSCAR DEL CARMEN, Jr. and ALLAN MAGLASANG are held primarily
liable, jointly and severally, to pay plaintiffs-appellants:

1. Civil indemnity for the death of Emilia Bacoy Monsalud, Leonardo Monsalud
Sr., and Glenda Monsalud in the amount of Fifty thousand pesos (P50,000.00) each or for
the total amount of One hundred fifty thousand pesos (P150,000.00);

2. Temperate damages in the amount of Twenty-five Thousand Pesos


(P25,000.00) each for the death of Emilia Monsalud, Leonardo Monsalud Sr., and
Glenda Monsalud (collectively the Monsaluds) or for the total amount of Seventy-five
thousand pesos (P75,000.00);

3. Moral damages in the amount of Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00) each


for the death of the Monsaluds or for a total amount of One Hundred Fifty Thousand
Pesos (P150,000.00);

4. Exemplary damages of Forty Thousand Pesos (P40,000.00).

No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED. [32]

Issues

As a result of the adverse judgment, Oscar Jr. filed this Petition for Review
on Certiorari alleging that the CA erred in:

1. x x x basing its conclusions and findings on speculations, surmises and


conjectures; misapprehension of facts which are in conflict with the findings of
the trial court;
2. x x x declaring a question of substance not in accord with law and with the
applicable decisions of the Supreme Court;

3. x x x departing from the regular course of the judicial proceedings in the


disposition of the appeal and [in going] beyond the issues of the case.[33]

Oscar Jr. points out that the CA failed to consider the RTCs ruling in its June 21,
2000 Order which was in accord with Article 2180 of the Civil Code, i.e., that the tort
committed by an employee should have been done within the scope of his assigned tasks
for an employer to be held liable under culpa aquiliana. However, the CA never touched
upon this matter even if it was glaring that Allans driving the subject vehicle was not
within the scope of his previous employment as conductor. Moreover, Oscar Jr. insists
that his jeep was stolen and stresses that the liability of a registered owner of a vehicle as
to third persons, as well as the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur, should not apply to him. He
asserts that although Allan and his companions were not found to have committed the
crime of carnapping beyond reasonable doubt, it was nevertheless established that the
jeep was illicitly taken by them from a well secured area. This is considering that the
vehicle was running without its headlights on at the time of the accident, a proof that it
was started without the ignition key.

Our Ruling

Petitioners own evidence casts doubt on his


claim that his jeep was stolen by Allan and his
alleged cohorts. Negligence is presumed under
the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur.

Oscar Jr.s core defense to release him from responsibility for the death of the Monsaluds
is that his jeep was stolen. He highlights that the unauthorized taking of the jeep from the
parking area was indeed carried out by the clandestine and concerted efforts of Allan and
his five companions, notwithstanding the obstacles surrounding the parking area and the
weight of the jeep.

Notably, the carnapping case filed against Allan and his group was already
dismissed by the RTC for insufficiency of evidence. But even in this civil case and as
correctly concluded by the CA, the evidentiary standard of preponderance of evidence
required was likewise not met to support Oscar Jr.s claim that his jeep was unlawfully
taken.

Two of Allans co-accused in the carnapping case, Jemar and Benjamin, declared
before the police that when Allan invited them to ride with him, he was already driving
the jeep:

04. Q- On that night, on or about 11:30 oclock on December 31, 1992, where were you?
A- I went to the disco near [the] Public Market[,] Sominot, Zamboanga del Sur.

05. Q- While you were in disco place, do you know if there was an incident [that]
happened?
A- No sir but when I was in the disco place, at about 3:30 at dawn more or less[,] January
1, 1993, Allan Maglasang arrived driving the jeep and he invited me to ride
together with Benjamin Andujar, Dioscoro Sol, Arniel Rezada and Joven
Orot.[34]

xxxx

04. Q- On that night, on or about 9:00 oclock in the evening more or less on December
31, 1992, where were you?
A- I went to the disco at [the] Public Market[,] Sominot, Zamboanga del Sur.
05. Q- While you were in the disco place, do you know if there was an incident [that]
happened?
A- No, sir, but when I was in the disco place, at about 3:30 at dawn more or less[,]
January 1, 1993, Allan Maglasang arrive[d] driving the jeep and he invited me to
ride together with Jemar Alarcon, Dioscoro Sol, Arniel Rizada and Joven
Orot.[35]

There were six accused in the carnapping case. If Jemar and Benjamin were fetched by
Allan who was driving the jeep, this would mean that only three men pushed the jeep
contrary to Rodrigos testimony in Criminal Case No. 93-10380 that it has to be pushed
by at least five people so that it could start without the ignition key.

On direct examination,[36] Oscar Jr. was asked as to what Rodrigo, his driver who had
informed him about the accident on January 1, 1993 at around 7:00 a.m., turned over to
him after the incident, viz:

Q: When Rodrigo Maglasang, your driver informed you about the accident, what did he
carry with him if any and turned over to you?
A: The OR (Official Receipt) and the CR (Certificate of Registration) Sir.

Q: How about the key of the vehicle?


A: It was not turned over, Sir.[37]

Assuming arguendo that Allan stole the jeep by having the same pushed by a group, the
ignition key should then be with Rodrigo as he was entrusted with the jeeps
possession. Thus, at the time Rodrigo faced his employer hours after the incident, it is
reasonable to expect that the driver should have also returned the key to the operator
together with the Official Receipt and Certificate of Registration. Notably, Rodrigo did
not do so and instead, the key was allegedly handed over to the police for reasons
unexplained and not available from the records. Interestingly, Oscar Jr. never presented
Rodrigo as his witness. Neither was he able to attest on cross-examination that Allan
really stole the jeep by pushing or that the key was handed over to him by Rodrigo:

Q: On December 31, 1992, you did not know that it was Rodrigo Maglasang who gave
the key to Allan Maglasang. Is that correct?
A: I was not there. So, I do not know but he had an affidavit to show that he turned it over
to the police.
Q: What I was asking you is that, [o]n the night of December 31, 1992, when it was
driven by Allan Maglasang, you did not know that the key was voluntarily given
by Rodrigo Maglasang to Allan Maglasang?
A: I was not there.

Q: So, you could not testify on that, is that correct?


A: Yes Sir, I was not there.[38]

Furthermore, Oscar Jr. acknowledged the dismissal of the carnapping case, thus:

Q: Now, there was a case filed against Allan Maglasang and [his] x x x co-accused x x
x [n]amely: Benjamin Andojar, Dioscoro Sol, Joven Orot, [Jemar Azarcon] and
[Arniel] Rizada, for carnapping. Is that correct?
A: Yes Sir.

Q: That case was filed by you because you alleged that on December 31, 1992, your jeep
was carnapped by Allan Maglasang and his co-accused, the said mentioned, is
that correct?
A: Yes Sir.

Q: You testified on the case in Aurora, is that correct?


A: Yes, Sir.
Q: And you could well remember that this representation is the counsel of the co-accused
of Allan Maglasang, is that correct?
A: Yes Sir.

Q: And that case for carnapping was dismissed, is that correct?


A: Yes Sir.

Q: Even the case of Allan Maglasang, was also dismissed, is that correct
A: Yes Sir.

Q: Because there was no sufficient evidence to establish that the jeep was carnapped, is
that correct?
A: Yes Sir.[39]

While Oscar Jr. highlights that the headlights were not on to support his claim that
his jeep was stolen, this circumstance by itself will not prove that it really was stolen. The
reason why the headlights were not on at the time of the accident was not sufficiently
established during the trial. Besides, the fact that the headlights were not on cannot be
exclusively attributed to the lack of ignition key in starting the jeep as there may be other
possibilities such as electrical problems, broken headlights, or that they were simply
turned off.

Hence, sans the testimony of witnesses and other relevant evidence to support the
defense of unauthorized taking, we cannot subscribe to Oscar Jr.s claim that his jeep was
stolen. The evidence on record brings forth more questions than clear-cut answers.

Oscar Jr. alleges that the presumption of negligence under the doctrine of res ipsa
loquitur (literally, the thing speaks for itself) should not have been applied because he
was vigilant in securing his vehicle. He claims that the jeep was parked in a well secured
area not remote to the watchful senses of its driver Rodrigo.

Under the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur, [w]here the thing that caused the injury
complained of is shown to be under the management of the defendant or his servants; and
the accident, in the ordinary course of things, would not happen if those who had
management or control used proper care, it affords reasonable evidence in the absence of
a sufficient, reasonable and logical explanation by defendant that the accident arose from
or was caused by the defendants want of care.[40] Res ipsa loquitur is merely evidentiary,
a mode of proof, or a mere procedural convenience, since it furnishes a substitute for, and
relieves a plaintiff of, the burden of producing a specific proof of negligence.[41] It
recognizes that parties may establish prima facienegligence without direct proof, thus, it
allows the principle to substitute for specific proof of negligence. It permits the plaintiff
to present along with proof of the accident, enough of the attending circumstances to
invoke the doctrine, create an inference or presumption of negligence and thereby place
on the defendant the burden of proving that there was no negligence on his part.[42] The
doctrine is based partly on the theory that the defendant in charge of the instrumentality
which causes the injury either knows the cause of the accident or has the best opportunity
of ascertaining it while the plaintiff has no such knowledge, and is therefore compelled to
allege negligence in general terms.[43]

The requisites of the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur as established by jurisprudence


are as follows:

1) the accident is of a kind which does not ordinarily occur unless someone is
negligent;

2) the cause of the injury was under the exclusive control of the person in charge
and

3) the injury suffered must not have been due to any voluntary action or
contribution on the part of the person injured.[44]

The above requisites are all present in this case. First, no person just
walking along the road would suddenly be sideswiped and run over by an on-rushing
vehicle unless the one in charge of the said vehicle had been negligent. Second, the jeep
which caused the injury was under the exclusive control of Oscar Jr. as its owner. When
Oscar Jr. entrusted the ignition key to Rodrigo, he had the power to instruct him with
regard to the specific restrictions of the jeeps use, including who or who may not drive
it. As he is aware that the jeep may run without the ignition key, he also has the
responsibility to park it safely and securely and to instruct his driver Rodrigo to observe
the same precaution. Lastly, there was no showing that the death of the victims was due
to any voluntary action or contribution on their part.
The aforementioned requisites having been met, there now arises a presumption of
negligence against Oscar Jr. which he could have overcome by evidence that he
exercised due care and diligence in preventing strangers from using his
jeep. Unfortunately, he failed to do so.
What this Court instead finds worthy of credence is the CAs conclusion that Oscar
Jr. gave his implied permission for Allan to use the jeep. This is in view of Oscar Jr.s
failure to provide solid proof that he ensured that the parking area is well secured and that
he had expressly imposed restrictions as to the use of the jeep when he entrusted the same
to his driver Rodrigo. As fittingly inferred by the CA, the jeep could have been endorsed
to Allan by his brother Rodrigo since as already mentioned, Oscar Jr. did not give
Rodrigo any specific and strict instructions on matters regarding its use. Rodrigo
therefore is deemed to have been given the absolute discretion as to the vehicles
operation, including the discretion to allow his brother Allan to use it.

The operator on record of a vehicle is primarily


responsible to third persons for the deaths or
injuries consequent to its operation, regardless
of whether the employee drove the registered
owners vehicle in connection with his
employment.

Without disputing the factual finding of the CA that Allan was still his
employee at the time of the accident, a finding which we see no reason to disturb, Oscar
Jr. contends that Allan drove the jeep in his private capacity and thus, an employers
vicarious liability for the employees fault under Article 2180 of the Civil Code cannot
apply to him.

The contention is no longer novel. In Aguilar Sr. v. Commercial Savings


Bank,[45] the car of therein respondent bank caused the death of Conrado Aguilar, Jr.
while being driven by its assistant vice president. Despite Article 2180, we still held the
bank liable for damages for the accident as said provision should defer to the settled
doctrine concerning accidents involving registered motor vehicles, i.e., that the registered
owner of any vehicle, even if not used for public service, would primarily be responsible
to the public or to third persons for injuries caused the latter while the vehicle was being
driven on the highways or streets.[46] We have already ratiocinated that:

The main aim of motor vehicle registration is to identify the owner so that if any accident
happens, or that any damage or injury is caused by the vehicle on the public highways,
responsibility therefor can be fixed on a definite individual, the registered owner.
Instances are numerous where vehicles running on public highways caused accidents or
injuries to pedestrians or other vehicles without positive identification of the owner or
drivers, or with very scant means of identification. It is to forestall these circumstances, so
inconvenient or prejudicial to the public, that the motor vehicle registration is primarily
ordained, in the interest of the determination of persons responsible for damages or
injuries caused on public highways.[47]

Absent the circumstance of unauthorized use[48] or that the subject vehicle was
stolen[49] which are valid defenses available to a registered owner, Oscar Jr. cannot escape
liability for quasi-delict resulting from his jeeps use.

All told and considering that the amounts of damages awarded are in accordance
with prevailing jurisprudence, the Court concurs with the findings of the CA and sustains
the awards made. In addition, pursuant to Eastern Shipping Lines, Inc. v. Court of
Appeals,[50] an interest of six percent (6%) per annum on the amounts awarded shall be
imposed, computed from the time the judgment of the RTC is rendered on April 17, 2000
and twelve percent (12%) per annum on such amount upon finality of this Decision until
the payment thereof.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant petition is DENIED. The


Decision dated July 11, 2006 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 67764 is
hereby AFFIRMEDwith further MODIFICATION that an interest of six percent (6%)
per annum on the amounts awarded shall be imposed, computed from the time the
judgment of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 23, Molave, Zamboanga del Sur is
rendered on April 17, 2000 and twelve percent (12%) per annum on such amount upon
finality of this Decision until the payment thereof.

SO ORDERED.

MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO


Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

RENATO C. CORONA
Chief Justice
Chairperson
TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO LUCAS P. BERSAMIN
Associate Justice Associate Justice

MARTIN S. VILLARAMA, JR.


Associate Justice

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, it is hereby certified that the
conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was
assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.

RENATO C. CORONA
Chief Justice

[1]
Rollo, pp. 13-31.
[2]
CA rollo, pp. 142-173; penned by Associate Justice Teresita Dy-Liacco Flores and concurred in by Associate
Justices Rodrigo F. Lim, Jr. and Sixto C. Marella, Jr.
[3]
Records, p. 145.
[4]
As mentioned in the RTC Decision in Civil Case No. 96-20,219 dated April 17, 2000, id. at 169-170. The accused
was imposed the indeterminate penalty of 1 year of prision correccional to 6 years of prision correccional of
imprisonment.
[5]
Namely Mary Marjorie, Eric, Metzie Ann, Kareen, Leonardo Jr., and Christian.
[6]
See original complaint, records, pp. 1-5. The complaint was later amended to include the plaintiffs demand for
loss of earning capacity, see Amended Complaint, id. at 55-60.
[7]
Id. at 59. Geronimo prayed for the following:
a) Reimbursement of expenses prior to burial at P73,112.00;
b) Attorneys fees of P20,000.00 plus P1,000.00 per hearing;
c) Moral damages of P1,000,000.00 for the death of Emilia and for the death of Leonardo and
Glenda, P250,000.00 each;
d) Exemplary damages of P40,000.00;
e) Actual and compensatory damages of P3,016,000.00.
[8]
See the Spouses del Carmens Answer, id. at 12-13; TSN-Oscar del Carmen, Sr., July 5, 1999, pp. 4, 6.
[9]
Namely Benjamin Andujar, Dioscoro Sol, Joven Orot, Jemar Alarcon, and Arniel Rizada.
[10]
TSN-Oscar del Carmen, Jr., July 5, 1999, pp. 18-19; TSN-Cecilio Cabahug, January 11, 2000, pp. 4-5. The
motor involved is Fuso Motor No. 41066, id. at 3.
[11]
Records, pp. 149-150.
[12]
Id. at 15; TSN-Oscar del Carmen Jr., July 5, 1999, pp. 16-17. Benjamin Andojar, Dioscoro Sol, Joven Orot,
Jumar Alarcon, and Arnel Rizada were the named co-accused.
[13]
As mentioned in the RTC Decision in Civil Case No. 96-20,219 dated April 17, 2000, id. at 171.
[14]
TSN-Oscar del Carmen, Jr., July 5, 1999, pp. 9-10.
[15]
Id. at 9-10, 13, 15.
[16]
TSN-Faustino Sismundo, December 2, 1998, pp. 4-6, 8.
[17]
TSN-Cresencio Baobao, May 11, 1999, pp. 3-4.
[18]
Id. at 5-6, 10, 13-15.
[19]
TSN-Oscar del Carmen Jr., July 5, 1999, p. 12.
[20]
TSN-Saturnino Jumawan, October 6, 1998, p. 8.
[21]
TSN-Jose Navarro, February 28, 2000, pp. 2-3, 5-6.
[22]
Id. at 169-176; penned by Judge Camilo E. Tamin.
[23]
Id. at 175-176.
[24]
Id. at 177-186.
[25]
Art. 2180. The obligation imposed by Art. 2176 is demandable not only for ones own acts or omissions, but also
for those of persons for whom one is responsible.

xxxx

Employers shall be liable for the damage 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 industry.

xxxx

[26]
Records, p. 182, citing the TSN of Rodrigo Maglasang dated October 22, 1996 in Criminal Case No. 93-10380.
[27]
Id. at 198-200.
[28]
Id. at 200.
[29]
Supra note 2.
[30]
TSN- Faustino Sismundo, December 2, 1998, p.5.
[31]
TSN-Cresencio Baobao, May 11, 1999, p. 7.
[32]
CA rollo, pp. 172-173.
[33]
Rollo, p. 22.
[34]
Sworn Statement of Jemar Alarcon, records, p. 149.
[35]
Sworn Statement of Benjamin Andujar, id. at 150.
[36]
TSN-Oscar del Carmen, Jr., July 5, 1999, pp. 11-12.
[37]
Id. at 12.
[38]
Id. at 15-16.
[39]
Id. at 16-17.
[40]
Tan v. Jam Transit, Inc., G.R. No. 183198, November 25, 2009, 605 SCRA 659, 667-668.
[41]
Id. at 668.
[42]
Macalinao v. Ong, 514 Phil. 127, 139 (2005).
[43]
Id. at 140.
[44]
Perla Compania de Seguros, Inc. v. Spouses Sarangaya III, 510 Phil. 676, 687 (2005), citing Reyes v. Sisters of
Mercy Hospital, 396 Phil. 87, 98 (2000).
[45]
412 Phil. 834 (2001).
[46]
See also St. Marys Academy v. Carpitanos, 426 Phil. 878, 887 (2002) citing Aguilar Sr. v. Commercial Savings
Bank, 412 Phil. 834, 841 (2001) and Erezo v. Jepte, 102 Phil. 103, 107 (1957).
[47]
Erezo v. Jepte, 102 Phil 103, 108 (1957).
[48]
Duquillo v. Bayot, 67 Phil. 131 (1939).
[49]
Duavit v. Court of Appeals, 255 Phil. 470 (1989).
[50]
G.R. No. 97412, July 12, 1994, 234 SCRA 78, 95-97.

SECOND DIVISION
MARCELO MACALINAO, G.R. No. 146635

Substituted by

ESPERANZA MACALINAO

and ANTONIO MACALINAO,

Petitioners,

Present:

PUNO, J.,

- versus - Chairman,

AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,

CALLEJO, SR.,

TINGA, and

CHICO-NAZARIO, JJ.

EDDIE MEDECIELO ONG

and GENOVEVO SEBASTIAN,

Respondents. Promulgated:

December 14, 2005

x-------------------------------------------------------------------- x
DECISION
TINGA, J.:

Before this Court is a Petition for Review on Certiorari assailing


the Decision[1] and Resolution[2] of the Court of Appeals dated 31
May 2000 and 7 September 2000, respectively, in CA-G.R. CV No.
52963. The Court of Appeals reversed the judgment of the trial
court and dismissed the complaint for damages filed by Marcelo
Macalinao (Macalinao) against Eddie Medecielo Ong (Ong) and
Genovevo Sebastian (Sebastian) for insufficiency of evidence.

The antecedent facts follow.

Macalinao and Ong were employed as utility man and driver,


respectively, at the Genetron International Marketing (Genetron), a
single proprietorship owned and operated by Sebastian. On 25 April
1992, Sebastian instructed Macalinao, Ong and two truck helpers
to deliver a heavy piece of machinerya reactor/motor for mixing
chemicals, to Sebastians manufacturing plant in Angat, Bulacan.
While in the process of complying with the order, the vehicle driven
by Ong, Genetrons Isuzu Elf truck with plate no. PMP-106 hit and
bumped the front portion of a private jeepney with plate no. DAF-
922 along Caypombo, Sta. Maria, Bulacan at around 11:20 in the
morning.[3]

Both vehicles incurred severe damages while the passengers


sustained physical injuries as a consequence of the
collision.[4] Macalinao incurred the most serious injuries
among the passengers of the truck. He was initially brought to the
Sta. Maria District Hospital for first aid treatment but in view of the
severity of his condition, he was transferred to the Philippine
Orthopedic Center at the instance of Sebastian. He was again
moved to the Capitol Medical Center by his parents, petitioners
herein, for medical reasons and later to the Philippine General
Hospital for financial considerations.[5]

Macalinaos body was paralyzed and immobilized from the


neck down as a result of the accident and per doctors advice, his
foot was amputated. He also suffered from bed sores and infection.
His immedicable condition, coupled with the doctors
recommendation, led his family to bring him home where he died on
7 November 1992.[6]

Before he died, Macalinao was able to file an action for damages


against both Ong and Sebastian before the Regional Trial Court
(RTC) of Quezon City, Branch 81.[7] After his death, Macalinao was
substituted by his parents in the action.[8] A criminal case for
reckless imprudence
resulting to serious physical injuries[9] had also been instituted
earlier against Ong but for reasons which do not appear in the
records of this case, trial thereon did not ensue.[10]

After trial in the civil action, the RTC held that based on the
evidence, Ong drove the Isuzu truck in a reckless and imprudent
manner thereby causing the same to hit the private jeepney. It
observed that while respondents claimed that Ong was driving
cautiously and prudently at the time of the mishap, no evidence
was presented to substantiate the claim.[11] It declared Ong
negligent and at the same time, it held that Sebastian failed to
exercise the diligence of a good father of a family in the selection
and supervision of Ong. Consequently, the trial court pronounced
the two of them jointly liable to pay actual, moral, and exemplary
damages as well as civil indemnity for Macalinaos death. The trial
court subsequently increased the monetary award[12] upon
petitioners motion for reconsideration thereof.

On appeal, the appellate court reversed the findings of the trial


court. It held that the evidence presented by petitioners was
woefully scant to support a verdict of negligence against Ong. And
since respondents liability hinged squarely on proof of Ongs
negligence, neither of them could be held liable for damages to
petitioners.[13]

Aggrieved at the ruling, petitioners elevated the case to this Court.


They herein contend that contrary to the conclusion reached by the
Court of Appeals, the evidence conclusively establish fault or
negligence on the part of Ong and justify the award of damages in
their favor.
The petition is meritorious.

The issue of negligence is factual and, in quasi-delicts, crucial


in the award of damages.[14] In the case at bar, the crux of the
controversy is the sufficiency of the evidence presented to support a
finding of negligence against Ong. Given the contradictory
conclusions of the trial court and the appellate court on this issue,
this Court is impelled to ascertain for itself which court made the
correct determination.

While as a rule factual findings of the Court of Appeals are


deemed conclusive in cases brought to us on appeal, we have also
consistently pronounced that we may review its findings of fact in
the following instances, among others:

(i) when the judgment of the Court of Appeals was based on a


misapprehension of facts; (ii) when the factual findings are conflicting;
(iii) when the Court of Appeals manifestly overlooked certain relevant
facts not disputed by the parties and which, if properly considered,
would justify a different conclusion; and (iv) where the findings of fact
of the Court of Appeals are contrary to those of the trial court, or are
mere conclusions without citation of specific evidence, or where the
facts set forth by the petitioner are not disputed by the respondent, or
where the findings of fact of the Court of Appeals are premised on the
absence of evidence and are contradicted by the evidence on record.[15]

Said exceptions obtain in this case thus, a departure from the


application of the general rule is warranted.
In reversing the trial court and absolving respondents from
liability, the appellate court made the following pronouncement:

The evidence presented is woefully scant. The pictures of the


collision afford no basis for concluding that it was the fault of the
defendant driver, or that he was driving recklessly. The police report
contains no findings as to the road conditions, estimates of the
relative speed of the vehicles, or their exact position at the time of the
accident. And even so, entries in the police blotter should not be given
significance or probative value as they do not constitute conclusive
proof of the truth thereof. Nor were eyewitnesses presented, not even
affidavits or statements to give any indication as to what actually
happened. The police investigators findings are sketchy at best, with
only the phrase Isuzu lost control as his opinion, with no explanation
how he reached it. Civil cases require evidence of a lesser degree than
criminal cases, but one sentence by one who did not even witness an
event, is not conclusive proof.

...

There was only the fact of the collision before the trial court. The
attendant circumstances were not established, and no fault could be
determined using the evidence, both testimonial and documentary
presented.[16]

Contrary to the above conclusion of the appellate court, the


evidence on record coupled with the doctrine of res ipsa
loquitur sufficiently establishes Ongs negligence.

We focus first on the evidence presented before the trial court.


The photographs of the accident which the appellate court
cavalierly brushed aside as insignificant deserve substantial
cogitation. In Jose v. Court of Appeals,[17] we upheld the trial courts
reliance on photographs of the accident as opposed to a partys
obviously biased testimony. In so doing, we stated:

In criminal cases such as murder or rape where the accused stands


to lose his liberty if found guilty, this Court has, in many occasions,
relied principally upon physical evidence in ascertaining the truth. In
People v. Vasquez,[18] where the physical evidence on record ran
counter to the testimonial evidence of the prosecution witnesses, we
ruled that the physical evidence should prevail.[19]

Physical evidence is a mute but an eloquent manifestation of


truth which ranks high in our hierarchy of trustworthy evidence.[20]

In this case, while there is a dearth of testimonial evidence to


enlighten us about what actually happened,
photographs[21] depicting the relative positions of the vehicles
immediately after the accident took place do exist. It is well
established that photographs, when duly verified and shown by
extrinsic evidence to be faithful representations of the subject as of
the time in question, are, in the discretion of the trial court,
admissible in evidence as aids in arriving at an understanding of
the evidence, the situation or condition of objects or premises or the
circumstances of an accident.[22]

According to American courts, photographs are admissible in


evidence in motor vehicle accident cases when they appear to have
been accurately taken and are proved to be a faithful and clear
representation of the subject, which cannot itself be produced, and
are of such nature as to throw light upon a disputed point.[23] Before
a photograph may be admitted in evidence, however, its accuracy or
correctness must be proved, and it must be authenticated or
verified[24] first. In the case at bar, the photographer testified in
open court and properly identified the pictures as the ones he took
at the scene of the accident.[25]

An examination of said photographs clearly shows that the


road where the mishap occurred is marked by a line at the center
separating the right from the left lane. Based on the motorists right
of way rule, the Isuzu truck which was headed towards Norzagaray,
Bulacan[26]should have been occupying the left lane while the
private jeepney which was traversing the road to the town proper of
Sta. Maria, Bulacan[27] should have been in the right lane. Exhibits
L and L-4 among the photographs, however, reveal that in the
aftermath of the collision, the Isuzu truck usurped the opposite
lane to such an extent that only its right rear wheel remained in the
left lane, a few inches from the demarcation line. Its two front
wheels and left rear wheel were planted squarely on the private
jeepneys lane and the Isuzu truck had rotated such that its front no
longer pointed towards Norzagaray but partially faced the town
proper of Sta. Maria instead.

While ending up at the opposite lane is not conclusive proof of fault


in automobile collisions, the position of the two vehicles gives rise to
the conclusion that it was the Isuzu truck which hit the private
jeepney rather than the other way around. The smashed front of the
Isuzu truck is pressed against the private jeepneys left front portion
near the drivers side. The private jeepney is positioned diagonally in
the right lane; its front at the rightmost corner of the road while its
rear remained a few feet from the demarcation line. Based on the
angle at which it stopped, the private jeepney obviously swerved to
the right in an unsuccessful effort to avoid the Isuzu truck. This
would support the statement of the police investigator that the
Isuzu truck lost control[28] and hit the left front portion of the
private jeepney.[29] It would also explain why the driver of the private
jeepney died immediately after being brought to the
hospital,[30] since in such a scenario, the brunt of the collision
logically bore down on him.

Moreover, the unequal size and weight of the two vehicles


would make it improbable for the relatively lighter private jeepney to
have stricken the heavier truck with such force as to push the latter
to the formers side of the road. Had that been the case, the two
vehicles would have ended up crushed together at the center of the
road or at the Isuzu trucks lane instead of rolling to a stop at the
private jeepneys lane.

Another piece of evidence which supports a finding of negligence


against Ong is the police report of the incident denoted as Entry No.
04-229 of the Sta. Maria Police Station. The report states that the
Isuzu truck was the one which hit the left front portion of the
private jeepney.[31]This piece of evidence was disregarded by the
Court of Appeals on the ground that entries in police blotters
should not be given significance or probative value as they do not
constitute conclusive proof of the truth thereof.
While true in most instances, it must still be remembered that
although police blotters are of little probative value, they are
nevertheless admitted and considered in the absence of competent
evidence to refute the facts stated therein.[32] Entries in police
records made by a police officer in the performance of the duty
especially enjoined by law are prima facie evidence of the fact
therein stated,[33] and their probative value may be either
substantiated or nullified by other competent evidence.[34]

In this case, the police blotter was identified and formally offered as
evidence and the person who made the entries thereon was likewise
presented in court. On the other hand, aside from a blanket
allegation that the driver of the other vehicle was the one at fault,
respondents did not present any evidence to back up their charge
and show that the conclusion of the police investigator was false.
Given the paucity of details in the report, the investigators
observation could have been easily refuted and overturned by
respondents through the simple expedient of supplying the missing
facts and showing to the satisfaction of the

court that the Isuzu truck was blameless in the incident. Ong was
driving the truck while the two other truck helpers also survived the
accident. Any or all of them could have given their testimony to
shed light on what actually transpired, yet not one of them was
presented to substantiate the claim that Ong was not negligent.
Since respondents failed to refute the contents of the police blotter,
the statement therein that the Isuzu truck hit the private jeepney
and not the other way around is deemed established. The prima
facie nature of the police report ensures that if it remains
unexplained or uncontradicted, it will be sufficient to establish the
facts posited therein.[35]

While not constituting direct proof of Ongs negligence, the foregoing


pieces of evidence justify the application of res ipsa loquitur, a Latin
phrase which literally means the thing or the transaction speaks for
itself.[36]

Res ipsa loquitur recognizes that parties may establish prima


facie negligence without direct proof, thus, it allows the principle to
substitute for specific proof of negligence.[37] It permits the plaintiff
to present along with proof of the accident, enough of the attending
circumstances to invoke the doctrine, create an inference or
presumption of negligence and thereby place on the defendant the
burden of proving that there was no negligence on his part.[38]

The doctrine can be invoked only when under the


circumstances, direct evidence is absent and not readily
available.[39] This is based in part upon the theory that the
defendant in charge of the instrumentality which causes the injury
either knows the cause of the accident or has the best opportunity
of ascertaining it while the plaintiff has no such knowledge, and is
therefore compelled to allege negligence in general terms and rely
upon the proof of the happening of the accident in order to
establish negligence.[40] The inference which the doctrine permits is
grounded upon the fact that the chief evidence of the true cause,
whether culpable or innocent, is practically accessible to the
defendant but inaccessible to the injured person.[41]

In this case, Macalinao could no longer testify as to the cause of the


accident since he is dead. Petitioners, while substituting their son
as plaintiff, have no actual knowledge

about the event since they were not present at the crucial moment.
The driver of the private jeepney who could have shed light on the
circumstances is likewise dead. The only ones left with knowledge
about the cause of the mishap are the two truck helpers who
survived, both employees of Sebastian, and Ong, who is not only
Sebastians previous employee but his co-respondent in this case as
well. In the circumstances, evidence as to the true cause of the
accident is, for all intents and purposes, accessible to respondents
but not to petitioners. The witnesses left are unlikely to divulge to
petitioners what they knew about the cause of the accident if the
same militates against the interest of their employer. This justifies
the invocation of the doctrine.

Under local jurisprudence, the following are the requisites for


the application of res ipsa loquitur:

(1) The accident is of a kind which ordinarily does not occur in the
absence of someones negligence;
(2) It is caused by an instrumentality within the exclusive control
of the defendant or defendants; and

(3) The possibility of contributing conduct which would make the


plaintiff responsible is eliminated.[42]

We are convinced that all the above requisites are present in


the case at bar.

No two motor vehicles traversing opposite lanes will collide as


a matter of course unless someone is negligent, thus, the first
requisite for the application of the doctrine is present. Ong was
driving the Isuzu truck which, from the evidence adduced, appears
to have precipitated the collision with the private jeepney. Driving
the Isuzu truck gave Ong exclusive management and control over it,
a fact which shows that the second requisite is also present. No
contributory negligence could be attributed to Macalinao relative to
the happening of the accident since he was merely a passenger in
the Isuzu truck. Respondents allegation that Macalinao was guilty
of contributory negligence for failing to take the necessary
precautions to ensure his safety while onboard the truck [43] is too
specious for belief particularly as respondents did not even present
any evidence to prove such allegation. The last requisite is,
therefore, likewise present.

There exists a fourth requisite under American jurisprudence,


that is, that the defendant fails to offer any explanation tending to
show that the injury was caused by his or her want of due
care.[44] In this case, while respondents claimed that Ong drove
cautiously and prudently during the time in question, no evidence
was proffered to substantiate the same. In fact, Ong did not bother
to testify to explain his actuations and to show that he exercised
due care when the accident happened, so even this requisite is
fulfilled.

All the requisites for the application of the rule of res ipsa
loquitur are present, thus a reasonable presumption or inference of
Ongs negligence arises. In consonance with the effect of the
doctrine, the burden of proving due care at the time in question
shifts to respondents. Unfortunately, as previously discussed, aside
from blanket allegations that Ong exercised prudence and due care
while driving on the day of the accident, respondents proffered no
other proof. As a consequence, the prima facie finding of negligence
against Ong, remaining unexplained and/or uncontradicted, is
deemed established. This in turn warrants a finding that Ong is
liable for damages to petitioners.

Such liability of Ong is solidary with Sebastian pursuant to Art.


2176 in relation to Art. 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 . .
..

Art. 2180. The obligation imposed by Art. 2176 is demandable not


only for ones own acts or omissions but also for those of persons for
whom one is responsible.

...
Employers shall be liable for the damage 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 industry.

...

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.

Whenever an employees negligence causes damage or injury to


another, there instantly arises a presumption juris tantum that the
employer failed to exercise diligentissimi patris families in the
selection (culpa in eligiendo) or supervision (culpa in vigilando) of its
employees.[45] To avoid liability for a quasi-delict committed by his
employee, an employer must overcome the presumption by
presenting convincing proof that he exercised the care and diligence
of a good father of a family in the selection and supervision of his
employee.[46]

In an attempt to exculpate himself from liability, Sebastian


claimed that he exercised due care in selecting Ong as a driver.
Before he hired Ong, he allegedly required him to produce police
and NBI clearances and he took into account the recommendations
of Ongs previous employer and friends.[47] Sebastian also stressed
that he instructed Ong to drive slowly and carefully and to take
necessary precautions.[48]He likewise admonished Ong to be careful
after the latter had some minor accidents in the parking area.[49]
However, Sebastians statements are not sufficient to prove
that he exercised the diligence of a good father of a family in the
selection of Ong. His testimony is self-serving and devoid of
corroboration as he did not bother to support the same with
document evidence. Moreover, Sebastian could not even remember
whether the recommendation from Ongs previous employer was
made verbally or in writing.[50]

On the other hand, due diligence in supervision requires the


formulation of rules and regulations for the guidance of employees
and the issuance of proper instructions as well as actual
implementation and monitoring of consistent compliance with the
rules.[51] Admonitions to drive carefully without the corresponding
guidelines and monitoring of the employee do not satisfy the due
diligence required by law either.

In short, Sebastians claims fall short of what is required by


law to overcome the presumption of negligence in the selection and
supervision of his employee. The trial court therefore correctly held
him solidarily liable with Ong to petitioners.

In an obvious ploy to relieve himself from liability should the


appellate courts decision be reversed, Sebastian averred that
Macalinao is not entitled to damages. He anchored his claim on the
novel argument that the provisions of Art. 2180 apply only when
the injured party is a third person but it has no application to an
employee like Macalinao.[52] He likewise postulated that recovery
from the Social Security System, State Insurance Fund, Employees
Compensation Commission, and the Philippine Medical Care Act,
the government agencies with which petitioners filed a claim in view
of Macalinaos injury and subsequent death, preclude pursuing
alternate recourse or recovering from other sources until the former
claims have been rejected.[53]

Sebastian is grasping at straws. Art. 2180 makes no


distinction whatsoever whether the claimant is an employee or a
third person relative to the employer. Ubi lex non distinguit nec nos
distinguere debemos. Where the law does not distinguish, neither
should we.[54]

Moreover, petitioners claim against Sebastian is not based


upon the fact of Macalinaos previous employment with him but on
the solidary liability of the latter for the negligent act of one of his
employees. Such is not precluded by prior claims with the
government agencies enumerated. One is based on compulsory
coverage of government benefits while the other is based on a cause
of action provided by law.

Additionally, respondents postulated that since it was


Macalinao who sustained physical injuries and died, he was the one
who suffered pain, not petitioners so moral damages are not
recoverable in this case.[55]

The relatives of the victim who incurred physical injuries in a


quasi-delict are not proscribed from recovering moral damages in
meritorious cases. To hold otherwise would give rise to the
ridiculous scenario where a defendant may be compelled to pay
moral damages in a quasi-delict causing physical injuries but will be
relieved from doing so should those same injuries cause the victims
death.

In the case of Lambert v. Heirs of Ray Castillon,[56] we held that


in quasi-delicts:

. . . . the award of moral damages is aimed at a restoration, within the


limits possible, of the spiritual status quo ante; and therefore, it must
be proportionate to the suffering inflicted. The intensity of the pain
experienced by the relatives of the victim is proportionate to the
intensity of affection for him and bears no relation whatsoever with the
wealth or means of the offender.[57] (Emphasis Supplied.)

The trial court awarded moral damages in the amount of P30,000.00


but since prevailing jurisprudence has fixed the same
at P50,000.00,[58]there is a need to increase the award to reflect the
recent rulings.

Lastly, respondents claim that exemplary damages is not warranted


in this case. Under the law, exemplary damages may be granted in
quasi-delicts if the defendant acted with gross negligence.[59] Gross
negligence has been defined as negligence characterized by the want
of even slight care, acting or omitting to act in a situation where
there is duty to act, not inadvertently but willfully and intentionally,
with a conscious indifference to consequences insofar as other
persons may be affected.[60]
Ongs gross negligence in driving the Isuzu truck precipitated the
accident. This is lucidly portrayed in the photographs on record and
it justifies the award of exemplary damages in petitioners favor.
However, the trial courts award of P10,000.00 is insufficient, thus
the Court deems it proper to increase the award to P25,000.00
under the circumstances.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision of the


Court of Appeals dated 31 May 2000, as well as its Resolution dated
7 September 2000, are hereby SET ASIDE. The Decision of the
Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 81 dated 12 April 1996
as amended by the Order dated 23 May 1996 is hereby
REINSTATED with the modifications that the award for moral
damages is increased to P50,000.00 to conform with prevailing
jurisprudence and

the award for exemplary damages is increased to P25,000.00. Costs


against respondents.

SO ORDERED.

DANTE O. TINGA Associate


Justice

WE CONCUR:

REYNATO S. PUNO
Associate Justice
Chairman

MA. ALICIA AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ ROMEO J. CALLEJO, SR.


Associate Justice Associate Justice

MINITA V. CHICO-NAZARIO
Associate Justice

ATTESTATION

I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been in


consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the
opinion of the Courts Division.

REYNATO S. PUNO
Associate Justice
Chairman, Second Division

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, and the


Division Chairmans Attestation, it is hereby certified that the
conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation
before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the
Courts Division.

HILARIO G. DAVIDE, JR.


Chief Justice

[1]Penned by Associate Justice Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr. (now the Court Administrator of

the Supreme Court), concurred in by Associate Justices Bernardo Ll. Salas and Edgardo P.
Cruz; Rollo, pp. 104-113.

[2] Id. at 126-127.

[3]RTC Records, pp. 333, 336.

[4] Id. at 336.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Id. at 336-337.

[7] Id. at 7-10.

[8] Id. at 333.

[9] Id. at 182.

[10]TSN, 14 April 1993, pp. 15-17.

[11]RTC Records, p. 338.

[12]Wherefore,premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered ordering defendants


Eddie Medecielo Ong and Genovevo Sebastian doing business under the name and style
Genetron International Marketing to jointly and severally pay the plaintiffs the following
amounts:
1. The total amount of P109,354.33 for medical and hospitalization expenses;
2. The amount of P11,000.00 for funeral and burial expenses;
3. The amount of P91,200.00 for loss of earning capacity;
4. The amount of P50,000.00 as civil indemnity for death;
5. The amount of P30,000.00 as moral damages; and
6. The sum of P10,000.00 as exemplary damages.
No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.

[13]Rollo, pp. 110-112.

[14]Pleyto and Phil. Rabbit Bus Lines, Inc. v. Lomboy, G.R. No. 148737, 16 June 2004,
432 SCRA 329.

[15]Tugade v. Court of Appeals, 433 Phil. 258 (2003) citing Twin Towers Condominium
Corp. v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 123552, 27 February 2003.

[16]Rollo, pp. 110-111.

[17]379 Phil. 30 (2000).

[18]280 SCRA 160 (1997).

[19]Supra note 17.

[20]SeeAradillos v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 135619. 15 January 2004, 419 SCRA 514;
People v. Bonifacio, 426 Phil. 511 (2002); People v. Marquina, 426 Phil. 46 (2002); Tangan v.
Court of Appeals, 424 Phil. 139 (2002); People v. Whisenhunt, 420 Phil. 677 (2001); People v.
Ubaldo, 419 Phil. 718 (2001); People v. Palijon, 397 Phil. 545 (2000); People v. Candare, 388
Phil. 1010 (2000); People v. Roche, 386 Phil. 287 (2000); People v. Arafiles, 282 Phil. 59 (2000);
Jose v. Court of Appeals, supra note 17.

[21]Exhibits L to L-4, RTC Records, pp. 205-209.

[22]VICENTE J. FRANCISCO, THE REVISED RULES OF COURT IN THE


PHILIPPINES, Vol. VII citing Aldanese v. Salutillo, 47 Phil 548.

[23]Andersen v. Bee Line, Inc. 1 N.Y. 2d 169, 151 N.Y. S. 2d 633, 134 N.E. 2d 457

(1956); Hawes v. Atlantic Refining Co., 236 N.C. 643, 74 S.F. 2d 17 (1953), cited in 8 AM
JUR 2d 1287.

[24]8 AM JUR 2d 1287.

[25]TSN, 16 July 1993, p. 4.

[26]TSN, 19 May 1993, p. 3.

[27]Id. at 2.

[28]Supra note 26.

[29]RTC Records, p. 181.


[30]Supra note 26 at 4.

[31]Supra notes 26 and 28.

[32]Lao v. Standard Insurance Co., Inc., G.R. No. 140023, 14 August 2003, 409 SCRA
43.

[33]Ibid. Sec. 44, Rule 130 of the Rules on Evidence.

[34]Lao v. Standard Insurance Co. Inc., supra note 32 citing U.S. v. Que Ping, 40 Phil. 17,
19 (1919).

[35]Cometav. Court of Appeals, 378 Phil. 1187 (1999) citing People v. Montilla, 285
SCRA 703, 720 (1998).

[36]Ramos v. Court of Appeals, 378 Phil. 1198 (1999).

[37]Ludo and Luym Corporation v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 125483 1 February 2001,

351 SCRA 35.

[38]Ramos v. Court of Appeals, supra note 36.

[39]Layugan v. Intermediate Appellate Court, G.R. No. L-73998, 14 November 1988, 167

SCRA 376.

[40]D.M. Consunji v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 137873, 20 April 2001, 357 SCRA 249.
[41]Ibid.

[42]Ramos v. Court of Appeals, supra note 36.

[43]Rollo, p. 193.

[44]Supra note 23 at 8.

[45]Delsan Transport Lines, Inc. v. C & A Construction, Inc. G.R. No. 156034, 1 October

2003, 412 SCRA 524.

[46]LRTA v. Natividad, 445 Phil. 31 (2003); Metro Manila Transit Corp. v. Court of

Appeals, 435 Phil. 129 (2002) citing Pantranco North Express, Inc. v. Baesa, G.R. No. 79050-
51, 14 November 1989, 179 SCRA 384; Umali v. Bacani, G.R. No. L-40570, 30 January 1976,
69 SCRA 263.

[47]TSN, 31 January 1995, pp. 5-6, 10-14.

[48]Id at 6.

[49]Id. at 14.

[50]Id. at 10.

[51]Fabre v. Court of Appeals, 328 Phil. 774 (1996).


[52]Rollo, pp. 193, 200-202.

[53]Id. at 201-202.

[54]Recana v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 123850, 5 January 2001, 349 SCRA 24.

[55]Rollo, pp. 202-203.

[56]G.R. No. 160709, 23 February 2005, 452 SCRA 285.

[57]Ibid citing CESAR SANGCO, TORTS AND DAMAGES, 1994 ed., p. 986.

[58]Id. citing Pestao v. Sps. Sumayang, G.R. No. 139875, 4 December 2000, 346 SCRA
870, 879.

[59]Art. 2231, Civil Code.

[60]Fernando v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 96183, 19 August 1992, 212 SCRA


680 citing BALLANTINES LAW DICTIONARY 3rd ed. p. 537.