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G.R. No. 151866.

September 9, 2004]
SOLEDAD CARPIO, petitioner, vs. LEONORA A. VALMONTE, respondent.

Assailed in the instant petition for review is the Decision of the Court of Appeals in
C.A.-G.R. CV No. 69537,[1] promulgated on 17 January 2002.[2] The appellate court
reversed the trial courts decision denying respondents claim for damages against
petitioner and ordered the latter to pay moral damages to the former in the amount
of P100,000.00.
Respondent Leonora Valmonte is a wedding coordinator. Michelle del Rosario and
Jon Sierra engaged her services for their church wedding on 10 October 1996. At
about 4:30 p.m. on that day, Valmonte went to the Manila Hotel where the bride and
her family were billeted. When she arrived at Suite 326-A, several persons were
already there including the bride, the brides parents and relatives, the make-up artist
and his assistant, the official photographers, and the fashion designer. Among those
present was petitioner Soledad Carpio, an aunt of the bride who was preparing to
dress up for the occasion.
After reporting to the bride, Valmonte went out of the suite carrying the items
needed for the wedding rites and the gifts from the principal sponsors. She proceeded
to the Maynila Restaurant where the reception was to be held. She paid the suppliers,
gave the meal allowance to the band, and went back to the suite. Upon entering the
suite, Valmonte noticed the people staring at her. It was at this juncture that petitioner
allegedly uttered the following words to Valmonte: Ikaw lang ang lumabas ng kwarto,
nasaan ang dala mong bag? Saan ka pumunta? Ikaw lang and lumabas ng kwarto,
ikaw ang kumuha. Petitioner then ordered one of the ladies to search Valmontes
bag. It turned out that after Valmonte left the room to attend to her duties, petitioner
discovered that the pieces of jewelry which she placed inside the comfort room in a
paper bag were lost. The jewelry pieces consist of two (2) diamond rings, one (1) set of
diamond earrings, bracelet and necklace with a total value of about one million pesos.
The hotel security was called in to help in the search. The bags and personal
belongings of all the people inside the room were searched. Valmonte was allegedly
bodily searched, interrogated and trailed by a security guard throughout the
evening. Later, police officers arrived and interviewed all persons who had access to
the suite and fingerprinted them including Valmonte. During all the time Valmonte was
being interrogated by the police officers, petitioner kept on saying the words Siya lang
ang lumabas ng kwarto. Valmontes car which was parked at the hotel premises was
also searched but the search yielded nothing.
A few days after the incident, petitioner received a letter from Valmonte demanding
a formal letter of apology which she wanted to be circulated to the newlyweds relatives
and guests to redeem her smeared reputation as a result of petitioners imputations
against her. Petitioner did not respond to the letter. Thus, on 20 February 1997,
Valmonte filed a suit for damages against her before the Regional Trial Court (RTC)
of Pasig City, Branch 268. In her complaint, Valmonte prayed that petitioner be ordered
to pay actual, moral and exemplary damages, as well as attorneys fees.
Responding to the complaint, petitioner denied having uttered words or done any
act to confront or single out Valmonte during the investigation and claimed that
everything that transpired after the theft incident was purely a police matter in which
she had no participation. Petitioner prayed for the dismissal of the complaint and for
the court to adjudge Valmonte liable on her counterclaim.
The trial court rendered its Decision on 21 August 2000, dismissing Valmontes
complaint for damages. It ruled that when petitioner sought investigation for the loss of
her jewelry, she was merely exercising her right and if damage results from a person
exercising his legal right, it is damnum absque injuria. It added that no proof was
presented by Valmonte to show that petitioner acted maliciously and in bad faith in
pointing to her as the culprit. The court said that Valmonte failed to show that she
suffered serious anxiety, moral shock, social humiliation, or that her reputation was
besmirched due to petitioners wrongful act.
Respondent appealed to the Court of Appeals alleging that the trial court erred in
finding that petitioner did not slander her good name and reputation and in
disregarding the evidence she presented.
The Court of Appeals ruled differently. It opined that Valmonte has clearly
established that she was singled out by petitioner as the one responsible for the loss of
her jewelry. It cited the testimony of Serena Manding, corroborating Valmontes claim
that petitioner confronted her and uttered words to the effect that she was the only one
who went out of the room and that she was the one who took the jewelry. The
appellate court held that Valmontes claim for damages is not predicated on the fact
that she was subjected to body search and interrogation by the police but rather
petitioners act of publicly accusing her of taking the missing jewelry. It categorized
petitioners utterance defamatory considering that it imputed upon Valmonte the crime
of theft. The court concluded that petitioners verbal assault upon Valmonte was done
with malice and in bad faith since it was made in the presence of many people without
any solid proof except petitioners suspicion. Such unfounded accusation entitles
Valmonte to an award of moral damages in the amount of P100,000.00 for she was
publicly humiliated, deeply insulted, and embarrassed. However, the court found no
sufficient evidence to justify the award of actual damages.
Hence, this petition.
Petitioner contends that the appellate courts conclusion that she publicly humiliated
respondent does not conform to the evidence presented. She adds that even on the
assumption that she uttered the words complained of, it was not shown that she did so
with malice and in bad faith.
In essence, petitioner would want this Court to review the factual conclusions
reached by the appellate court. The cardinal rule adhered to in this jurisdiction is that a
petition for review must raise only questions of law,[3] and judicial review under Rule 45
does not extend to an evaluation of the sufficiency of evidence unless there is a
showing that the findings complained of are totally devoid of support in the record or
that they are so glaringly erroneous as to constitute serious abuse of discretion.[4] This
Court, while not a trier of facts, may review the evidence in order to arrive at the correct
factual conclusion based on the record especially so when the findings of fact of the
Court of Appeals are at variance with those of the trial court, or when the inference
drawn by the Court of Appeals from the facts is manifestly mistaken.[5]
Contrary to the trial courts finding, we find sufficient evidence on record tending to
prove that petitioners imputations against respondent was made with malice and in bad
Petitioners testimony was shorn of substance and consists mainly of denials. She
claimed not to have uttered the words imputing the crime of theft to respondent or to
have mentioned the latters name to the authorities as the one responsible for the loss
of her jewelry. Well-settled is the rule that denials, if unsubstantiated by clear and
convincing evidence, are negative and self-serving which merit no weight in law and
cannot be given greater evidentiary value over the testimony of credible witnesses who
testify on affirmative matters.[6]
Respondent, however, has successfully refuted petitioners testimony. Quite
credibly, she has narrated in great detail her distressing experience on that fateful day.
She testified as to how rudely she was treated by petitioner right after she returned to
the room. Petitioner immediately confronted her and uttered the words Ikaw lang ang
lumabas ng kwarto. Nasaan ang dala mong bag? Saan ka pumunta? Ikaw ang
kumuha. Thereafter, her body was searched including her bag and her car. Worse,
during the reception, she was once more asked by the hotel security to go to the ladies
room and she was again bodily searched.[7]
Serea Manding, a make-up artist, corroborated respondents testimony. She
testified that petitioner confronted respondent in the presence of all the people inside
the suite accusing her of being the only one who went out of the comfort room before
the loss of the jewelry. Manding added that respondent was embarrassed because
everybody else in the room thought she was a thief.[8] If only to debunk petitioners
assertion that she did not utter the accusatory remarks in question publicly and with
malice, Mandings testimony on the point deserves to be reproduced. Thus,
Q After that what did she do?
A Then Leo came out from the other room she said, she is (sic) the one I only
saw from the comfort room.
Q Now, what exact word (sic) were said by Mrs. Carpio on that matter?
A She said siya lang yung nakita kong galing sa C.R.
Q And who was Mrs. Carpio or the defendant referring to?
A Leo Valmonte.
Q Did she say anything else, the defendant?
A Her jewelry were lost and Leo was the only one she saw in the C.R. After that
she get (sic) the paper bag then the jewelry were already gone.
Q Did she confront the plaintiff Mrs. Valmonte regarding that fact?
A Yes.
Q What did the defendant Mrs. Carpio tell the plaintiff, Mrs. Valmonte?
A Ikaw yung nakita ko sa C.R. nawawala yung alahas ko.
Q When the defendant Mrs. Carpio said that to plaintiff Mrs. Valmonte were
there other people inside the room?
A Yes, sir.
Q Were they able to hear what Mrs. Carpio said to Mrs. Valmonte?
A Yes, sir.
Q What was your thinking at that time that Mrs. Carpio said that to Mrs.
A Nakakahiya kasi akala ng iba doon na talagang magnanakaw siya. Kasi
marami na kaming nandodoon, dumating na yung couturier pati yung video
man and we sir.
Q Who was the person you [were] alleging na nakakahiya whose (sic) being
accused or being somebody who stole those item of jewelry?
A Nakakahiya para kay Leo kasi pinagbibintangan siya. Sa dami namin doon
siya yung napagbintangan.
Q And who is Leo, what is her full name?
A Leo Valmonte.
Q Did the defendant tell this matter to other people inside the room?
A Yes, the mother of the bride.
Q And who else did she talk to?
A The father of the bride also.
Q And what did the defendant tell the mother regarding this matter?
A Nawawala yung alahas ko. Sabi naman nung mother baka naman hindi mo
dala tignan mo munang mabuti.
Q Who was that other person that she talked to?
A Father of the bride.[9]
Significantly, petitioners counsel elected not to pursue her cross-examination of the
witness on this point following her terse and firm declaration that she remembered
petitioners exact defamatory words in answer to the counsels question.[10]
Jaime Papio, Security Supervisor at Manila Hotel, likewise contradicted petitioners
allegation that she did not suspect or mention the name of respondent as her suspect
in the loss of the jewelry.[11]
To warrant recovery of damages, there must be both a right of action, for a wrong
inflicted by the defendant, and the damage resulting therefrom to the plaintiff. Wrong
without damage, or damage without wrong, does not constitute a cause of action. [12]
In the sphere of our law on human relations, the victim of a wrongful act or
omission, whether done willfully or negligently, is not left without any remedy or
recourse to obtain relief for the damage or injury he sustained. Incorporated into our
civil law are not only principles of equity but also universal moral precepts which are
designed to indicate certain norms that spring from the fountain of good conscience
and which are meant to serve as guides for human conduct.[13] First of these
fundamental precepts is the principle commonly known as abuse of rights under Article
19 of the Civil Code. It provides that 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. To find the existence of an abuse of right, the
following elements must be present: (1) there is a legal right or duty; (2) which is
exercised in bad faith; (3) for the sole intent or prejudicing or injuring another. [14] When
a right is exercised in a manner which discards these norms resulting in damage to
another, a legal wrong is committed for which the actor can be held
accountable.[15] One is not allowed to exercise his right in a manner which would cause
unnecessary prejudice to another or if he would thereby offend morals or good
customs. Thus, a person should be protected only when he acts in the legitimate
exercise of his right, that is when he acts with prudence and good faith; but not when
he acts with negligence or abuse.[16]
Complementing the principle of abuse of rights are the provisions of Articles 20 and
21 of the Civil Code which read, thus:

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

Art. 21. Any person who willfully causes loss or injury to another in a manner that is
contrary to morals or good customs or public policy shall compensate the latter for the

The foregoing rules provide the legal bedrock for the award of damages to a party
who suffers damage whenever one commits an act in violation of some legal provision,
or an act which though not constituting a transgression of positive law, nevertheless
violates certain rudimentary rights of the party aggrieved.
In the case at bar, petitioners verbal reproach against respondent was certainly
uncalled for considering that by her own account nobody knew that she brought such
kind and amount of jewelry inside the paper bag.[17] This being the case, she had no
right to attack respondent with her innuendos which were not merely inquisitive but
outrightly accusatory. By openly accusing respondent as the only person who went out
of the room before the loss of the jewelry in the presence of all the guests therein, and
ordering that she be immediately bodily searched, petitioner virtually branded
respondent as the thief. True, petitioner had the right to ascertain the identity of the
malefactor, but to malign respondent without an iota of proof that she was the one who
actually stole the jewelry is an act which, by any standard or principle of law is
impermissible. Petitioner had willfully caused injury to respondent in a manner which is
contrary to morals and good customs. Her firmness and resolve to find her missing
jewelry cannot justify her acts toward respondent. She did not act with justice and good
faith for apparently, she had no other purpose in mind but to prejudice
respondent. Certainly, petitioner transgressed the provisions of Article 19 in relation to
Article 21 for which she should be held accountable.
Owing to the rule that great weight and even finality is given to factual conclusions
of the Court of Appeals which affirm those of the trial court,[18] we sustain the findings
of the trial court and the appellate court that respondents claim for actual damages has
not been substantiated with satisfactory evidence during the trial and must therefore be
denied. To be recoverable, actual damages must be duly proved with reasonable
degree of certainty and the courts cannot rely on speculation, conjecture or
Respondent, however, is clearly entitled to an award of moral damages. Moral
damages may be awarded whenever the defendants wrongful act or omission is the
proximate cause of the plaintiffs physical suffering, mental anguish, fright, serious
anxiety, besmirched reputation, wounded feelings, moral shock, social humiliation, and
similar injury[20] in the cases specified or analogous to those provided in Article 2219 of
the Civil Code.[21] Though no proof of pecuniary loss is necessary in order that moral
damages may be adjudicated, courts are mandated to take into account all the
circumstances obtaining in the case and assess damages according to their
discretion.[22] Worthy of note is that moral damages are not awarded to penalize the
defendant,[23] or to enrich a complainant, but to enable the latter to obtain means,
diversions or amusements that will serve to alleviate the moral suffering he has
undergone, by reason of defendants culpable action. In any case, award of moral
damages must be proportionate to the sufferings inflicted.[24]
Based on the foregoing jurisprudential pronouncements, we rule that the appellate
court did not err in awarding moral damages. Considering respondents social standing,
and the fact that her profession is based primarily on trust reposed in her by her
clients, the seriousness of the imputations made by petitioner has greatly tarnished her
reputation and will in one way or the other, affect her future dealings with her clients,
the award of P100,000.00 as moral damages appears to be a fair and reasonable
assessment of respondents damages.
WHEREFORE, the instant Petition is DENIED. Costs against petitioner.
Puno, (Chairman), and Callejo, Sr., JJ., concur.
Austria-Martinez, J., on official leave.

.GR. No. 146322 December 6, 2006

INC., petitioners,
vs. ERNESTO QUIAMCO, respondent.



Honeste vivere, non alterum laedere et jus suum cuique tribuere. To live virtuously, not
to injure others and to give everyone his due. These supreme norms of justice are the
underlying principles of law and order in society. We reaffirm them in this petition for
review on certiorari assailing the July 26, 2000 decision1 and October 18, 2000
resolution of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 47571.

In 1982, respondent Ernesto C. Quiamco was approached by Juan Davalan, 2 Josefino

Gabutero and Raul Generoso to amicably settle the civil aspect of a criminal case for
robbery3 filed by Quiamco against them. They surrendered to him a red Honda XL-100
motorcycle and a photocopy of its certificate of registration. Respondent asked for the
original certificate of registration but the three accused never came to see him again.
Meanwhile, the motorcycle was parked in an open space inside respondent’s business
establishment, Avesco-AVNE Enterprises, where it was visible and accessible to the

It turned out that, in October 1981, the motorcycle had been sold on installment basis
to Gabutero by petitioner Ramas Uypitching Sons, Inc., a family-owned corporation
managed by petitioner Atty. Ernesto Ramas Uypitching. To secure its payment, the
motorcycle was mortgaged to petitioner corporation.4

When Gabutero could no longer pay the installments, Davalan assumed the obligation
and continued the payments. In September 1982, however, Davalan stopped paying
the remaining installments and told petitioner corporation’s collector, Wilfredo Veraño,
that the motorcycle had allegedly been "taken by respondent’s men."

Nine years later, on January 26, 1991, petitioner Uypitching, accompanied by

policemen,5 went to Avesco-AVNE Enterprises to recover the motorcycle. The leader
of the police team, P/Lt. Arturo Vendiola, talked to the clerk in charge and asked for
respondent. While P/Lt. Vendiola and the clerk were talking, petitioner Uypitching
paced back and forth inside the establishment uttering "Quiamco is a thief of a

On learning that respondent was not in Avesco-AVNE Enterprises, the policemen left
to look for respondent in his residence while petitioner Uypitching stayed in the
establishment to take photographs of the motorcycle. Unable to find respondent, the
policemen went back to Avesco-AVNE Enterprises and, on petitioner Uypitching’s
instruction and over the clerk’s objection, took the motorcycle.

On February 18, 1991, petitioner Uypitching filed a criminal complaint for qualified theft
and/or violation of the Anti-Fencing Law6 against respondent in the Office of the City
Prosecutor of Dumaguete City.7 Respondent moved for dismissal because the
complaint did not charge an offense as he had neither stolen nor bought the
motorcycle. The Office of the City Prosecutor dismissed the complaint 8 and denied
petitioner Uypitching’s subsequent motion for reconsideration.

Respondent filed an action for damages against petitioners in the RTC of Dumaguete
City, Negros Oriental, Branch 37.9 He sought to hold the petitioners liable for the
following: (1) unlawful taking of the motorcycle; (2) utterance of a defamatory remark
(that respondent was a thief) and (3) precipitate filing of a baseless and malicious
complaint. These acts humiliated and embarrassed the respondent and injured his
reputation and integrity.

On July 30, 1994, the trial court rendered a decision10 finding that petitioner Uypitching
was motivated with malice and ill will when he called respondent a thief, took the
motorcycle in an abusive manner and filed a baseless complaint for qualified theft
and/or violation of the Anti-Fencing Law. Petitioners’ acts were found to be contrary to
Articles 1911 and 2012 of the Civil Code. Hence, the trial court held petitioners liable to
respondent for P500,000 moral damages, P200,000 exemplary damages and P50,000
attorney’s fees plus costs.

Petitioners appealed the RTC decision but the CA affirmed the trial court’s decision
with modification, reducing the award of moral and exemplary damages to P300,000
and P100,000, respectively.13 Petitioners sought reconsideration but it was denied.
Thus, this petition.

In their petition and memorandum, petitioners submit that the sole (allegedly) issue to
be resolved here is whether the filing of a complaint for qualified theft and/or violation
of the Anti-Fencing Law in the Office of the City Prosecutor warranted the award of
moral damages, exemplary damages, attorney’s fees and costs in favor of respondent.

Petitioners’ suggestion is misleading. They were held liable for damages not only for
instituting a groundless complaint against respondent but also for making a slanderous
remark and for taking the motorcycle from respondent’s establishment in an abusive

Correctness of the Findings of the RTC and CA

As they never questioned the findings of the RTC and CA that malice and ill will
attended not only the public imputation of a crime to respondent14 but also the taking of
the motorcycle, petitioners were deemed to have accepted the correctness of such
findings. This alone was sufficient to hold petitioners liable for damages to respondent.

Nevertheless, to address petitioners’ concern, we also find that the trial and appellate
courts correctly ruled that the filing of the complaint was tainted with malice and bad
faith. Petitioners themselves in fact described their action as a "precipitate
act."15 Petitioners were bent on portraying respondent as a thief. In this connection, we
quote with approval the following findings of the RTC, as adopted by the CA:

x x x There was malice or ill-will [in filing the complaint before the City
Prosecutor’s Office] because Atty. Ernesto Ramas Uypitching knew or ought to
have known as he is a lawyer, that there was no probable cause at all for filing a
criminal complaint for qualified theft and fencing activity against [respondent].
Atty. Uypitching had no personal knowledge that [respondent] stole the
motorcycle in question. He was merely told by his bill collector ([i.e.] the bill
collector of Ramas Uypitching Sons, Inc.)[,] Wilfredo Veraño[,] that Juan Dabalan
will [no longer] pay the remaining installment(s) for the motorcycle because the
motorcycle was taken by the men of [respondent]. It must be noted that the term
used by Wilfredo Veraño in informing Atty. Ernesto Ramas Uypitching of the
refusal of Juan Dabalan to pay for the remaining installment was [‘]taken[’], not
[‘]unlawfully taken[’] or ‘stolen.’ Yet, despite the double hearsay, Atty. Ernesto
Ramas Uypitching not only executed the [complaint-affidavit] wherein he named
[respondent] as ‘the suspect’ of the stolen motorcycle but also charged
[respondent] of ‘qualified theft and fencing activity’ before the City [Prosecutor’s]
Office of Dumaguete. The absence of probable cause necessarily signifies the
presence of malice. What is deplorable in all these is that Juan Dabalan, the
owner of the motorcycle, did not accuse [respondent] or the latter’s men of
stealing the motorcycle[,] much less bother[ed] to file a case for qualified theft
before the authorities. That Atty. Uypitching’s act in charging [respondent] with
qualified theft and fencing activity is tainted with malice is also shown by his
answer to the question of Cupid Gonzaga16 [during one of their conversations] -
"why should you still file a complaint? You have already recovered the
motorcycle…"[:] "Aron motagam ang kawatan ug motor." ("To teach a lesson to
the thief of motorcycle.")17

Moreover, the existence of malice, ill will or bad faith is a factual matter. As a rule,
findings of fact of the trial court, when affirmed by the appellate court, are conclusive
on this Court. We see no compelling reason to reverse the findings of the RTC and the

Petitioners Abused Their Right of Recovery as Mortgagee(s)

Petitioners claim that they should not be held liable for petitioner corporation’s exercise
of its right as seller-mortgagee to recover the mortgaged vehicle preliminary to the
enforcement of its right to foreclose on the mortgage in case of default. They are
clearly mistaken.

True, a mortgagee may take steps to recover the mortgaged property to enable it to
enforce or protect its foreclosure right thereon. There is, however, a well-defined
procedure for the recovery of possession of mortgaged property: if a mortgagee is
unable to obtain possession of a mortgaged property for its sale on foreclosure, he
must bring a civil action either to recover such possession as a preliminary step to the
sale, or to obtain judicial foreclosure.18

Petitioner corporation failed to bring the proper civil action necessary to acquire legal
possession of the motorcycle. Instead, petitioner Uypitching descended on
respondent’s establishment with his policemen and ordered the seizure of the
motorcycle without a search warrant or court order. Worse, in the course of the illegal
seizure of the motorcycle, petitioner Uypitching even mouthed a slanderous statement.

No doubt, petitioner corporation, acting through its co-petitioner Uypitching, blatantly

disregarded the lawful procedure for the enforcement of its right, to the prejudice of
respondent. Petitioners’ acts violated the law as well as public morals, and
transgressed the proper norms of human relations.

The basic principle of human relations, embodied in Article 19 of the Civil Code,

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

Article 19, also known as the "principle of abuse of right," prescribes that a person
should not use his right unjustly or contrary to honesty and good faith, otherwise he
opens himself to liability.19 It seeks to preclude the use of, or the tendency to use, a
legal right (or duty) as a means to unjust ends.

There is an abuse of right when it is exercised solely to prejudice or injure

another.20 The exercise of a right must be in accordance with the purpose for which it
was established and must not be excessive or unduly harsh; there must be no intention
to harm another.21 Otherwise, liability for damages to the injured party will attach.
In this case, the manner by which the motorcycle was taken at petitioners’ instance
was not only attended by bad faith but also contrary to the procedure laid down by law.
Considered in conjunction with the defamatory statement, petitioners’ exercise of the
right to recover the mortgaged vehicle was utterly prejudicial and injurious to
respondent. On the other hand, the precipitate act of filing an unfounded complaint
could not in any way be considered to be in accordance with the purpose for which the
right to prosecute a crime was established. Thus, the totality of petitioners’ actions
showed a calculated design to embarrass, humiliate and publicly ridicule respondent.
Petitioners acted in an excessively harsh fashion to the prejudice of respondent.
Contrary to law, petitioners willfully caused damage to respondent. Hence, they should
indemnify him.22

WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED. The July 26, 2000 decision and
October 18, 2000 resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 47571

Triple costs against petitioners, considering that petitioner Ernesto Ramas Uypitching
is a lawyer and an officer of the court, for his improper behavior.


G.R. No. 82511 March 3, 1992

SALAZAR, respondents.
Castillo, Laman, Tan & Pantaleon for petitioner.
Gerardo S. Alansalon for private respondent.


For private respondent Imelda L. Salazar, it would seem that her close association with
Delfin Saldivar would mean the loss of her job. In May 1982, private respondent was
employed by Globe-Mackay Cable and Radio Corporation (GMCR) as general systems
analyst. Also employed by petitioner as manager for technical operations' support was
Delfin Saldivar with whom private respondent was allegedly very close.

Sometime in 1984, petitioner GMCR, prompted by reports that company equipment

and spare parts worth thousands of dollars under the custody of Saldivar were missing,
caused the investigation of the latter's activities. The report dated September 25, 1984
prepared by the company's internal auditor, Mr. Agustin Maramara, indicated that
Saldivar had entered into a partnership styled Concave Commercial and Industrial
Company with Richard A. Yambao, owner and manager of Elecon Engineering
Services (Elecon), a supplier of petitioner often recommended by Saldivar. The report
also disclosed that Saldivar had taken petitioner's missing Fedders airconditioning unit
for his own personal use without authorization and also connived with Yambao to
defraud petitioner of its property. The airconditioner was recovered only after petitioner
GMCR filed an action for replevin against Saldivar.1

It likewise appeared in the course of Maramara's investigation that Imelda Salazar

violated company reglations by involving herself in transactions conflicting with the
company's interests. Evidence showed that she signed as a witness to the articles of
partnership between Yambao and Saldivar. It also appeared that she had full
knowledge of the loss and whereabouts of the Fedders airconditioner but failed to
inform her employer.

Consequently, in a letter dated October 8, 1984, petitioner company placed private

respondent Salazar under preventive suspension for one (1) month, effective October
9, 1984, thus giving her thirty (30) days within which to, explain her side. But instead of
submitting an explanations three (3) days later or on October 12, 1984 private
respondent filed a complaint against petitioner for illegal suspension, which she
subsequently amended to include illegal dismissal, vacation and sick leave benefits,
13th month pay and damages, after petitioner notified her in writing that effective
November 8, 1984, she was considered dismissed "in view of (her) inability to refute
and disprove these findings. 2

After due hearing, the Labor Arbiter in a decision dated July 16, 1985, ordered
petitioner company to reinstate private respondent to her former or equivalent position
and to pay her full backwages and other benefits she would have received were it not
for the illegal dismissal. Petitioner was also ordered to pay private respondent moral
damages of P50,000.00. 3

On appeal, public respondent National Labor Relations, Commission in the questioned

resolution dated December 29, 1987 affirmed the aforesaid decision with respect to the
reinstatement of private respondent but limited the backwages to a period of two (2)
years and deleted the award for moral damages. 4

Hence, this petition assailing the Labor Tribunal for having committed grave abuse of
discretion in holding that the suspension and subsequent dismissal of private
respondent were illegal and in ordering her reinstatement with two (2) years'

On the matter of preventive suspension, we find for petitioner GMCR.

The inestigative findings of Mr. Maramara, which pointed to Delfin Saldivar's acts in
conflict with his position as technical operations manager, necessitated immediate and
decisive action on any employee closely, associated with Saldivar. The suspension of
Salazar was further impelled by th.e discovery of the missing Fedders airconditioning
unit inside the apartment private respondent shared with Saldivar. Under such
circumstances, preventive suspension was the proper remedial recourse available to
the company pending Salazar's investigation. By itself, preventive suspension does,
not signify that the company has adjudged the employee guilty of the charges she was
asked to answer and explain. Such disciplinary measure is resorted to for the
protection of the company's property pending investigation any alleged malfeasance or
misfeasance committed by the employee.5

Thus, it is not correct to conclude that petitioner GMCR had violated Salazar's right to
due process when she was promptly suspended. If at all, the fault, lay with private
respondent when she ignored petitioner's memorandum of October 8, 1984 "giving her
ample opportunity to present (her) side to the Management." Instead, she went directly
to the Labor Department and filed her complaint for illegal suspension without giving
her employer a chance to evaluate her side of the controversy.

But while we agree with the propriety of Salazar's preventive suspension, we hold that
her eventual separation from employment was not for cause.

What is the remedy in law to rectify an unlawful dismissal so as to "make whole" the
victim who has not merely lost her job which, under settled Jurisprudence, is a property
right of which a person is not to be deprived without due process, but also the
compensation that should have accrued to her during the period when she was

Art. 279 of the Labor Code, as amended, provides:

Security of Tenure. — In cases of regular employment, the employer shall

not terminate the services of an employee except for a just cause or when
authorized by this Title. An employee who is unjustly dismissed from work
shall be entitled to reinstatement without loss of seniority rights and other
privileges and to his full backwages, inclusive of allowances, and to his
other benefits or their monetary equivalent computed from the time his
compensation was withheld from him up to the time of his actual
reinstatement. 6 (Emphasis supplied)

Corollary thereto are the following provisions of the Implementing Rules and
Regulations of the Labor Code:

Sec. 2. Security of Tenure. — In cases of regular employments, the

employer shall not terminate the services of an employee except for a just
cause as provided in the Labor Code or when authorized by existing laws.

Sec. 3. Reinstatement. — An employee who is unjustly dismissed from

work shall by entitled to reinstatement without loss of seniority rights and to
backwages."7 (Emphasis supplied)
Before proceeding any furthers, it needs must be recalled that the present Constitution
has gone further than the 1973 Charter in guaranteeing vital social and economic
rights to marginalized groups of society, including labor. Given the pro-poor orientation
of several articulate Commissioners of the Constitutional Commission of 1986, it was
not surprising that a whole new Article emerged on Social Justice and Human Rights
designed, among other things, to "protect and enhance the right of all the people to
human dignity, reduce social, economic and political inequalities, and remove cultural
inequities by equitably diffusing wealth and political power for the common
good." 8 Proof of the priority accorded to labor is that it leads the other areas of
concern in the Article on Social Justice, viz., Labor ranks ahead of such topics as
Agrarian and Natural Resources Reform, Urban Land Roform and Housing, Health,
Women, Role and Rights of Poople's Organizations and Human Rights.9

The opening paragraphs on Labor states

The State shall afford full protection to labor, local and overseas, organized
and unorganized, and promote full employment and equality of employment
opportunities for all.

It shall guarantee the rights of all workers to self-organization, collective

bargaining and negotiations, and peaceful concerted activities, including
the right to strike in accordance with law. They shall be entitled to security
of tenure, humane conditions of work, and a living wage. They shall also
participate in policy and decision-making processes affecting their rights
and benefits is may be provided by law.10(Emphasis supplied)

Compare this with the sole.provision on Labor in the 1973 Constitution under the
Article an Declaration of Principles and State Policies that provides:

Sec. 9. The state shall afford protection to labor, promote full employment
and equality in employment, ensure equal work opportunities regardless of
sex, race, or creed, and regulate the relations between workers and
employers. The State shall ensure the rights of workers to self-
organization, collective baegaining, security of tenure, and just and humane
conditions of work. The State may provide for compulsory arbitration. 11

To be sure, both Charters recognize "security of tenure" as one of the rights of labor
which the State is mandated to protect. But there is no gainsaying the fact that the
intent of the framers of the present Constitution was to give primacy to the rights of
labor and afford the sector "full protection," at least greater protection than heretofore
accorded them, regardless of the geographical location of the workers and whether
they are organized or not.

It was then CONCOM Commissioner, now Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr., who
substantially contributed to the present formulation of the protection to labor provision
and proposed that the same be incorporated in the Article on Social Justice and not
just in the Article on Declaration of Principles and State Policies "in the light of the
special importance that we are giving now to social justice and the necessity of
emphasizing the scope and role of social justice in national development." 12

If we have taken pains to delve into the background of the labor provisions in our
Constitution and the Labor Code, it is but to stress that the right of an employee not to
be dismissed from his job except for a just or authorized cause provided by law has
assumed greater importance under the 1987 Constitution with the singular prominence
labor enjoys under the article on Social Justice. And this transcendent policy has been
translated into law in the Labor Code. Under its terms, where a case of unlawful or
unauthorized dismissal has been proved by the aggrieved employee, or on the other
hand, the employer whose duty it is to prove the lawfulness or justness of his act of
dismissal has failed to do so, then the remedies provided in Article 279 should find,
application. Consonant with this liberalized stance vis-a-vis labor, the legislature even
went further by enacting Republic Act No. 6715 which took effect on March 2, 1989
that amended said Article to remove any possible ambiguity that jurisprudence may
have generated which watered down the constitutional intent to grant to labor "full
protection." 13

To go back to the instant case, there being no evidence to show an authorized, much
less a legal, cause for the dismissal of private respondent, she had every right, not only
to be entitled to reinstatement, but ay well, to full backwages." 14

The intendment of the law in prescribing the twin remedies of reinstatement and
payment of backwages is, in the former, to restore the dismissed employee to her
status before she lost her job, for the dictionary meaning of the word "reinstate" is "to
restore to a state, conditione positions etc. from which one had been removed"15 and in
the latter, to give her back the income lost during the period of unemployment. Both
remedies, looking to the past, would perforce make her "whole."

Sadly, the avowed intent of the law has at times been thwarted when reinstatement
has not been forthcoming and the hapless dismissed employee finds himself on the
outside looking in.

Over time, the following reasons have been advanced by the Court for denying
reinstatement under the facts of the case and the law applicable thereto; that
reinstatement can no longer be effected in view of the long passage of time (22 years
of litigation) or because of the realities of the situation; 16 or that it would be "inimical to
the employer's interest; " 17 or that reinstatement may no longer be feasible; 18 or, that it
will not serve the best interests of the parties involved; 19 or that the company would be
prejudiced by the workers' continued employment; 20 or that it will not serve any
prudent purpose as when supervening facts have transpired which make execution on
that score unjust or inequitable 21 or, to an increasing extent, due to the resultant
atmosphere of "antipathy and antagonism" or "strained relations" or "irretrievable
estrangement" between the employer and the employee. 22

In lieu of reinstatement, the Court has variously ordered the payment of backwages
and separation pay 23 or solely separation pay. 24

In the case at bar, the law is on the side of private respondent. In the first place the
wording of the Labor Code is clear and unambiguous: "An employee who is unjustly
dismissed from work shall be entitled to reinstatement. . . . and to his full backwages. .
. ." 25 Under the principlesof statutory construction, if a statute is clears plain and free
from ambiguity, it must be given its literal meaning and applied without attempted
interpretation. This plain-meaning rule or verba legis derived from the
maxim index animi sermo est (speech is the index of intention) rests on the valid
presumption that the words employed by, the legislature in a statute correctly express
its intent or will and preclude the court from construing it differently. 26 The legislature is
presumed to know the meaning of the words, to:have used words advisedly, and to
have expressed its intent by the use of such words as are found in the statute. 27 Verba
legis non est recedendum, or from the words of a statute there should be no departure.
Neither does the provision admit of any qualification. If in the wisdom of the Court,
there may be a ground or grounds for non-application of the above-cited provision, this
should be by way of exception, such as when the reinstatement may be inadmissible
due to ensuing strained relations between the employer and the employee.

In such cases, it should be proved that the employee concerned occupies a position
where he enjoys the trust and confidence of his employer; and that it is likely that if
reinstated, an atmosphere of antipathy and antagonism may be generated as to
adversely affect the efficiency and productivity of the employee concerned.

A few examples, will suffice to illustrate the Court's application of the above principles:
where the employee is a Vice-President for Marketing and as such, enjoys the full trust
and confidence of top management; 28 or is the Officer-In-Charge of the extension
office of the bank where he works; 29 or is an organizer of a union who was in a
position to sabotage the union's efforts to organize the workers in commercial and
industrial establishments; 30 or is a warehouseman of a non-profit organization whose
primary purpose is to facilitate and maximize voluntary gifts. by foreign individuals and
organizations to the Philippines; 31 or is a manager of its Energy Equipment Sales. 32

Obviously, the principle of "strained relations" cannot be applied indiscriminately.

Otherwisey reinstatement can never be possible simply because some hostility is
invariably engendered between the parties as a result of litigation. That is human
nature. 33

Besides, no strained relations should arise from a valid and legal act of asserting one's
right; otherwise an employee who shall assert his right could be easily separated from
the service, by merely paying his separation pay on the pretext that his relationship
with his employer had already become strained. 34

Here, it has not been proved that the position of private respondent as systems analyst
is one that may be characterized as a position of trust and confidence such that if
reinstated, it may well lead to strained relations between employer and employee.
Hence, this does not constitute an exception to the general rule mandating
reinstatement for an employee who has been unlawfully dismissed.

On the other hand, has she betrayed any confidence reposed in her by engaging in
transactions that may have created conflict of interest situations? Petitioner GMCR
points out that as a matter of company policy, it prohibits its employees from involving
themselves with any company that has business dealings with GMCR. Consequently,
when private respondent Salazar signed as a witness to the partnership papers of
Concave (a supplier of Ultra which in turn is also a supplier of GMCR), she was
deemed to have placed. herself in an untenable position as far as petitioner was

However, on close scrutiny, we agree with public respondent that such a circumstance
did not create a conflict of interests situation. As a systems analyst, Salazar was very
far removed from operations involving the procurement of supplies. Salazar's duties
revolved around the development of systems and analysis of designs on a continuing
basis. In other words, Salazar did not occupy a position of trust relative to the approval
and purchase of supplies and company assets.

In the instant case, petitioner has predicated its dismissal of Salazar on loss of
confidence. As we have held countless times, while loss of confidence or breach of
trust is a valid ground for terminations it must rest an some basis which must be
convincingly established. 35 An employee who not be dismissed on mere presumptions
and suppositions. Petitioner's allegation that since Salazar and Saldivar lived together
in the same apartment, it "presumed reasonably that complainant's sympathy would be
with Saldivar" and its averment that Saldivar's investigation although unverified, was
probably true, do not pass this Court's test. 36 While we should not condone the acts of
disloyalty of an employee, neither should we dismiss him on the basis of suspicion
derived from speculative inferences.

To rely on the Maramara report as a basis for Salazar's dismissal would be most
inequitous because the bulk of the findings centered principally oh her friend's alleged
thievery and anomalous transactions as technical operations' support manager. Said
report merely insinuated that in view of Salazar's special relationship with Saldivar,
Salazar might have had direct knowledge of Saldivar's questionable activities. Direct
evidence implicating private respondent is wanting from the records.

It is also worth emphasizing that the Maramara report came out after Saldivar had
already resigned from GMCR on May 31, 1984. Since Saldivar did not have the
opportunity to refute management's findings, the report remained obviously one-sided.
Since the main evidence obtained by petitioner dealt principally on the alleged
culpability of Saldivar, without his having had a chance to voice his side in view of his
prior resignation, stringent examination should have been carried out to ascertain
whether or not there existed independent legal grounds to hold Salatar answerable as
well and, thereby, justify her dismissal. Finding none, from the records, we find her to
have been unlawfully dismissed.

WHEREFORE, the assailed resolution of public respondent National Labor Relations

Commission dated December 29, 1987 is hereby AFFIRMED. Petitioner GMCR is
ordered to REINSTATE private respondent Imelda Salazar and to pay her backwages
equivalent to her salary for a period of two (2) years only.

This decision is immediately executory.


G.R. No. L-20089 December 26, 1964

BEATRIZ P. WASSMER, plaintiff-appellee,
FRANCISCO X. VELEZ, defendant-appellant.
Jalandoni & Jamir for defendant-appellant.
Samson S. Alcantara for plaintiff-appellee.


The facts that culminated in this case started with dreams and hopes, followed by
appropriate planning and serious endeavors, but terminated in frustration and, what is
worse, complete public humiliation.

Francisco X. Velez and Beatriz P. Wassmer, following their mutual promise of love,
decided to get married and set September 4, 1954 as the big day. On September 2,
1954 Velez left this note for his bride-to-be:

Dear Bet —

Will have to postpone wedding — My mother opposes it. Am leaving on the

Convair today.

Please do not ask too many people about the reason why — That would
only create a scandal.

But the next day, September 3, he sent her the following telegram:




Thereafter Velez did not appear nor was he heard from again.

Sued by Beatriz for damages, Velez filed no answer and was declared in default.
Plaintiff adduced evidence before the clerk of court as commissioner, and on April 29,
1955, judgment was rendered ordering defendant to pay plaintiff P2,000.00 as actual
damages; P25,000.00 as moral and exemplary damages; P2,500.00 as attorney's
fees; and the costs.

On June 21, 1955 defendant filed a "petition for relief from orders, judgment and
proceedings and motion for new trial and reconsideration." Plaintiff moved to strike it
cut. But the court, on August 2, 1955, ordered the parties and their attorneys to appear
before it on August 23, 1955 "to explore at this stage of the proceedings the possibility
of arriving at an amicable settlement." It added that should any of them fail to appear
"the petition for relief and the opposition thereto will be deemed submitted for

On August 23, 1955 defendant failed to appear before court. Instead, on the following
day his counsel filed a motion to defer for two weeks the resolution on defendants
petition for relief. The counsel stated that he would confer with defendant in Cagayan
de Oro City — the latter's residence — on the possibility of an amicable element. The
court granted two weeks counted from August 25, 1955.

Plaintiff manifested on June 15, 1956 that the two weeks given by the court had
expired on September 8, 1955 but that defendant and his counsel had failed to appear.

Another chance for amicable settlement was given by the court in its order of July 6,
1956 calling the parties and their attorneys to appear on July 13, 1956. This time.
however, defendant's counsel informed the court that chances of settling the case
amicably were nil.

On July 20, 1956 the court issued an order denying defendant's aforesaid petition.
Defendant has appealed to this Court. In his petition of June 21, 1955 in the court a
quo defendant alleged excusable negligence as ground to set aside the judgment by
default. Specifically, it was stated that defendant filed no answer in the belief that an
amicable settlement was being negotiated.

A petition for relief from judgment on grounds of fraud, accident, mistake or excusable
negligence, must be duly supported by an affidavit of merits stating facts constituting a
valid defense. (Sec. 3, Rule 38, Rules of Court.) Defendant's affidavit of merits
attached to his petition of June 21, 1955 stated: "That he has a good and valid defense
against plaintiff's cause of action, his failure to marry the plaintiff as scheduled having
been due to fortuitous event and/or circumstances beyond his control." An affidavit of
merits like this stating mere conclusions or opinions instead of facts is not valid.
(Cortes vs. Co Bun Kim, L-3926, Oct. 10, 1951; Vaswani vs. P. Tarrachand Bros., L-
15800, December 29, 1960.)

Defendant, however, would contend that the affidavit of merits was in fact
unnecessary, or a mere surplusage, because the judgment sought to be set aside was
null and void, it having been based on evidence adduced before the clerk of court. In
Province of Pangasinan vs. Palisoc, L-16519, October 30, 1962, this Court pointed out
that the procedure of designating the clerk of court as commissioner to receive
evidence is sanctioned by Rule 34 (now Rule 33) of the Rules of Court. Now as to
defendant's consent to said procedure, the same did not have to be obtained for he
was declared in default and thus had no standing in court (Velez vs. Ramas, 40 Phil.
787; Alano vs. Court of First Instance, L-14557, October 30, 1959).

In support of his "motion for new trial and reconsideration," defendant asserts that the
judgment is contrary to law. The reason given is that "there is no provision of the Civil
Code authorizing" an action for breach of promise to marry. Indeed, our ruling
in Hermosisima vs. Court of Appeals (L-14628, Sept. 30, 1960), as reiterated in Estopa
vs. Biansay (L-14733, Sept. 30, 1960), is that "mere breach of a promise to marry" is
not an actionable wrong. We pointed out that Congress deliberately eliminated from
the draft of the new Civil Code the provisions that would have it so.

It must not be overlooked, however, that the extent to which acts not contrary to law
may be perpetrated with impunity, is not limitless for Article 21 of said Code provides
that "any person who wilfully causes loss or injury to another in a manner that is
contrary to morals, good customs or public policy shall compensate the latter for the

The record reveals that on August 23, 1954 plaintiff and defendant applied for a license
to contract marriage, which was subsequently issued (Exhs. A, A-1). Their wedding
was set for September 4, 1954. Invitations were printed and distributed to relatives,
friends and acquaintances (Tsn., 5; Exh. C). The bride-to-be's trousseau, party drsrses
and other apparel for the important occasion were purchased (Tsn., 7-8). Dresses for
the maid of honor and the flower girl were prepared. A matrimonial bed, with
accessories, was bought. Bridal showers were given and gifts received (Tsn., 6; Exh.
E). And then, with but two days before the wedding, defendant, who was then 28 years
old,: simply left a note for plaintiff stating: "Will have to postpone wedding — My mother
opposes it ... " He enplaned to his home city in Mindanao, and the next day, the day
before the wedding, he wired plaintiff: "Nothing changed rest assured returning soon."
But he never returned and was never heard from again.
Surely this is not a case of mere breach of promise to marry. As stated, mere breach of
promise to marry is not an actionable wrong. But to formally set a wedding and go
through all the above-described preparation and publicity, only to walk out of it when
the matrimony is about to be solemnized, is quite different. This is palpably and
unjustifiably contrary to good customs for which defendant must be held answerable in
damages in accordance with Article 21 aforesaid.

Defendant urges in his afore-stated petition that the damages awarded were
excessive. No question is raised as to the award of actual damages. What defendant
would really assert hereunder is that the award of moral and exemplary damages, in
the amount of P25,000.00, should be totally eliminated.

Per express provision of Article 2219 (10) of the New Civil Code, moral damages are
recoverable in the cases mentioned in Article 21 of said Code. As to exemplary
damages, defendant contends that the same could not be adjudged against him
because under Article 2232 of the New Civil Code the condition precedent is that "the
defendant acted in a wanton, fraudulent, reckless, oppressive, or malevolent manner."
The argument is devoid of merit as under the above-narrated circumstances of this
case defendant clearly acted in a "wanton ... , reckless [and] oppressive manner." This
Court's opinion, however, is that considering the particular circumstances of this case,
P15,000.00 as moral and exemplary damages is deemed to be a reasonable award.

PREMISES CONSIDERED, with the above-indicated modification, the lower court's

judgment is hereby affirmed, with costs.

Bengzon, C.J., Bautista Angelo, Reyes, J.B.L., Barrera, Paredes, Dizon, Regala,
Makalintal, and Zaldivar, JJ.,concur.

G.R. No. L-14628 September 30, 1960

Regino Hermosisima for petitioner.
F.P. Gabriel, Jr. for respondents.


An appeal by certiorari, taken by petitioner Francisco Hermosisima, from a decision of

Court of Appeals modifying that of the Court of First Instance of Cebu.

On October 4, 1954, Soledad Cagigas, hereinafter referred to as complaint, filed with

said of her child, Chris Hermosisima, as natural child and moral damages for alleged
breach of promise. Petitioner admitted the paternity of child and expressed willingness
to support the latter, but denied having ever promised to marry the complainant. Upon
her motion, said court ordered petitioner, on October 27, 1954, to pay, by way of
alimony pendente lite, P50.00 a month, which was, on February 16, 1955, reduced to
P30.00 a month. In due course, later on, said court rendered a decision the dispositive
part of which reads:

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered, declaring the child, Chris

Hermosisima, as the natural daughter of defendant, and confirming the
order pendente lite, ordering defendant to pay to the said child, through plaintiff,
the sum of thirty pesos (P30.00), payable on or before the fifth day of every
month sentencing defendant to pay to plaintiff the sum of FOUR THOUSAND
FIVE HUNDRED PESOS (P4,500.00) for actual and compensatory damages; the
sum of FIVE THOUSAND PESOS (P5,000.00) as moral damages; and the
further sum of FIVE HUNDRED PESOS (P500.00) as attorney's fees for plaintiff,
with costs against defendant.

On appeal taken by petitioner, the Court of Appeals affirmed this decision, except as to
the actual and compensatory damages and the moral damages, which were increased
to P5,614.25 and P7,000.00, respectively.

The main issue before us is whether moral damages are recoverable, under our laws,
for breach of promise to marry. The pertinent facts are:

Complainant Soledad Cagigas, was born in July 1917. Since 1950, Soledad then a
teacher in the Sibonga Provincial High School in Cebu, and petitioner, who was almost
ten (10) years younger than she, used to go around together and were regarded as
engaged, although he had made no promise of marriage prior thereto. In 1951, she
gave up teaching and became a life insurance underwriter in the City of Cebu, where
intimacy developed among her and the petitioner, since one evening in 1953, when
after coming from the movies, they had sexual intercourse in his cabin on board M/V
"Escaño," to which he was then attached as apprentice pilot. In February 1954,
Soledad advised petitioner that she was in the family way, whereupon he promised to
marry her. Their child, Chris Hermosisima, was born on June 17, 1954, in a private
maternity and clinic. However, subsequently, or on July 24, 1954, defendant married
one Romanita Perez. Hence, the present action, which was commenced on or about
October 4, 1954.

Referring now to the issue above referred to, it will be noted that the Civil Code of
Spain permitted the recovery of damages for breach to marry. Article 43 and 44 of said
Code provides:

ART. 43. A mutual promise of marriage shall not give rise to an obligation to
contract marriage. No court shall entertain any complaint by which the
enforcement of such promise is sought.
ART. 44. If the promise has been in a public or private instrument by an adult, or
by a minor with the concurrence of the person whose consent is necessary for
the celebration of the marriage, or if the banns have been published, the one who
without just cause refuses to marry shall be obliged to reimburse the other for the
expenses which he or she may have incurred by reason of the promised

The action for reimbursement of expenses to which the foregoing article refers
must be brought within one year, computed from the day of the refusal to
celebrate the marriage.

Inasmuch as these articles were never in force in the Philippines, this Court ruled in De
Jesus vs. Syquia (58 Phil., 866), that "the action for breach of promises to marry has
no standing in the civil law, apart from the right to recover money or property advanced
. . . upon the faith of such promise". The Code Commission charged with the drafting of
the Proposed Civil Code of the Philippines deem it best, however, to change the law
thereon. We quote from the report of the Code Commission on said Proposed Civil

Articles 43 and 44 the Civil Code of 1889 refer to the promise of marriage. But
these articles are not enforced in the Philippines. The subject is regulated in the
Proposed Civil Code not only as to the aspect treated of in said articles but also
in other particulars. It is advisable to furnish legislative solutions to some
questions that might arise relative to betrothal. Among the provisions proposed
are: That authorizing the adjudication of moral damages, in case of breach of
promise of marriage, and that creating liability for causing a marriage
engagement to be broken.1awphîl.nèt

Accordingly, the following provisions were inserted in said Proposed Civil Code, under
Chapter I, Title III, Book I thereof:

Art. 56. A mutual promise to marry may be made expressly or impliedly.

Art. 57. An engagement to be married must be agreed directly by the future


Art. 58. A contract for a future marriage cannot, without the consent of the parent
or guardian, be entered into by a male between the ages of sixteen and twenty
years or by a female between the ages of sixteen and eighteen years. Without
such consent of the parents or guardian, the engagement to marry cannot be the
basis of a civil action for damages in case of breach of the promise.

Art. 59. A promise to marry when made by a female under the age of fourteen
years is not civilly actionable, even though approved by the parent or guardian.
Art. 60. In cases referred to in the proceeding articles, the criminal and civil
responsibility of a male for seduction shall not be affected.

Art. 61. No action for specific performance of a mutual promise to marry may be

Art. 62. An action for breach of promise to marry may be brought by the
aggrieved party even though a minor without the assistance of his parent or
guardian. Should the minor refuse to bring suit, the parent or guardian may
institute the action.

Art. 63. Damages for breach of promise to marry shall include not only material
and pecuniary losses but also compensation for mental and moral suffering.

Art. 64. Any person, other than a rival, the parents, guardians and grandparents,
of the affianced parties, who cause a marriage engagement to be broken shall be
liable for damages, both material and moral, to the engaged person who is

Art. 65. In case of breach of promise to marry, the party breaking the
engagement shall be obliged to return what he or she has received from the
other as gift on account of the promise of the marriage.

These article were, however, eliminated in Congress. The reason therefor are set forth
in the report of the corresponding Senate Committee, from which we quote:

The elimination of this Chapter is proposed. That breach of promise to marry is not
actionable has been definitely decide in the case of De Jesus vs. Syquia, 58 Phil., 866.
The history of breach of promise suit in the United States and in England has shown
that no other action lends itself more readily to abuse by designing women and
unscrupulous men. It is this experience which has led to the abolition of the rights of
action in the so-called Balm suit in many of the American States.

See statutes of:

Florida 1945 — pp. 1342 — 1344

Maryland 1945 — pp. 1759 — 1762
Nevada 1943 — p. 75
Maine 1941 — pp. 140 — 141
New Hampshire 1941 — p. 223
California 1939 — p. 1245
Massachusetts 1938 — p. 326
Indiana 1936 — p. 1009
Michigan 1935 — p. 201
New York 1935
Pennsylvania p. 450

The Commission perhaps though that it has followed the more progression trend
in legislation when it provided for breach of promise to marry suits. But it is clear
that the creation of such causes of action at a time when so many States, in
consequence of years of experience are doing away with them, may well prove
to be a step in the wrong direction. (Congressional Record, Vol. IV, No. 79,
Thursday, May 19, 1949, p. 2352.)

The views thus expressed were accepted by both houses of Congress. In the light of
the clear and manifest intent of our law making body not to sanction actions for breach
of promise to marry, the award of moral damages made by the lower courts is,
accordingly, untenable. The Court of Appeals said award:

Moreover, it appearing that because of defendant-appellant's seduction power,

plaintiff-appellee, overwhelmed by her love for him finally yielded to his sexual
desires in spite of her age and self-control, she being a woman after all, we hold
that said defendant-appellant is liable for seduction and, therefore, moral
damages may be recovered from him under the provision of Article 2219,
paragraph 3, of the new Civil Code.

Apart from the fact that the general tenor of said Article 2219, particularly the
paragraphs preceding and those following the one cited by the Court of Appeals, and
the language used in said paragraph strongly indicates that the "seduction" therein
contemplated is the crime punished as such in Article as such in Article 337 and 338 of
the Revised Penal Code, which admittedly does not exist in the present case, we find
ourselves unable to say that petitioner is morally guilty of seduction, not only because
he is approximately ten (10) years younger than the complainant — who around thirty-
six (36) years of age, and as highly enlightened as a former high school teacher and a
life insurance agent are supposed to be — when she became intimate with petitioner,
then a mere apprentice pilot, but, also, because, the court of first instance found that,
complainant "surrendered herself" to petitioner because, "overwhelmed by her love" for
him, she "wanted to bind" "by having a fruit of their engagement even before they had
the benefit of clergy."

The court of first instance sentenced petitioner to pay the following: (1) a monthly
pension of P30.00 for the support of the child: (2) P4,500, representing the income that
complainant had allegedly failed to earn during her pregnancy and shortly after the
birth of the child, as actual and compensation damages; (3) P5,000, as moral
damages; and (4) P500.00, as attorney's fees. The Court of Appeals added to the
second item the sum of P1,114.25 — consisting of P144.20, for hospitalization and
medical attendance, in connection with the parturiation, and the balance representing
expenses incurred to support the child — and increased the moral damages to
With the elimination of this award for damages, the decision of the Court of Appeals is
hereby affirmed, therefore, in all other respects, without special pronouncement as to
cost in this instance. It is so ordered.

Paras, C.J., Bengzon, Padilla, Bautista Angelo, Labrador, Reyes, J.B.L., Barrera,
Gutierrez David, Paredes and Dizon, JJ., concur.

Republic of the Philippines



G.R. No. 142938 August 28, 2007


and ARTEMIO S. REYES,*Respondents.



This is a petition for review on certiorari1 of a decision2 and resolution3 of the Court of
Appeals (CA) dated January 21, 2000 and April 10, 2000, respectively, in CA-G.R. CV
No. 56105 which modified the decision4 dated April 17, 19975 of the Regional Trial
Court (RTC) of Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija, Branch 25 in Civil Case No. 2145-A1.

This case involves a 1,254 sq. m. residential land located in Poblacion, San Leonardo,
Nueva Ecija6 originally owned by Leocadio Ingusan who was unmarried and childless
when he died in 1932. His heirs were his two brothers and a sister, namely, Antonio,
Macaria and Juan.7 Antonio died and was succeeded by his son Ignacio who also later
died and was succeeded by his son, petitioner Miguel Ingusan.8 Macaria also died and
was succeeded by her child, Aureliano I. Reyes, Sr. (father of respondents Artemio
Reyes, Corazon Reyes-Reguyal, Elsa Reyes, Estrella Reyes-Razon, Aureliano Reyes,
Jr., Ester Reyes, Reynaldo Reyes and Leonardo Reyes).9 Thus, petitioner is the
grandnephew of Leocadio and Aureliano, Sr. was the latter's nephew.10

After the death of Leocadio, Aureliano, Sr. was designated by the heirs as
administrator of the land.11 In 1972, while in possession of the land and in breach of
trust, he applied for and was granted a free patent over it.12 As a result, he was issued
OCT No. P-6176 in 1973.13
In 1976, petitioner filed an accion reivindicatoria against Aureliano, Sr. and his wife
Jacoba Solomon seeking the recovery of Lot 120-A with an area of 502 sq. m. which
was part of the land at issue here.14 But the case was dismissed because petitioner did
not pursue it.

Also in 1976, Aureliano, Sr. executed a special power of attorney (SPA) in favor of his
son Artemio authorizing him to mortgage the land in question to any bank. Using that
SPA, Artemio mortgaged the land to secure a loan of ₱10,000 from the Philippine
National Bank (PNB).15

In 1983, Aureliano, Sr. died intestate. He was survived by his children, the

In 1986, petitioner paid the PNB loan. The mortgage over the land was released and
the owner’s duplicate copy of OCT No. P-6176 was given to him.17

On June 19, 1988, respondents and petitioner entered into a Kasulatan ng Paghahati-
hati Na May Bilihan wherein they adjudicated unto themselves the land in question and
then sold it to their co-heirs, as follows: (a) to petitioner, 1,171 sq. m. and (b) to
respondent Estrella, 83 sq. m. This deed was notarized but not registered.18

On January 8, 1990, respondent Corazon, despite signing the Kasulatan, executed an

affidavit of loss, stating that she could not find the owner’s duplicate copy of OCT No.
P-6176. This was registered and annotated on the original copy of said title.19

Subsequently, the following documents appeared purportedly with the following dates:

a) April 23, 199420 - notarized deed of donation of titled property supposedly

executed by the spouses Aureliano, Sr. and Jacoba,21 whereby said spouses
donated 297 sq. m. of the subject land to respondent Artemio and the remaining
957 sq. m. to petitioner;

b) September 5, 1994 - cancellation of affidavit of loss supposedly executed by

respondent Corazon stating that the annotation of the affidavit of loss on the title
should be canceled and the petition for a new title was no longer necessary
because she had already found the missing owner’s duplicate copy of OCT No.

c) September 27, 1994 – agreement of subdivision with sale purportedly

executed by respondent Artemio and petitioner, with the consent of their wives.
Pursuant to this document, the land was subdivided into Lot 120-A with an area
of 297 sq. m. corresponding to the share of Artemio and Lot 120-B with an area
of 957 sq. m. which was the share of petitioner. The document also indicated that
Artemio sold Lot 120-A to one Florentina Fernandez.22
When respondent Corazon learned about the cancellation of the annotation of her
affidavit of loss, she executed an affidavit of adverse claim on January 17, 1995 stating
that the cancellation of affidavit of loss and the agreement of subdivision with sale were
both spurious and the signatures appearing thereon were forgeries. This affidavit of
adverse claim was not registered.23

On April 17, 1995, petitioner brought the owner’s duplicate copy of OCT No. P-6176,
the cancellation of affidavit of loss, deed of donation of titled property and agreement of
subdivision with sale to the Registry of Deeds for registration. Consequently, the
following took place on that same day:

1. Corazon’s annotated affidavit of loss was canceled;

2. by virtue of Aureliano, Sr. and Jacoba’s deed of donation of titled property to

Artemio and petitioner, OCT No. P-6176 was canceled and in lieu thereof, TCT
No. NT-241155 in the name of petitioner and TCT No. NT-241156 in the name of
respondent Artemio were issued and

3. by virtue of the agreement of subdivision with sale, TCT Nos. NT-241155 and
NT-241156 were canceled and TCT Nos. NT-239747 and NT-239748 were
issued in the names of petitioner and Florentina Fernandez, respectively.24

On June 27, 1995, petitioner took possession of his portion and built his house

On July 4, 1995, respondents filed an action for cancellation, annulment and surrender
of titles with damages against petitioner and Florentina Fernandez in the RTC of
Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija, Branch 25. In their complaint, they alleged the
following, among others: they inherited the land in question from their father, Aureliano,
Sr.; petitioner caused the preparation of the spurious deed of donation of titled
property, cancellation of affidavit of loss, agreement of subdivision with sale and forged
the signatures appearing thereon except his (petitioner's) own and, in conspiracy with
Fernandez, fraudulently registered said documents which resulted in the cancellation
of OCT No. P-6176 and the eventual issuance to them of TCT Nos. NT-239747 and
NT-239748. They prayed that these titles be declared null and void and that petitioner
and Fernandez be ordered to surrender the land and pay damages to them.26

In his defense, petitioner alleged that respondents' father, Aureliano, Sr., fraudulently
secured a free patent in his name over the land using a fictitious affidavit dated April
10, 1970 purportedly executed by Leocadio selling to him the land in question and, as
a result, OCT No. P-6176 was issued to him; that it was respondent Artemio who
proposed to petitioner the scheme of partition that would assure the latter of his share
with the condition, however, that he (Artemio) would get a portion of 297 sq. m. (which
included the share of respondent Estrella of 83 sq. m.) because he had already earlier
sold it to Fernandez and in fact had already been partially paid ₱60,000 for it; that to
implement this scheme, respondent Artemio caused the execution of several
documents namely: (1) deed of donation of titled property; (2) agreement of subdivision
with sale and (3) cancellation of affidavit of loss and that, thereafter, he instructed
petitioner to present the said documents to the Registry of Deeds of Nueva Ecija for

On October 26, 1995, respondents moved that Fernandez be dropped as defendant

because she was no longer contesting their claim and in fact had surrendered to them
her owner’s duplicate copy of TCT No.NT-239748. Thus, she was excluded from the

In a decision dated April 17, 1997, the RTC dismissed the case and declared OCT No.
P-6176 as well as the subsequent certificates of title (TCT Nos. NT-239747 and NT-
239748), the deed of donation of titled property, agreement of subdivision with sale
and cancellation of affidavit of loss as null and void. It held that the aforementioned
documents were spurious since the signatures were falsified by respondent Artemio.

Furthermore, having found that OCT No. P-6176 was issued on the basis of a
document falsified by Aureliano, Sr., the RTC ordered the reversion of the land to its
status before the OCT was issued.

Finally, it held that petitioner, being an innocent victim, was entitled to damages.29

On appeal, the CA modified the RTC decision. It ruled that only TCT Nos. NT-241155,
NT-241156, NT-239747 and NT-239748 were null and void. Their source, OCT No. P-
6176, remained valid because it had already become indefeasible and could no longer
be attacked collaterally. It also found that petitioner schemed with Artemio in
defrauding their co-heirs and was therefore in pari delicto. Consequently, neither party
was entitled to claim damages from the other.30 Petitioner's motion for reconsideration
was denied.

Hence this petition raising the following issues:

1) whether OCT No. P-6176 was valid or invalid, and

2) whether or not petitioner is entitled to damages.

There is no doubt that the deed of donation of titled property, cancellation of affidavit of
loss and agreement of subdivision with sale, being falsified documents, were null and
void. It follows that TCT Nos. NT-241155, NT-241156, NT-239747 and NT-239748
which were issued by virtue of these spurious documents were likewise null and void.
Neither side disputes these findings and conclusions.

The question is whether the source of these titles, OCT No. P-6176, was valid.
Petitioner argues that it should be invalidated because it was issued based on a
fictitious affidavit purportedly executed in 1970 by Leocadio (who died in 1932) wherein
the latter supposedly sold the land to Aureliano, Sr. According to petitioner, Aureliano,
Sr. used this to fraudulently and in breach of trust secure a free patent over the land in
his name.

We agree with the CA that OCT No. P-6176 remains valid. The issue of the validity of
title (e.g. whether or not it was issued fraudulently or in breach of trust) can only be
assailed in an action expressly instituted for that purpose.31 A certificate of title cannot
be attacked collaterally. Section 48 of PD 152932 states:

SEC. 48. Certificate not subject to collateral attack. ― A certificate of title shall not be
subject to collateral attack. It cannot be altered, modified, or canceled except in a direct
proceeding in accordance with law.

The rationale behind the Torrens System is that the public should be able to rely on a
registered title. The Torrens System was adopted in this country because it was
believed to be the most effective measure to guarantee the integrity of land titles and to
protect their indefeasibility once the claim of ownership is established and recognized.
In Fil-estate Management, Inc. v. Trono,33 we explained:

It has been invariably stated that the real purpose of the Torrens System is to quiet title
to land and to stop forever any question as to its legality. Once a title is registered, the
owner may rest secure, without the necessity of waiting in the portals of the court, or
sitting on the "mirador su casa" to avoid the possibility of losing his land.34

Petitioner merely invoked the invalidity of OCT No. P-6176 as an affirmative defense in
his answer and prayed for the declaration of its nullity. Such a defense partook of the
nature of a collateral attack against a certificate of title.35

Moreover, OCT No. P-6176 which was registered under the Torrens System on the
basis of a free patent became indefeasible and incontrovertible after the lapse of one
year as provided in Section 32 of PD 1529:

Sec. 32. Review of decree of registration; Innocent purchaser for value. ― The decree
of registration shall not be reopened or revised by reason of absence, minority, or other
disability of any person adversely affected thereby, nor by any proceeding in any court
for reversing judgment, subject, however, to the right of any person, including the
government and the branches thereof, deprived of land or of any estate or interest
therein by such adjudication or confirmation of title obtained by actual fraud, to file in
the proper Court of First Instance a petition for reopening and review of the decree of
registration not later than one year from and after the date of the entry of such decree
of registration, but in no case shall such petition be entertained by the court where an
innocent purchaser for value has acquired the land or an interest therein whose rights
may be prejudiced. Whenever the phrase "innocent purchaser for value" or an
equivalent phrase occurs in this Decree, it shall be deemed to include an innocent
lessee, mortgagee, or other encumbrancer for value.
Upon the expiration of said period of one year, the decree of registration and the
certificate of title issued shall become incontrovertible. Any person aggrieved by
such decree of registration in any case may pursue his remedy by action for damages
against the applicant or any other person responsible for the fraud. (Emphasis

Indeed, both the RTC and CA found that Aureliano, Sr. fraudulently and in breach of
trust secured OCT No. P-6176 in his name. Unfortunately, petitioner chose not to
pursue a direct proceeding to have this certificate of title annulled. In 1976, he filed
an accion reivindicatoria36 against the spouses Aureliano, Sr. and Jacoba questioning
the validity of OCT No. P-6176 and seeking to recover a portion of the land
(specifically, Lot 120-A with an area of 502 sq. m.) but he voluntarily withdrew the
case.37 Now, the title has undeniably become incontrovertible since it was issued in
1973 or more than 30 years ago.38

We now proceed to the issue of whether petitioner is entitled to damages. The RTC
held that he is entitled to moral damages (₱50,000), exemplary damages (₱30,000)
and attorney's fees (₱20,000) because he was not aware that the documents were
falsified and he was merely instructed by respondent Artemio to have them registered.
The CA shared the finding of the RTC that it was respondent Artemio who
masterminded the preparation and use of the spurious documents.39 Nevertheless, it
did not find petitioner an innocent victim who was merely dragged into litigation:

...[Petitioner] was far from innocent. [Respondent Artemio] and [petitioner] signed the
bogus "Deed of Donation of Titled Property" and the fraudulently baseless "Agreement
of Subdivision with Sale." It was [petitioner] who personally submitted all the bogus
documents with the Registry of Deeds of Nueva Ecija. He stood to benefit from the
registration of said fake documents. It was he who received the titles issued in
consequence of said fraudulent registration. In the natural course of things and in the
ordinary experience of man, the conclusion is inevitable that [he] knew [about] the
spurious nature of said documents but he made use of them because of the benefit
which he would derive therefrom. In short, [petitioner] confabulated with [respondent
Artemio] in defrauding all their co-heirs of their shares in said property.40

We agree. Petitioner was not in good faith when he registered the fake documents.

Good faith is ordinarily used to describe that state of mind denoting "honesty of
intention, and freedom from knowledge of circumstances which ought to put the holder
upon inquiry; an honest intention to abstain from taking any unconscientious
advantage of another, even through technicalities of law, together with absence of all
information, notice, or benefit or belief of facts which render the transaction

Petitioner claims that he was not aware of the contents of the falsified documents and
their legal consequences because of his low level of intelligence and educational
attainment. But from his own narration, it is clear that he was aware of the fraudulent
scheme conceived by respondent Artemio:

[Respondent Artemio] approached [petitioner] and propose[d] a [scheme] of partition

that [would] assure [petitioner] of getting his share including that which he and his
predecessor-in-interest have purchased from the other heirs of the late LEOCADIO
INGUSAN, but with the condition that in implementing the document known as
PAGHAHATI-HATI NA MAY BILIHAN, the corresponding shares of ESTRELLA
RAZON will go to him [respondent Artemio who] has agreed to have it sold in favor of
one FLORENTINA FERNANDEZ for ₱120,000.00, partial payment of which has
already been received by [respondent Artemio], which negotiation of SALE and the
payment made by FLORENTINA FERNANDEZ was acknowledged to be true. Without
much ado, a survey of Lot No. 120 was conducted by one Restituto Hechenova upon
instruction of [respondent Artemio], partitioning the land into two (2), one share goes to
[petitioner] with an area of 957 square meters and the other with an area of 297 square
meters in the name of [respondent Artemio], the latter share was to be sold in favor of
Florentina Fernandez. To have this IMPLEMENTED, incidental documentation must be
made thus; A DEED OF DONATION OF REAL PROPERTY allegedly executed by
SALE by and between [petitioner] and [respondent Artemio] as alleged DONEES and
SALE in the same document in favor of Florentina Fernandez, making in the process
[petitioner] presentor of all these questioned documents, adding among others an
AFFIDAVIT OF LOSS of Original Certificate of Title No. P-6176 allegedly falsified by
[petitioner] of the signature of [respondent] CORAZON REYES REGUYAL.42

Petitioner does not deny that he signed the fictitious deed of donation of titled property
and the agreement of subdivision with sale. Even if he reached only grade 3, he could
not have feigned ignorance of the net effect of these documents, which was to exclude
the other heirs of the spouses and the original owner Leocadio from inheriting the
property and, in the process, acquiring a big chunk of the property at their expense.
The cancellation of respondent Corazon's affidavit of loss of the owner's duplicate copy
of OCT No. P-6176 also removed all obstacles to the registration of the title covering
his portion of the lot. In short, by registering the spurious documents, he had
everything to gain.

Although it was respondent Artemio, an educated individual, who engineered the whole
scheme and prepared the fraudulent documents, still petitioner cannot deny that he
was a willing co-conspirator in a plan that he knew was going to benefit him

As a result, there is no basis for the award of damages to petitioner. Coming to the
court with unclean hands, he cannot obtain relief. Neither does he fall under any of the
provisions for the entitlement to damages.
Respondents presented an additional issue involving the recovery of possession of the
subject land. They contend that petitioner, his heirs and relatives illegally occupied it
and constructed houses thereon.43 However, it is well-settled that a party who has not
appealed cannot obtain from the appellate court any affirmative relief other than those
obtained from the lower court whose decision is brought up on appeal.44 While there
are exceptions to this rule, such as if they involve (1) errors affecting the lower court's
jurisdiction over the subject matter; (2) plain errors not specified and (3) clerical errors,
none applies here.45

Lastly, we note that petitioner entered into certain agreements with respondents to
ensure that he would obtain a portion of the subject land. He not only paid the loan of
respondent Artemio to PNB in order to release the mortgage over the land but also
bought from respondents 1,171 sq. m. (almost 94% of the 1,254 sq. m. lot) under
the Kasulatan ng Paghahati-hati Na May Bilihan. These are undisputed facts.
Ultimately, however, he failed to get his portion of the property. Although petitioner did
not demand the return of the amounts he paid, we deem it just and equitable to direct
respondents to reimburse him for these.

Article 1236 of the Civil Code provides:

Art. 1236. The creditor is not bound to accept payment or performance by a third
person who has no interest in the fulfillment of the obligation, unless there is a
stipulation to the contrary.

Whoever pays for another may demand from the debtor what he has paid, except
that if he paid without the knowledge or against the will of the debtor, he can
recover only insofar as the payment has been beneficial to the debtor. (emphasis

Respondent Artemio was the debtor in this case, PNB the creditor and petitioner the
third person who paid the obligation of the debtor. The amount petitioner may recover
will depend on whether Artemio knew or approved of such payment.1avvphi1

Petitioner should also be able recover the amount (if any) he paid to respondents
under the Kasulatan since this agreement was never implemented. Otherwise, it will
result in the unjust enrichment of respondents at the expense of petitioner, a situation
covered by Art. 22 of the Civil Code:

Every person who through an act of performance by another, or any other means,
acquires or comes into possession of something at the expense of the latter without
just or legal ground, shall return the same to him.

Petitioner is not entitled to legal interest since he never made a demand for it.
WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED. However, respondents are ordered to
return to petitioner the amounts he paid to the Philippine National Bank and under
the Kasulatan ng Paghahati-hati Na May Bilihan. The court a quo is directed to
determine the exact amount due to petitioner. The January 21, 2000 decision and April
10, 2000 resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 56105 are AFFIRMED.

G.R. No. 134241 August 11, 2003

DAVID REYES (Substituted by Victoria R. Fabella), petitioner,
The Case

This is a petition for review on certiorari of the Decision1 dated 12 May 1998 of the
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 46224. The Court of Appeals dismissed the
petition for certiorari assailing the Orders dated 6 March 1997, 3 July 1997 and 3
October 1997 of the Regional Trial Court of Paranaque, Branch 260 2 ("trial court") in
Civil Case No. 95-032.

The Facts

On 23 March 1995, petitioner David Reyes ("Reyes") filed before the trial court a
complaint for annulment of contract and damages against respondents Jose Lim
("Lim"), Chuy Cheng Keng ("Keng") and Harrison Lumber, Inc. ("Harrison Lumber").

The complaint3 alleged that on 7 November 1994, Reyes as seller and Lim as buyer
entered into a contract to sell ("Contract to Sell") a parcel of land ("Property") located
along F.B. Harrison Street, Pasay City. Harrison Lumber occupied the Property as
lessee with a monthly rental of P35,000. The Contract to Sell provided for the following
terms and conditions:

1. The total consideration for the purchase of the aforedescribed parcel of land
together with the perimeter walls found therein is TWENTY EIGHT MILLION
(P28,000,000.00) PESOS payable as follows:

(a) TEN MILLION (P10,000,000.00) PESOS upon signing of this Contract to Sell;

(b) The balance of EIGHTEEN MILLION (P18,000,000.00) PESOS shall be paid

on or before March 8, 1995 at 9:30 A.M. at a bank to be designated by the Buyer
but upon the complete vacation of all the tenants or occupants of the property
and execution of the Deed of Absolute Sale. However, if the tenants or
occupants have vacated the premises earlier than March 8, 1995, the VENDOR
shall give the VENDEE at least one week advance notice for the payment of the
balance and execution of the Deed of Absolute Sale.
2. That in the event, the tenants or occupants of the premises subject of this sale
shall not vacate the premises on March 8, 1995 as stated above, the VENDEE
shall withhold the payment of the balance of P18,000,000.00 and the VENDOR
agrees to pay a penalty of Four percent (4%) per month to the herein VENDEE
based on the amount of the downpayment of TEN MILLION (P10,000,000.00)
PESOS until the complete vacation of the premises by the tenants therein.4

The complaint claimed that Reyes had informed Harrison Lumber to vacate the
Property before the end of January 1995. Reyes also informed Keng 5 and Harrison
Lumber that if they failed to vacate by 8 March 1995, he would hold them liable for the
penalty of P400,000 a month as provided in the Contract to Sell. The complaint further
alleged that Lim connived with Harrison Lumber not to vacate the Property until the
P400,000 monthly penalty would have accumulated and equaled the unpaid purchase
price of P18,000,000.

On 3 May 1995, Keng and Harrison Lumber filed their Answer6 denying they connived
with Lim to defraud Reyes. Keng and Harrison Lumber alleged that Reyes approved
their request for an extension of time to vacate the Property due to their difficulty in
finding a new location for their business. Harrison Lumber claimed that as of March
1995, it had already started transferring some of its merchandise to its new business
location in Malabon.7

On 31 May 1995, Lim filed his Answer8 stating that he was ready and willing to pay the
balance of the purchase price on or before 8 March 1995. Lim requested a meeting
with Reyes through the latter’s daughter on the signing of the Deed of Absolute Sale
and the payment of the balance but Reyes kept postponing their meeting. On 9 March
1995, Reyes offered to return the P10 million down payment to Lim because Reyes
was having problems in removing the lessee from the Property. Lim rejected Reyes’
offer and proceeded to verify the status of Reyes’ title to the Property. Lim learned that
Reyes had already sold the Property to Line One Foods Corporation ("Line One") on 1
March 1995 for P16,782,840. After the registration of the Deed of Absolute Sale, the
Register of Deeds issued to Line One TCT No. 134767 covering the Property. Lim
denied conniving with Keng and Harrison Lumber to defraud Reyes.

On 2 November 1995, Reyes filed a Motion for Leave to File Amended Complaint due
to supervening facts. These included the filing by Lim of a complaint for estafa against
Reyes as well as an action for specific performance and nullification of sale and title
plus damages before another trial court.9 The trial court granted the motion in an Order
dated 23 November 1995.

In his Amended Answer dated 18 January 1996,10 Lim prayed for the cancellation of
the Contract to Sell and for the issuance of a writ of preliminary attachment against
Reyes. The trial court denied the prayer for a writ of preliminary attachment in an Order
dated 7 October 1996.
On 6 March 1997, Lim requested in open court that Reyes be ordered to deposit the
P10 million down payment with the cashier of the Regional Trial Court of Parañaque.
The trial court granted this motion.

On 25 March 1997, Reyes filed a Motion to Set Aside the Order dated 6 March 1997
on the ground the Order practically granted the reliefs Lim prayed for in his Amended
Answer.11 The trial court denied Reyes’ motion in an Order12 dated 3 July 1997. Citing
Article 1385 of the Civil Code, the trial court ruled that an action for rescission could
prosper only if the party demanding rescission can return whatever he may be obliged
to restore should the court grant the rescission.

The trial court denied Reyes’ Motion for Reconsideration in its Order13 dated 3 October
1997. In the same order, the trial court directed Reyes to deposit the P10 million down
payment with the Clerk of Court on or before 30 October 1997.

On 8 December 1997, Reyes14 filed a Petition for Certiorari15 with the Court of Appeals.
Reyes prayed that the Orders of the trial court dated 6 March 1997, 3 July 1997 and 3
October 1997 be set aside for having been issued with grave abuse of discretion
amounting to lack of jurisdiction. On 12 May 1998, the Court of Appeals dismissed the
petition for lack of merit.

Hence, this petition for review.

The Ruling of the Court of Appeals

The Court of Appeals ruled the trial court could validly issue the assailed orders in the
exercise of its equity jurisdiction. The court may grant equitable reliefs to breathe life
and force to substantive law such as Article 138516of the Civil Code since the
provisional remedies under the Rules of Court do not apply to this case.

The Court of Appeals held the assailed orders merely directed Reyes to deposit the
P10 million to the custody of the trial court to protect the interest of Lim who paid the
amount to Reyes as down payment. This did not mean the money would be returned
automatically to Lim.

The Issues

Reyes raises the following issues:

1. Whether the Court of Appeals erred in holding the trial court could issue the
questioned Orders dated March 6, 1997, July 3, 1997 and October 3, 1997,
requiring petitioner David Reyes to deposit the amount of Ten Million Pesos
(P10,000,000.00) during the pendency of the action, when deposit is not among
the provisional remedies enumerated in Rule 57 to 61 of the 1997 Rules on Civil
2. Whether the Court of Appeals erred in finding the trial court could issue the
questioned Orders on grounds of equity when there is an applicable law on the
matter, that is, Rules 57 to 61 of the 1997 Rules on Civil Procedure.17

The Court’s Ruling

Reyes’ contentions are without merit.

Reyes points out that deposit is not among the provisional remedies enumerated in the
1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. Reyes stresses the enumeration in the Rules is
exclusive. Not one of the provisional remedies in Rules 57 to 6118 applies to this case.
Reyes argues that a court cannot apply equity and require deposit if the law already
prescribes the specific provisional remedies which do not include deposit. Reyes
invokes the principle that equity is "applied only in the absence of, and never against,
statutory law or x x x judicial rules of procedure."19 Reyes adds the fact that the
provisional remedies do not include deposit is a matter of dura lex sed lex.20

The instant case, however, is precisely one where there is a hiatus in the law and in
the Rules of Court. If left alone, the hiatus will result in unjust enrichment to Reyes at
the expense of Lim. The hiatus may also imperil restitution, which is a precondition to
the rescission of the Contract to Sell that Reyes himself seeks. This is not a case of
equity overruling a positive provision of law or judicial rule for there is none that
governs this particular case. This is a case of silence or insufficiency of the law and the
Rules of Court. In this case, Article 9 of the Civil Code expressly mandates the courts
to make a ruling despite the "silence, obscurity or insufficiency of the laws."21 This calls
for the application of equity,22 which "fills the open spaces in the law."23

Thus, the trial court in the exercise of its equity jurisdiction may validly order the
deposit of the P10 million down payment in court. The purpose of the exercise of equity
jurisdiction in this case is to prevent unjust enrichment and to ensure restitution. Equity
jurisdiction aims to do complete justice in cases where a court of law is unable to adapt
its judgments to the special circumstances of a case because of the inflexibility of its
statutory or legal jurisdiction.24Equity is the principle by which substantial justice may
be attained in cases where the prescribed or customary forms of ordinary law are

Reyes is seeking rescission of the Contract to Sell. In his amended answer, Lim is also
seeking cancellation of the Contract to Sell. The trial court then ordered Reyes to
deposit in court the P10 million down payment that Lim made under the Contract to
Sell. Reyes admits receipt of the P10 million down payment but opposes the order to
deposit the amount in court. Reyes contends that prior to a judgment annulling the
Contract to Sell, he has the "right to use, possess and enjoy"26 the P10 million as its
"owner"27 unless the court orders its preliminary attachment.28
To subscribe to Reyes’ contention will unjustly enrich Reyes at the expense of Lim.
Reyes sold to Line One the Property even before the balance of P18 million under the
Contract to Sell with Lim became due on 8 March 1995. On 1 March 1995, Reyes
signed a Deed of Absolute Sale29 in favor of Line One. On 3 March 1995, the Register
of Deeds issued TCT No. 13476730 in the name of Line One.31 Reyes cannot claim
ownership of the P10 million down payment because Reyes had already sold to
another buyer the Property for which Lim made the down payment. In fact, in his
Comment32 dated 20 March 1996, Reyes reiterated his offer to return to Lim the P10
million down payment.

On balance, it is unreasonable and unjust for Reyes to object to the deposit of the P10
million down payment. The application of equity always involves a balancing of the
equities in a particular case, a matter addressed to the sound discretion of the court.
Here, we find the equities weigh heavily in favor of Lim, who paid the P10 million down
payment in good faith only to discover later that Reyes had subsequently sold the
Property to another buyer.

In Eternal Gardens Memorial Parks Corp. v. IAC,33 this Court held the plaintiff could
not continue to benefit from the property or funds in litigation during the pendency of
the suit at the expense of whomever the court might ultimately adjudge as the lawful
owner. The Court declared:

In the case at bar, a careful analysis of the records will show that petitioner admitted
among others in its complaint in Interpleader that it is still obligated to pay certain
amounts to private respondent; that it claims no interest in such amounts due and is
willing to pay whoever is declared entitled to said amounts. x x x

Under the circumstances, there appears to be no plausible reason for petitioner’s

objections to the deposit of the amounts in litigation after having asked for the
assistance of the lower court by filing a complaint for interpleader where the deposit of
aforesaid amounts is not only required by the nature of the action but is a contractual
obligation of the petitioner under the Land Development Program (Rollo, p. 252).

There is also no plausible or justifiable reason for Reyes to object to the deposit of the
P10 million down payment in court. The Contract to Sell can no longer be enforced
because Reyes himself subsequently sold the Property to Line One. Both Reyes and
Lim are now seeking rescission of the Contract to Sell. Under Article 1385 of the Civil
Code, rescission creates the obligation to return the things that are the object of the
contract. Rescission is possible only when the person demanding rescission can return
whatever he may be obliged to restore. A court of equity will not rescind a contract
unless there is restitution, that is, the parties are restored to the status quo ante.34

Thus, since Reyes is demanding to rescind the Contract to Sell, he cannot refuse to
deposit the P10 million down payment in court.35 Such deposit will ensure restitution of
the P10 million to its rightful owner. Lim, on the other hand, has nothing to refund, as
he has not received anything under the Contract to Sell.36

In Government of the Philippine Islands v. Wagner and Cleland Wagner,37 the

Court ruled the refund of amounts received under a contract is a precondition to the
rescission of the contract. The Court declared:

The Government, having asked for rescission, must restore to the defendants
whatever it has received under the contract. It will only be just if, as a condition to
rescission, the Government be required to refund to the defendants an amount
equal to the purchase price, plus the sums expended by them in improving the
land. (Civil Code, art. 1295.)

The principle that no person may unjustly enrich himself at the expense of another is
embodied in Article 2238 of the Civil Code. This principle applies not only to substantive
rights but also to procedural remedies. One condition for invoking this principle is that
the aggrieved party has no other action based on contract, quasi-contract, crime,
quasi-delict or any other provision of law.39 Courts can extend this condition to the
hiatus in the Rules of Court where the aggrieved party, during the pendency of the
case, has no other recourse based on the provisional remedies of the Rules of Court.

Thus, a court may not permit a seller to retain, pendente lite, money paid by a buyer if
the seller himself seeks rescission of the sale because he has subsequently sold the
same property to another buyer.40 By seeking rescission, a seller necessarily offers to
return what he has received from the buyer. Such a seller may not take back his offer if
the court deems it equitable, to prevent unjust enrichment and ensure restitution, to put
the money in judicial deposit.

There is unjust enrichment when a person unjustly retains a benefit to the loss of
another, or when a person retains money or property of another against the
fundamental principles of justice, equity and good conscience.41 In this case, it was
just, equitable and proper for the trial court to order the deposit of the P10 million down
payment to prevent unjust enrichment by Reyes at the expense of Lim.42

WHEREFORE, we AFFIRM the Decision of the Court of Appeals.


Davide, Jr., C.J., Vitug, Ynares-Santiago, and Azcuna, JJ., concur.

Republic of the Philippines


G.R. No. 97336 February 19, 1993



Public Attorney's Office for petitioner.

Corleto R. Castro for private respondent.


This is an appeal by certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court seeking to review
and set aside the Decision1 of the respondent Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No.
24256 which affirmed in toto the 16 October 1939 Decision of Branch 38 (Lingayen) of
the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Pangasinan in Civil Case No. 16503. Presented is
the issue of whether or not damages may be recovered for a breach of promise to
marry on the basis of Article 21 of the Civil Code of the Philippines.

The antecedents of this case are not complicated:

On 27 October 1987, private respondent, without the assistance of counsel, filed with
the aforesaid trial court a complaint2 for damages against the petitioner for the alleged
violation of their agreement to get married. She alleges in said complaint that: she is
twenty-two (22) years old, single, Filipino and a pretty lass of good moral character and
reputation duly respected in her community; petitioner, on the other hand, is an Iranian
citizen residing at the Lozano Apartments, Guilig, Dagupan City, and is an exchange
student taking a medical course at the Lyceum Northwestern Colleges in Dagupan
City; before 20 August 1987, the latter courted and proposed to marry her; she
accepted his love on the condition that they would get married; they therefore agreed
to get married after the end of the school semester, which was in October of that year;
petitioner then visited the private respondent's parents in Bañaga, Bugallon,
Pangasinan to secure their approval to the marriage; sometime in 20 August 1987, the
petitioner forced her to live with him in the Lozano Apartments; she was a virgin before
she began living with him; a week before the filing of the complaint, petitioner's attitude
towards her started to change; he maltreated and threatened to kill her; as a result of
such maltreatment, she sustained injuries; during a confrontation with a representative
of the barangay captain of Guilig a day before the filing of the complaint, petitioner
repudiated their marriage agreement and asked her not to live with him anymore and;
the petitioner is already married to someone living in Bacolod City. Private respondent
then prayed for judgment ordering the petitioner to pay her damages in the amount of
not less than P45,000.00, reimbursement for actual expenses amounting to P600.00,
attorney's fees and costs, and granting her such other relief and remedies as may be
just and equitable. The complaint was docketed as Civil Case No. 16503.

In his Answer with Counterclaim,3 petitioner admitted only the personal circumstances
of the parties as averred in the complaint and denied the rest of the allegations either
for lack of knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth thereof or
because the true facts are those alleged as his Special and Affirmative Defenses. He
thus claimed that he never proposed marriage to or agreed to be married with the
private respondent; he neither sought the consent and approval of her parents nor
forced her to live in his apartment; he did not maltreat her, but only told her to stop
coming to his place because he discovered that she had deceived him by stealing his
money and passport; and finally, no confrontation took place with a representative of
the barangay captain. Insisting, in his Counterclaim, that the complaint is baseless and
unfounded and that as a result thereof, he was unnecessarily dragged into court and
compelled to incur expenses, and has suffered mental anxiety and a besmirched
reputation, he prayed for an award of P5,000.00 for miscellaneous expenses and
P25,000.00 as moral damages.

After conducting a pre-trial on 25 January 1988, the trial court issued a Pre-Trial Order4
embodying the stipulated facts which the parties had agreed upon, to wit:

1. That the plaintiff is single and resident (sic) of Bañaga, Bugallon,

Pangasinan, while the defendant is single, Iranian citizen and
resident (sic) of Lozano Apartment, Guilig, Dagupan City since
September 1, 1987 up to the present;

2. That the defendant is presently studying at Lyceum Northwestern,

Dagupan City, College of Medicine, second year medicine proper;

3. That the plaintiff is (sic) an employee at Mabuhay Luncheonette ,

Fernandez Avenue, Dagupan City since July, 1986 up to the present
and a (sic) high school graduate;

4. That the parties happened to know each other when the manager
of the Mabuhay Luncheonette, Johhny Rabino introduced the
defendant to the plaintiff on August 3, 1986.

After trial on the merits, the lower court, applying Article 21 of the Civil Code, rendered
on 16 October 1989 a decision5 favoring the private respondent. The petitioner was
thus ordered to pay the latter damages and attorney's fees; the dispositive portion of
the decision reads:

IN THE LIGHT of the foregoing consideration, judgment is hereby

rendered in favor of the plaintiff and against the defendant.
1. Condemning (sic) the defendant to pay the plaintiff the sum of
twenty thousand (P20,000.00) pesos as moral damages.

2. Condemning further the defendant to play the plaintiff the sum of

three thousand (P3,000.00) pesos as atty's fees and two thousand
(P2,000.00) pesos at (sic) litigation expenses and to pay the costs.

3. All other claims are denied.6

The decision is anchored on the trial court's findings and conclusions that (a) petitioner
and private respondent were lovers, (b) private respondent is not a woman of loose
morals or questionable virtue who readily submits to sexual advances, (c) petitioner,
through machinations, deceit and false pretenses, promised to marry private
respondent, d) because of his persuasive promise to marry her, she allowed herself to
be deflowered by him, (e) by reason of that deceitful promise, private respondent and
her parents — in accordance with Filipino customs and traditions — made some
preparations for the wedding that was to be held at the end of October 1987 by looking
for pigs and chickens, inviting friends and relatives and contracting sponsors, (f)
petitioner did not fulfill his promise to marry her and (g) such acts of the petitioner, who
is a foreigner and who has abused Philippine hospitality, have offended our sense of
morality, good customs, culture and traditions. The trial court gave full credit to the
private respondent's testimony because, inter alia, she would not have had the temerity
and courage to come to court and expose her honor and reputation to public scrutiny
and ridicule if her claim was false.7

The above findings and conclusions were culled from the detailed summary of the
evidence for the private respondent in the foregoing decision, digested by the
respondent Court as follows:

According to plaintiff, who claimed that she was a virgin at the time
and that she never had a boyfriend before, defendant started courting
her just a few days after they first met. He later proposed marriage to
her several times and she accepted his love as well as his proposal
of marriage on August 20, 1987, on which same day he went with her
to her hometown of Bañaga, Bugallon, Pangasinan, as he wanted to
meet her parents and inform them of their relationship and their
intention to get married. The photographs Exhs. "A" to "E" (and their
submarkings) of defendant with members of plaintiff's family or with
plaintiff, were taken that day. Also on that occasion, defendant told
plaintiffs parents and brothers and sisters that he intended to marry
her during the semestral break in October, 1987, and because
plaintiff's parents thought he was good and trusted him, they agreed
to his proposal for him to marry their daughter, and they likewise
allowed him to stay in their house and sleep with plaintiff during the
few days that they were in Bugallon. When plaintiff and defendant
later returned to Dagupan City, they continued to live together in
defendant's apartment. However, in the early days of October, 1987,
defendant would tie plaintiff's hands and feet while he went to school,
and he even gave her medicine at 4 o'clock in the morning that made
her sleep the whole day and night until the following day. As a result
of this live-in relationship, plaintiff became pregnant, but defendant
gave her some medicine to abort the fetus. Still plaintiff continued to
live with defendant and kept reminding him of his promise to marry
her until he told her that he could not do so because he was already
married to a girl in Bacolod City. That was the time plaintiff left
defendant, went home to her parents, and thereafter consulted a
lawyer who accompanied her to the barangay captain in Dagupan
City. Plaintiff, her lawyer, her godmother, and a barangay tanod sent
by the barangay captain went to talk to defendant to still convince him
to marry plaintiff, but defendant insisted that he could not do so
because he was already married to a girl in Bacolod City, although
the truth, as stipulated by the parties at the pre-trial, is that defendant
is still single.

Plaintiff's father, a tricycle driver, also claimed that after defendant

had informed them of his desire to marry Marilou, he already looked
for sponsors for the wedding, started preparing for the reception by
looking for pigs and chickens, and even already invited many
relatives and friends to the forthcoming wedding. 8

Petitioner appealed the trial court's decision to the respondent Court of Appeals which
docketed the case as CA-G.R. CV No. 24256. In his Brief,9 he contended that the trial
court erred (a) in not dismissing the case for lack of factual and legal basis and (b) in
ordering him to pay moral damages, attorney's fees, litigation expenses and costs.

On 18 February 1991, respondent Court promulgated the challenged decision 10

affirming in toto the trial court's ruling of 16 October 1989. In sustaining the trial court's
findings of fact, respondent Court made the following analysis:

First of all, plaintiff, then only 21 years old when she met defendant
who was already 29 years old at the time, does not appear to be a girl
of loose morals. It is uncontradicted that she was a virgin prior to her
unfortunate experience with defendant and never had boyfriend. She
is, as described by the lower court, a barrio lass "not used and
accustomed to trend of modern urban life", and certainly would (sic)
not have allowed
"herself to be deflowered by the defendant if there was no persuasive
promise made by the defendant to marry her." In fact, we agree with
the lower court that plaintiff and defendant must have been
sweethearts or so the plaintiff must have thought because of the
deception of defendant, for otherwise, she would not have allowed
herself to be photographed with defendant in public in so (sic) loving
and tender poses as those depicted in the pictures Exhs. "D" and "E".
We cannot believe, therefore, defendant's pretense that plaintiff was
a nobody to him except a waitress at the restaurant where he usually
ate. Defendant in fact admitted that he went to plaintiff's hometown of
Bañaga, Bugallon, Pangasinan, at least thrice; at (sic) the town fiesta
on February 27, 1987 (p. 54, tsn May 18, 1988), at (sic) a beach party
together with the manager and employees of the Mabuhay
Luncheonette on March 3, 1987 (p. 50, tsn id.), and on April 1, 1987
when he allegedly talked to plaintiff's mother who told him to marry
her daughter (pp. 55-56, tsn id.). Would defendant have left Dagupan
City where he was involved in the serious study of medicine to go to
plaintiff's hometown in Bañaga, Bugallon, unless there was (sic)
some kind of special relationship between them? And this special
relationship must indeed have led to defendant's insincere proposal
of marriage to plaintiff, communicated not only to her but also to her
parents, and (sic) Marites Rabino, the owner of the restaurant where
plaintiff was working and where defendant first proposed marriage to
her, also knew of this love affair and defendant's proposal of marriage
to plaintiff, which she declared was the reason why plaintiff resigned
from her job at the restaurant after she had accepted defendant's
proposal (pp. 6-7, tsn March 7, 1988).

Upon the other hand, appellant does not appear to be a man of good
moral character and must think so low and have so little respect and
regard for Filipino women that he openly admitted that when he
studied in Bacolod City for several years where he finished his B.S.
Biology before he came to Dagupan City to study medicine, he had a
common-law wife in Bacolod City. In other words, he also lived with
another woman in Bacolod City but did not marry that woman, just
like what he did to plaintiff. It is not surprising, then, that he felt so
little compunction or remorse in pretending to love and promising to
marry plaintiff, a young, innocent, trustful country girl, in order to
satisfy his lust on her. 11

and then concluded:

In sum, we are strongly convinced and so hold that it was defendant-

appellant's fraudulent and deceptive protestations of love for and
promise to marry plaintiff that made her surrender her virtue and
womanhood to him and to live with him on the honest and sincere
belief that he would keep said promise, and it was likewise these (sic)
fraud and deception on appellant's part that made plaintiff's parents
agree to their daughter's living-in with him preparatory to their
supposed marriage. And as these acts of appellant are palpably and
undoubtedly against morals, good customs, and public policy, and
are even gravely and deeply derogatory and insulting to our women,
coming as they do from a foreigner who has been enjoying the
hospitality of our people and taking advantage of the opportunity to
study in one of our institutions of learning, defendant-appellant should
indeed be made, under Art. 21 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, to
compensate for the moral damages and injury that he had caused
plaintiff, as the lower court ordered him to do in its decision in this
case. 12

Unfazed by his second defeat, petitioner filed the instant petition on 26 March 1991; he
raises therein the single issue of whether or not Article 21 of the Civil Code applies to
the case at bar. 13

It is petitioner's thesis that said Article 21 is not applicable because he had not
committed any moral wrong or injury or violated any good custom or public policy; he
has not professed love or proposed marriage to the private respondent; and he has
never maltreated her. He criticizes the trial court for liberally invoking Filipino customs,
traditions and culture, and ignoring the fact that since he is a foreigner, he is not
conversant with such Filipino customs, traditions and culture. As an Iranian Moslem, he
is not familiar with Catholic and Christian ways. He stresses that even if he had made a
promise to marry, the subsequent failure to fulfill the same is excusable or tolerable
because of his Moslem upbringing; he then alludes to the Muslim Code which
purportedly allows a Muslim to take four (4) wives and concludes that on the basis
thereof, the trial court erred in ruling that he does not posses good moral character.
Moreover, his controversial "common law life" is now his legal wife as their marriage
had been solemnized in civil ceremonies in the Iranian Embassy. As to his unlawful
cohabitation with the private respondent, petitioner claims that even if responsibility
could be pinned on him for the live-in relationship, the private respondent should also
be faulted for consenting to an illicit arrangement. Finally, petitioner asseverates that
even if it was to be assumed arguendo that he had professed his love to the private
respondent and had also promised to marry her, such acts would not be actionable in
view of the special circumstances of the case. The mere breach of promise is not
actionable. 14

On 26 August 1991, after the private respondent had filed her Comment to the petition
and the petitioner had filed his Reply thereto, this Court gave due course to the petition
and required the parties to submit their respective Memoranda, which they
subsequently complied with.

As may be gleaned from the foregoing summation of the petitioner's arguments in

support of his thesis, it is clear that questions of fact, which boil down to the issue of
the credibility of witnesses, are also raised. It is the rule in this jurisdiction that
appellate courts will not disturb the trial court's findings as to the credibility of
witnesses, the latter court having heard the witnesses and having had the opportunity
to observe closely their deportment and manner of testifying, unless the trial court had
plainly overlooked facts of substance or value which, if considered, might affect the
result of the case. 15

Petitioner has miserably failed to convince Us that both the appellate and trial courts
had overlooked any fact of substance or values which could alter the result of the case.

Equally settled is the rule that only questions of law may be raised in a petition for
review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. It is not the function of this
Court to analyze or weigh all over again the evidence introduced by the parties before
the lower court. There are, however, recognized exceptions to this rule. Thus, in
Medina vs. Asistio, Jr., 16 this Court took the time, again, to enumerate these

xxx xxx xxx

(1) When the conclusion is a finding grounded entirely on speculation,

surmises or conjectures (Joaquin v. Navarro, 93 Phil. 257 [1953]); (2)
When the inference made is manifestly mistaken, absurb or
impossible (Luna v. Linatok, 74 Phil. 15 [1942]); (3) Where there is a
grave abuse of discretion (Buyco v. People, 95 Phil. 453 [1955]); (4)
When the judgment is based on a misapprehension of facts (Cruz v.
L-4875, Nov. 27, 1953); (5) When the findings of fact are conflicting
(Casica v. Villaseca, L-9590 Ap. 30, 1957; unrep.) (6) When the Court
of Appeals, in making its findings, went beyond the issues of the case
and the same is contrary to the admissions of both appellate and
appellee (Evangelista v. Alto Surety and Insurance Co., 103 Phil. 401
(7) The findings of the Court of Appeals are contrary to those of the
trial court (Garcia v. Court of Appeals, 33 SCRA 622 [1970]; Sacay v.
Sandiganbayan, 142 SCRA 593 [1986]); (8) When the findings of fact
are conclusions without citation of specific evidence on which they
are based (Ibid.,); (9) When the facts set forth in the petition as well
as in the petitioners main and reply briefs are not disputed by the
respondents (Ibid.,); and (10) The finding of fact of the Court of
Appeals is premised on the supposed absence of evidence and is
contradicted by the evidence on record (Salazar v. Gutierrez, 33
SCRA 242 [1970]).

Petitioner has not endeavored to joint out to Us the existence of any of the above
quoted exceptions in this case. Consequently, the factual findings of the trial and
appellate courts must be respected.
And now to the legal issue.

The existing rule is that a breach of promise to marry per se is not an actionable
wrong. 17 Congress deliberately eliminated from the draft of the New Civil Code the
provisions that would have made it so. The reason therefor is set forth in the report of
the Senate Committees on the Proposed Civil Code, from which We quote:

The elimination of this chapter is proposed. That breach of promise to

marry is not actionable has been definitely decided in the case of De
Jesus vs. Syquia. 18 The history of breach of promise suits in the
United States and in England has shown that no other action lends
itself more readily to abuse by designing women and unscrupulous
men. It is this experience which has led to the abolition of rights of
action in the so-called Heart Balm suits in many of the American
states. . . . 19

This notwithstanding, the said Code contains a provision, Article 21, which is designed
to expand the concept of torts or quasi-delict in this jurisdiction by granting adequate
legal remedy for the untold number of moral wrongs which is impossible for human
foresight to specifically enumerate and punish in the statute books. 20

As the Code Commission itself stated in its Report:

But the Code Commission had gone farther than the sphere of
wrongs defined or determined by positive law. Fully sensible that
there are countless gaps in the statutes, which leave so many victims
of moral wrongs helpless, even though they have actually suffered
material and moral injury, the Commission has deemed it necessary,
in the interest of justice, to incorporate in the proposed Civil Code the
following rule:

Art. 23. Any person who wilfully causes loss or injury to

another in a manner that is contrary to morals, good
customs or public policy shall compensate the latter for
the damage.

An example will illustrate the purview of the foregoing norm: "A"

seduces the nineteen-year old daughter of "X". A promise of marriage
either has not been made, or can not be proved. The girl becomes
pregnant. Under the present laws, there is no crime, as the girl is
above nineteen years of age. Neither can any civil action for breach
of promise of marriage be filed. Therefore, though the grievous moral
wrong has been committed, and though the girl and family have
suffered incalculable moral damage, she and her parents cannot
bring action for damages. But under the proposed article, she and her
parents would have such a right of action.

Thus at one stroke, the legislator, if the forgoing rule is approved,

would vouchsafe adequate legal remedy for that untold number of
moral wrongs which it is impossible for human foresight to provide for
specifically in the statutes. 21

Article 2176 of the Civil Code, which defines a quasi-delict thus:

Whoever by act or omission causes damage to another, there being

fault or negligence, is obliged to pay for the damage done. Such fault
or negligence, if there is no pre-existing contractual relation between
the parties, is called a quasi-delict and is governed by the provisions
of this Chapter.

is limited to negligent acts or omissions and excludes the notion of

willfulness or intent. Quasi-delict, known in Spanish legal treatises as culpa
aquiliana, is a civil law concept while torts is an Anglo-American or
common law concept. Torts is much broader than culpa aquiliana because
it includes not only negligence, but international criminal acts as well such
as assault and battery, false imprisonment and deceit. In the general
scheme of the Philippine legal system envisioned by the Commission
responsible for drafting the New Civil Code, intentional and malicious acts,
with certain exceptions, are to be governed by the Revised Penal Code
while negligent acts or omissions are to be covered by Article 2176 of the
Civil Code. 22 In between these opposite spectrums are injurious acts
which, in the absence of Article 21, would have been beyond redress.
Thus, Article 21 fills that vacuum. It is even postulated that together with
Articles 19 and 20 of the Civil Code, Article 21 has greatly broadened the
scope of the law on civil wrongs; it has become much more supple and
adaptable than the Anglo-American law on torts. 23

In the light of the above laudable purpose of Article 21, We are of the opinion, and so
hold, that where a man's promise to marry is in fact the proximate cause of the
acceptance of his love by a woman and his representation to fulfill that promise
thereafter becomes the proximate cause of the giving of herself unto him in a sexual
congress, proof that he had, in reality, no intention of marrying her and that the
promise was only a subtle scheme or deceptive device to entice or inveigle her to
accept him and to obtain her consent to the sexual act, could justify the award of
damages pursuant to Article 21 not because of such promise to marry but because of
the fraud and deceit behind it and the willful injury to her honor and reputation which
followed thereafter. It is essential, however, that such injury should have been
committed in a manner contrary to morals, good customs or public policy.
In the instant case, respondent Court found that it was the petitioner's "fraudulent and
deceptive protestations of love for and promise to marry plaintiff that made her
surrender her virtue and womanhood to him and to live with him on the honest and
sincere belief that he would keep said promise, and it was likewise these fraud and
deception on appellant's part that made plaintiff's parents agree to their daughter's
living-in with him preparatory to their supposed marriage." 24 In short, the private
respondent surrendered her virginity, the cherished possession of every single Filipina,
not because of lust but because of moral seduction — the kind illustrated by the Code
Commission in its example earlier adverted to. The petitioner could not be held liable
for criminal seduction punished under either Article 337 or Article 338 of the Revised
Penal Code because the private respondent was above eighteen (18) years of age at
the time of the seduction.

Prior decisions of this Court clearly suggest that Article 21 may be applied in a breach
of promise to marry where the woman is a victim of moral seduction. Thus, in
Hermosisima vs. Court of Appeals,25 this Court denied recovery of damages to the
woman because:

. . . we find ourselves unable to say that petitioner is morally guilty of

seduction, not only because he is approximately ten (10) years
younger than the complainant — who was around thirty-six (36) years
of age, and as highly enlightened as a former high school teacher
and a life insurance agent are supposed to be — when she became
intimate with petitioner, then a mere apprentice pilot, but, also,
because the court of first instance found that, complainant
"surrendered herself" to petitioner because, "overwhelmed by her
love" for him, she "wanted to bind" him by having a fruit of their
engagement even before they had the benefit of clergy.

In Tanjanco vs. Court of Appeals, 26 while this Court likewise hinted at possible
recovery if there had been moral seduction, recovery was eventually denied because
We were not convinced that such seduction existed. The following enlightening
disquisition and conclusion were made in the said case:

The Court of Appeals seem to have overlooked that the example set
forth in the Code Commission's memorandum refers to a tort upon a
minor who had been seduced. The essential feature is seduction, that
in law is more than mere sexual intercourse, or a breach of a promise
of marriage; it connotes essentially the idea of deceit, enticement,
superior power or abuse of confidence on the part of the seducer to
which the woman has yielded (U.S. vs. Buenaventura, 27 Phil. 121;
U.S. vs. Arlante, 9 Phil. 595).

It has been ruled in the Buenaventura case (supra) that —

To constitute seduction there must in all cases be some
sufficient promise or inducement and the woman must
yield because of the promise or other inducement. If she
consents merely from carnal lust and the intercourse is
from mutual desire, there is no seduction (43 Cent. Dig.
tit. Seduction, par. 56) She must be induced to depart
from the path of virtue by the use of some species of arts,
persuasions and wiles, which are calculated to have and
do have that effect, and which result in her person to
ultimately submitting her person to the sexual embraces
of her seducer (27 Phil. 123).

And in American Jurisprudence we find:

On the other hand, in an action by the woman, the

enticement, persuasion or deception is the essence of the
injury; and a mere proof of intercourse is insufficient to
warrant a recovery.

Accordingly it is not seduction where the willingness

arises out of sexual desire of curiosity of the female, and
the defendant merely affords her the needed opportunity
for the commission of the act. It has been emphasized
that to allow a recovery in all such cases would tend to
the demoralization of the female sex, and would be a
reward for unchastity by which a class of adventuresses
would be swift to profit. (47 Am. Jur. 662)

xxx xxx xxx

Over and above the partisan allegations, the fact stand out that for
one whole year, from 1958 to 1959, the plaintiff-appellee, a woman of
adult age, maintain intimate sexual relations with appellant, with
repeated acts of intercourse. Such conduct is incompatible with the
idea of seduction. Plainly there is here voluntariness and mutual
passion; for had the appellant been deceived, had she surrendered
exclusively because of the deceit, artful persuasions and wiles of the
defendant, she would not have again yielded to his embraces, much
less for one year, without exacting early fulfillment of the alleged
promises of marriage, and would have cut short all sexual relations
upon finding that defendant did not intend to fulfill his defendant did
not intend to fulfill his promise. Hence, we conclude that no case is
made under article 21 of the Civil Code, and no other cause of action
being alleged, no error was committed by the Court of First Instance
in dismissing the complaint. 27
In his annotations on the Civil Code, 28 Associate Justice Edgardo L. Paras, who
recently retired from this Court, opined that in a breach of promise to marry where
there had been carnal knowledge, moral damages may be recovered:

. . . if there be criminal or moral seduction, but not if the intercourse

was due to mutual lust. (Hermosisima vs. Court of Appeals,
L-14628, Sept. 30, 1960; Estopa vs. Piansay, Jr., L-14733, Sept. 30,
1960; Batarra vs. Marcos, 7 Phil. 56 (sic); Beatriz Galang vs. Court of
Appeals, et al., L-17248, Jan. 29, 1962). (In other words, if the
CAUSE be the promise to marry, and the EFFECT be the carnal
knowledge, there is a chance that there was criminal or moral
seduction, hence recovery of moral damages will prosper. If it be the
other way around, there can be no recovery of moral damages,
because here mutual lust has intervened). . . .

together with "ACTUAL damages, should there be any, such as the

expenses for the wedding presentations (See Domalagon v. Bolifer, 33
Phil. 471).

Senator Arturo M. Tolentino 29 is also of the same persuasion:

It is submitted that the rule in Batarra vs. Marcos, 30 still subsists,

notwithstanding the incorporation of the present article31 in the Code.
The example given by the Code Commission is correct, if there was
seduction, not necessarily in the legal sense, but in the vulgar sense
of deception. But when the sexual act is accomplished without any
deceit or qualifying circumstance of abuse of authority or influence,
but the woman, already of age, has knowingly given herself to a man,
it cannot be said that there is an injury which can be the basis for

But so long as there is fraud, which is characterized by willfulness

(sic), the action lies. The court, however, must weigh the degree of
fraud, if it is sufficient to deceive the woman under the circumstances,
because an act which would deceive a girl sixteen years of age may
not constitute deceit as to an experienced woman thirty years of age.
But so long as there is a wrongful act and a resulting injury, there
should be civil liability, even if the act is not punishable under the
criminal law and there should have been an acquittal or dismissal of
the criminal case for that reason.

We are unable to agree with the petitioner's alternative proposition to the effect that
granting, for argument's sake, that he did promise to marry the private respondent, the
latter is nevertheless also at fault. According to him, both parties are in pari delicto;
hence, pursuant to Article 1412(1) of the Civil Code and the doctrine laid down in
Batarra vs. Marcos, 32 the private respondent cannot recover damages from the
petitioner. The latter even goes as far as stating that if the private respondent had
"sustained any injury or damage in their relationship, it is primarily because of her own
doing, 33 for:

. . . She is also interested in the petitioner as the latter will become a

doctor sooner or later. Take notice that she is a plain high school
graduate and a mere employee . . . (Annex "C") or a waitress (TSN,
p. 51, January 25, 1988) in a luncheonette and without doubt, is in
need of a man who can give her economic security. Her family is in
dire need of financial assistance. (TSN, pp. 51-53, May 18, 1988).
And this predicament prompted her to accept a proposition that may
have been offered by the petitioner. 34

These statements reveal the true character and motive of the petitioner. It is clear that
he harbors a condescending, if not sarcastic, regard for the private respondent on
account of the latter's ignoble birth, inferior educational background, poverty and, as
perceived by him, dishonorable employment. Obviously then, from the very beginning,
he was not at all moved by good faith and an honest motive. Marrying with a woman so
circumstances could not have even remotely occurred to him. Thus, his profession of
love and promise to marry were empty words directly intended to fool, dupe, entice,
beguile and deceive the poor woman into believing that indeed, he loved her and
would want her to be his life's partner. His was nothing but pure lust which he wanted
satisfied by a Filipina who honestly believed that by accepting his proffer of love and
proposal of marriage, she would be able to enjoy a life of ease and security. Petitioner
clearly violated the Filipino's concept of morality and brazenly defied the traditional
respect Filipinos have for their women. It can even be said that the petitioner
committed such deplorable acts in blatant disregard of Article 19 of the Civil Code
which directs every person to act with justice, give everyone his due and observe
honesty and good faith in the exercise of his rights and in the performance of his

No foreigner must be allowed to make a mockery of our laws, customs and traditions.

The pari delicto rule does not apply in this case for while indeed, the private
respondent may not have been impelled by the purest of intentions, she eventually
submitted to the petitioner in sexual congress not out of lust, but because of moral
seduction. In fact, it is apparent that she had qualms of conscience about the entire
episode for as soon as she found out that the petitioner was not going to marry her
after all, she left him. She is not, therefore, in pari delicto with the petitioner. Pari
delicto means "in equal fault; in a similar offense or crime; equal in guilt or in legal
fault." 35 At most, it could be conceded that she is merely in delicto.

Equity often interferes for the relief of the less guilty of the parties,
where his transgression has been brought about by the imposition of
undue influence of the party on whom the burden of the original
wrong principally rests, or where his consent to the transaction was
itself procured by

In Mangayao vs. Lasud, 37 We declared:

Appellants likewise stress that both parties being at fault, there

should be no action by one against the other (Art. 1412, New Civil
Code). This rule, however, has been interpreted as applicable only
where the fault on both sides is, more or less, equivalent. It does not
apply where one party is literate or intelligent and the other one is not.
(c.f. Bough vs. Cantiveros, 40 Phil. 209).

We should stress, however, that while We find for the private respondent, let it not be
said that this Court condones the deplorable behavior of her parents in letting her and
the petitioner stay together in the same room in their house after giving approval to
their marriage. It is the solemn duty of parents to protect the honor of their daughters
and infuse upon them the higher values of morality and dignity.

WHEREFORE, finding no reversible error in the challenged decision, the instant

petition is hereby DENIED, with costs against the petitioner.


Feliciano, Bidin, Romero and Melo, JJ., concur.

Gutierrez, Jr., J., is on leave.

GR. No. L-8883 July 14, 1959

ALFREDO M. VELAYO, ETC., plaintiff,

ALFONSO Z. SYCIP, ET. AL., intervenors-appellants.

Sycip, Quisumbing, Salazar and Associates for appellants.

Ozaeta, Lichauco and Picazo for appellee.


On December 17, 1948, Alfredo M. Velayo as assignees of the insolvent Commercial

Airlines, Inc., instituted an action against Shell Company of the Philippine Islands, Ltd.,
in the Court of First Instance of Manila for injunction and damages (Civil Case No.
6966). On October 26, 1951, a complaint in intervention was filed by Alfonso Sycip,
Paul Sycip, and Yek Trading Corporation, and on November 14, 1951, by Mabasa &

After trial wherein plaintiff presented evidence in his behalf, but none in behalf of
intervenors, the court rendered decision dismissing plaintiff's complaint as well as
those filed by the intervenors. On March 31, 1954, counsel for plaintiff filed a notice of
appeal, appeal bond, and record on appeal in behalf only of plaintiff even if they also
represent the intervenors, which in due time were approved, the Court instructing its
clerk to forward the record on appeal to the Supreme Court together with all the
evidence presented in the case. This instruction was actually complied with.

On August 31, 1954, the Deputy Clerk of the Supreme Court notified counsel of plaintiff
that the record as well as the evidence have already been received and that they
should file their brief within 45 days from receipt of the notice. On November 2, 1954,
counsel filed their brief for appellants. On November 6, 1954, or 7 months after the
judgment had become final as against the intervenors, and 4 days after counsel for
appellants had submitted the latter's brief, counsel for intervenors filed with the
Supreme Court a petition for correction of the record on appeal in order to enable them
to insert therein the names of the intervenors as appellants, the petition being based,
among others, on the ground that the omission of the names of the intervenors in said
record on appeal was due to the mistake of the typist who prepared it while the
attorney in charge was on vacation. The petition was vigorously opposed by counsel
for defendant, contending that the same would serve no purpose, whatsoever
considering that the intervenors had not presented any evidence in support of their
claim, aside from the fact that the alleged absence of the attorney of the intervenors
cannot constitute a justification for the alleged omission of the intervenors as
appellants. On November 12, 1954, the Court denied the petition. Counsel intervenors
moved for a reconsideration of the order, but the same was denied.

On November 19, 1954, counsel for intervenors filed with the lower court a petition for
relief under Rule 38 of the Rules of Court, wherein he reiterated the same grounds
they alleged in the petition for correction filed by them in the Supreme Court, which
petition was denied on November 27, 1954, for having been filed outside the
reglementary period fixed in said Rule 38. Counsel filed a motion for reconsideration,
which was again denied, the Court stating that "no judgment or order has been
rendered, nor any other proceeding taken by this Court on the right of the intervenors
to appeal."

On December 20, 1954, counsel filed once more a motion to amend the record on
appeal based on grounds identical with those alleged in the petition for correction filed
before the Supreme Court. On December 27, 1954, the lower court denied the motion.
On January 6, 1955, counsel filed a petition for relief from this last order entered on
December 27, 1954, to which counsel for defendant filed an opposition. On February 5,
1955, hearing was had on both the petition for relief and the opposition, and on
February 9, 1955, the petition was denied on the ground that the case is already before
the Supreme Court on appeal. It is from this order that the counsel for intervenors has
taken the appeal now before us.

The instant appeal has no merit.

To begin with, the only remedy which appellants now seek in this appeal is the
inclusion of the intervenors as appellants in the appeal from the decision rendered in
the main case, but this remedy has already been denied twice by this Court, first, in its
resolution of November 12, 1954 denying their petition for correction of the record on
appeal, and, second, in denying their motion for reconsideration of said resolution. It
should be noted that the grounds relied upon in this appeal are the same grounds
alleged in said petition for correction.

In the second place, the intervenors have no right or reason to appeal from the
decision in the main case, it appearing that they did not introduce any evidence during
the trial in support of their complaint, which shows that their appeal would be
merely pro-forma. And, in any event, they made the attempt to amend the record on
appeal seven (7) months after the decision had become final against them.

In the third place, the intervenors have no right or reason to file a petition for relief
under Rule 38 of the Rules of Court from the order of the lower court issued on
December 27, 1954, for the reason that the same was entered upon a motion filed by
them. Indeed they cannot reasonably assert that the order was entered against them
through fraud, accident, mistake, or negligence. The fraud mentioned in Rule 38 is the
fraud committed by the adverse party and certainly the same cannot be attributed to
the Court.

Finally, it appears that the main case has already been decided by this Court on the
merits on October 31, 1956, reversing the decision of the lower court and awarding
damages to plaintiff, which apparently is the very purpose which the intervenors seek
to accomplish in joining the appeal as co-appellants. This appeal, therefore, has
already become moot.

Wherefore, the order appealed from is affirmed, with costs against appellants.

Paras, C.J., Bengzon, Padilla, Montemayor, Labrador, Concepcion, Endencia and

Barrera, JJ., concu