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GASHEM SHOOKAT BAKSH, petitioner, belief as to the truth thereof or because the true facts are those alleged

h thereof or because the true facts are those alleged as his


vs. Special and Affirmative Defenses. He thus claimed that he never proposed
HON. COURT OF APPEALS and MARILOU T. GONZALES, respondents. 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
DAVIDE, JR., J.: 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
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- barangay captain. Insisting, in his Counterclaim, that the complaint is baseless
G.R. CV No. 24256 which affirmed in toto the 16 October 1939 Decision of 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
Branch 38 (Lingayen) of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Pangasinan in Civil
besmirched reputation, he prayed for an award of P5,000.00 for miscellaneous
Case No. 16503. Presented is the issue of whether or not damages may be
expenses and P25,000.00 as moral damages.
recovered for a breach of promise to marry on the basis of Article 21 of the Civil
Code of the Philippines.
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:
The antecedents of this case are not complicated:

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


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 Bugallon, Pangasinan, while the defendant is single, Iranian
the alleged violation of their agreement to get married. She alleges in said citizen and resident (sic) of Lozano Apartment, Guilig,
Dagupan City since September 1, 1987 up to the present;
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 2. That the defendant is presently studying at Lyceum
Apartments, Guilig, Dagupan City, and is an exchange student taking a medical Northwestern, Dagupan City, College of Medicine, second
course at the Lyceum Northwestern Colleges in Dagupan City; before 20 August year medicine proper;
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 3. That the plaintiff is (sic) an employee at Mabuhay
the end of the school semester, which was in October of that year; petitioner then Luncheonette , Fernandez Avenue, Dagupan City since July,
visited the private respondent's parents in Bañaga, Bugallon, Pangasinan to 1986 up to the present and a (sic) high school graduate;
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 4. That the parties happened to know each other when the
before she began living with him; a week before the filing of the complaint, manager of the Mabuhay Luncheonette, Johhny Rabino
petitioner's attitude towards her started to change; he maltreated and threatened introduced the defendant to the plaintiff on August 3, 1986.
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 After trial on the merits, the lower court, applying Article 21 of the Civil Code,
before the filing of the complaint, petitioner repudiated their marriage agreement
rendered on 16 October 1989 a decision5 favoring the private respondent. The
and asked her not to live with him anymore and; the petitioner is already married
petitioner was thus ordered to pay the latter damages and attorney's fees; the
to someone living in Bacolod City. Private respondent then prayed for judgment
dispositive portion of the decision reads:
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 IN THE LIGHT of the foregoing consideration, judgment is
and equitable. The complaint was docketed as Civil Case No. 16503. hereby rendered in favor of the plaintiff and against the
defendant.
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 1. Condemning (sic) the defendant to pay the plaintiff the sum
the allegations either for lack of knowledge or information sufficient to form a of twenty thousand (P20,000.00) pesos as moral damages.
2. Condemning further the defendant to play the plaintiff the returned to Dagupan City, they continued to live together in
sum of three thousand (P3,000.00) pesos as atty's fees and two defendant's apartment. However, in the early days of October,
thousand (P2,000.00) pesos at (sic) litigation expenses and to 1987, defendant would tie plaintiff's hands and feet while he
pay the costs. 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
3. All other claims are denied.6 the following day. As a result of this live-in relationship,
plaintiff became pregnant, but defendant gave her some
The decision is anchored on the trial court's findings and conclusions that (a) medicine to abort the fetus. Still plaintiff continued to live
petitioner and private respondent were lovers, (b) private respondent is not a with defendant and kept reminding him of his promise to
marry her until he told her that he could not do so because he
woman of loose morals or questionable virtue who readily submits to sexual
was already married to a girl in Bacolod City. That was the
advances, (c) petitioner, through machinations, deceit and false pretenses,
time plaintiff left defendant, went home to her parents, and
promised to marry private respondent, d) because of his persuasive promise to
thereafter consulted a lawyer who accompanied her to the
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 barangay captain in Dagupan City. Plaintiff, her lawyer, her
Filipino customs and traditions — made some preparations for the wedding that godmother, and a barangay tanod sent by the barangay captain
went to talk to defendant to still convince him to marry
was to be held at the end of October 1987 by looking for pigs and chickens,
plaintiff, but defendant insisted that he could not do so because
inviting friends and relatives and contracting sponsors, (f) petitioner did not
he was already married to a girl in Bacolod City, although the
fulfill his promise to marry her and (g) such acts of the petitioner, who is a
truth, as stipulated by the parties at the pre-trial, is that
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 defendant is still single.
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 Plaintiff's father, a tricycle driver, also claimed that after
to public scrutiny and ridicule if her claim was false.7 defendant had informed them of his desire to marry Marilou,
he already looked for sponsors for the wedding, started
The above findings and conclusions were culled from the detailed summary of preparing for the reception by looking for pigs and chickens,
and even already invited many relatives and friends to the
the evidence for the private respondent in the foregoing decision, digested by the
forthcoming wedding. 8
respondent Court as follows:

According to plaintiff, who claimed that she was a virgin at the Petitioner appealed the trial court's decision to the respondent Court of Appeals
time and that she never had a boyfriend before, defendant 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
started courting her just a few days after they first met. He
legal basis and (b) in ordering him to pay moral damages, attorney's fees,
later proposed marriage to her several times and she accepted
litigation expenses and costs.
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 On 18 February 1991, respondent Court promulgated the challenged
parents and inform them of their relationship and their decision 10 affirming in toto the trial court's ruling of 16 October 1989. In
intention to get married. The photographs Exhs. "A" to "E" sustaining the trial court's findings of fact, respondent Court made the following
(and their submarkings) of defendant with members of analysis:
plaintiff's family or with plaintiff, were taken that day. Also on
that occasion, defendant told plaintiffs parents and brothers First of all, plaintiff, then only 21 years old when she met
and sisters that he intended to marry her during the semestral defendant who was already 29 years old at the time, does not
break in October, 1987, and because plaintiff's parents thought appear to be a girl of loose morals. It is uncontradicted that she
he was good and trusted him, they agreed to his proposal for was a virgin prior to her unfortunate experience with
him to marry their daughter, and they likewise allowed him to defendant and never had boyfriend. She is, as described by the
stay in their house and sleep with plaintiff during the few days lower court, a barrio lass "not used and accustomed to trend of
that they were in Bugallon. When plaintiff and defendant later modern urban life", and certainly would (sic) not have
allowed In sum, we are strongly convinced and so hold that it was
"herself to be deflowered by the defendant if there was no defendant-appellant's fraudulent and deceptive protestations of
persuasive promise made by the defendant to marry her." In love for and promise to marry plaintiff that made her surrender
fact, we agree with the lower court that plaintiff and defendant her virtue and womanhood to him and to live with him on the
must have been sweethearts or so the plaintiff must have honest and sincere belief that he would keep said promise, and
thought because of the deception of defendant, for otherwise, it was likewise these (sic) fraud and deception on appellant's
she would not have allowed herself to be photographed with part that made plaintiff's parents agree to their daughter's
defendant in public in so (sic) loving and tender poses as those living-in with him preparatory to their supposed marriage. And
depicted in the pictures Exhs. "D" and "E". We cannot believe, as these acts of appellant are palpably and undoubtedly against
therefore, defendant's pretense that plaintiff was a nobody to morals, good customs, and public policy, and are even gravely
him except a waitress at the restaurant where he usually ate. and deeply derogatory and insulting to our women, coming as
Defendant in fact admitted that he went to plaintiff's they do from a foreigner who has been enjoying the hospitality
hometown of Bañaga, Bugallon, Pangasinan, at least thrice; at of our people and taking advantage of the opportunity to study
(sic) the town fiesta on February 27, 1987 (p. 54, tsn May 18, in one of our institutions of learning, defendant-appellant
1988), at (sic) a beach party together with the manager and should indeed be made, under Art. 21 of the Civil Code of the
employees of the Mabuhay Luncheonette on March 3, 1987 (p. Philippines, to compensate for the moral damages and injury
50, tsn id.), and on April 1, 1987 when he allegedly talked to that he had caused plaintiff, as the lower court ordered him to
plaintiff's mother who told him to marry her daughter (pp. 55- do in its decision in this case. 12
56, tsn id.). Would defendant have left Dagupan City where he
was involved in the serious study of medicine to go to Unfazed by his second defeat, petitioner filed the instant petition on 26 March
plaintiff's hometown in Bañaga, Bugallon, unless there was 1991; he raises therein the single issue of whether or not Article 21 of the Civil
(sic) some kind of special relationship between them? And this Code applies to the case at bar. 13
special relationship must indeed have led to defendant's
insincere proposal of marriage to plaintiff, communicated not
It is petitioner's thesis that said Article 21 is not applicable because he had not
only to her but also to her parents, and (sic) Marites Rabino, committed any moral wrong or injury or violated any good custom or public
the owner of the restaurant where plaintiff was working and policy; he has not professed love or proposed marriage to the private respondent;
where defendant first proposed marriage to her, also knew of
and he has never maltreated her. He criticizes the trial court for liberally
this love affair and defendant's proposal of marriage to
invoking Filipino customs, traditions and culture, and ignoring the fact that since
plaintiff, which she declared was the reason why plaintiff
he is a foreigner, he is not conversant with such Filipino customs, traditions and
resigned from her job at the restaurant after she had accepted
culture. As an Iranian Moslem, he is not familiar with Catholic and Christian
defendant's proposal (pp. 6-7, tsn March 7, 1988). 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
Upon the other hand, appellant does not appear to be a man of upbringing; he then alludes to the Muslim Code which purportedly allows a
good moral character and must think so low and have so little Muslim to take four (4) wives and concludes that on the basis thereof, the trial
respect and regard for Filipino women that he openly admitted court erred in ruling that he does not posses good moral character. Moreover, his
that when he studied in Bacolod City for several years where controversial "common law life" is now his legal wife as their marriage had been
he finished his B.S. Biology before he came to Dagupan City solemnized in civil ceremonies in the Iranian Embassy. As to his unlawful
to study medicine, he had a common-law wife in Bacolod cohabitation with the private respondent, petitioner claims that even if
City. In other words, he also lived with another woman in responsibility could be pinned on him for the live-in relationship, the private
Bacolod City but did not marry that woman, just like what he respondent should also be faulted for consenting to an illicit arrangement.
did to plaintiff. It is not surprising, then, that he felt so little Finally, petitioner asseverates that even if it was to be assumed arguendo that he
compunction or remorse in pretending to love and promising had professed his love to the private respondent and had also promised to marry
to marry plaintiff, a young, innocent, trustful country girl, in her, such acts would not be actionable in view of the special circumstances of
order to satisfy his lust on her. 11 the case. The mere breach of promise is not actionable. 14

and then concluded:


On 26 August 1991, after the private respondent had filed her Comment to the the facts set forth in the petition as well as in the petitioners
petition and the petitioner had filed his Reply thereto, this Court gave due course main and reply briefs are not disputed by the respondents
to the petition and required the parties to submit their respective Memoranda, (Ibid.,); and (10) The finding of fact of the Court of Appeals is
which they subsequently complied with. premised on the supposed absence of evidence and is
contradicted by the evidence on record (Salazar v. Gutierrez,
As may be gleaned from the foregoing summation of the petitioner's arguments 33 SCRA 242 [1970]).
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 Petitioner has not endeavored to joint out to Us the existence of any of the above
jurisdiction that appellate courts will not disturb the trial court's findings as to quoted exceptions in this case. Consequently, the factual findings of the trial and
the credibility of witnesses, the latter court having heard the witnesses and appellate courts must be respected.
having had the opportunity to observe closely their deportment and manner of
testifying, unless the trial court had plainly overlooked facts of substance or And now to the legal issue.
value which, if considered, might affect the result of the case. 15
The existing rule is that a breach of promise to marry per se is not an actionable
Petitioner has miserably failed to convince Us that both the appellate and trial wrong. 17 Congress deliberately eliminated from the draft of the New Civil Code
courts had overlooked any fact of substance or values which could alter the the provisions that would have made it so. The reason therefor is set forth in the
result of the case. report of the Senate Committees on the Proposed Civil Code, from which We
quote:
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 The elimination of this chapter is proposed. That breach of
function of this Court to analyze or weigh all over again the evidence introduced promise to marry is not actionable has been definitely decided
by the parties before the lower court. There are, however, recognized exceptions in the case of De Jesus vs. Syquia. 18 The history of breach of
to this rule. Thus, in Medina vs.Asistio, Jr., 16 this Court took the time, again, to promise suits in the United States and in England has shown
enumerate these exceptions: that no other action lends itself more readily to abuse by
designing women and unscrupulous men. It is this experience
xxx xxx xxx which has led to the abolition of rights of action in the so-
called Heart Balm suits in many of the American states. . . . 19
(1) When the conclusion is a finding grounded entirely on
speculation, surmises or conjectures (Joaquin v. Navarro, 93 This notwithstanding, the said Code contains a provision, Article 21, which is
Phil. 257 [1953]); (2) When the inference made is manifestly designed to expand the concept of torts or quasi-delict in this jurisdiction by
mistaken, absurb or impossible (Luna v. Linatok, 74 Phil. 15 granting adequate legal remedy for the untold number of moral wrongs which is
[1942]); (3) Where there is a grave abuse of discretion (Buyco impossible for human foresight to specifically enumerate and punish in the
v. People, 95 Phil. 453 [1955]); (4) When the judgment is statute books. 20
based on a misapprehension of facts (Cruz v. Sosing,
L-4875, Nov. 27, 1953); (5) When the findings of fact are As the Code Commission itself stated in its Report:
conflicting (Casica v. Villaseca, L-9590 Ap. 30, 1957; unrep.)
(6) When the Court of Appeals, in making its findings, went
But the Code Commission had gone farther than the sphere of
beyond the issues of the case and the same is contrary to the wrongs defined or determined by positive law. Fully sensible
admissions of both appellate and appellee (Evangelista v. Alto that there are countless gaps in the statutes, which leave so
Surety and Insurance Co., 103 Phil. 401 [1958]);
many victims of moral wrongs helpless, even though they have
(7) The findings of the Court of Appeals are contrary to those
actually suffered material and moral injury, the Commission
of the trial court (Garcia v. Court of Appeals, 33 SCRA 622
has deemed it necessary, in the interest of justice, to
[1970]; Sacay v. Sandiganbayan, 142 SCRA 593 [1986]); (8)
incorporate in the proposed Civil Code the following rule:
When the findings of fact are conclusions without citation of
specific evidence on which they are based (Ibid.,); (9) When
Art. 23. Any person who wilfully causes loss Code, Article 21 has greatly broadened the scope of the law on civil
or injury to another in a manner that is wrongs; it has become much more supple and adaptable than the
contrary to morals, good customs or public Anglo-American law on torts. 23
policy shall compensate the latter for the
damage. 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
An example will illustrate the purview of the foregoing norm: of the acceptance of his love by a woman and his representation to fulfill that
"A" seduces the nineteen-year old daughter of "X". A promise promise thereafter becomes the proximate cause of the giving of herself unto
of marriage either has not been made, or can not be proved. him in a sexual congress, proof that he had, in reality, no intention of marrying
The girl becomes pregnant. Under the present laws, there is no her and that the promise was only a subtle scheme or deceptive device to entice
crime, as the girl is above nineteen years of age. Neither can or inveigle her to accept him and to obtain her consent to the sexual act, could
any civil action for breach of promise of marriage be filed. justify the award of damages pursuant to Article 21 not because of such promise
Therefore, though the grievous moral wrong has been to marry but because of the fraud and deceit behind it and the willful injury to
committed, and though the girl and family have suffered her honor and reputation which followed thereafter. It is essential, however, that
incalculable moral damage, she and her parents cannot bring such injury should have been committed in a manner contrary to morals, good
action for damages. But under the proposed article, she and her customs or public policy.
parents would have such a right of action.
In the instant case, respondent Court found that it was the petitioner's "fraudulent
Thus at one stroke, the legislator, if the forgoing rule is and deceptive protestations of love for and promise to marry plaintiff that made
approved, would vouchsafe adequate legal remedy for that her surrender her virtue and womanhood to him and to live with him on the
untold number of moral wrongs which it is impossible for honest and sincere belief that he would keep said promise, and it was likewise
human foresight to provide for specifically in the statutes. 21 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
Article 2176 of the Civil Code, which defines a quasi-delict thus: 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
Whoever by act or omission causes damage to another, there
earlier adverted to. The petitioner could not be held liable for criminal seduction
being fault or negligence, is obliged to pay for the damage
punished under either Article 337 or Article 338 of the Revised Penal Code
done. Such fault or negligence, if there is no pre-existing
contractual relation between the parties, is called a quasi- because the private respondent was above eighteen (18) years of age at the time
delict and is governed by the provisions of this Chapter. of the seduction.

Prior decisions of this Court clearly suggest that Article 21 may be applied in a
is limited to negligent acts or omissions and excludes the notion of
breach of promise to marry where the woman is a victim of moral seduction.
willfulness or intent. Quasi-delict, known in Spanish legal treatises
as culpa aquiliana, is a civil law concept while torts is an Anglo- Thus, in Hermosisima vs. Court of Appeals,25 this Court denied recovery of
American or common law concept. Torts is much broader than culpa damages to the woman because:
aquiliana because it includes not only negligence, but international
criminal acts as well such as assault and battery, false imprisonment . . . we find ourselves unable to say that petitioner
and deceit. In the general scheme of the Philippine legal system is morally guilty of seduction, not only because he is
envisioned by the Commission responsible for drafting the New Civil approximately ten (10) years younger than the complainant —
Code, intentional and malicious acts, with certain exceptions, are to be who was around thirty-six (36) years of age, and as highly
governed by the Revised Penal Code while negligent acts or omissions enlightened as a former high school teacher and a life
are to be covered by Article 2176 of the Civil Code. 22 In between these insurance agent are supposed to be — when she became
opposite spectrums are injurious acts which, in the absence of Article intimate with petitioner, then a mere apprentice pilot, but, also,
21, would have been beyond redress. Thus, Article 21 fills that vacuum. because the court of first instance found that, complainant
It is even postulated that together with Articles 19 and 20 of the Civil "surrendered herself" to petitioner because, "overwhelmed by
her love" for him, she "wanted to bind" him by having a fruit curiosity of the female, and the defendant
of their engagement even before they had the benefit of clergy. merely affords her the needed opportunity
for the commission of the act. It has been
In Tanjanco vs. Court of Appeals, 26 while this Court likewise hinted at possible emphasized that to allow a recovery in all
recovery if there had been moral seduction, recovery was eventually denied such cases would tend to the demoralization
because We were not convinced that such seduction existed. The following of the female sex, and would be a reward for
enlightening disquisition and conclusion were made in the said case: unchastity by which a class of adventuresses
would be swift to profit. (47 Am. Jur. 662)
The Court of Appeals seem to have overlooked that the
example set forth in the Code Commission's memorandum xxx xxx xxx
refers to a tort upon a minor who had been seduced. The
essential feature is seduction, that in law is more than mere Over and above the partisan allegations, the fact stand out that
sexual intercourse, or a breach of a promise of marriage; it for one whole year, from 1958 to 1959, the plaintiff-appellee,
connotes essentially the idea of deceit, enticement, superior a woman of adult age, maintain intimate sexual relations with
power or abuse of confidence on the part of the seducer to appellant, with repeated acts of intercourse. Such conduct is
which the woman has yielded (U.S. vs. Buenaventura, 27 Phil. incompatible with the idea of seduction. Plainly there is here
121; U.S. vs. Arlante, 9 Phil. 595). voluntariness and mutual passion; for had the appellant been
deceived, had she surrendered exclusively because of the
It has been ruled in the Buenaventura case (supra) that — 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
To constitute seduction there must in all
promises of marriage, and would have cut short all sexual
cases be some sufficient promise or
relations upon finding that defendant did not intend to fulfill
inducement and the woman must yield
because of the promise or other inducement. his defendant did not intend to fulfill his promise. Hence, we
conclude that no case is made under article 21 of the Civil
If she consents merely from carnal lust and
Code, and no other cause of action being alleged, no error was
the intercourse is from mutual desire, there
committed by the Court of First Instance in dismissing the
is no seduction (43 Cent. Dig. tit. Seduction,
complaint. 27
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 In his annotations on the Civil Code, 28 Associate Justice Edgardo L. Paras, who
calculated to have and do have that effect, recently retired from this Court, opined that in a breach of promise to marry
and which result in her person to ultimately where there had been carnal knowledge, moral damages may be recovered:
submitting her person to the sexual embraces
of her seducer (27 Phil. 123). . . . if there be criminal or moral seduction, but not if the
intercourse was due to mutual lust. (Hermosisima vs. Court of
And in American Jurisprudence we find: Appeals,
L-14628, Sept. 30, 1960; Estopa vs. Piansay, Jr., L-14733,
Sept. 30, 1960; Batarra vs. Marcos, 7 Phil. 56 (sic); Beatriz
On the other hand, in an action by the
woman, the enticement, persuasion or Galang vs. Court of Appeals, et al., L-17248, Jan. 29, 1962).
deception is the essence of the injury; and a (In other words, if the CAUSE be the promise to marry, and
the EFFECT be the carnal knowledge, there is a chance that
mere proof of intercourse is insufficient to
there was criminal or moral seduction, hence recovery of
warrant a recovery.
moral damages will prosper. If it be the other way around,
there can be no recovery of moral damages, because here
Accordingly it is not seduction where the mutual lust has intervened). . . .
willingness arises out of sexual desire of
together with "ACTUAL damages, should there be any, such as the predicament prompted her to accept a proposition that may
expenses for the wedding presentations (See Domalagon v. Bolifer, 33 have been offered by the petitioner. 34
Phil. 471).
These statements reveal the true character and motive of the petitioner. It is clear
Senator Arturo M. Tolentino 29 is also of the same persuasion: that he harbors a condescending, if not sarcastic, regard for the private
respondent on account of the latter's ignoble birth, inferior educational
It is submitted that the rule in Batarra vs. Marcos, 30 still background, poverty and, as perceived by him, dishonorable employment.
subsists, notwithstanding the incorporation of the present Obviously then, from the very beginning, he was not at all moved by good faith
article31 in the Code. The example given by the Code and an honest motive. Marrying with a woman so circumstances could not have
Commission is correct, if there was seduction, not necessarily even remotely occurred to him. Thus, his profession of love and promise to
in the legal sense, but in the vulgar sense of deception. But marry were empty words directly intended to fool, dupe, entice, beguile and
when the sexual act is accomplished without any deceit or deceive the poor woman into believing that indeed, he loved her and would want
qualifying circumstance of abuse of authority or influence, but her to be his life's partner. His was nothing but pure lust which he wanted
the woman, already of age, has knowingly given herself to a satisfied by a Filipina who honestly believed that by accepting his proffer of love
man, it cannot be said that there is an injury which can be the and proposal of marriage, she would be able to enjoy a life of ease and security.
basis for indemnity. 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
But so long as there is fraud, which is characterized by
willfulness (sic), the action lies. The court, however, must the Civil Code which directs every person to act with justice, give everyone his
weigh the degree of fraud, if it is sufficient to deceive the due and observe honesty and good faith in the exercise of his rights and in the
performance of his obligations.
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 No foreigner must be allowed to make a mockery of our laws, customs and
there is a wrongful act and a resulting injury, there should be traditions.
civil liability, even if the act is not punishable under the
criminal law and there should have been an acquittal or The pari delicto rule does not apply in this case for while indeed, the private
dismissal of the criminal case for that reason. 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
We are unable to agree with the petitioner's alternative proposition to the effect because of moral seduction. In fact, it is apparent that she had qualms of
that granting, for argument's sake, that he did promise to marry the private conscience about the entire episode for as soon as she found out that the
respondent, the latter is nevertheless also at fault. According to him, both parties petitioner was not going to marry her after all, she left him. She is not, therefore,
are in pari delicto; hence, pursuant to Article 1412(1) of the Civil Code and the in pari delicto with the petitioner. Pari delicto means "in equal fault; in a similar
doctrine laid down in Batarra vs. Marcos, 32 the private respondent cannot offense or crime; equal in guilt or in legal fault." 35At most, it could be conceded
recover damages from the petitioner. The latter even goes as far as stating that if that she is merely in delicto.
the private respondent had "sustained any injury or damage in their relationship,
it is primarily because of her own doing, 33 for: Equity often interferes for the relief of the less guilty of the
parties, where his transgression has been brought about by the
. . . She is also interested in the petitioner as the latter will imposition of undue influence of the party on whom the
become a doctor sooner or later. Take notice that she is a plain burden of the original wrong principally rests, or where his
high school graduate and a mere employee . . . (Annex "C") or consent to the transaction was itself procured by
a waitress (TSN, p. 51, January 25, 1988) in a luncheonette fraud. 36
and without doubt, is in need of a man who can give her
economic security. Her family is in dire need of financial In Mangayao vs. Lasud, 37 We declared:
assistance. (TSN, pp. 51-53, May 18, 1988). And this
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.

SO ORDERED.
ANTONIO GELUZ, petitioner, the Civil Code of the Philippines. This we believe to be error, for the said article,
vs. in fixing a minimum award of P3,000.00 for the death of a person, does not
THE HON. COURT OF APPEALS and OSCAR LAZO, respondents. cover the case of an unborn foetus that is not endowed with personality. Under
the system of our Civil Code, "la criatura abortiva no alcanza la categoria de
REYES, J.B.L., J.: persona natural y en consscuencia es un ser no nacido a la vida del Derecho"
(Casso-Cervera, "Diccionario de Derecho Privado", Vol. 1, p. 49), being
incapable of having rights and obligations.
This petition for certiorari brings up for review question whether the husband of
a woman, who voluntarily procured her abortion, could recover damages from
physician who caused the same. Since an action for pecuniary damages on account of personal injury or death
pertains primarily to the one injured, it is easy to see that if no action for such
damages could be instituted on behalf of the unborn child on account of the
The litigation was commenced in the Court of First Instance of Manila by
injuries it received, no such right of action could derivatively accrue to its
respondent Oscar Lazo, the of Nita Villanueva, against petitioner Antonio Geluz,
a physician. Convinced of the merits of the complaint upon the evidence parents or heirs. In fact, even if a cause of action did accrue on behalf of the
adduced, the trial court rendered judgment favor of plaintiff Lazo and against unborn child, the same was extinguished by its pre-natal death, since no
transmission to anyone can take place from on that lacked juridical personality
defendant Geluz, ordering the latter to pay P3,000.00 as damages, P700.00
(or juridical capacity as distinguished from capacity to act). It is no answer to
attorney's fees and the costs of the suit. On appeal, Court of Appeals, in a special
invoke the provisional personality of a conceived child (conceptus pro nato
division of five, sustained the award by a majority vote of three justices as
habetur) under Article 40 of the Civil Code, because that same article expressly
against two, who rendered a separate dissenting opinion.
limits such provisional personality by imposing the condition that the child
should be subsequently born alive: "provided it be born later with the condition
The facts are set forth in the majority opinion as follows: specified in the following article". In the present case, there is no dispute that the
child was dead when separated from its mother's womb.
Nita Villanueva came to know the defendant (Antonio Geluz) for the
first time in 1948 — through her aunt Paula Yambot. In 1950 she The prevailing American jurisprudence is to the same effect; and it is generally
became pregnant by her present husband before they were legally held that recovery can not had for the death of an unborn child (Stafford vs.
married. Desiring to conceal her pregnancy from her parent, and acting Roadway Transit Co., 70 F. Supp. 555; Dietrich vs. Northampton, 52 Am. Rep.
on the advice of her aunt, she had herself aborted by the defendant. 242; and numerous cases collated in the editorial note, 10 ALR, (2d) 639).
After her marriage with the plaintiff, she again became pregnant. As
she was then employed in the Commission on Elections and her
pregnancy proved to be inconvenient, she had herself aborted again by This is not to say that the parents are not entitled to collect any damages at all.
But such damages must be those inflicted directly upon them, as distinguished
the defendant in October 1953. Less than two years later, she again
from the injury or violation of the rights of the deceased, his right to life and
became pregnant. On February 21, 1955, accompanied by her sister
physical integrity. Because the parents can not expect either help, support or
Purificacion and the latter's daughter Lucida, she again repaired to the
services from an unborn child, they would normally be limited to moral damages
defendant's clinic on Carriedo and P. Gomez streets in Manila, where
the three met the defendant and his wife. Nita was again aborted, of a for the illegal arrest of the normal development of the spes hominis that was the
two-month old foetus, in consideration of the sum of fifty pesos, foetus, i.e., on account of distress and anguish attendant to its loss, and the
disappointment of their parental expectations (Civ. Code Art. 2217), as well as
Philippine currency. The plaintiff was at this time in the province of
to exemplary damages, if the circumstances should warrant them (Art. 2230).
Cagayan, campaigning for his election to the provincial board; he did
But in the case before us, both the trial court and the Court of Appeals have not
not know of, nor gave his consent, to the abortion.
found any basis for an award of moral damages, evidently because the appellee's
indifference to the previous abortions of his wife, also caused by the appellant
It is the third and last abortion that constitutes plaintiff's basis in filing this action herein, clearly indicates that he was unconcerned with the frustration of his
and award of damages. Upon application of the defendant Geluz we parental hopes and affections. The lower court expressly found, and the majority
granted certiorari. opinion of the Court of Appeals did not contradict it, that the appellee was aware
of the second abortion; and the probabilities are that he was likewise aware of
The Court of Appeals and the trial court predicated the award of damages in the the first. Yet despite the suspicious repetition of the event, he appeared to have
sum of P3,000.06 upon the provisions of the initial paragraph of Article 2206 of taken no steps to investigate or pinpoint the causes thereof, and secure the
punishment of the responsible practitioner. Even after learning of the third
abortion, the appellee does not seem to have taken interest in the administrative
and criminal cases against the appellant. His only concern appears to have been
directed at obtaining from the doctor a large money payment, since he sued for
P50,000.00 damages and P3,000.00 attorney's fees, an "indemnity" claim that,
under the circumstances of record, was clearly exaggerated.

The dissenting Justices of the Court of Appeals have aptly remarked that:

It seems to us that the normal reaction of a husband who righteously


feels outraged by the abortion which his wife has deliberately sought at
the hands of a physician would be highminded rather than mercenary;
and that his primary concern would be to see to it that the medical
profession was purged of an unworthy member rather than turn his
wife's indiscretion to personal profit, and with that idea in mind to press
either the administrative or the criminal cases he had filed, or both,
instead of abandoning them in favor of a civil action for damages of
which not only he, but also his wife, would be the beneficiaries.

It is unquestionable that the appellant's act in provoking the abortion of


appellee's wife, without medical necessity to warrant it, was a criminal and
morally reprehensible act, that can not be too severely condemned; and the
consent of the woman or that of her husband does not excuse it. But the
immorality or illegality of the act does not justify an award of damage that,
under the circumstances on record, have no factual or legal basis.

The decision appealed from is reversed, and the complaint ordered dismissed.
Without costs.

Let a copy of this decision be furnished to the Department of Justice and the
Board of Medical Examiners for their information and such investigation and
action against the appellee Antonio Geluz as the facts may warrant.
ANTONIA L. DE JESUS, ET AL., plaintiff-appellant, The occasion for writing this note was that the defendant was on the eve of his
vs. departure on a trip to China and Japan; and while he was abroad on this visit he
CESAR SYQUIA, defendant-appellant wrote several letters to Antonia showing a paternal interest in the situation that
had developed with her, and cautioning her to keep in good condition in order
STREET, J.: that "junior" (meaning the baby to be, "Syquia, Jr.") might be strong, and
promising to return to them soon. The baby arrived at the time expected, and all
necessary anticipatory preparations were made by the defendant. To this he
This action was instituted in the Court of First Instance of Manila by Antonia
Loanco de Jesus in her own right and by her mother, Pilar Marquez, as next employed his friend Dr. Crescenciano Talavera to attend at the birth, and made
friend and representative of Ismael and Pacita Loanco, infants, children of the arrangements for the hospitalization of the mother in Saint Joseph's Hospital of
the City of Manila, where she was cared for during confinement.
first-named plaintiff, for the purpose of recovering from the defendant, Cesar
Syquia, the sum of thirty thousand pesos as damages resulting to the first-named
plaintiff from breach of a marriage promise, to compel the defendant to When Antonio was able to leave the hospital, Syquia took her, with her mother
recognize Ismael and Pacita as natural children begotten by him with Antonia, and the baby, to a house at No. 551 Camarines Street, Manila, where they lived
and to pay for the maintenance of the three the amount of five hundred pesos per together for about a year in regular family style, all household expenses,
month, together with costs. Upon hearing the cause, after answer of the including gas and electric light, being defrayed by Syquia. In course of time,
defendant, the trial court erred a decree requiring the defendant to recognize however, the defendant's ardor abated and, when Antonia began to show signs of
Ismael Loanco as his natural child and to pay maintenance for him at the rate of a second pregnancy the defendant decamped, and he is now married to another
fifty pesos per month, with costs, dismissing the action in other respects. From woman. A point that should here be noted is that when the time came for
this judgment both parties appealed, the plaintiffs from so much of the decision christening the child, the defendant, who had charge of the arrangement for this
as denied part of the relief sought by them, and the defendant from that feature ceremony, caused the name Ismael Loanco to be given to him, instead of Cesar
of the decision which required him to recognize Ismael Loanco and to pay for Syquia, Jr., as was at first planned.
his maintenance.
The first question that is presented in the case is whether the note to the padre,
At the time with which we are here concerned, the defendant, Cesar Syquia was quoted above, in connection with the letters written by the defendant to the
of the age of twenty-three years, and an unmarried scion of the prominent family mother during pregnancy, proves an acknowledgment of paternity, within the
in Manila, being possessed of a considerable property in his own right. His meaning of subsection 1 of article 135 of the Civil Code. Upon this point we
brother-in-law, Vicente Mendoza is the owner of a barber shop in Tondo, where have no hesitancy in holding that the acknowledgment thus shown is sufficient.
the defendant was accustomed to go for tonsorial attention. In the month of June It is a universal rule of jurisprudence that a child, upon being conceived,
Antonia Loanco, a likely unmarried girl of the age of twenty years, was taken on becomes a bearer of legal rights and capable of being dealt with as a living
as cashier in this barber shop. Syquia was not long in making her acquaintance person. The fact that it is yet unborn is no impediment to the acquisition of
and amorous relations resulted, as a consequence of which Antonia was gotten rights. The problem here presented of the recognition of unborn child is really
with child and a baby boy was born on June 17, 1931. The defendant was a not different from that presented in the ordinary case of the recognition of a
constant visitor at the home of Antonia in the early months of her pregnancy, child already born and bearing a specific name. Only the means and resources of
and in February, 1931, he wrote and placed in her hands a note directed to identification are different. Even a bequest to a living child requires oral
the padre who has expected to christen the baby. This note was as follows: evidence to connect the particular individual intended with the name used.

Saturday, 1:30 p. m. It is contended however, in the present case that the words of description used in
February 14, 1931 the writings before us are not legally sufficient to indemnify the child now suing
as Ismael Loanco. This contention is not, in our opinion, well founded. The
Rev. FATHER, words of recognition contained in the note to the padre are not capable of two
constructions. They refer to a baby then conceived which was expected to be
born in June and which would thereafter be presented for christening. The baby
The baby due in June is mine and I should like for my name to be given to it. came, and though it was in the end given the name of Ismael Loanco instead of
Cesar Syquia, Jr., its identity as the child which the defendant intended to
CESAR SYQUIA acknowledge is clear. Any doubt that might arise on this point is removed by the
letters Exhibit F, G, H, and J. In these letters the defendant makes repeated
reference to junior as the baby which Antonia, to whom the letters were in the civil law, apart from the right to recover money or property advanced by
addressed, was then carrying in her womb, and the writer urged Antonia to eat the plaintiff upon the faith of such promise. This case exhibits none of the
with good appetite in order that junior might be vigorous. In the last letter features necessary to maintain such an action. Furthermore, there is no proof
(Exhibit J) written only a few days before the birth of the child, the defendant upon which a judgment could be based requiring the defendant to recognize the
urged her to take good care of herself and ofjunior also. second baby, Pacita Loanco.

It seems to us that the only legal question that can here arise as to the sufficiency Finally, we see no necessity or propriety in modifying the judgment as to the
of acknowledgment is whether the acknowledgment contemplated in subsection amount of the maintenance which the trial court allowed to Ismael Loanco. And
1 of article 135 of the Civil Code must be made in a single document or may be in this connection we merely point out that, as conditions change, the Court of
made in more than one document, of indubitable authenticity, written by the First Instance will have jurisdiction to modify the order as to the amount of the
recognizing father. Upon this point we are of the opinion that the recognition can pension as circumstances will require.
be made out by putting together the admissions of more than one document,
supplementing the admission made in one letter by an admission or admissions The judgment appealed from is in all respects affirmed, without costs. So
made in another. In the case before us the admission of paternity is contained in ordered.
the note to the padre and the other letters suffice to connect that admission with
the child then being carried by Antonia L. de Jesus. There is no requirement in
Malcolm, Abad Santos, Hull, Vickers, and butte, JJ., concur.
the law that the writing shall be addressed to one, or any particular individual. It
is merely required that the writing shall be indubitable.

The second question that presents itself in this case is whether the trial court
erred in holding that Ismael Loanco had been in the uninterrupted possession of
the status of a natural child, justified by the conduct of the father himself, and
that as a consequence, the defendant in this case should be compelled to
acknowledge the said Ismael Loanco, under No. 2 of article 135 of the Civil
Code. The facts already stated are sufficient, in our opinion, to justify the
conclusion of the trial court on this point, and we may add here that our
conclusion upon the first branch of the case that the defendant had
acknowledged this child in writings above referred to must be taken in
connection with the facts found by the court upon the second point. It is
undeniable that from the birth of this child the defendant supplied a home for it
and the mother, in which they lived together with the defendant. This situation
continued for about a year, and until Antonia became enciente a second time,
when the idea entered the defendant's head of abandoning her. The law fixes no
period during which a child must be in the continuous possession of the status of
a natural child; and the period in this case was long enough to evince the father's
resolution to concede the status. The circumstance that he abandoned the mother
and child shortly before this action was started is unimportant. The word
"continuous" in subsection 2 of article 135 of the Civil Code does not mean that
the concession of status shall continue forever, but only that it shall not be of an
intermittent character while it continues.

What has been said disposes of the principal feature of the defendant's appeal.
With respect to the appeal of the plaintiffs, we are of the opinion that the trial
court was right in refusing to give damages to the plaintiff, Antonia Loanco, for
supposed breach of promise to marry. Such promise is not satisfactorily proved,
and we may add that the action for breach of promise to marry has no standing
ANIANO OBAÑA, petitioner, WHEREFORE, the appealed decision is hereby set aside and
vs. another one entered ordering defendant-appellee to return the
THE COURT OF APPEALS AND ANICETO SANDOVAL, respondents. one hundred and seventy cavans of rice to plaintiff- appellant
or to pay its value in the amount of P 37.25 per cavan, with
MELENCIO-HERRERA, J.: legal interest from the filing of the complaint until fully paid
and with costs against the appellee. 1

Before us, petitioner-defendant takes issue with the following Appellate Court
findings:
Petitioner seeks a review of the Decision of respondent Appellate Court (in CA-
G.R. No. 44345-R) ordering him in an action for Replevin to return to Aniceto
SANDOVAL, private respondent herein, 170 cavans of rice or to pay its value in From the evidence presented by the parties, it is evident that
the amount of P37.25 per cavan, with legal interest from the filing of the this is a simple case of swindling perpetuated by Chan Lin at
Complaint until fully paid. the expense of the plaintiff and the defendant. The act of Chan
Lin in purchasing plaintiff's rice at the price of P 37.25 per
cavan and thereafter offering the same goods to defendant at a
SANDOVAL is the owner and manager of the "Sandoval and Sons Rice Mill"
much lower price is an indication that it was never his
located in Rosales, Pangasinan. He is engaged in the buying and selling of palay.
intention to comply with his obligation to plaintiff. It is clear
that Chan Lin's only purpose in entering into said contract with
On November 21, 1964, SANDOVAL was approached by a certain Chan Lin plaintiff was to acquire the physical possession of the goods
who offered to purchase from him 170 cavans of clean rice (wagwag variety) at and then to pass them on to defendant on the pretext that he is
the price of P37.26 per cavan, delivery to be made the following day at the owner thereof. Premises considered, therefore, Chan Lin
petitioner's store in San Fernando, La Union, with payment to be made thereat cannot be considered as the owner of the goods at the time the
by Chan Lin to SANDOVAL's representative. SANDOVAL accepted the offer same was said to have been sold to the defendant-appellee.
as he knew petitioner and had had previous transactions with him. Considering that defendant acquired the 170 cavans of rice
from a person who is not the owner thereof, it is therefore
As agreed, the 170 cavans of rice were transported the following day on a truck clear that he acquired no greater right than his predecessor-in-
belonging to SANDOVAL to petitioner's store in San Fernando, La Union. Chan interest.
Lin accompanied the shipment. Upon arrival thereat, the goods were unloaded
but when the truck driver attempted to collect the purchase price from Chan Lin, Finally, on principle of equity, it is but proper that plaintiff-
the latter was nowhere to be found. The driver tried to collect from petitioner, appellant be allowed to recover the one-hundred and seventy
but the latter refused stating that he had purchase the goods from Chan Lin at cavans of rice or its value. Being the undisputed owner of the
P33.00 per cavan and that the price therefore had already been paid to Chan Lin. above mentioned goods, the appellant cannot be deprived of its
ownership without the corresponding payment. 2
Further demands having been met with refusal, SANDOVAL, as plaintiff, filed
suit for replevin against petitioner, then the defendant, before the Municipal We agree with petitioner-defendant that there was a perfected sale. Article 1475
Court of San Fernando, La Union, which ordered petitioner-defendant to pay to of the Civil Code lays down the general rule that there is perfection when there
SANDOVAL one-half (½) of the cost of the rice or P2,805.00. is consent upon the subject matter and price, even if neither is delivered.

On appeal by petitioner-defendant to the then Court of First Instance of La The contract of sale is perfected at the moment there is a
Union, the parties agreed to adopt SANDOVAL's testimony before the meeting of minds upon the thing which is the object of the
Municipal Court. After trial de novo, judgment was rendered dismissing the contract and upon the price.
complaint against petitioner-defendant.
xxx xxx xxx
On appeal to respondent Appellate Court, SANDOVAL obtained a reversal in
his favor, as follows:
Ownership of the rice, too, was transferred to the vendee, Chan Lin, upon its A November 26, I think.
delivery to him at San Fernando, La Union, the place stipulated 3 and pursuant to
Articles 1477 and 1496 of the same Code: Q What did they do when this driver and Mr.
Chan Lin came back?
Art. 1477. The ownership of the thing sold shall be transferred
to the vendee upon the actual or constructive delivery thereof. A They told me that they wanted the rice
back and give my money back.
Art. 1496. The ownership of the thing sold is acquired by the
vendee from the moment it is delivered to him in any of the Q Did they give you your money back?
ways specified in Articles 1497 to 1501, or in any manner
signifying an agreement that the possession is transferred from
A Yes.
the vendor to the vendee.
Q How much?
At the very least, Chan Lin had a rescissible title to the goods for the non-
payment of the purchase price, but which had not been rescinded at the time of
the sale to petitioner. A They gave me P5.600.

However, from petitioner-defendant's own testimony before COURT:


the Court of First Instance, he admits that three days after the
delivery, he was repaid the sum of P5,600.00 by Chan Lin, Q They gave you that amount?
who was then accompanied by SANDOVAL's driver, and that
he had delivered the rice back to them. On rebuttal, however, A Yes, sir.
the driver denied that the rice had ever been returned. 4 The
driver's version is the more credible, for, as SANDOVAL's ATTY. GUALBERTO:
counsel had manifested in open Court, if return of the rice had
been effected, they would have withdrawn the
Q Did they tell you why they were getting
complaint. 5 Following is the admission made by petitioner-
back the rice and giving you back your
defendant:
money?
Q After the third day ... when that request
A Yes. The complete rice, and Vallo
for you to hold the rice was already overdue,
(SANDOVAL's driver) told me, he wanted
what happened?
to return the rice to the ricemill, that is what
Vallo and the Chinese agreed with Aniceto
A This is what happened. Chan Lin and the Sandoval.
driver with the same truck that they used to
unload the rice, came to me.
Q Did the Chinese tell you that he made
agreement with Sandoval to get back the
Q What day was that? rice?

A That was I think, Thursday, about 4:30 A Yes.


P.M.
COURT:
Q Do you know the date?
Q Did you receive the money?
A Yes , sir6

Having been repaid the purchases price by Chan Lin , the sale, as between them,
had been voluntarily rescinded, and petitioner-defendant was thereby divested of
any claim to the rice. Technically, therefore, he should return the rice to Chan
Lin, but since even the latter, again from petitioner-defendant's own testimony
above-quoted, was ready to return the rice to SANDOVAL, and the latter's
driver denies that the rice had been returned by petitioner-defendant cannot be
allowed to unjustly enrich himself at the expense of another by holding on to
property no longer belonging to him.7 In law and in equity, therefore,
SANDOVAL is entitled to recover the rice, or the value theref since hewas not
paid the price therefor.

WHEREFORE, albeit on a different premise, the judgment under review is


hereby AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioner.

SO ORDERED.
SPOUSES BILL AND VICTORIA HING, Petitioners, In their Answer with Counterclaim,15 respondents claimed that they did not
vs. install the video surveillance cameras,16nor did they order their employees to
ALEXANDER CHOACHUY, SR. and ALLAN CHOACHUY, Respondents. take pictures of petitioners’ construction.17 They also clarified that they are not
the owners of Aldo but are mere stockholders.18
DECISION
Ruling of the Regional Trial Court
DEL CASTILLO, J.:
On October 18, 2005, the RTC issued an Order19 granting the application for a
"The concept of liberty would be emasculated if it does not likewise compel TRO. The dispositive portion of the said Order reads:
respect for one's personality as a unique individual whose claim to privacy and
non-interference demands respect." 1 WHEREFORE, the application for a Temporary Restraining Order or a Writ of
Preliminary Injunction is granted. Upon the filing and approval of a bond by
This Petition for Review on Certiorari2 under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court petitioners, which the Court sets at ₱50,000.00, let a Writ of Preliminary
assails the July 10, 2007 Decision3 and the September 11, 2007 Resolution4 of Injunction issue against the respondents Alexander Choachuy, Sr. and Allan
the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CEB-SP No. 01473. Choachuy. They are hereby directed to immediately remove the revolving
camera that they installed at the left side of their building overlooking the side of
Factual Antecedents petitioners’ lot and to transfer and operate it elsewhere at the back where
petitioners’ property can no longer be viewed within a distance of about 2-3
meters from the left corner of Aldo Servitec, facing the road.
On August 23, 2005, petitioner-spouses Bill and Victoria Hing filed with the
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Mandaue City a Complaint5 for Injunction and
IT IS SO ORDERED.20
Damages with prayer for issuance of a Writ of Preliminary Mandatory
Injunction/Temporary Restraining Order (TRO), docketed as Civil Case MAN-
5223 and raffled to Branch 28, against respondents Alexander Choachuy, Sr. and Respondents moved for a reconsideration21 but the RTC denied the same in its
Allan Choachuy. Order22 dated February 6, 2006.23Thus:

Petitioners alleged that they are the registered owners of a parcel of land (Lot WHEREFORE, the Motion for Reconsideration is hereby DENIED for lack of
1900-B) covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 42817 situated in merit. Issue a Writ of Preliminary Injunction in consonance with the Order dated
Barangay Basak, City of Mandaue, Cebu;6 that respondents are the owners of 18 October 2005.
Aldo Development & Resources, Inc. (Aldo) located at Lots 1901 and 1900-C,
adjacent to the property of petitioners;7 that respondents constructed an auto- IT IS SO ORDERED.24
repair shop building (Aldo Goodyear Servitec) on Lot 1900-C; that in April
2005, Aldo filed a case against petitioners for Injunction and Damages with Writ Aggrieved, respondents filed with the CA a Petition for Certiorari 25 under Rule
of Preliminary Injunction/TRO, docketed as Civil Case No. MAN-5125;8 that in 65 of the Rules of Court with application for a TRO and/or Writ of Preliminary
that case, Aldo claimed that petitioners were constructing a fence without a valid Injunction.
permit and that the said construction would destroy the wall of its building,
which is adjacent to petitioners’ property;9 that the court, in that case, denied Ruling of the Court of Appeals
Aldo’s application for preliminary injunction for failure to substantiate its
allegations;10 that, in order to get evidence to support the said case, respondents
on June 13, 2005 illegally set-up and installed on the building of Aldo Goodyear On July 10, 2007, the CA issued its Decision26 granting the Petition for
Servitec two video surveillance cameras facing petitioners’ property;11 that Certiorari. The CA ruled that the Writ of Preliminary Injunction was issued with
respondents, through their employees and without the consent of petitioners, also grave abuse of discretion because petitioners failed to show a clear and
took pictures of petitioners’ on-going construction;12 and that the acts of unmistakable right to an injunctive writ.27 The CA explained that the right to
respondents violate petitioners’ right to privacy.13 Thus, petitioners prayed that privacy of residence under Article 26(1) of the Civil Code was not violated since
respondents be ordered to remove the video surveillance cameras and enjoined the property subject of the controversy is not used as a residence. 28 The CA
from conducting illegal surveillance.14 alsosaid that since respondents are not the owners of the building, they could not
have installed video surveillance cameras.29 They are mere stockholders of Aldo, THE X X X CA COMMITTED A REVERSIBLE ERROR WHEN IT
which has a separate juridical personality.30 Thus, they are not the proper IGNORED THE SERIOUS FORMAL DEFICIENCIES OF BOTH THE
parties.31 The fallo reads: PETITION AND THE MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION DATED 15
MARCH 2006 OF RESPONDENTS CHOACHUY AND GAVE X X X THEM
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing premises, judgment is hereby rendered DUE COURSE AND CONSIDERATION.33
by us GRANTING the petition filed in this case. The assailed orders dated
October 18, 2005 and February 6, 2006 issued by the respondent judge are Essentially, the issues boil down to (1) whether there is a violation of
hereby ANNULLED and SET ASIDE. petitioners’ right to privacy, and (2) whether respondents are the proper parties
to this suit.
SO ORDERED.32
Petitioners’ Arguments
Issues
Petitioners insist that they are entitled to the issuance of a Writ of Preliminary
Hence, this recourse by petitioners arguing that: Injunction because respondents’ installation of a stationary camera directly
facing petitioners’ property and a revolving camera covering a significant
portion of the same property constitutes a violation of petitioners’ right to
I.
privacy.34 Petitioners cite Article 26(1) of the Civil Code, which enjoins persons
from prying into the private lives of others.35 Although the said provision
THE X X X CA COMMITTED A REVERSIBLE ERROR WHEN IT pertains to the privacy of another’s residence, petitioners opine that it includes
ANNULLED AND SET ASIDE THE ORDERS OF THE RTC DATED 18 business offices, citing Professor Arturo M. Tolentino. 36 Thus, even assuming
OCTOBER 2005 AND 6 FEBRUARY 2006 HOLDING THAT THEY WERE arguendo that petitioners’ property is used for business, it is still covered by the
ISSUED WITH GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION. said provision.37

II. As to whether respondents are the proper parties to implead in this case,
petitioners claim that respondents and Aldo are one and the same, and that
THE X X X CA COMMITTED A REVERSIBLE ERROR WHEN IT RULED respondents only want to hide behind Aldo’s corporate fiction. 38 They point out
THAT PETITIONER SPOUSES HING ARE NOT ENTITLED TO THE WRIT that if respondents are not the real owners of the building, where the video
OF PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION ON THE GROUND THAT THERE IS NO surveillance cameras were installed, then they had no business consenting to the
VIOLATION OF THEIR CONSTITUTIONAL AND CIVIL RIGHT TO ocular inspection conducted by the court.39
PRIVACY DESPITE THE FACTUAL FINDINGS OF THE RTC, WHICH
RESPONDENTS CHOACHUY FAILED TO REFUTE, THAT THE Respondents’ Arguments
ILLEGALLY INSTALLED SURVEILLANCE CAMERAS OF
RESPONDENTS CHOACH[U]Y WOULD CAPTURE THE PRIVATE
Respondents, on the other hand, echo the ruling of the CA that petitioners cannot
ACTIVITIES OF PETITIONER SPOUSES HING, THEIR CHILDREN AND
invoke their right to privacy since the property involved is not used as a
EMPLOYEES.
residence.40 Respondents maintain that they had nothing to do with the
installation of the video surveillance cameras as these were installed by Aldo,
III. the registered owner of the building,41as additional security for its
building.42 Hence, they were wrongfully impleaded in this case.43
THE X X X CA COMMITTED A REVERSIBLE ERROR WHEN IT RULED
THAT SINCE THE OWNER OF THE BUILDING IS ALDO Our Ruling
DEVELOPMENT AND RESOURCES, INC. THEN TO SUE RESPONDENTS
CHOACHUY CONSTITUTES A PURPORTEDLY UNWARRANTED
PIERCING OF THE CORPORATE VEIL. The Petition is meritorious.

The right to privacy is the right to be let alone.


IV.
The right to privacy is enshrined in our Constitution44 and in our laws. It is Our Code specifically mentions "prying into the privacy of another’s residence."
defined as "the right to be free from unwarranted exploitation of one’s person or This does not mean, however, that only the residence is entitled to privacy,
from intrusion into one’s private activities in such a way as to cause humiliation because the law covers also "similar acts." A business office is entitled to the
to a person’s ordinary sensibilities." 45 It is the right of an individual "to be free same privacy when the public is excluded therefrom and only such individuals
from unwarranted publicity, or to live without unwarranted interference by the as are allowed to enter may come in. x x x50 (Emphasis supplied)
public in matters in which the public is not necessarily concerned." 46 Simply put,
the right to privacy is "the right to be let alone." 47 Thus, an individual’s right to privacy under Article 26(1) of the Civil Code
should not be confined to his house or residence as it may extend to places
The Bill of Rights guarantees the people’s right to privacy and protects them where he has the right to exclude the public or deny them access. The phrase
against the State’s abuse of power. In this regard, the State recognizes the right "prying into the privacy of another’s residence," therefore, covers places,
of the people to be secure in their houses. No one, not even the State, except "in locations, or even situations which an individual considers as private. And as
case of overriding social need and then only under the stringent procedural long as his right is recognized by society, other individuals may not infringe on
safeguards," can disturb them in the privacy of their homes.48 his right to privacy. The CA, therefore, erred in limiting the application of
Article 26(1) of the Civil Code only to residences.
The right to privacy under Article 26(1)
The "reasonable expectation of
of the Civil Code covers business offices privacy" test is used to determine
whether there is a violation of the right
where the public are excluded to privacy.

In ascertaining whether there is a violation of the right to privacy, courts use the
therefrom and only certain individuals
"reasonable expectation of privacy" test. This test determines whether a person
has a reasonable expectation of privacy and whether the expectation has been
are allowed to enter. violated.51 In Ople v. Torres,52 we enunciated that "the reasonableness of a
person’s expectation of privacy depends on a two-part test: (1) whether, by his
Article 26(1) of the Civil Code, on the other hand, protects an individual’s right conduct, the individual has exhibited an expectation of privacy; and (2) this
to privacy and provides a legal remedy against abuses that may be committed expectation is one that society recognizes as reasonable." Customs, community
against him by other individuals. It states: norms, and practices may, therefore, limit or extend an individual’s "reasonable
expectation of privacy."53 Hence, the reasonableness of a person’s expectation of
Art. 26. Every person shall respect the dignity, personality, privacy and peace of privacy must be determined on a case-to-case basis since it depends on the
mind of his neighbors and other persons. The following and similar acts, though factual circumstances surrounding the case.54
they may not constitute a criminal offense, shall produce a cause of action for
damages, prevention and other relief: In this day and age, video surveillance cameras are installed practically
everywhere for the protection and safety of everyone. The installation of these
(1) Prying into the privacy of another’s residence; cameras, however, should not cover places where there is reasonable expectation
of privacy, unless the consent of the individual, whose right to privacy would be
xxxx affected, was obtained. Nor should these cameras be used to pry into the privacy
of another’s residence or business office as it would be no different from
eavesdropping, which is a crime under Republic Act No. 4200 or the Anti-
This provision recognizes that a man’s house is his castle, where his right to
Wiretapping Law.
privacy cannot be denied or even restricted by others. It includes "any act of
intrusion into, peeping or peering inquisitively into the residence of another
without the consent of the latter."49 The phrase "prying into the privacy of In this case, the RTC, in granting the application for Preliminary Injunction,
another’s residence," however, does not mean that only the residence is entitled ruled that:
to privacy. As elucidated by Civil law expert Arturo M. Tolentino:
After careful consideration, there is basis to grant the application for a temporary avails of the suit. Unless otherwise authorized by law or these Rules, every
restraining order. The operation by respondents of a revolving camera, even if it action must be prosecuted or defended in the name of the real party-in-interest.
were mounted on their building, violated the right of privacy of petitioners, who
are the owners of the adjacent lot. The camera does not only focus on A real party defendant is "one who has a correlative legal obligation to redress a
respondents’ property or the roof of the factory at the back (Aldo Development wrong done to the plaintiff by reason of the defendant’s act or omission which
and Resources, Inc.) but it actually spans through a good portion of the land of had violated the legal right of the former." 57
petitioners.
In ruling that respondents are not the proper parties, the CA reasoned that since
Based on the ocular inspection, the Court understands why petitioner Hing was they do not own the building, they could not have installed the video
so unyielding in asserting that the revolving camera was set up deliberately to surveillance cameras.58 Such reasoning, however, is erroneous. The fact that
monitor the on[-]going construction in his property. The monitor showed only a respondents are not the registered owners of the building does not automatically
portion of the roof of the factory of Aldo. If the purpose of respondents in setting mean that they did not cause the installation of the video surveillance cameras.
up a camera at the back is to secure the building and factory premises, then the
camera should revolve only towards their properties at the back. Respondents’ In their Complaint, petitioners claimed that respondents installed the video
camera cannot be made to extend the view to petitioners’ lot. To allow the
surveillance cameras in order to fish for evidence, which could be used against
respondents to do that over the objection of the petitioners would violate the
petitioners in another case.59 During the hearing of the application for
right of petitioners as property owners. "The owner of a thing cannot make use
Preliminary Injunction, petitioner Bill testified that when respondents installed
thereof in such a manner as to injure the rights of a third person." 55
the video surveillance cameras, he immediately broached his concerns but they
did not seem to care,60 and thus, he reported the matter to the barangay for
The RTC, thus, considered that petitioners have a "reasonable expectation of mediation, and eventually, filed a Complaint against respondents before the
privacy" in their property, whether they use it as a business office or as a RTC.61 He also admitted that as early as 1998 there has already been a dispute
residence and that the installation of video surveillance cameras directly facing between his family and the Choachuy family concerning the boundaries of their
petitioners’ property or covering a significant portion thereof, without their respective properties.62 With these factual circumstances in mind, we believe
consent, is a clear violation of their right to privacy. As we see then, the issuance that respondents are the proper parties to be impleaded.
of a preliminary injunction was justified. We need not belabor that the issuance
of a preliminary injunction is discretionary on the part of the court taking
Moreover, although Aldo has a juridical personality separate and distinct from
cognizance of the case and should not be interfered with, unless there is grave
its stockholders, records show that it is a family-owned corporation managed by
abuse of discretion committed by the court.56 Here, there is no indication of any
the Choachuy family.63
grave abuse of discretion. Hence, the CA erred in finding that petitioners are not
entitled to an injunctive writ.
Also quite telling is the fact that respondents, notwithstanding their claim that
they are not owners of the building, allowed the court to enter the compound of
This brings us to the next question: whether respondents are the proper parties to
Aldo and conduct an ocular inspection. The counsel for respondents even toured
this suit.
Judge Marilyn Lagura-Yap inside the building and answered all her questions
regarding the set-up and installation of the video surveillance cameras.64 And
A real party defendant is one who has a when respondents moved for reconsideration of the Order dated October 18,
correlative legal obligation to redress a 2005 of the RTC, one of the arguments they raised is that Aldo would suffer
wrong done to the plaintiff by reason of damages if the video surveillance cameras are removed and
the defendant's act or omission which transferred.65 Noticeably, in these instances, the personalities of respondents and
had violated the legal right of the Aldo seem to merge.
former.
All these taken together lead us to the inevitable conclusion that respondents are
Section 2, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court provides: merely using the corporate fiction of Aldo as a shield to protect themselves from
this suit. In view of the foregoing, we find that respondents are the proper parties
SEC. 2. Parties-in-interest. — A real party-in-interest is the party who stands to to this suit.
be benefited or injured by the judgment in the suit, or the party entitled to the
WHEREFORE, the Petition is hereby GRANTED. The Decision dated July 10,
2007 and the Resolution dated September 11, 2007 of the Court of Appeals in
CA-G.R. CEB-SP No. 01473 are hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The
Orders dated October 18,2005 and February 6, 200[6] of Branch 28 of the
Regional Trial Court of Mandaue City in Civil Case No. MAN-5223 are hereby
REINSTATED and AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.

MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO


Associate Justice
RHODORA M. LEDESMA, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS and HON. same to other officers of the said hospital, said letter containing slanderous and
MAXIMIANO C. ASUNCION, in his capacity as Presiding Judge of defamatory remarks against DR. JUAN F. TORRES, JR., which states in part, to
RTC, Quezon City, respondents. wit:

DECISION 27June 1991


PANGANIBAN, J.:
Dr. Esperanza I. Cabral
When confronted with a motion to withdraw an information on the ground
Director
of lack of probable cause based on a resolution of the secretary of justice, the
bounden duty of the trial court is to make an independent assessment of the merits
of such motion. Having acquired jurisdiction over the case, the trial court is not Subject: Return of all professional fees due Dr. Rhodora M. Ledesma, Nuclear
bound by such resolution but is required to evaluate it before proceeding further Medicine Specialist/Consultant, Philippine Heart Center, from January 31, 1989
with the trial.While the secretarys ruling is persuasive, it is not binding on to January 31, 1991.
courts. A trial court, however, commits reversible error or even grave abuse of
discretion if it refuses/neglects to evaluate such recommendation and simply Respondents: Dr. Juan F. Torres, Jr., Chief, Nuclear Medicine Section
insists on proceeding with the trial on the mere pretext of having already acquired
jurisdiction over the criminal action. Dr. Orestes P. Monzon,
This principle is explained in this Decision resolving a petition for review
on certiorari of the Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals,[2] promulgated on Staff Consultant
September 14, 1993 in CA-G.R. SP No. 30832 which in effect affirmed an order
of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City denying the prosecutions withdrawal Dear Dr. Cabral,
of a criminal information against petitioner.
This is to demand the return of all professional fees due me as a consultant in
Nuclear Medicine, this Center, since January 31, 1989 until my resignation
The Antecedent Facts effective January 31, 1991, amounting to at least P100,000.00 for the year 1990
alone. Records in the Nuclear Medicine Section will show that from January
1989 to January 1991, a total of 2,308 patients were seen. Of these, I had
From the pleadings submitted in this case, the undisputed facts are as officially supervised, processed, and interpreted approximately a total of 1,551
follows: cases as against approximately 684 and 73 cases done by Dr. Monzon and Dr.
Torres respectively.
Sometime in April 1992, a complaint for libel was filed by Dr. Juan F. Torres,
Jr. against Dr. Rhodora M. Ledesma, petitioner herein, before the Quezon City Until my resignation I had received a monthly share of professional fees
Prosecutors Office, docketed as I.S. No. 92-5433A. Petitioner filed her counter- averaging P1,116.90/month supposedly representing 20% of the total monthly
affidavit to the complaint. professional fees. The rest were divided equally between Dr. Monzon and Dr.
Torres. There was never any agreement between us three consultants that this
Finding sufficient legal and factual basis, the Quezon City Prosecutors Office should be the arrangement and I am certain that this was not with your
filed on July 6, 1992 an Information for libel against petitioner with the Regional approval. The burden of unfairness would have been lesser if there was an equal
Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 104.[3] The Information filed by Assistant distribution of labor and the schedule of duties were strictly followed. As it was,
City Prosecutor Augustine A. Vestil reads: [4] the schedule of duties submitted monthly to the office of the Asst. Director for
Medical Services was simply a dummy to comply with administrative
requirements rather than a guideline for strict compliance. Both consultants have
That on or about the 27th day of June 1991, in Quezon City, Metro Manila, complete daily time records even if they did not come regularly. Dr. Torres came
Philippines, the said accused, acting with malice, did, then and there, wilfully, for an hour every week, Dr. Monzon came sporadically during the week while I
unlawfully and feloniously send a letter addressed to Dr. Esperanza I. Cabral, was left with everything from training the residents and supervising the Techs to
Director of Philippine Heart Center, East Avenue, this city, and furnished the
processing and interpreting the results on a regular basis. I had a part time On January 8, 1993, the trial court issued an Order setting aside its earlier
appointment just like Dr. Monzon and Dr. Torres. Order of September 9, 1992 and scheduling petitioners arraignment on January
18, 1993 at two oclock in the afternoon.[9]
In the interest of fairness and to set a precedent for the protection of future PHC In a resolution dated January 27, 1993, then Justice Secretary Franklin M.
Nuclear Medicine Alumni I am calling your attention to the unfair and inhuman Drilon reversed the Quezon City investigating prosecutor. Pertinent portions of
conditions I went through as a Consultant in that Section. I trust that your sense Drilons ruling read:[10]
of professionalism will put a stop to this corruption.
From the circumstances obtaining, the subject letter was written to bring to the
I suggest that a committee be formed to make an audit of the distribution of attention of the Director of the Philippine Heart Center for Asia and other
professional fees in this Section. At this point, let me stress that since responsible authorities the unjust and unfair treatment that Dr. Ledesma was
professional fees vary according to the type of procedure done and since there getting from complainants. Since complainants and respondent are government
was no equity of labor between us I am not settling for an equal percentage employees, and the subject letter is a complaint to higher authorities of the
share. I demand that I be indemnified of all professional fees due me on a case to PHCA on a subject matter in which respondent has an interest and in reference
case basis. to which she has a duty to question the same is definitely privileged (US vs.
Bustos, 37 Phil. 131). Moreover, in Ang vs. Castro, 136 SCRA 455, the
Let me make clear my intention of pursuing this matter legally should there be Supreme Court, citing Santiago vs. Calvo, 48 Phil. 922, ruled that A
no favorable action in my behalf. Let me state at this point6 that the actions of communication made in good faith upon any subject matter in which the party
Dr. Torres and Dr. Monzon are both unprofessional and unbecoming and are making the communication has an interest or concerning which he has a duty is
clearly violating the code of ethics of the medical profession and the Philippine privileged... although it contains incriminatory or derogatory matter which,
Civil Service Rules and Regulations related to graft and corruption. without the privilege, would be libelous and actionable.

Thank you. The follow-up letter sent by respondent to the director of the PHCA, is a direct
evidence of respondents righteous disposition of following the rule of law and is
and other words of similar import, when in truth and in fact, as the accused very a clear indication that her purpose was to seek relief from the proper higher
well knew, the same are entirely false and untrue but were publicly made for no authority who is the Director of PHCA.
other purpose than to expose said DR. JUAN F. TORRES, JR. to public ridicule,
thereby casting dishonor, discredit and contempt upon the person of the said The same interpretation should be accorded the civil and administrative
offended party, to his damage and prejudice. complaints which respondent filed against complainants. They are mere
manifestations of her earnest desire to pursue proper relief for the alleged
A petition for review of the resolution of Assistant City Prosecutor Vestil injustice she got from complainants. If she was motivated by malice and ill-will
was filed by petitioner before the Department of Justice pursuant to P.D. No. 77 in sending the subject communication to the Director of the PHCA, she would
as amended by P.D. No. 911. not have sent the second letter and filed the administrative and civil cases against
complainants.
The Department of Justice gave due course to the petition and directed the
Quezon City prosecutor to move for deferment of further proceedings and to
Moreover, it is unbelievable that it took complainants one year to realize that the
elevate the entire records of the case.[5] Accordingly, a Motion to Defer
questioned letter subjected them to public and malicious imputation of a vice or
Arraignment dated September 7, 1992 was filed by Prosecutor Tirso M. Gavero
omission. It is beyond the ordinary course of human conduct for complainants to
before the court a quo.[6] On September 9, 1992, the trial court granted the motion
start feeling the effects of the alleged libelous letter - that of experiencing
and deferred petitioners arraignment until the final termination of the petition for
review.[7] sleepless nights, wounded feelings, serious anxiety, moral shock and besmirched
reputation - one year after they read the communication in question.
Without the consent or approval of the trial prosecutor, private complainant,
through counsel, filed a Motion to Lift the Order dated September 9, 1992 and to The claim that the case of Crespo vs. Mogul, 151 SCRA 462 is applicable to the
Set the Case for Arraignment/Trial.[8] instant case is unfounded. In the first place, the instant cases are not being
reinvestigated. It is the resolutions of the investigating prosecutor that are under
review. Further, the record shows that the court has issued an order suspending
the proceedings pending the resolutions of the petitions for review by this I. The Orders, dated February 22, 1993 and March 5, 1993, of respondent Judge
Office. In the issuance of its order, the court recognizes that the Secretary of Asuncion relied solely on the Crespo vs. Mogul (151 SCRA 462) decision. It is
Justice has the power and authority to review the resolutions of prosecutors who respectfully submitted that said case is not applicable because:
are under his control and supervision.
1. It infringes on the constitutional separation of powers between the executive
In view of the foregoing, the appealed resolutions are hereby reversed. You are and judicial branches of the government;
directed to withdraw the Informations which you filed in Court. Inform this
Office of the action taken within ten (10) days from receipt hereof. 2. It constitutes or it may lead to misuse or misapplication of judicial power as
defined in the Constitution;
In obedience to the above directive, Quezon City Trial Prosecutor Tirso M.
Gavero filed a Motion to Withdraw Information dated February 3. It goes against the constitutional proscription that rules of procedure should
17,1993,[11] attaching thereto the resolution of Secretary Drilon. The trial judge not diminish substantive rights;
denied this motion in his Order dated February 22, 1993, as follows:[12]
4. It goes against the principle of non-delegation of powers;
The motion of the trial prosecutor to withdraw the information in the above-
entitled case is denied. Instead, the trial prosecutor of this court is hereby
5. It sets aside or disregards substantive and procedural rules;
directed to prosecute the case following the guidelines and doctrine laid down by
the Supreme Court in the case of Crespo vs. Mogul, 151 SCRA 462.
6. It deprives a person of his constitutional right to procedural due process;
Petitioners motion for reconsideration[13] was denied by the trial judge in the
Order dated March 5, 1993, as follows:[14] 7. Its application may constitute or lead to denial of equal protection of laws;

Finding no cogent reason to justify the reconsideration of the ruling of this Court 8. It deprives the secretary of justice or the president of the power to control or
dated February 22, 1993, the Motion for Reconsideration dated March 1, 1993 review the acts of a subordinate official;
filed by the accused through counsel is hereby denied.
9. It will lead to, encourage, abet or promote abuse or even corruption among the
Aggrieved, petitioner filed a petition for certiorari and prohibition with the ranks of investigating fiscals;
Supreme Court. In a Resolution dated March 31, 1993, this Court referred the case
to the Court of Appeals for proper determination and disposition pursuant to 10. It does not subserve the purposes of a preliminary investigation because -
Section 9, paragraph 1 of B.P. 129.[15]
(10.a) It subjects a person to the burdens of an unnecessary trial, specially in
Respondent Court dismissed the petition for lack of merit, holding that it had
cases where the investigating fiscal recommends no bail for the accused;
no jurisdiction to overturn the doctrine laid down in Crespo vs. Mogul -- once a
complaint or information has been filed in court, any disposition of the
case, i.e., dismissal, conviction or acquittal of the accused, rests on the sound (10.b) It subjects the government, both the executive and the judiciary, to
discretion of the trial court.[16] unnecessary time and expenses attendant to an unnecessary trial;

Hence, this recourse to this Court. (10.c) It contributes to the clogging of judicial dockets; and

11. It has no statutory or procedural basis or precedent.


The Issues
II. On the assumption that Crespo vs. Mogul is applicable, it is submitted that -
For unexplained reasons, petitioner failed to make an assignment of errors
1. Respondent Judge Asuncion committed grave abuse of discretion, amounting
against the appellate court. Her counsel merely repeated the alleged errors of the
to lack of jurisdiction, when he denied the Motion to Withdraw Information
trial court: [17]
since he had already deferred to, if not recognized, the authority of the Secretary 4. Erroneous Appeals. x x x x
of Justice; and
e) Duty of counsel.It is therefore incumbent upon every attorney who would
2. The facts in Crespo vs. Mogul are different from the instant case. Hence, seek review of a judgment or order promulgated against his client to make sure
respondent Judge Asuncion committed grave abuse of discretion, amounting to of the nature of the errors he proposes to assign, whether these be of fact or of
lack of jurisdiction, when he relied solely on said case in denying the Motion to law; then upon such basis to ascertain carefully which Court has appellate
Withdraw Information. jurisdiction; and finally, to follow scrupulously the requisites for appeal
prescribed by law, ever aware that any error or imprecision in compliance may
In sum, the main issue in this petition is: Did Respondent Court commit any well be fatal to his clients cause.
reversible error in affirming the trial courts denial of the prosecutions Motion to
Withdraw Information? FOR STRICT COMPLIANCE.

Be that as it may, the Court noting the importance of the substantial matters
The Courts Ruling raised decided to overlook petitioners lapse and granted due course to the petition
per Resolution dated July 15, 1996, with a warning that henceforth petitions which
fail to specify an assignment of errors of the proper lower court may be denied
The petition is impressed with merit. We answer the above question in the due course motu proprio by this Court.
affirmative.

Determination of Probable Cause Is an Executive Function


Preliminary Matter
The determination of probable cause during a preliminary investigation is
Before discussing the substance of this case, the Court will preliminarily judicially recognized as an executive function and is made by the prosecutor. The
address a procedural matter. Prior to the effectivity of the 1997 Rules of Civil primary objective of a preliminary investigation is to free a respondent from the
Procedure on July 1, 1997, Section 2 of Rule 45, which governed appeals from inconvenience, expense, ignominy and stress of defending himself/herself in the
the Court of Appeals to the Supreme Court, provided: course of a formal trial, until the reasonable probability of his or her guilt has been
passed upon in a more or less summary proceeding by a competent officer
SEC. 2. Contents of petition.The petition shall contain a concise statement of x x designated by law for that purpose. Secondarily, such summary proceeding also
x the assignment of errors made in the court below x x x. protects the state from the burden of unnecessary expense and effort in prosecuting
alleged offenses and in holding trials arising from false, frivolous or groundless
charges.[18]
A petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 requires a concise
statement of the errors committed by the Court of Appeals, not of the trial Such investigation is not a part of the trial. A full and exhaustive presentation
court. For failure to follow this Rule, the petition could have been dismissed by of the parties evidence is not required, but only such as may engender a well-
this Court motu proprio, considering that under Section 4 of the same Rule, review grounded belief that an offense has been committed and that the accused is
is not a matter of right but of sound discretion. probably guilty thereof.[19] By reason of the abbreviated nature of preliminary
investigations, a dismissal of the charges as a result thereof is not equivalent to a
We take this occasion to stress the need for precision and clarity in the judicial pronouncement of acquittal. Hence, no double jeopardy attaches.
assignment of errors. Review under this rule is unlike an appeal in a criminal case
where the death penalty, reclusin perpetua or life imprisonment is imposed and In declaring this function to be lodged in the prosecutor, the Court
where the whole case is opened for review. Under Rule 45, only the issues raised distinguished the determination of probable cause for the issuance of a warrant of
therein by the petitioner will be passed upon by the Court, such that an erroneous arrest or a search warrant from a preliminary investigation proper in this wise: [20]
specification of the issues may cause the dismissal of the petition. We stressed this
in Circular No. 2-90, entitled Guidelines to be Observed in Appeals to the Court xxx Judges and prosecutors alike should distinguish the preliminary inquiry
of Appeals and to the Supreme Court, as follows: which determines probable cause for the issuance of a warrant of arrest from a
preliminary investigation proper which ascertains whether the offender should In the same case, the Court added that where there is a clash of views
be held for trial or released. xxx The determination of probable cause for the between a judge who did not investigate and a fiscal who conducted a
warrant of arrest is made by the Judge. The preliminary investigation proper-- reinvestigation, those of the prosecutor should normally prevail: [23]
whether xxx there is reasonable ground to believe that the accused is guilty of
the offense charged and, therefore, whether xxx he should be subjected to the x x x x The Courts cannot interfere with the fiscals discretion and control of the
expense, rigors and embarrassment of trial--is the function of the prosecutor. criminal prosecution. It is not prudent or even permissible for a Court to compel
the fiscal to prosecute a proceeding originally initiated by him on an
We reiterate that preliminary investigation should be distinguished as to whether information, if he finds that the evidence relied upon by him is insufficient for
it is an investigation for the determination of a sufficient ground for the filing of conviction. Neither has the Court any power to order the fiscal to prosecute or
the information or it is an investigation for the determination of a probable cause file an information within a certain period of time, since this would interfere
for the issuance of a warrant of arrest. The first kind of preliminary investigation with the fiscals discretion and control of criminal prosecutions. Thus, a fiscal
is executive in nature. It is part of the prosecutors job. The second kind of who asks for the dismissal of the case for insufficiency of evidence has authority
preliminary investigation which is more properly called preliminary examination to do so, and Courts that grant the same commit no error. The fiscal may re-
is judicial in nature and is lodged with the judge. investigate a case and subsequently move for the dismissal should the re-
investigation show either that the defendant is innocent or that his guilt may not
Sound policy supports this distinction. Otherwise, judges would be unduly be established beyond reasonable doubt. In a clash of views between the judge
laden with the preliminary examination and investigation of criminal complaints who did not investigate and the fiscal who did, or between the fiscal and the
instead of concentrating on hearing and deciding cases filed before their offended party or the defendant, those of the fiscals should normally prevail. x x
courts. The Separate Opinion of Mr. Chief Justice Andres R. Narvasa in Roberts, x x.
Jr. vs. Court of Appeals stressed that the determination of the existence of
probable cause properly pertains to the public prosecutor in the established
scheme of things, and that the proceedings therein are essentially preliminary, Appeal as an Exercise of the Justice Secretarys Power of Control Over
prefatory and cannot lead to a final, definite and authoritative judgment of the guilt Prosecutors
or innocence of the persons charged with a felony or a crime. [21]
In Crespo vs. Mogul,[22] the Court emphasized the cardinal principle that the
Decisions or resolutions of prosecutors are subject to appeal to the secretary
public prosecutor controls and directs the prosecution of criminal offenses thus:
of justice who, under the Revised Administrative Code, exercises the power of
direct control and supervision over said prosecutors; and who may thus affirm,
It is a cardinal principle that all criminal actions either commenced by complaint nullify, reverse or modify their rulings.
or by information shall be prosecuted under the direction and control of the
fiscal. The institution of a criminal action depends upon the sound discretion of Section 39, Chapter 8, Book IV in relation to Section 5, 8, and 9, Chapter 2,
the fiscal. He may or may not file the complaint or information, follow or not Title III of the Code gives the secretary of justice supervision and control over the
follow that presented by the offended party, according to whether the evidence Office of the Chief Prosecutor and the Provincial and City Prosecution
in his opinion, is sufficient or not to establish the guilt of the accused beyond Offices. The scope of his power of supervision and control is delineated in Section
reasonable doubt. The reason for placing the criminal prosecution under the 38, paragraph 1, Chapter 7, Book IV of the Code:
direction and control of the fiscal is to prevent malicious or unfounded
prosecution by private persons. It cannot be controlled by the (1) Supervision and Control. Supervision and control shall include authority to
complainant.Prosecuting officers under the power vested in them by law, not act directly whenever a specific function is entrusted by law or regulation to a
only have the authority but also the duty of prosecuting persons who, according subordinate; direct the performance of duty; restrain the commission of acts;
to the evidence received from the complainant, are shown to be guilty of a crime review, approve, reverse or modify acts and decisions of subordinate officials
committed within the jurisdiction of their office. They have equally the legal or units; xxxx.
duty not to prosecute when after an investigation they become convinced that the
evidence adduced is not sufficient to establish a prima facie case. Supplementing the aforequoted provisions are Section 3 of R.A. 3783 and
Section 37 of Act 4007, which read:

Section 3. x x x x
The Chief State Prosecutor, the Assistant Chief State Prosecutors, the Senior The justice secretarys power of review may still be availed of despite the
State Prosecutors, and the State Prosecutors shall x x x perform such other duties filing of an information in court. In his discretion, the secretary may affirm,
as may be assigned to them by the Secretary of Justice in the interest of public modify or reverse resolutions of his subordinates pursuant to Republic Act No.
service. 5180, as amended,[27] specifically in Section 1 (d):

xxx xxx xxx (d) x x x Provided, finally, That where the resolution of the Provincial or City
Fiscal or the Chief State Prosecutor is, upon review, reversed by the Secretary of
Section 37. The provisions of the existing law to the contrary notwithstanding, Justice, the latter may, where he finds that no prima facie case exists, authorize
whenever a specific power, authority, duty, function, or activity is entrusted to a and direct the investigating fiscal concerned or any other fiscal or state
chief of bureau, office, division or service, the same shall be understood as also prosecutor to cause or move for the dismissal of the case, or, where he finds
conferred upon the proper Department Head who shall have authority to act a prima facie case, to cause the filing of an information in court against the
directly in pursuance thereof, or to review, modify, or revoke any decision or respondent, based on the same sworn statements or evidence submitted without
action of said chief of bureau, office, division or service. the necessity of conducting another preliminary investigation.

Supervision and control of a department head over his subordinates have Pursuant thereto, the Department of Justice promulgated Circular No. 7
been defined in administrative law as follows:[24] dated January 25, 1990 governing appeals in preliminary investigation. Appeals
under Section 2 are limited to resolutions dismissing a criminal
complaint. However, Section 4 provides an exception: appeals from resolutions
In administrative law supervision means overseeing or the power or authority of
an officer to see that subordinate officers perform their duties. If the latter fail or finding probable cause upon a showing of manifest error or grave abuse of
discretion are allowed, provided the accused has not been arraigned. In the present
neglect to fulfill them, the former may take such action or step as prescribed by
case, petitioners appeal to the secretary of justice was given due course on August
law to make them perform such duties. Control, on the other hand, means the
26, 1992 pursuant to this Circular.
power of an officer to alter or modify or nullify or set aside what a subordinate
officer had done in the performance of his duties and to substitute the judgment On June 30, 1993, Circular No. 7 was superseded by Department Order No.
of the former for that of the latter. 223; however, the scope of appealable cases remained unchanged:

Review as an act of supervision and control by the justice secretary over the SECTION 1. What May Be Appealed. -- Only resolutions of the Chief State
fiscals and prosecutors finds basis in the doctrine of exhaustion of administrative Prosecutor/Regional State Prosecutor/Provincial or City Prosecutor dismissing a
remedies which holds that mistakes, abuses or negligence committed in the initial criminal complaint may be the subject of an appeal to the Secretary of Justice
steps of an administrative activity or by an administrative agency should be except as otherwise provided in Section 4 hereof.
corrected by higher administrative authorities, and not directly by courts. As a
rule, only after administrative remedies are exhausted may judicial recourse be Appeals from the resolutions of provincial/city prosecutors where the penalty
allowed. prescribed for the offense charged does not exceed prisin
correccional, regardless of the imposable fine, shall be made to the Regional
State Prosecutors who shall resolve the appeals with finality, pursuant to
Appeal to the Secretary of Justice Is Not Foreclosed by the Ruling in Crespo Department Order No. 318 dated August 28, 1991 as amended by D.O. No. 34
dated February 4, 1992, D.O. No. 223 dated August 11, 1992 and D.O. No. 45
dated February 2, 1993. Such appeals shall also be governed by these rules.
In Marcelo vs. Court of Appeals,[25] the Court clarified that Crespo[26] did
not foreclose the power or authority of the secretary of justice to review SEC. 4. Non-Appealable Cases; Exceptions.--No appeal may be taken from a
resolutions of his subordinates in criminal cases. The Court recognized resolution of the Chief State Prosecutor/Regional State Prosecutor/Provincial or
in Crespo that the action of the investigating fiscal or prosecutor in the City Prosecutor finding probable cause except upon showing of manifest error or
preliminary investigation is subject to the approval of the provincial or city fiscal grave abuse of discretion. Notwithstanding the showing of manifest error or
or chief state prosecutor. Thereafter, it may be appealed to the secretary of justice. grave abuse of discretion, no appeal shall be entertained where the appellant had
already been arraigned. If the appellant (is) arraigned during the pendency of the
appeal, x x x appeal shall be dismissed motu proprio by the Secretary of Justice.
An appeal/motion for reinvestigation from a resolution finding probable cause, government. It is not empowered to substitute its judgment for that of Congress
however, shall not hold the filing of the information in court. or of the President. It may, however, look into the question of whether such
exercise has been made in grave abuse of discretion.
Apart from the foregoing statutory and administrative issuances, the power Judicial review of the acts of other departments is not an assertion of
of review of the secretary of justice is recognized also by Section 4 of Rule 112 superiority over them or a derogation of their functions. In the words of Justice
of the Rules of Court: Laurel in Angara vs. Electoral Commission:[29]

SEC. 4. Duty of investigating fiscal.--x x x x x x x [W]hen the judiciary mediates to allocate constitutional boundaries, it does
not in reality nullify or invalidate an act of the legislature, but only asserts the
xxx xxx xxx solemn and sacred obligation assigned to it by the Constitution to determine
conflicting claims of authority under the Constitution and to establish for the
If upon petition by a proper party, the Secretary of Justice reverses the resolution parties in an actual controversy the rights which that instrument sources and
of the provincial or city fiscal or chief state prosecutor, he shall direct the fiscal guarantees to them. This is in truth all that is involved in what is termed judicial
concerned to file the corresponding information without conducting another supremacy which properly is the power of the judicial review under the
preliminary investigation or to dismiss or move for dismissal of the complaint or Constitution. x x x.
information.
It is not the purpose of this Court to decrease or limit the discretion of the
This appeal rests upon the sound discretion of the secretary of justice arising secretary of justice to review the decisions of the government prosecutors under
from his power of supervision and control over the prosecuting arm of the him. In Crespo, the secretary was merely advised to restrict such review to
government, not on a substantial right on the part of the accused as claimed by exceptionally meritorious cases. Rule 112, Section 4 of the Rules of Court, which
petitioner. recognizes such power, does not, however, allow the trial court to automatically
dismiss the case or grant the withdrawal of the information upon the resolution of
the secretary of justice. This is precisely the import of Crespo, Marcelo, Martinez
vs. Court of Appeals[30] and the recent case of Roberts, Jr. vs. Court of
Appeal Did Not Divest the Trial Court of Jurisdiction
Appeals, which all required the trial court to make its own evaluation of the merits
of the case, because granting the motion to dismiss or to withdraw the information
Where the secretary of justice exercises his power of review only after an is equivalent to effecting a disposition of the case itself.
information has been filed, trial courts should defer or suspend arraignment and
further proceedings until the appeal is resolved. Such deferment or suspension,
however, does not signify that the trial court is ipso facto bound by the resolution The Marcelo and Martinez Cases Are Consistent
of the secretary of justice. Jurisdiction, once acquired by the trial court, is not lost
despite a resolution by the secretary of justice to withdraw the information or to
dismiss the case. In Marcelo vs. Court of Appeals,[31] this Court ruled that, although it is more
prudent to wait for a final resolution of a motion for review or reinvestigation from
the secretary of justice before acting on a motion to dismiss or a motion to
withdraw an information, a trial court nonetheless should make its own study and
Judicial Review of the Resolution of the Secretary of Justice
evaluation of said motion and not rely merely on the awaited action of the
secretary. The trial court has the option to grant or deny the motion to dismiss the
Judicial power is defined under the 1987 Constitution as the duty of courts case filed by the fiscal, whether before or after the arraignment of the accused,
to settle actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and and whether after a reinvestigation or upon instructions of the secretary who
enforceable. Such power includes the determination of whether there has been a reviewed the records of the investigation; provided that such grant or denial is
grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part made from its own assessment and evaluation of the merits of the motion.
of any branch or instrumentality of the government.[28] Under this definition, a In Martinez vs. Court of Appeals,[32] this Court overruled the grant of the
court is without power to directly decide matters over which full discretionary motion to dismiss filed by the prosecuting fiscal upon the recommendation of the
authority has been delegated to the legislative or executive branch of the
secretary of justice because such grant was based upon considerations other than Had he complied with his judicial obligation, he would have discovered that
the judges own assessment of the matter. Relying solely on the conclusion of the there was, in fact, sufficient ground to grant the motion to withdraw the
prosecution to the effect that there was no sufficient evidence against the accused information. The documents before the trial court judge clearly showed that there
to sustain the allegation in the information, the trial judge did not perform his was no probable cause to warrant a criminal prosecution for libel.
function of making an independent evaluation or assessment of the merits of the
case. Under the established scheme of things in criminal prosecutions, this Court
would normally remand the case to the trial judge for his or her independent
Despite the pronouncement in Marcelo that a final resolution of the appeal assessment of the motion to withdraw the information. However, in order not to
to the Department of Justice is necessary, both decisions followed the rule delay the disposition of this case and to afford the parties complete relief, we have
in Crespo vs. Mogul: Once a complaint or information is filed in court, any decided to make directly the independent assessment the trial court should have
disposition of the case such as its dismissal or its continuation rests on the sound done. The petitioner has attached as annexes to the present petition for review the
discretion of the court. Trial judges are thus required to make their own information, which contains a complete and faithful reproduction of the subject
assessment of whether the secretary of justice committed grave abuse of discretion letter, the resolution of the secretary of justice, the prosecutions motion for
in granting or denying the appeal, separately and independently of the reconsideration of the trial courts Order of February 22, 1993, and even the private
prosecutions or the secretarys evaluation that such evidence is insufficient or that complainants opposition to said motion. The records below have been reproduced
no probable cause to hold the accused for trial exists. They should embody such and submitted to this Court for its appreciation. Thus, a remand to the trial court
assessment in their written order disposing of the motion. serves no purpose and will only clog the dockets.
The above-mentioned cases depict two extreme cases in complying with this We thus proceed to examine the substance of the resolution of the secretary
rule. In Marcelo, the dismissal of the criminal action upon the favorable of justice. The secretary reversed the finding of probable cause on the grounds that
recommendation of the Review Committee, Office of the City Prosecutor, was (1) the subject letter was privileged in nature and (2) the complaint was merely a
precipitate in view of the pendency of private complainants appeal to the secretary countercharge.
of justice. In effect, the secretarys opinion was totally disregarded by the trial
court. In contrast, in Martinez the dismissal of the criminal action was an In every case for libel, the following requisites must concur:
erroneous exercise of judicial discretion as the trial court relied hook, line and
sinker on the resolution of the secretary, without making its own independent (a) it must be defamatory;
determination of the merits of the said resolution.
(b) it must be malicious;

No Grave Abuse of Discretion in theResolution of the Secretary of Justice (c) it must be given publicity; and

(d) the victim must be identifiable.


In the light of recent holdings in Marcelo and Martinez; and considering that
the issue of the correctness of the justice secretarys resolution has been amply At the preliminary investigation stage, these requisites must show prima
threshed out in petitioners letter, the information, the resolution of the secretary facie a well-founded belief that a crime has been committed and that the accused
of justice, the motion to dismiss, and even the exhaustive discussion in the motion probably committed it. A cursory reading of the information immediately
for reconsideration all of which were submitted to the court -- the trial judge demonstrates a failure on the part of the complainant to establish the foregoing
committed grave abuse of discretion when it denied the motion to withdraw the elements of libel.
information, based solely on his bare and ambiguous reliance on Crespo. The trial
courts order is inconsistent with our repetitive calls for an independent and Every defamatory imputation, even if true, is presumed malicious, if no good
competent assessment of the issue(s) presented in the motion to dismiss. The trial intention or justifiable motive for making it is shown. There is malice when the
judge was tasked to evaluate the secretarys recommendation finding the absence author of the imputation is prompted by personal ill will or spite and speaks not
of probable cause to hold petitioner criminally liable for libel. He failed to do in response to duty but merely to injure the reputation of the person who claims
so. He merely ruled to proceed with the trial without stating his reasons for to have been defamed. [33] In this case however, petitioners letter was written to
disregarding the secretarys recommendation. seek redress of proper grievance against the inaccurate distribution and payment
of professional fees and against unfair treatment in the Nuclear Medicine
Department of the Philippine Heart Center. It is a qualified privileged manifestations of her earnest desire to pursue proper relief for the alleged
communication under Article 354(1) of the Revised Penal Code which provides: injustice she got from complainants. If she was motivated by malice and ill-will
in sending the subject communication to the Director of the PHCA, she would
ART. 354. Requirement of publicity. -- Every defamatory imputation is not have sent the second letter and filed the administrative and civil cases against
presumed to be malicious, even if it be true, if no good intention and justifiable complainants.
motive for making it is shown, except in the following cases:
In Alonzo, the settled rule is that, when a public officer, in the discharge of
1. A private communication made by any person to another in the performance his or her official duties, sends a communication to another officer or to a body of
of any legal, moral or social duty; and officers, who have a duty to perform with respect to the subject matter of the
communication, such communication does not amount to publication within the
meaning of the law on defamation.[35] Publication in libel means making the
xxx xxx xxx
defamatory matter, after it has been written, known to someone other than the
The rule on privileged communication is that a communication made in good person to whom it has been written.[36] The reason for such rule is that a
faith on any subject matter in which the communicator has an interest, or communication of the defamatory matter to the person defamed cannot injure his
concerning which he has a duty, is privileged if made to a person having a reputation though it may wound his self-esteem. A mans reputation is not the good
corresponding interest or duty, although it contains incriminatory matter which, opinion he has of himself, but the estimation in which others hold him. [37] In this
without the privilege, would be libelous and actionable. Petitioners letter was a case, petitioner submitted the letter to the director of said hospital; she did not
private communication made in the performance of a moral duty on her part. Her disseminate the letter and its contents to third persons. Hence, there was no
intention was not to inflict an unjustifiable harm on the private complainant, but publicity and the matter is clearly covered by paragraph 1 of Article 354 of the
to present her grievance to her superior. The privileged nature of her letter Penal Code.
overcomes the presumption of malice. There is no malice when justifiable motive
Further, we note that the information against petitioner was filed only on
exists; and in the absence of malice, there is no libel. We note that the information
July 27, 1992 or one year after June 27, 1991, the date the letter was sent. It is
itself failed to allege the existence of malice.
obviously nothing more than a countercharge to give Complainant Torres a
Thus, we agree with the ruling of the secretary of justice:[34] leverage against petitioners administrative action against him.
Ineluctably, Judge Asuncions denial of the motion to withdraw the
x x x (T)he subject letter was written to bring to the attention of the Director of information and the reconsideration thereof was not only precipitate but
the Philippine Heart Center for Asia and other responsible authorities the unjust manifestly erroneous. This is further compounded by the fact that he did not
and unfair treatment that Dr. Ledesma was getting from government employees, explain his grounds for his denial inasmuch as he did not make an independent
and the subject letter is a complaint x x x on a subject matter in which assessment of the motion or the arguments in the resolution of the secretary of
respondent has an interest and in reference to which she has a duty to question justice. All in all, such rash action did not do justice to the sound ruling in Crespo
the same is definitely privileged (US vs. Bustos, 37 Phil. 131).Moreover, in Ang vs. Mogul upon which, ironically, he supposedly rested his action, or to the
vs. Castro, 136 SCRA 455, the Supreme Court, citing Santiago vs. Calvo, 48 directive in Marcelo and Martinez where this Court required trial courts to make
Phil. 922, ruled that a communication made in good faith upon any subject an independent assessment of the merits of the motion.
matter in which the party making the communication has an interest or
concerning which he has a duty is privileged although it contains incriminatory WHEREFORE, the assailed Decision is hereby REVERSED and SET
or derogatory matter which, without the privilege, would be libelous and ASIDE. The Motion to Withdraw the Information dated February 17, 1993 filed
actionable. before the trial court is GRANTED. No costs.
SO ORDERED.
The follow-up letter sent by respondent to the director of the PHCA, is a
direct evidence of respondents righteous disposition of following the rule of law
and is a clear indication that her purpose was to seek relief from the proper
higher authority xxx.

The same interpretation should be accorded the civil and administrative


complaints which respondent filed against complainants. They are mere
LOURDES CORPUS, complainant, fraud" in that knowing, of the pendency of the above-mentioned civil case before
vs. the Court of Appeals, said Judge nonetheless ratified a deed of sale of cadastral
MUNICIPAL JUDGE CIPRIANO P. CABALUNA, JR., ALIMODIAN, lot 1762 in favor of Procopio Cabalfin and awarded said lot to the latter. 6 The
ILOILO, respondent. Secretary of Justice required respondent Judge to answer the complaint after
which the record was forwarded to Judge Sancho Y. Inserto of the Court of First
Instance of Iloilo for investigation, report and recommendation. On May 24,
MUÑOZ PALMA, J.: 1972, Judge Inserts submitted his report and recommended the exoneration of
respondent for lack of evidence to substantiate the charge.7 The office of the
Secretary of Justice concurs with the recommendation.8
Sometime on August 26, 1953, Lourdes Corpus and several, others filed
with the Court of First Instance of Iloilo a complaint against Tiburcia
Brabanco and Felix Amijana docketed as civil case No. 2843 concerning the For the charge of "gross fraud" to prosper there is need of clear and convincing
ownership of two parcels of land located in Barrio Bugang, Municipality of evidence that respondent knew that one of the parcels involved in civil case 2843
Alimodian, Province of Iloilo. In a decision dated September 5, 1955, the and adjudicated to complainant was the same property which he awarded to
Court of First Instance of Iloilo rendered judgment declaring the plaintiffs spouses Cabalfin in the cadastral proceeding; such evidence is,
true owners of the parcels of land described in the complaint and ordering however, wanting in the record of this case.
the defendants to vacate the same. These case was appealed to the Court of
Appeals by the defendants and on February 26, 1963, a judgment was The only possible basis for complainant's accusation was her testimony that
rendered which affirmed the decision of the trial court. 1 sometime in 1961 she met respondent who inquired about the status or
"development" of the civil case and she informed him that the case was still
In the meantime, the Municipal Judge of Alimodian, Iloilo, Mr. Cipriano P. pending before the Court of Appeals.9 Assuming that the conversation occurred,
Cabaluna, Jr., acting as Cadastral Judge, heard several cadastral cases, one of complainant failed, however, to bring out that respondent was cognizant of the
which was Cadastral Case No. N-11, L.R.C. Cadastral Record No. N-387 of the relation of the property involved in the civil case to the land applied for in the
Alimodian Cadastre, which involved a parcel of land described as cadastral lot cadastral proceeding. The complaint in the civil case did not identify any of the
1762, with Adriano Camarista as claimant. In the course of the hearing of the two parcels described therein as cadastral lot 1762 10 which was the
case, Adriano Camarista executed a deed of sale in favor of Procopio Cabalfin identification used in the cadastral proceeding. As a matter of fact, complainant
and the document was ratified by Judge Cabaluna, Jr. After the hearing, herself was unaware in 1961 that cadastral lot 1762 claimed by Adriano
cadastral lot 1762 was adjudicated to spouses Procopio and Cleofe Cabalfin on Camarista in the cadastral proceeding was the same land adjudicated to her and
July 30, 1963.2 her co-plaintiffs in the civil case, and for that reason she did not oppose the
claim of Camarista not until she filed her answer in the cadastral proceeding on
On March 4, 1964, Lourdes Corpus and her co-plaintiffs in civil case 2843 filed February 6, 1964, by which time, however, the land had already been awarded to
spouses Procopio Cabalfin and Cleofe C. Cabalfin as vendees of the applicant. 11
in the cadastral case a petition to set aside the decision rendered therein and to
order another hearing on the ground that cadastral lot 1762 is the same parcel of
land litigated in civil case 2843 which was awarded to them by final judgment of The acts of respondent in ratifying the deed of sale of lot 1762 executed by
the Court of Appeals. Upon receipt of this petition, Judge Cabaluna, Jr. inhibited Adriano Camarista in favor of spouses Cabalfin and adjudicating said lot to the
himself and forwarded the records to the Court of First Instance of Iloilo for a latter as vendees thereof are not in themselves "fraudulent", to use the word of
hearing on the merits.3 complainant, in the absence of any showing that respondent connived with the
claimant Adriano Camarista and/or spouses Cabalfin in causing the approval of
the latter's claim over the land in question to the prejudice of the rights of
Lourdes Corpus likewise filed on April 26, 1966, a complaint with the Court of
complainant.
First Instance of Iloilo against spouses Procopio and Cleofe Cabalfin for
annulment of the aforementioned decision rendered in the cadastral case 4 and
there the trial court found that cadastral lot 1762 and the land litigated in civil Fraud is serious charge which cannot be lightly inferred from allegations or
case 2843 were indeed one and the same.5 circumstances surrounding a particular situation, but must be supported by clear
and convincing proof. 12
Not contented with having filed civil case 6998, Lourdes Corpus charged Judge
Cabaluna, Jr. before the Secretary of Justice with having committed "gross WHEREFORE, We exonerate respondent and dismiss the charge against him.
LAURA CORPUS, and the minors RICARDO, TERESITA and prescribed considering that the complaint was brought four years and eleven
CORAZON, all surnamed MARCIA and represented by their mother months after the collision and that according to Article 1144 of the Civil Code
LAURA CORPUS, plaintiffs-appellants, an action based upon a quasi-delict must be instituted within four years. The
vs. lower court, in its order of May 31, 1966, dismissed the complaint on the ground
FELARDO PAJE and THE VICTORY LINER TRANSPORTATION CO., that plaintiffs' action was based upon a quasi-delict and that it had prescribed.
INC., defendants-appellees. The plaintiffs appealed direct to this Court on questions of law from the order
dismissing the complaint.
Crispin D. Baizas and Associates for plaintiffs-appellants.
Flores, Macapagal, Ocampo and Balbastro for defendants-appellees. Plaintiffs-appellants contend that the lower court erred in dismissing the
complaint. The contention is unmeritorious in view of the following
CAPISTRANO, J.: considerations.

This is a direct appeal on questions of law from an order of the Court of First (1) The acquittal of the defendant Felardo Paje by the Court of Appeals in the
Instance of Rizal dismissing the complaint in Civil Case No. 6880 of that court. criminal action on the ground that the reckless imprudence or criminal
negligence charged against him did not exist and that the collision was a case of
pure accident, was a bar to the civil action for damages for the death of
On December 23, 1956, a passenger bus of the Victory Liner Transportation Co.,
Clemente Marcia, which action was based upon the same criminal negligence of
Inc., driven by Felardo Paje, collided within the municipality of Lubao,
Pampanga, with a jeep driven by Clemente Marcia, resulting in the latter's death which the defendant Felardo Paje was acquitted in the criminal action. In the
and in physical injuries to two other persons. celebrated case of Chantangco vs. Abaroa, which was an appeal from the
Philippine Supreme Court to the United States Supreme Court, 218 U.S. 476; 54
L. Ed. 1116; 40 Phil. 1056, Mr. Justice Lurton, speaking for the Supreme Court
An information for homicide and double serious physical injuries through of the United States, said:
reckless imprudence was filed against Felardo Paje in the Court First Instance of
Pampanga. The heirs of Clemente Marcia reserved their right to institute a
separate civil action for damages. On November 7, 1960, the accused, Felardo It is true that one of the plaintiffs in the present case reserved whatever
right he may have had to bring a civil action. This was obviously of no
Paje, was found guilty and convicted of the crime charged in the information.
avail, inasmuch as there resulted a judgment for the defendant, and the
Said defendant appealed the judgment of conviction to the Court of Appeals. On
plain inference from the foregoing is that a verdict of acquittal must
November 21, 1961, while defendant's appeal was pending decision in the Court
of Appeals, Clemente Marcia's heirs, namely, his widow, Laura Corpus, and carry with it exemption from civil responsibility.
their minor children, instituted in the Court of First Instance of Rizal a separate
civil action (Civil Case No. 6880) for damages based upon the criminal act of Criminal negligence, that is, reckless imprudence, is not one of the three crimes
reckless imprudence against Felardo Paje and the Victory Liner Transportation mentioned in Article 33 of the Civil Code which authorizes the institution of an
Co., Inc., defendants, praying that said defendants be ordered to pay jointly and independent civil action, that is, of an entirely separate and distinct civil action
severally the amounts of damages claimed by the plaintiffs. On November 9, for damages, which shall proceed independently of the criminal prosecution and
1962, the Court of Appeals promulgated its decision in the appeal of Felardo shall be proved only by a preponderance of evidence. Said article mentions only
Paje reversing the appealed judgment and acquitting the appellant after finding the crimes of defamation, fraud (estafa) and physical injuries. Although in the
that the reckless imprudence charged against him did not exist, and that the case of Dyogi, et al. vs. Yatco, et al., G.R. No. L-9623, January 22, 1957, this
collision was a case of pure accident. Court held that the term "physical injuries" used in article 33 of the Civil Code
includes homicide, 1 it is to be borne in mind that the charge against Felardo Paje
On December 29, 1962, the defendants filed in the civil action a motion to was for reckless imprudence resulting in homicide, and not for homicide and
dismiss on the ground that the action was barred by the acquittal by the Court of physical injuries. In the case of People vs. Buan, G.R. No. L-25366, March 29,
1968, Mr. Justice J.B.L. Reyes, speaking for the Supreme Court, said that the
Appeals of the defendant Felardo Paje in the criminal action. The motion was
"offense of criminal negligence under article 365 of the Revised Penal Code lies
denied.
in the execution of an imprudent or negligent act that, if intentionally done,
would be punishable as a felony. The law penalizes thus the negligent or careless
At the pre-trial of the civil case, the defendants asked the court to rule on their act, not the result thereof. The gravity of the consequence is only taken into
special defense that plaintiffs' cause of action based upon a quasi-delict had account to determine the penalty; it does not qualify the substance of the
offense." It is, therefore, clear that the charge against Felardo Paje was not for
homicide but for reckless imprudence, that is, criminal negligence resulting in
homicide (death of Clemente Marcia) and double physical injuries suffered by
two other persons. As reckless imprudence or criminal negligence is not one of
the three crimes mentioned in Article 33 of the Civil Code, there is no
independent civil action for damages that may be instituted in connection with
said offense. Hence, homicide through reckless imprudence or criminal
negligence comes under the general rule that the acquittal of the defendant in the
criminal action is a bar to his civil liability based upon the same criminal act
notwithstanding that the injured party reserved 2 his right to institute a separate
civil action (Chantangco vs. Abaroa, supra). In the language of the Rules of
Court (Rule 111, Sec. 3) the extinction of the criminal action by acquittal of the
defendant on the ground that the criminal act charged against him did not exist,
necessarily extinguished also the civil action for damages based upon the same
act.

(2) Assuming, arguendo, that the civil action for damages for the death of
Clemente Marcia was based upon a quasi-delict, 3 the trial court's finding that on
that basis the action had prescribed is correct. An action upon a quasi-delict must
be instituted within four (4) years (Article 1146, Civil Code). The four-year
prescriptive period began to run from the day the quasi-delict was committed, or
from December 23, 1956, and the running of the said period was not interrupted
by the institution of the criminal action for reckless imprudence. (Paulan vs.
Sarabia, G.R. No. L-10542, July 31, 1958.)

PREMISES CONSIDERED, the order appealed from is affirmed, with special


pronouncement as to costs.
ERNESTO RAMAS UYPITCHING and RAMAS UYPITCHING SONS, Nine years later, on January 26, 1991, petitioner Uypitching, accompanied by
INC., petitioners, policemen,5 went to Avesco-AVNE Enterprises to recover the motorcycle. The
vs. leader of the police team, P/Lt. Arturo Vendiola, talked to the clerk in charge
ERNESTO QUIAMCO, respondent. 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 motorcycle."

On learning that respondent was not in Avesco-AVNE Enterprises, the


DECISION 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.

CORONA, J.: On February 18, 1991, petitioner Uypitching filed a criminal complaint for
qualified theft and/or violation of the Anti-Fencing Law6 against respondent in
Honeste vivere, non alterum laedere et jus suum cuique tribuere. To live the Office of the City Prosecutor of Dumaguete City.7 Respondent moved for
virtuously, not to injure others and to give everyone his due. These supreme dismissal because the complaint did not charge an offense as he had neither
norms of justice are the underlying principles of law and order in society. We stolen nor bought the motorcycle. The Office of the City Prosecutor dismissed
reaffirm them in this petition for review on certiorari assailing the July 26, 2000 the complaint8 and denied petitioner Uypitching’s subsequent motion for
decision1 and October 18, 2000 resolution of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA- reconsideration.
G.R. CV No. 47571.
Respondent filed an action for damages against petitioners in the RTC of
In 1982, respondent Ernesto C. Quiamco was approached by Juan Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental, Branch 37.9 He sought to hold the petitioners
Davalan,2 Josefino Gabutero and Raul Generoso to amicably settle the civil liable for the following: (1) unlawful taking of the motorcycle; (2) utterance of a
aspect of a criminal case for robbery3 filed by Quiamco against them. They defamatory remark (that respondent was a thief) and (3) precipitate filing of a
surrendered to him a red Honda XL-100 motorcycle and a photocopy of its baseless and malicious complaint. These acts humiliated and embarrassed the
certificate of registration. Respondent asked for the original certificate of respondent and injured his reputation and integrity.
registration but the three accused never came to see him again. Meanwhile, the
motorcycle was parked in an open space inside respondent’s business On July 30, 1994, the trial court rendered a decision10 finding that petitioner
establishment, Avesco-AVNE Enterprises, where it was visible and accessible to Uypitching was motivated with malice and ill will when he called respondent a
the public. 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
It turned out that, in October 1981, the motorcycle had been sold on installment were found to be contrary to Articles 1911 and 2012 of the Civil Code. Hence, the
basis to Gabutero by petitioner Ramas Uypitching Sons, Inc., a family-owned trial court held petitioners liable to respondent for P500,000 moral
corporation managed by petitioner Atty. Ernesto Ramas Uypitching. To secure damages, P200,000 exemplary damages and P50,000 attorney’s fees plus costs.
its payment, the motorcycle was mortgaged to petitioner corporation. 4
Petitioners appealed the RTC decision but the CA affirmed the trial court’s
When Gabutero could no longer pay the installments, Davalan assumed the decision with modification, reducing the award of moral and exemplary damages
obligation and continued the payments. In September 1982, however, Davalan to P300,000 and P100,000, respectively.13 Petitioners sought reconsideration but
stopped paying the remaining installments and told petitioner corporation’s it was denied. Thus, this petition.
collector, Wilfredo Veraño, that the motorcycle had allegedly been "taken by
respondent’s men." 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 authorities. That Atty. Uypitching’s act in charging [respondent] with
costs in favor of respondent. 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
Petitioners’ suggestion is misleading. They were held liable for damages not conversations] - "why should you still file a complaint? You have
only for instituting a groundless complaint against respondent but also for already recovered the motorcycle…"[:] "Aron motagam ang kawatan
making a slanderous remark and for taking the motorcycle from respondent’s ug motor." ("To teach a lesson to the thief of motorcycle.") 17
establishment in an abusive manner.
Moreover, the existence of malice, ill will or bad faith is a factual matter. As a
Correctness of the Findings of the RTC and CA 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 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 respondent 14 but also the
taking of the motorcycle, petitioners were deemed to have accepted the Petitioners Abused Their Right of Recovery as Mortgagee(s)
correctness of such findings. This alone was sufficient to hold petitioners liable
for damages to respondent. 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
Nevertheless, to address petitioners’ concern, we also find that the trial and preliminary to the enforcement of its right to foreclose on the mortgage in case
appellate courts correctly ruled that the filing of the complaint was tainted with of default. They are clearly mistaken.
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 True, a mortgagee may take steps to recover the mortgaged property to enable it
this connection, we quote with approval the following findings of the RTC, as to enforce or protect its foreclosure right thereon. There is, however, a well-
adopted by the CA: 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
x x x There was malice or ill-will [in filing the complaint before the foreclosure, he must bring a civil action either to recover such possession as a
City Prosecutor’s Office] because Atty. Ernesto Ramas Uypitching preliminary step to the sale, or to obtain judicial foreclosure.18
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 Petitioner corporation failed to bring the proper civil action necessary to acquire
and fencing activity against [respondent]. Atty. Uypitching had no legal possession of the motorcycle. Instead, petitioner Uypitching descended on
personal knowledge that [respondent] stole the motorcycle in question. respondent’s establishment with his policemen and ordered the seizure of the
He was merely told by his bill collector ([i.e.] the bill collector of motorcycle without a search warrant or court order. Worse, in the course of the
Ramas Uypitching Sons, Inc.)[,] Wilfredo Veraño[,] that Juan Dabalan illegal seizure of the motorcycle, petitioner Uypitching even mouthed a
will [no longer] pay the remaining installment(s) for the motorcycle slanderous statement.
because the motorcycle was taken by the men of [respondent]. It must
be noted that the term used by Wilfredo Veraño in informing Atty. No doubt, petitioner corporation, acting through its co-petitioner Uypitching,
Ernesto Ramas Uypitching of the refusal of Juan Dabalan to pay for the blatantly disregarded the lawful procedure for the enforcement of its right, to the
remaining installment was [‘]taken[’], not [‘]unlawfully taken[’] or prejudice of respondent. Petitioners’ acts violated the law as well as public
‘stolen.’ Yet, despite the double hearsay, Atty. Ernesto Ramas morals, and transgressed the proper norms of human relations.
Uypitching not only executed the [complaint-affidavit] wherein he
named [respondent] as ‘the suspect’ of the stolen motorcycle but also The basic principle of human relations, embodied in Article 19 of the Civil
charged [respondent] of ‘qualified theft and fencing activity’ before the
Code, provides:
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 Art. 19. Every person must in the exercise of his rights and in the
accuse [respondent] or the latter’s men of stealing the motorcycle[,] performance of his duties, act with justice, give every one his due, and
much less bother[ed] to file a case for qualified theft before the 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 are AFFIRMED.

Triple costs against petitioners, considering that petitioner Ernesto Ramas


Uypitching is a lawyer and an officer of the court, for his improper behavior.

SO ORDERED.
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, represented by the DEPARTMENT various Mount Pinatubo rehabilitation projects were valid and effective although
OF PUBLIC WORKS AND HIGHWAYS, COMMISSION ON AUDIT and its contractor’s license had already expired when the projects were contracted. 10
THE NATIONAL TREASURER, Petitioner,
vs. In a Letter-Reply dated September 1, 1993, Cesar D. Mejia, Director III of the
CARLITO LACAP, doing business under the name and style CARWIN DPWH Legal Department opined that since Republic Act No. 4566 (R.A. No.
CONSTRUCTION AND CONSTRUCTION SUPPLY, Respondent. 4566), otherwise known as the Contractor’s License Law, does not provide that
a contract entered into after the license has expired is void and there is no law
DECISION which expressly prohibits or declares void such contract, the contract is
enforceable and payment may be paid, without prejudice to any appropriate
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.: administrative liability action that may be imposed on the contractor and the
government officials or employees concerned.11
Before the Court is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the
Revised Rules of Court assailing the Decision1 dated April 28, 2003 of the Court In a Letter dated July 4, 1994, the District Engineer requested clarification from
of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 56345 which affirmed with modification the DPWH Legal Department on whether Carwin Construction should be paid
the Decision2 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 41, San Fernando, Pampanga for works accomplished despite an expired contractor’s license at the time the
(RTC) in Civil Case No. 10538, granting the complaint for Specific Performance contracts were executed.12
and Damages filed by Carlito Lacap (respondent) against the Republic of the
Philippines (petitioner). In a First Indorsement dated July 20, 1994, Cesar D. Mejia, Director III of the
Legal Department, recommended that payment should be made to Carwin
The factual background of the case is as follows: Construction, reiterating his earlier legal opinion.13 Despite such
recommendation for payment, no payment was made to respondent.
The District Engineer of Pampanga issued and duly published an "Invitation To
Bid" dated January 27, 1992. Respondent, doing business under the name and Thus, on July 3, 1995, respondent filed the complaint for Specific Performance
style Carwin Construction and Construction Supply (Carwin Construction), was and Damages against petitioner before the RTC.14
pre-qualified together with two other contractors. Since respondent submitted
the lowest bid, he was awarded the contract for the concreting On September 14, 1995, petitioner, through the Office of the Solicitor General
of Sitio 5 Bahay Pare.3 On November 4, 1992, a Contract Agreement was (OSG), filed a Motion to Dismiss the complaint on the grounds that the
executed by respondent and petitioner.4 On September 25, 1992, District complaint states no cause of action and that the RTC had no jurisdiction over the
Engineer Rafael S. Ponio issued a Notice to Proceed with the concreting nature of the action since respondent did not appeal to the COA the decision of
of Sitio 5 Bahay Pare.5 Accordingly, respondent undertook the works, made the District Auditor to disapprove the claim.15
advances for the purchase of the materials and payment for labor costs. 6
Following the submission of respondent’s Opposition to Motion to
On October 29, 1992, personnel of the Office of the District Engineer of San Dismiss,16 the RTC issued an Order dated March 11, 1996 denying the Motion
Fernando, Pampanga conducted a final inspection of the project and found it to Dismiss.17 The OSG filed a Motion for Reconsideration18 but it was likewise
100% completed in accordance with the approved plans and specifications. denied by the RTC in its Order dated May 23, 1996.19
Accordingly, the Office of the District Engineer issued Certificates of Final
Inspection and Final Acceptance.7 On August 5, 1996, the OSG filed its Answer invoking the defenses of non-
exhaustion of administrative remedies and the doctrine of non-suability of the
Thereafter, respondent sought to collect payment for the completed project.8 The State.20
DPWH prepared the Disbursement Voucher in favor of petitioner. 9 However, the
DPWH withheld payment from respondent after the District Auditor of the Following trial, the RTC rendered on February 19, 1997 its Decision, the
Commission on Audit (COA) disapproved the final release of funds on the dispositive portion of which reads as follows:
ground that the contractor’s license of respondent had expired at the time of the
execution of the contract. The District Engineer sought the opinion of the
WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing consideration, judgment is hereby
DPWH Legal Department on whether the contracts of Carwin Construction for
rendered in favor of the plaintiff and against the defendant, ordering the latter,
thru its District Engineer at Sindalan, San Fernando, Pampanga, to pay the (b) IT IS THE COMMISSION ON AUDIT WHICH HAS THE PRIMARY
following: JURISDICTION TO RESOLVE RESPONDENT’S MONEY CLAIM
AGAINST THE GOVERNMENT.25
a) ₱457,000.00 – representing the contract for the concreting project of Sitio 5
road, Bahay Pare, Candaba, Pampanga plus interest at 12% from demand until Petitioner contends that respondent’s recourse to judicial action was premature
fully paid; and since the proper remedy was to appeal the District Auditor’s disapproval of
payment to the COA, pursuant to Section 48, Presidential Decree No. 1445 (P.D.
b) The costs of suit. No. 1445), otherwise known as the Government Auditing Code of the
Philippines; that the COA has primary jurisdiction to resolve respondent’s
money claim against the government under Section 2(1),26 Article IX of the
SO ORDERED.21
1987 Constitution and Section 2627 of P.D. No. 1445; that non-observance of the
doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies and the principle of primary
The RTC held that petitioner must be required to pay the contract price since it jurisdiction results in a lack of cause of action.
has accepted the completed project and enjoyed the benefits thereof; to hold
otherwise would be to overrun the long standing and consistent pronouncement
Respondent, on the other hand, in his Memorandum28 limited his discussion to
against enriching oneself at the expense of another.22
Civil Code provisions relating to human relations. He submits that equity
demands that he be paid for the work performed; otherwise, the mandate of the
Dissatisfied, petitioner filed an appeal with the CA.23 On April 28, 2003, the CA Civil Code provisions relating to human relations would be rendered nugatory if
rendered its Decision sustaining the Decision of the RTC. It held that since the the State itself is allowed to ignore and circumvent the standard of behavior it
case involves the application of the principle of estoppel against the government sets for its inhabitants.
which is a purely legal question, then the principle of exhaustion of
administrative remedies does not apply; that by its actions the government is
The present petition is bereft of merit.
estopped from questioning the validity and binding effect of the Contract
Agreement with the respondent; that denial of payment to respondent on purely
technical grounds after successful completion of the project is not countenanced The general rule is that before a party may seek the intervention of the court, he
either by justice or equity. should first avail of all the means afforded him by administrative
processes.29 The issues which administrative agencies are authorized to decide
should not be summarily taken from them and submitted to a court without first
The CA rendered herein the assailed Decision dated April 28, 2003, the
dispositive portion of which reads: giving such administrative agency the opportunity to dispose of the same after
due deliberation.30
WHEREFORE, the decision of the lower court is hereby AFFIRMED with
Corollary to the doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies is the doctrine
modification in that the interest shall be six percent (6%) per annum computed
from June 21, 1995. of primary jurisdiction; that is, courts cannot or will not determine a controversy
involving a question which is within the jurisdiction of the administrative
tribunal prior to the resolution of that question by the administrative tribunal,
SO ORDERED.24 where the question demands the exercise of sound administrative discretion
requiring the special knowledge, experience and services of the administrative
Hence, the present petition on the following ground: tribunal to determine technical and intricate matters of fact.31

THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT FINDING THAT Nonetheless, the doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies and the
RESPONDENT HAS NO CAUSE OF ACTION AGAINST PETITIONER, corollary doctrine of primary jurisdiction, which are based on sound public
CONSIDERING THAT: policy and practical considerations, are not inflexible rules. There are many
accepted exceptions, such as: (a) where there is estoppel on the part of the party
(a) RESPONDENT FAILED TO EXHAUST ADMINISTRATIVE invoking the doctrine; (b) where the challenged administrative act is patently
REMEDIES; AND illegal, amounting to lack of jurisdiction; (c) where there is unreasonable delay
or official inaction that will irretrievably prejudice the complainant; (d) where
the amount involved is relatively small so as to make the rule impractical and On the question of whether a contractor with an expired license is entitled to be
oppressive; (e) where the question involved is purely legal and will ultimately paid for completed projects, Section 35 of R.A. No. 4566 explicitly provides:
have to be decided by the courts of justice;32 (f) where judicial intervention is
urgent; (g) when its application may cause great and irreparable damage; (h) SEC. 35. Penalties. Any contractor who, for a price, commission, fee or wage,
where the controverted acts violate due process; (i) when the issue of non- submits or attempts to submit a bid to construct, or contracts to or undertakes to
exhaustion of administrative remedies has been rendered moot;33 (j) when there construct, or assumes charge in a supervisory capacity of a construction work
is no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy; (k) when strong public interest is within the purview of this Act, without first securing a license to engage in the
involved; and, (l) in quo warranto proceedings. 34Exceptions (c) and (e) are business of contracting in this country; or who shall present or file the license
applicable to the present case. certificate of another, give false evidence of any kind to the Board, or any
member thereof in obtaining a certificate or license, impersonate another, or use
Notwithstanding the legal opinions of the DPWH Legal Department rendered in an expired or revoked certificate or license, shall be deemed guilty of
1993 and 1994 that payment to a contractor with an expired contractor’s license misdemeanor, and shall, upon conviction, be sentenced to pay a fine of not less
is proper, respondent remained unpaid for the completed work despite repeated than five hundred pesos but not more than five thousand pesos. (Emphasis
demands. Clearly, there was unreasonable delay and official inaction to the great supplied)
prejudice of respondent.
The "plain meaning rule" or verba legis in statutory construction is that if the
Furthermore, whether a contractor with an expired license at the time of the statute is clear, plain and free from ambiguity, it must be given its literal
execution of its contract is entitled to be paid for completed projects, clearly is a meaning and applied without interpretation.40 This rule derived from the
pure question of law. It does not involve an examination of the probative value maxim Index animi sermo est (speech is the index of intention) rests on the valid
of the evidence presented by the parties. There is a question of law when the presumption that the words employed by the legislature in a statute correctly
doubt or difference arises as to what the law is on a certain state of facts, and not express its intention or will and preclude the court from construing it differently.
as to the truth or the falsehood of alleged facts.35 Said question at best could be The legislature is presumed to know the meaning of the words, to have used
resolved only tentatively by the administrative authorities. The final decision on words advisedly, and to have expressed its intent by use of such words as are
the matter rests not with them but with the courts of justice. Exhaustion of found in the statute.41 Verba legis non est recedendum, or from the words of a
administrative remedies does not apply, because nothing of an administrative statute there should be no departure.42
nature is to be or can be done.36 The issue does not require technical knowledge
and experience but one that would involve the interpretation and application of The wordings of R.A. No. 4566 are clear. It does not declare, expressly or
law. impliedly, as void contracts entered into by a contractor whose license had
already expired. Nonetheless, such contractor is liable for payment of the fine
Thus, while it is undisputed that the District Auditor of the COA disapproved prescribed therein. Thus, respondent should be paid for the projects he
respondent’s claim against the Government, and, under Section 4837 of P.D. No. completed. Such payment, however, is without prejudice to the payment of the
1445, the administrative remedy available to respondent is an appeal of the fine prescribed under the law.
denial of his claim by the District Auditor to the COA itself, the Court holds
that, in view of exceptions (c) and (e) narrated above, the complaint for specific Besides, Article 22 of the Civil Code which embodies the maxim Nemo ex
performance and damages was not prematurely filed and within the jurisdiction alterius incommode debet lecupletari (no man ought to be made rich out of
of the RTC to resolve, despite the failure to exhaust administrative remedies. As another’s injury) states:
the Court aptly stated in Rocamora v. RTC-Cebu (Branch VIII):38
Art. 22. Every person who through an act of performance by another, or any
The plaintiffs were not supposed to hold their breath and wait until the other means, acquires or comes into possession of something at the expense of
Commission on Audit and the Ministry of Public Highways had acted on the the latter without just or legal ground, shall return the same to him.
claims for compensation for the lands appropriated by the government. The road
had been completed; the Pope had come and gone; but the plaintiffs had yet to
This article is part of the chapter of the Civil Code on Human Relations, the
be paid for the properties taken from them. Given this official indifference,
provisions of which were formulated as "basic principles to be observed for the
which apparently would continue indefinitely, the private respondents had to act
rightful relationship between human beings and for the stability of the social
to assert and protect their interests.39 order, x x x designed to indicate certain norms that spring from the fountain of
good conscience, x x x guides human conduct [that] should run as golden
threads through society to the end that law may approach its supreme ideal
which is the sway and dominance of justice." 43 The rules thereon apply equally
well to the Government.44 Since respondent had rendered services to the full
satisfaction and acceptance by petitioner, then the former should be compensated
for them. To allow petitioner to acquire the finished project at no cost would
undoubtedly constitute unjust enrichment for the petitioner to the prejudice of
respondent. Such unjust enrichment is not allowed by law.

WHEREFORE, the present petition is DENIED for lack of merit. The assailed
Decision of the Court of Appeals dated April 28, 2003 in CA-G.R. CV No.
56345 is AFFIRMED. No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.