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Torts and Damages: Culpa Aquilana vs.

Culpa Criminal
EN BANC
[G.R. No. 129029. April 3, 2000.]
RAFAEL REYES TRUCKING CORPORATION, petitioner, vs. PEOPLE OF
THE PHILIPPINES and ROSARIO P. DY (for herself and on behalf of
the minors Maria Luisa, Francis Edward, Francis Mark and Francis
Rafael, all surnamed Dy), respondents.
Perpetuo G. Paner for petitioner.
The Solicitor General for respondents.
SYNOPSIS
In an information filed before the Regional Trial Court of Isabela, Romeo Dunca was
charged with the crime of reckless imprudence resulting in double homicide and damage
to property. The information stated that Dunca recklessly and negligently drove the
vehicle registered in the name of Rafael Trucking Corporation causing the vehicle to hit
and bump a Nissan Pick-up driven by Feliciano Balcita and Francisco Dy, Jr. Said accident
caused the victims multiple injuries, open wounds, abrasions and death to Francisco Dy,
Jr. The Pick-up also suffered damages in the amount of P2,000,000.00. The offended
parties (Rosario P. Dy and minor children and Angelina M. Balcita and minor son Paolo)
made a reservation to file a separate civil action against the accused arising from the
offense charged. On November 29, 1989, the offended parties actually filed with the
Regional Trial Court of Isabela, a complaint against petitioner Rafael Reyes Trucking
Corporation, as employer of driver Romeo Dunca based on quasi delict. The private
respondents opted to pursue the criminal action but did not withdraw the civil case quasi
ex delicto they filed against petitioner. On December 15, 1989, private respondents
withdrew the reservation to file a separate civil action against the accused and
manifested that they would prosecute the civil aspect ex delicto in the criminal action.
However, they did not withdraw the separate civil action based on quasi delict against
petitioner as employer arising from the same act or omission of the accused driver. On

June 6, 1992, the trial court rendered a joint decision finding the accused Romeo Dunca
guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Double Homicide through Reckless
Imprudence with violation of the Motor Vehicle Law (Rep. Act No. 4136), and appreciating
in his favor the mitigating circumstance of voluntary surrender without any aggravating
circumstance to offset the same. The court also ordered the driver to indemnify the heirs
of Francisco Dy, Jr. On October 26, 1992, the trial court rendered a supplemental decision
amending the dispositive portion by ordering the defendant Rafael Reyes Trucking
Corporation subsidiarily liable for all the damages awarded to the heirs of Francisco Dy,
Jr. On January 6, 1997, the Court of Appeals rendered an amended decision affirming that
of the trial court. On January 31, 1997, petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration of the
amended decision. On April 21, 1997, the Court of Appeals denied petitioner's motion for
reconsideration for lack of merit. Hence, this petition for review. DcCASI
The Supreme Court granted the petition resolving under circumstances pro hac vice to
remand the cases to the trial court for determination of the civil liability of petitioner as
employer of the accused driver in the civil action quasi ex delicto. The Court ruled that
Rafael Reyes Trucking Corporation, as employer of the accused who had been adjudged
guilty in the criminal case for reckless imprudence, can not be held subsidiarily liable
because of the filing of the separate civil action based on quasi delict against it. In view
of the reservation to file, and the subsequent filing of the civil action for recovery of civil
liability, the same was not instituted with the criminal action. Such separate civil action
was for recovery of damages under Article 2176 of the Civil Code, arising from the same
act or omission of the accused. However, petitioner as defendant in the separate civil
action for damages filed against it, based on quasi delict, may be held liable thereon.
Thus, the trial court grievously erred in dismissing plaintiff's civil complaint. And the
Court of Appeals erred in affirming the trial court's decision. Unfortunately private
respondents did not appeal from such dismissal and could not be granted affirmative
relief. The Court, however, in exceptional cases, has relaxed the rules. Invoking this
principle, the Court ruled that the trial court erred in awarding civil damages in the
criminal case and in dismissing the civil action. Apparently satisfied with such award,
private respondent did not appeal from the dismissal of the civil case. However,
petitioner did appeal. Hence, this case should be remanded to the trial court so that it
may render decision in the civil case awarding damages as may be warranted by the
evidence. The award of damages in the criminal case was improper because the civil
action for the recovery of civil liability was waived in the criminal action by the filing of a
separate civil action against the employer. The only issue brought before the trial court

in the criminal action is whether accused Romeo Dunca y de Tumol was guilty of reckless
imprudence resulting in homicide and damage to property. The action for recovery of
civil liability is not included therein, but is covered by the separate civil action filed
against the petitioner as employer of the accused truck-driver. In this case, accuseddriver jumped bail pending his appeal from his conviction. Thus, the judgment convicting
the accused became final and executory, but only insofar as the penalty in the criminal
action is concerned. The damages awarded in the criminal action was invalid because of
its effective waiver. The trial court erred in awarding damages in the criminal case
because by virtue of the reservation of the right to bring a separate civil action or the
filing thereof, "there would be no possibility that the employer would be held liable
because in such a case there would be no pronouncement as to the civil liability of the
accused.
SYLLABUS
1. CIVIL LAW; DAMAGES; QUASI DELICT; ENFORCEMENT OF CIVIL LIABILITY; RULE. In
negligence cases, the aggrieved party has the choice between (1) an action to enforce
civil liability arising from crime under Article 100 of the Revised Penal Code; and (2) a
separate action for quasi delict under Article 2176 of the Civil Code of the Philippines.
Once the choice is made, the injured party can not avail himself of any other remedy
because he may not recover damages twice for the same negligent act or omission of
the accused. This is the rule against double recovery. In other words, "the same act or
omission can create two kinds of liability on the part of the offender, that is, civil
liability ex delicto, and civil liability quasi delicto" either of which "may be enforced
against the culprit, subject to the caveat under Article 2177 of the Civil Code that the
offended party can not recover damages under both types of liability." In the instant
case, the offended parties elected to file a separate civil action for damages against
petitioner as employer of the accused, based on quasi delict, under Article 2176 of the
Civil Code of the Philippines. Private respondents sued petitioner Rafael Reyes Trucking
Corporation, as the employer of the accused, to be vicariously liable for the fault or
negligence of the latter. Under the law, this vicarious liability of the employer is founded
on at least two specific provisions of law.
2. REMEDIAL LAW; CRIMINAL PROCEDURE; WAIVER OF CIVIL ACTIONS; RATIONALE. The
rationale behind this rule is the avoidance of multiple suits between the same litigants
arising out of the same act or omission of the offender. The restrictive phraseology of the

section under consideration is meant to cover all kinds of civil actions, regardless of their
source in law, provided that the action has for its basis the same act or omission of the
offender.
3. CRIMINAL LAW; RECKLESS IMPRUDENCE RESULTING IN HOMICIDE; AWARD OF
DAMAGES IN CRIMINAL CASE IMPROPER IN CASE AT BAR. Invoking this principle, we
rule that the trial court erred in awarding civil damages in the criminal case and in
dismissing the civil action. Apparently satisfied with such award, private respondent did
not appeal from the dismissal of the civil case. However, petitioner did appeal. Hence,
this case should be remanded to the trial court so that it may render decision in the civil
case awarding damages as may be warranted by the evidence. With regard to the
second issue, the award of damages in the criminal case was improper because the civil
action for the recovery of civil liability was waived in the criminal action by the filing of a
separate civil action against the employer. As enunciated in Ramos vs. Gonong, "civil
indemnity is not part of the penalty for the crime committed." The only issue brought
before the trial court in the criminal action is whether accused Romeo Dunca y de Tumol
is guilty of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide and damage to property. The action
for recovery of civil liability is not included therein, but is covered by the separate civil
action filed against the petitioner as employer of the accused truck-driver. In this case,
accused-driver jumped bail pending his appeal from his conviction. Thus, the judgment
convicting the accused became final and executory, but only insofar as the penalty in the
criminal action is concerned. The damages awarded in the criminal action was invalid
because of its effective waiver. The pronouncement was void because the action for
recovery of the civil liability arising from the crime has been waived in said criminal
action.
4. ID.;

ID.;

DOUBLE

HOMICIDE

THROUGH

RECKLESS

IMPRUDENCE;

NO

SUCH

NOMENCLATURE OF AN OFFENSE UNDER THE REVISED PENAL CODE. Parenthetically,


the trial court found the accused "guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Double
Homicide Through Reckless Imprudence with violation of the Motor Vehicle Law (Rep. Act
No. 4136)." There is no such nomenclature of an offense under the Revised Penal Code.
Thus, the trial court was misled to sentence the accused "to suffer two (2) indeterminate
penalties of four (4) months and one (1) day of arresto mayor, as minimum, to three (3)
years, six (6) months and twenty (20) days of prision correccional, as maximum." This is
erroneous because in reckless imprudence cases, the actual penalty for criminal
negligence bears no relation to the individual willful crime or crimes committed, but is
set in relation to a whole class, or series of crimes.

VITUG, J., separate opinion:


1. CIVIL LAW; INDEPENDENT CIVIL ACTIONS; QUASI DELICT; FAILURE TO RECOVER IN
CIVIL LIABILITY EX DELICTO WILL NOT NECESSARILY PRECLUDE RECOVERY IN CIVIL
LIABILITY EX QUASI DELICTO. An early established rule under our law is that an act or
omission, extra-contractual in nature, causing damage to another, there being fault or
negligence can create two separate civil liabilities on the part of the offender, i.e., civil
liability ex delicto and civil liability ex quasi delicto. Either one of these two possible
liabilities may be sought to be enforced against the offender, subject however, to
the caveat under Article 2177 of the Civil Code that the offended party cannot "recover
damages twice for the same act or omission" or under both causes. Outside of this
proscription, the two civil liabilities are distinct and independent of each other; thus, and
conversely against the rule on double recovery, the failure of recovery in one will not
necessarily preclude recovery in the other.
2. ID.; ID.; ID.; NOTWITHSTANDING THE INDEPENDENT NATURE OF THE CIVIL ACTIONS
FALLING UNDER ARTICLES 32, 33, 34, AND 2176 OF THE CIVIL CODE, THE RIGHT TO
INSTITUTE A CIVIL ACTION MUST STILL HAVE TO BE RESERVED. In the recently decided
case of San Ildefonso Lines, Inc., vs. Court of Appeals, et al., the Supreme Court has
ruled that, notwithstanding the independent nature of civil actions falling under Articles
32, 33, 34 and 2176 of the Civil Code, the right to institute the action must still have to
be reserved. In the stern words of the Court: The "past pronouncements that view the
reservation requirement as an unauthorized amendment to substantive law, i.e., the Civil
Code, should no longer be controlling." Essentially, I share this view although I also
understand San Ildefonso as merely fortifying a procedural rule that unless a reservation
is made, the court trying the criminal case would not, for instance, be precluded from
taking cognizance of the civil aspect of the litigation and that, upon the other hand, the
other court in the civil case might, motu propio or at the instance of a party, hold in
abeyance the consideration thereof pending the outcome of the criminal case.
In Maniago vs. Court of Appeals, the Court has said that the requirement of reservation is
not incompatible with the distinct and separate character of independent civil actions.
Indeed, there is no incongruence between allowing the trial of civil actions to proceed
independently of the criminal prosecution and mandating that, before so proceeding, a
reservation to do so should first be made.

3. ID.; ID.; ID.; VICARIOUS LIABILITY OF EMPLOYER; BASIS AND DISTINCTION THEREOF.
The vicarious liability of an employer for the fault or negligence of an employee is
founded on at least two specific provisions of law. The first is expressed in Article 2176,
in relation to article 2180, of the Civil Code which would allow an action predicated
on quasi-delict to be instituted by the injured party against the employer for an act or
omission of the employee and would necessitate only a preponderance of evidence in
order to prevail. Here, the liability of the employer for the negligent conduct of the
subordinate is direct and primary subject to the defense of due diligence in the selection
and supervision of the employee. The enforcement of the judgment against the employer
for an action based on Article 2176 does not require the employee to be insolvent since
the nature of the liability of the employer with that of the employee, the two being
statutorily considered joint tortfeasors, is solidary. The second, predicated on Article 103
of the Revised Penal Code, provides that an employer may be held subsidiarily liable for
a felony committed by his employee in the discharge of his duty. This liability attaches
when the employee is convicted of a crime done in the performance of his work and is
found to be insolvent that renders him unable to properly respond to the civil liability
adjudged.
4. ID.; ID.; ID.; DUE PROCESS DEMANDS THAT THE EMPLOYER BE ACCORDED FULL
OPPORTUNITY TO BE HEARD TO DISPUTE THE BASIC THESIS UPON WHICH THE LIABILITY
IS PREMISED. Normally, the judgment in the criminal case concludes the employer not
only with regard to the civil liability but likewise with regard to its amount since the
liability of an employer follows that of the employee. Nevertheless, due process demands
that the employer be accorded full opportunity to be heard to dispute the basic thesis
upon which that liability is premised, i.e., the existence of an employer-employee
relationship, engagement in an industry by the employer, and commission of the felony
by the employee in carrying on his tasks. In highly meritorious cases, the extent of the
liability of the employer himself, including the amount of damages, although final and
conclusive on the accused, may be shown by the employer to be clearly unwarranted or
unconscionable to be a valid measure of his own subsidiary liability. In such an instance,
there is little excuse for not allowing the employer due process and to be given a chance
to be heard thereon. The right of the employer to his own day in court, in no way, would
amend or nullify the final judgment rendered by the court which stands unaffected
insofar as the accused himself is concerned. It bears stressing that the employer takes
no active role in the criminal proceedings, nor entitled to take such role, up until he

suddenly finds himself open to a possible subsidiary liability following the judgment of
conviction. ETIDaH
DAVIDE, JR., C.J., dissenting opinion:
CRIMINAL LAW; RECKLESS IMPRUDENCE; PETITIONER AS EMPLOYER OF THE OFFENDING
DRIVER IS SUBSIDIARILY LIABLE FOR DAMAGES; CASE AT BAR. I believe that we cannot
even suspend the rules to accommodate the plaintiffs in Civil Case No. Br. 19-424. Such
suspension would do much violence to the rules and open floodgates to dangerous
precedents. It is settled that every person criminally liable for a felony is also civilly
liable. (Article 100, Revised Penal Code). Employers are subsidiarily civilly liable for
felonies committed by their employees. The aggrieved parties in criminal cases may
pursue their claims for damages either as delictual damages, orquasi-delictual damages
under Article 2176 of the Civil Code, which the Code considers as "entirely distinct and
separate from the civil liability arising from negligence under the Revised Penal Code."
However, Article 2177 of the Civil Code expressly provides that "the plaintiffs cannot
recover damages twice for the same act or omission of the defendant." The offended
parties filed a separate action for damages under Article 2176. It must, however, be
pointed out that, as can be gathered from the ponencia, only petitioner was made as
defendant

in

that

civil

case.

Part

of

the

first

paragraph

of

page

three

of

the ponencia reads: On November 29, 1989, the offended parties actually filed with the
Regional Trial Court, Isabela, Branch 19, Cauayan, a complaint against petitioner Rafael
Reyes Trucking Corporation, as employer of driver Romeo Dunca y de Tumol, based
on quasi-delicts. Obviously then there was no separate civil action for damages arising
from the felony. It was then deemed impliedly instituted in the criminal action against
the driver. The civil case against petitioner alone was consolidated with the criminal case
where the civil aspect arising from the delict was impliedly instituted against the driver.
Hence, there was no legal obstacle for the trial court to award damages therein, such as
indemnity for the death, etc. and pursuant to Article 103 of the Revised Penal Code, to
make petitioner subsidiarily liable for the awards. Considering, however, the abovestated proscription in Article 2177 of the Civil Code, the trial court had dismissed the civil
case for damages against petitioner, which was already made subsidiarily liable for the
damages in the criminal case.
MENDOZA, J., dissenting opinion:
1. CRIMINAL LAW; SUBSIDIARY CIVIL LIABILITY; REQUISITES. To establish the subsidiary
civil liability of the petitioner, the following must be shown: (1) that petitioner is engaged

in an industry; (2) that its employee (Romeo Dunca) committed the offense in the
discharge of his duties; and (3) that the employee is insolvent.
2. ID.; ID.; A JUDGMENT CONVICTING THE ACCUSED IS CONCLUSIVE UPON THE PARTY
SUBSIDIARILY LIABLE. The second requisite must likewise be deemed to have been
established since it is settled that, in the absence of any collusion between the accused
employee and the offended party, a judgment convicting the former is conclusive upon
the party subsidiarily liable. Petitioner cannot claim that he has been deprived of due
process on the ground that it was not a party to the suit. For as held in Miranda v. Malate
Garage & Taxicab, Inc.: It is true that an employer, strictly speaking, is not a party to the
criminal case instituted against his employee but in substance and in effect he is,
considering the subsidiary liability imposed upon him by law. It is his concern, as well as
his employee, to see to it that his interest be protected in the criminal case by taking
virtual participation in the defense of his employee. He cannot leave him to his own fate
because his failure is also his. And if because of his indifference or inaction the employee
is convicted and damages are awarded against him, he cannot later be heard to
complain, if brought to court for the enforcement of his subsidiary liability, that he was
not given his day in court . . . DICcTa
3. ID.; ID.; THE CASE SHOULD BE REMANDED TO THE TRIAL COURT FOR THE SOLE
PURPOSE OF DETERMINING THE SUBSIDIARY CIVIL LIABILITY. To relieve petitioner from
its subsidiary liability, the Court has to declare the award of damages ex delicto void
because, by filing a civil action based on quasi delict, the offended parties allegedly
waived the right to bring action ex delicto. As already stated, it was the right to bring an
action for quasi delict which was waived as a result of the reservation to file a civil
action ex delicto. Hence, as a consequence of the driver's jumping bail, the judgment
finding him liable not only criminally but also civilly became final. As under Art. 103 of
the Revised Penal Code the employer is subsidiarily liable, there is no way by which
petitioner may be absolved from such liability except upon a showing that the driver is
not insolvent. Even assuming that the right of the offended parties to recover
damages ex delicto had been waived, the award of such damages by the trial court
simply constitute an error of judgment. Hence, the award of damages ex delicto to the
offended parties is not void and is now final. The Court has not only set aside a final
disposition by declaring it void; it has likewise ordered the reopening of a case already
dismissed with finality on the simplistic reasoning that the rules of procedure may be
relaxed "in order to promote their objectives and assist the parties in obtaining just,
speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action or proceedings." There is no

reason for doing so in this case since, as already stated, all the parties herein had been
duly heard before the trial court rendered its decision. Indeed, for what purpose is this
case to be remanded to the trial court? So that petitioner can present evidence in its
defense? But it has already done so. For the trial court to re-determine the amount of
damages? But even under Arts. 2176 and 2180, the employer is liable for the same
amount the employee is liable, as the only difference between its liability ex delicto and
its liability based on quasi delict is that the former is subsidiary or secondary to that of
the driver while its liability for quasi delict is primary. I do not think it is worth sacrificing
legal rules to reach the judgment the majority arrives at in this case. The award of
damages ex delicto in the decision of the trial court is final, just as the dismissal of the
case for quasi delict is final. To ignore this fact is to set at naught the policy behind the
finality of judicial decisions and deprive adjudication of stability.

DECISION

PARDO, J p:
The case is an appeal via certiorari from the amended decision 1 of the Court of
Appeals 2 affirming the decision and supplemental decision of the trial court, 3 as
follows:
"IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, judgment is hereby rendered dismissing the
appeals interposed by both accused and Reyes Trucking Corporation and
affirming the Decision and Supplemental Decision dated June 6, 1992 and
October 26, 1992 respectively. LLpr
"SO ORDERED." 4
The facts are as follows:
On October 10, 1989, Provincial Prosecutor Patricio T. Durian of Isabela filed with the
Regional Trial Court, Isabela, Branch 19, Cauayan an amended information charging
Romeo Dunca y de Tumol with reckless imprudence resulting in double homicide and
damage to property, reading as follows: LibLex

"That on or about the 20th day of June, 1989, in the Municipality of


Cauayan, Province of Isabela, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the said accused being the driver and person-in-charge of
a Trailer Truck Tractor bearing Plate No. N2A-867 registered in the name of
Rafael Reyes Trucking Corporation, with a load of 2,000 cases of empty
bottles of beer grande, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously drove and
operated the same while along the National Highway of Barangay Tagaran,
in said Municipality, in a negligent, careless and imprudent manner, without
due regard to traffic laws, rules and ordinances and without taking the
necessary precautions to prevent injuries to persons and damage to
property, causing by such negligence, carelessness and imprudence the
said trailer truck to hit and bump a Nissan Pick-up bearing Plate No. BBG957 driven by Feliciano Balcita and Francisco Dy, Jr., @ Pacquing, due to
irreversible shock, internal and external hemorrhage and multiple injuries,
open wounds, abrasions, and further causing damages to the heirs of
Feliciano Balcita in the amount-of P100,000.00 and to the death of
Francisco Dy, Jr.; @ Pacquing and damages to his Nissan Pick-Up bearing
Plate No. BBG-957 in the total amount of P2,000,000.00.
"CONTRARY TO LAW.
"Cauayan, Isabela, October 10, 1989.
"(Sgd.) FAUSTO C. CABANTAC
"Third Assistant Provincial Prosecutor"
Upon arraignment on October 23, 1989, the accused entered a plea of not guilty. On the
same occasion, the offended parties (Rosario P. Dy and minor children and Angelina M.
Balcita and minor son Paolo) made a reservation to file a separate civil action against the
accused arising from the offense charged. 5 On November 29, 1989, the offended parties
actually filed with the Regional Trial Court, Isabela, Branch 19, Cauayan a complaint
against petitioner Rafael Reyes Trucking Corporation, as employer of driver Romeo
Dunca y de Tumol, based on quasi delict. The petitioner settled the claim of the heirs of
Feliciano Balcita (the driver of the other vehicle involved in the accident). The private
respondents opted to pursue the criminal action but did not withdraw the civil case quasi
ex delicto they filed against petitioner. On December 15, 1989, private respondents
withdrew the reservation to file a separate civil action against the accused and
manifested that they would prosecute the civil aspect ex delicto in the criminal

action. 6 However, they did not withdraw the separate civil action based on quasi
delict against petitioner as employer arising from the same act or omission of the
accused driver. 7
Upon agreement of the parties, the trial court consolidated both criminal and civil cases
and conducted a joint trial of the same.
The facts, as found by the trial court, which appear to be undisputed, are as follows:
"The

defendant

Rafael

Reyes

Trucking

Corporation

is

domestic

corporation engaged in the business of transporting beer products for the


San Miguel Corporation (SMC for short) from the latter's San Fernando,
Pampanga plant to its various sales outlets in Luzon. Among its fleets of
vehicles for hire is the white truck trailer described above driven by Romeo
Dunca y Tumol, a duly licensed driver. Aside from the Corporation's
memorandum to all its drivers and helpers to physically inspect their
vehicles before each trip (Exh. 15, pars. 4 & 5), the SMC's Traffic
Investigator-Inspector certified the roadworthiness of this White Truck
trailer prior to June 20, 1989 (Exh. 17). In addition to a professional driver's
license, it also conducts a rigid examination of all driver applicants before
they are hired. prcd
"In the early morning of June 20, 1989, the White Truck driven by Dunca left
Tuguegarao, Cagayan bound to San Fernando, Pampanga loaded with 2,000
cases of empty beer "Grande" bottles. Seated at the front right seat beside
him was Ferdinand Domingo, his truck helper ("pahinante" in Pilipino). At
around 4:00 o'clock that same morning while the truck was descending at a
slight downgrade along the national road at Tagaran, Cauayan, Isabela, it
approached a damaged portion of the road covering the full width of the
truck's right lane going south and about six meters in length. These made
the surface of the road uneven because the potholes were about five to six
inches deep. The left lane parallel to this damaged portion is smooth. As
narrated by Ferdinand Domingo, before approaching the potholes, he and
Dunca saw the Nissan with its headlights on coming from the opposite
direction. They used to evade this damaged road by taking the left lance
but at that particular moment, because of the incoming vehicle, they had to
run over it. This caused the truck to bounce wildly. Dunca lost control of the
wheels and the truck swerved to the left invading the lane of the Nissan. As

a result, Dunca's vehicle rammed the incoming Nissan dragging it to the


left shoulder of the road and climbed a ridge above said shoulder where it
finally stopped. (see Exh. A-5. p. 8, record) The Nissan was severely
damage (Exhs. A-7, A-8, A-9 and A-14, pp. 9-11 record), and its two
passengers, namely: Feliciano Balcita and Francisco Dy, Jr. died instantly
(Exh. A-19) from external and internal hemorrhage and multiple fractures
(pp. 15 and 16, record).
"For the funeral expenses of Francisco Dy, Jr. her widow spent P651,360.00
(Exh. I-3). At the time of his death he was 45 years old. He was the
President and Chairman of the Board of the Dynamic Wood Products and
Development Corporation (DWPC), a wood processing establishment, from
which he was receiving an income of P10,000.00 a month (Exh. D). In the
Articles of Incorporation of the DWPC, the spouses Francisco Dy, Jr. and
Rosario Perez Dy appear to be stockholders of 10,000 shares each with par
value of P100.00 per share out of its outstanding and subscribed capital
stock of 60,000 shares valued at P6,000,000.00 (Exhs. K-1 & 10-B). Under
its 1988 Income Tax Returns (Exh. J) the DWPC had a taxable net income of
P78,499.30 (Exh. J). Francisco Dy, Jr. was a La Salle University graduate in
Business Administration, past president of the Pasay Jaycees, National
Treasurer and President of the Philippine Jaycees in 1971 and 1976,
respectively, and World Vice-President of Jaycees International in 1979. He
was also the recipient of numerous awards as a civic leader (Exh. C). His
children were all studying in prestigious schools and spent about
P180,000.00 for their education in 1988 alone (Exh. H-4). dctai
"As stated earlier, the plaintiffs' procurement of a writ of attachment of the
properties of the Corporation was declared illegal by the Court of Appeals.
It was shown that on December 26, 1989, Deputy Sheriff Edgardo Zabat of
the RTC at San Fernando, Pampanga, attached six units of Truck Tractors
and trailers of the Corporation at its garage at San Fernando, Pampanga.
These vehicles were kept under PC guard by the plaintiffs in said garage
thus preventing the Corporation to operate them. However, on December
28, 1989, the Court of Appeals dissolved the writ (p. 30, record) and on
December 29, 1989, said Sheriff reported to this Court that the attached
vehicles were taken by the defendant's representative, Melita Manapil (Exh.
O, p. 31, record). The defendant's general Manager declared that it lost

P21,000.00 per day for the non-operation of the six units during their
attachment (p. 31, t.s.n., Natividad C. Babaran, proceedings on December
10, 1990)." 8
On June 6, 1992, the trial court rendered a joint decision, the dispositive portion of which
reads as follows:
"WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing considerations judgment is hereby
rendered:
"1. Finding the accused Romeo Dunca y de Tumol guilty beyond reasonable
doubt of the crime of Double Homicide through Reckless Imprudence with
violation of the Motor Vehicle Law (Rep. Act No. 4136), and appreciating in
his favor the mitigating circumstance of voluntary surrender without any
aggravating circumstance to offset the same, the Court hereby sentences
him to suffer two (2) indeterminate penalties of four months and one day
of arresto mayor as minimum to three years, six months and twenty days
as maximum; to indemnify the Heirs of Francisco Dy, Jr. in the amount of
P3,000,000.00

as

compensatory

damages,

P1,000,000.00

as

moral

damages, and P1,030,000.00 as funeral expenses;


"2. Ordering the plaintiff in Civil Case No. Br. 19-424 to pay the defendant
therein actual damages in the amount of P84,000.00; and
"3. Ordering the dismissal of the complaint in Civil Case No. Br. 19-424.
"No pronouncement as to costs.
"SO ORDERED.
"Cauayan, Isabela, June 6, 1992.
"(Sgd.) ARTEMIO R. ALIVIA
"Regional Trial Judge" 9
On September 3, 1992, petitioner and the accused filed a notice of appeal from the joint
decision. 10
On the other hand, private respondents moved for amendment of the dispositive portion
of the joint decision so as to hold petitioner subsidiarily liable for the damages awarded
to the private respondents in the event of insolvency of the accused. 11

On October 26, 1992, the trial court rendered a supplemental decision amending the
dispositive portion by inserting an additional paragraph reading as follows:

"2:A Ordering the defendant Reyes Trucking Corporation subsidiarily liable


for all the damages awarded to the heirs of Francisco Dy, Jr., in the event of
insolvency of the accused but deducting therefrom the damages of
P84,000.00 awarded to said defendant in the next preceding paragraph;
and . . . " 12
On November 12, 1992, petitioner filed with the trial court a supplemental notice of
appeal from the supplemental decision. 13
During the pendency of the appeal, the accused jumped bail and fled to a foreign
country. By resolution dated December 29, 1994, the Court of Appeals dismissed the
appeal of the accused in the criminal case. 14
On January 6, 1997, the Court of Appeals rendered an amended decision affirming that of
the trial court, as set out in the opening paragraph of this decision. 15
On January 31, 1997, petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration of the amended
decision. 16
On April 21, 1997, the Court of Appeals denied petitioner's motion for reconsideration for
lack of merit. 17
Hence, this petition for review. 18
On July 21, 1997, the Court required respondents to comment on the petition within ten
(10) days from notice. 19
On January 27, 1998, the Solicitor General filed his comment. 20
On April 13, 1998, the Court granted leave to petitioner to file a reply and noted the
reply it filed on March 11, 1998. 21
We now resolve to give due course to the petition and decide the case.
Petitioner raises three (3) grounds for allowance of the petition, which, however, boil
down to two (2) basic issues, namely:
1. May petitioner as owner of the truck involved in the accident be held
subsidiarily liable for the damages awarded to the offended parties in the

criminal action against the truck driver despite the filing of a separate civil
action by the offended parties against the employer of the truck
driver? LibLex
2. May the Court award damages to the offended parties in the criminal
case despite the filing of a civil action against the employer of the truck
driver; and in amounts exceeding that alleged in the information for
reckless imprudence resulting in homicide and damage to property? 22
We grant the petition, resolving under the circumstances pro hac vice to remand the
cases to the trial court for determination of the civil liability of petitioner as employer of
the accused driver in the civil action quasi ex delicto re-opened for the purpose.
In negligence cases, the aggrieved party has the choice between (1) an action to enforce
civil liability arising from crime under Article 100 of the Revised Penal Code; and (2) a
separate

action

for quasi

delict under

Article

2176

of

the

Civil

Code

of

the

Philippines. Once the choice is made, the injured party can not avail himself of any other
remedy because he may not recover damages twice for the same negligent act or
omission of the accused. 23 This is the rule against double recovery. prLL
In other words, "the same act or omission can create two kinds of liability on the part of
the offender, that is, civil liability ex delicto, and civil liability quasi delicto" either of
which "may be enforced against the culprit, subject to the caveat under Article 2177 of
the Civil Code that the offended party can not recover damages under both types of
liability." 24
In the instant case, the offended parties elected to file a separate civil action for
damages against petitioner as employer of the accused, based on quasi delict, under
Article 2176 of the Civil Code of the Philippines. Private respondents sued petitioner
Rafael Reyes Trucking Corporation, as the employer of the accused, to be vicariously
liable for the fault or negligence of the latter. Under the law, this vicarious liability of the
employer is founded on at least two specific provisions of law.
The first is expressed in Article 2176 in relation to Article 2180 of the Civil Code, which
would allow an action predicated on quasi-delict to be instituted by the injured party
against the employer for an act or omission of the employee and would necessitate only
a preponderance of evidence to prevail. Here, the liability of the employer for the
negligent conduct of the subordinate is direct and primary, subject to the defense of due
diligence in the selection and supervision of the employee.The enforcement of the

judgment against the employer in an action based on Article 2176 does not require the
employee to be insolvent since the nature of the liability of the employer with that of the
employee, the two being statutorily considered joint tortfeasors, is solidary. 25 The
second, predicated on Article 103 of the Revised Penal Code, provides that an employer
may be held subsidiarily civilly liable for a felony committed by his employee in the
discharge of his duty. This liability attaches when the employee is convicted of a crime
done in the performance of his work and is found to be insolvent that renders him unable
to properly respond to the civil liability adjudged. 26
As regards the first issue, the answer is in the negative. Rafael Reyes Trucking
Corporation, as employer of the accused who has been adjudged guilty in the criminal
case for reckless imprudence, can not be held subsidiarily liable because of the filing of
the separate civil action based on quasi delict against it. In view of the reservation to file,
and the subsequent filing of the civil action for recovery of civil liability, the same was
not instituted with the criminal action. Such separate civil action was for recovery of
damages under Article 2176 of the Civil Code, arising from the same act or omission of
the accused. 27
Pursuant to the provision of Rule 111, Section 1, paragraph 3 of the 1985 Rules of
Criminal Procedure, when private respondents, as complainants in the criminal action,
reserved the right to file the separate civil action, they waived other available civil
actions predicated on the same act or omission of the accused-driver. Such civil action
includes the recovery of indemnity under the Revised Penal Code, and damages under
Articles 32, 33, and 34 of the Civil Code of the Philippines arising from the same act or
omission of the accused. 28
The intention of private respondents to proceed primarily and directly against petitioner
as employer of accused truck driver became clearer when they did not ask for the
dismissal of the civil action against the latter based on quasi delict.
Consequently, the Court of Appeals and the trial court erred in holding the accused civilly
liable, and petitioner-employer of the accused subsidiarily liable for damages arising
from crime (ex delicto) in the criminal action as the offended parties in fact filed a
separate civil action against the employer based on quasi delict resulting in the waiver of
the civil action ex delicto.
It might be argued that private respondents as complainants in the criminal case
withdrew the reservation to file a civil action against the driver (accused) and manifested
that they would pursue the civil liability of the driver in the criminal action. However, the

withdrawal is ineffective to reverse the effect of the reservation earlier made because
private respondents did not withdraw the civil action against petitioner based on quasi
delict. In such a case, the provision of Rule 111, Section 1, paragraph 3 of the 1985 Rules
on Criminal Procedure is clear that the reservation to file or the filing of a separate civil
action results in a waiver of other available civil actions arising from the same act or
omission of the accused. Rule 111, Section 1, paragraph 2 enumerated what are the civil
actions deemed waived upon such reservation or filing, and one of which is the civil
indemnity under the Revised Penal Code. Rule 111, Section 1, paragraph 3 of the 1985
Rules on Criminal Procedure specifically provides: cdrep
"A waiver of any of the civil actions extinguishes the others. The institution
of, or the reservation of the right to file, any of said civil actions separately
waives the others."
The rationale behind this rule is the avoidance of multiple suits between the same
litigants arising out of the same act or omission of the offender. The restrictive
phraseology of the section under consideration is meant to cover all kinds of civil
actions, regardless of their source in law, provided that the action has for its basis the
same act or omission of the offender. 29
However, petitioner as defendant in the separate civil action for damages filed against it,
based on quasi delict, may be held liable thereon. Thus, the trial court grievously erred in
dismissing plaintiff's civil complaint. And the Court of Appeals erred in affirming the trial
court's decision. Unfortunately private respondents did not appeal from such dismissal
and could not be granted affirmative relief. 30
The Court, however, in exceptional cases has relaxed the rules "in order to promote their
objectives

and

assist

the

parties

in

obtaining

just,

speedy,

and

inexpensive

determination of every action or proceeding" 31 or exempted "a particular case from the
operation of the rules." 32
Invoking this principle, we rule that the trial court erred in awarding civil damages in the
criminal case and in dismissing the civil action. Apparently satisfied with such award,
private respondent did not appeal from the dismissal of the civil case. However,
petitioner did appeal. Hence, this case should be remanded to the trial court so that it
may render decision in the civil case awarding damages as may be warranted by the
evidence. 33

With regard to the second issue, the award of damages in the criminal case was
improper because the civil action for the recovery of civil liability was waived in the
criminal action by the filing of a separate civil action against the employer. As
enunciated in Ramos vs. Gonong, 34 "civil indemnity is not part of the penalty for the
crime committed." The only issue brought before the trial court in the criminal action is
whether accused Romeo Dunca y de Tumol is guilty of reckless imprudence resulting in
homicide and damage to property. The action for recovery of civil liability is not included
therein, but is covered by the separate civil action filed against the petitioner as
employer of the accused truck-driver. dctai

In this case, accused-driver jumped bail pending his appeal from his conviction. Thus, the
judgment convicting the accused became final and executory, but only insofar as the
penalty in the criminal action is concerned. The damages awarded in the criminal action
was invalid because of its effective waiver. The pronouncement was void because the
action for recovery of the civil liability arising from the crime has been waived in said
criminal action. cdphil
With respect to the issue that the award of damages in the criminal action exceeded the
amount of damages alleged in the amended information, the issue is de minimis. At any
rate, the trial court erred in awarding damages in the criminal case because by virtue of
the reservation of the right to bring a separate civil action or the filing thereof, "there
would be no possibility that the employer would be held liable because in such a case
there would be no pronouncement as to the civil liability of the accused. 35
As a final note, we reiterate that "the policy against double recovery requires that only
one action be maintained for the same act or omission whether the action is brought
against the employee or against his employer. 36 The injured party must choose which
of the available causes of action for damages he will bring. 37
Parenthetically, the trial court found the accused "guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the
crime of Double Homicide Through Reckless Imprudence with violation of the Motor
Vehicle Law (Rep. Act No. 4136)." There is no such nomenclature of an offense under the
Revised Penal Code. Thus, the trial court was misled to sentence the accused "to suffer
two (2) indeterminate penalties of four (4) months and one (1) day of arresto mayor, as
minimum, to three (3) years, six (6) months and twenty (20) days of prision
correccional, as maximum." This is erroneous because in reckless imprudence cases, the

actual penalty for criminal negligence bears no relation to the individual willful crime or
crimes committed, but is set in relation to a whole class, or series of crimes. 38
Unfortunately, we can no longer correct this judgment even if erroneous, as it is, because
it has become final and executory.
Under Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code, criminal negligence "is treated as a
mere quasi offense, and dealt with separately from willful offenses. It is not a question of
classification or terminology. In intentional crimes, the act itself is punished; in
negligence or imprudence, what is principally penalized is the mental attitude or
condition behind the act, the dangerous recklessness, lack of care or foresight,
the imprudencia punible. Much of the confusion has arisen from the common use of such
descriptive phrase as 'homicide through reckless imprudence', and the like; when the
strict technical sense is, more accurately, 'reckless imprudence resulting in homicide'; or
'simple imprudence causing damages to property'." 39
There is need, therefore, to rectify the designation of the offense without disturbing the
imposed penalty for the guidance of bench and bar in strict adherence to precedent.
WHEREFORE, the Court GRANTS the petition and SETS ASIDE the amended decision and
resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 14448, promulgated on January 6,
1997, and the joint decision of the Regional Trial Court, Isabela, Branch 19, Cauayan, in
Criminal Case No. Br. 19-311 and Civil Case No. Br. 19-424, dated June 6, 1992.
IN LIEU THEREOF, the Court renders judgment as follows:
(1) In Criminal Case No. Br. 19-311, the Court declares the accused Romeo Dunca y de
Tumol guilty beyond reasonable doubt of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide and
damage to property, defined and penalized under Article 365, paragraph 2 of the
Revised Penal Code, with violation of the automobile law (R.A. No. 4136, as amended),
and sentences him to suffer two (2) indeterminate penalties of four (4) months and one
(1) day of arresto mayor, as minimum, to three (3) years, six (6) months and twenty (20)
days of prision correccional, as maximum, 40 without indemnity, and to pay the costs,
and LexLib
(2) In Civil Case No. Br. 19-424, the Court orders the case re-opened to determine the
liability of the defendant Rafael Reyes Trucking Corporation to plaintiffs and that of
plaintiffs on defendant's counterclaim.
No costs in this instance.

SO ORDERED.
Bellosillo, Melo, Kapunan, Buena, Gonzaga-Reyes, Ynares-Santiago, and De Leon, Jr., JJ.,
concur.
Davide, Jr., C.J., see dissenting opinion.
Puno, J., concur but pro hac vice.
Vitug, J., see separate opinion.
||| (Rafael Reyes Trucking Corp. v. People, G.R. No. 129029, [April 3, 2000], 386 PHIL 4179)

THIRD DIVISION
[G.R. No. 145391. August 26, 2002.]
AVELINO

CASUPANAN

and

ROBERTO

CAPITULO, petitioners, vs.

MARIO LLAVORE LAROYA, respondent.


Yolanda C. Castro for petitioners.
Pablo Olarte for private respondent.
SYNOPSIS
As a result of a vehicular accident between two vehicles, one driven by Mario Llavore
Laroya and the other owned by Roberto Capitulo and driven by Avelino Casupanan, two
cases were filed before the Municipal Circuit Trial Court (MCTC) of Capas, Tarlac. Laroya
filed a criminal case against Casupanan for reckless imprudence resulting in damage to
property. This case was on its preliminary investigation stage when Casupanan and
Capitulo filed a civil case against Laroya forquasi-delict. However, upon motion of Laroya
on the ground of forum-shopping, the MCTC dismissed the civil case. Casupanan and
Capitulo then filed a petition forcertiorari before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Capas,
Tarlac. But the RTC ruled that the order of dismissal issued by the MCTC is a final order

which disposes of the case and therefore, the proper remedy should have been an
appeal. Hence, Casupanan and Capitulo filed this petition.
The Court held that the MCTC dismissed the civil action for quasi-delict on the ground of
forum-shopping under Supreme Court Administrative Circular No. 04-94. The MCTC did
not state in its order of dismissal that the dismissal was with prejudice. Under the
Administrative Circular, the order of dismissal is without prejudice to refiling the
complaint, unless the order of dismissal expressly states that it is with prejudice. Thus,
the MCTC's dismissal, being silent on the matter, is a dismissal without prejudice. Section
1 of Rule 41 provides that an order dismissing an action without prejudice is not
appealable. The remedy of the aggrieved party is to file a special civil action under Rule
65. Clearly, the Capas RTC's order dismissing the petition for certiorari on the ground
that the proper remedy is an ordinary appeal, is erroneous.
Further, the accused can file a civil action for quasi-delict for the same act or omission he
is accused of in the criminal case. This is expressly allowed in paragraph 6, Section 1 of
the present Rule 111 which states that the counterclaim of the accused "may be litigated
in a separate civil action." Thus, the civil action based on quasi-delict filed separately by
Casupanan and Capitulo is proper. The order of dismissal by the MCTC of the civil case on
the ground of forum shopping is erroneous. aDSHIC
SYLLABUS
1. REMEDIAL LAW; CIVIL PROCEDURE; ORDER OF DISMISSAL; ABSENT A DECLARATION
THAT THE DISMISSAL IS WITH PREJUDICE, THE SAME IS DEEMED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.
The MCTC dismissed the civil action for quasi-delict on the ground of forum-shopping
under Supreme Court Administrative Circular No. 04-94. The MCTC did not state in its
order of dismissal that the dismissal was with prejudice. Under the Administrative
Circular, the order of dismissal is without prejudice to refiling the complaint, unless the
order of dismissal expressly states it is with prejudice. Absent a declaration that the
dismissal is with prejudice, the same is deemed without prejudice. Thus, the MCTC's
dismissal, being silent on the matter, is a dismissal without prejudice.
2. ID.; ID.; ID.; DISMISSAL WITHOUT PREJUDICE IS NOT APPEALABLE. Section 1 of Rule
41 provides that an order dismissing an action without prejudice is not appealable. The
remedy of the aggrieved party is to file a special civil action under Rule 65. Section 1 of
Rule 41 expressly states that "where the judgment or final order is not appealable, the

aggrieved party may file an appropriate special civil action under Rule 65." Clearly, the
Capas RTC's order dismissing the petition for certiorari, on the ground that the proper
remedy is an ordinary appeal, is erroneous.
3. ID.; ID.; FORUM-SHOPPING; ELUCIDATED. The essence of forum-shopping is the
filing of multiple suits involving the same parties for the same cause of action, either
simultaneously or successively, to secure a favorable judgment. Forum-shopping is
present when in the two or more cases pending, there is identity of parties, rights of
action and reliefs sought. HIaTDS
4. ID.; ID.; ID.; NOT APPLICABLE IN CASE AT BAR. [T]here is no forum-shopping in the
instant case because the law and the rules expressly allow the filing of a separate civil
action which can proceed independently of the criminal action. Laroya filed the criminal
case for reckless imprudence resulting in damage to property based on the Revised
Penal Code while Casupanan and Capitulo filed the civil action for damages based on
Article 2176 of the Civil Code. Although these two actions arose from the same act or
omission, they have different causes of action. The criminal case is based on culpa
criminal punishable under the Revised Penal Code while the civil case is based on culpa
aquiliana actionable under Articles 2176 and 2177 of the Civil Code.
5. ID.; 2000 RULES ON CRIMINAL PROCEDURE; PROSECUTION OF CIVIL ACTION; PRIVATE
COMPLAINANT OR THE ACCUSED CAN FILE A SEPARATE CIVIL ACTION. Any aggrieved
person can invoke [Articles 2176 and 2177 of the Civil Code] provided he proves, by
preponderance of evidence, that he has suffered damage because of the fault or
negligence of another. Either the private complainant or the accused can file a separate
civil action under these articles. There is nothing in the law or rules that state only the
private complainant in a criminal case may invoke these articles.
6. ID.; ID.; ID.; REQUIRES THE ACCUSED TO LITIGATE HIS COUNTERCLAIM, CROSS-CLAIM
OR THIRD-PARTY COMPLAINT IN A SEPARATE CIVIL ACTION. [P]aragraph 6, Section 1,
Rule 111 of the 2000 Rules on Criminal Procedure ("2000 Rules" for brevity) expressly
requires the accused to litigate his counterclaim in a separate civil action, to wit:
"SECTION 1. Institution of criminal and civil actions. (a) . . . . No counterclaim, crossclaim or third-party complaint may be filed by the accused in the criminal case, but any
cause of action which could have been the subject thereof may be litigated in a separate
civil action." Since the present Rules require the accused in a criminal action to file his
counterclaim in a separate civil action, there can be no forum-shopping if the accused
files such separate civil action. SaCIAE

7. ID.; ID.; ID.; CIVIL ACTION ARISING FROM THE CRIME; THE ONLY CIVIL ACTION DEEMED
INSTITUTED WITH THE CRIMINAL ACTION. Under Section 1 of the present Rule 111,
what is "deemed instituted" with the criminal action is only the action to recover civil
liability arising from the crime or ex-delicto. All the other civil actions under Articles 32,
33, 34 and 2176 of the Civil Code are no longer "deemed instituted," and may be filed
separately and prosecuted independently even without any reservation in the criminal
action. The failure to make a reservation in the criminal action is not a waiver of the right
to file a separate and independent civil action based on these articles of the Civil Code.
The prescriptive period on the civil actions based on these articles of the Civil Code
continues to run even with the filing of the criminal action. Verily, the civil actions based
on these articles of the Civil Code are separate, distinct and independent of the civil
action "deemed instituted" in the criminal action.
8. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; MAY BE FILED SEPARATELY BY RESERVING SUCH RIGHT IN THE
CRIMINAL ACTION OR IF SEPARATELY FILED, MAY BE CONSOLIDATED WITH THE CRIMINAL
ACTION. Under the present Rule 111, the offended party is still given the option to file
a separate civil action to recover civil liability ex-delicto by reserving such right in the
criminal action before the prosecution presents its evidence. Also, the offended party is
deemed to make such reservation if he files a separate civil action before filing the
criminal action. If the civil action to recover civil liability ex-delicto is filed separately but
its trial has not yet commenced, the civil action may be consolidated with the criminal
action. The consolidation under this Rule does not apply to separate civil actions arising
from the same act or omission filed under Articles 32, 33, 34 and 2176 of the Civil Code.
9. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; IF IT IS RESERVED, IT COULD NOT BE FILED UNTIL AFTER FINAL
JUDGMENT OF THE CRIMINAL ACTION OR IF SEPARATELY FILED, IT IS SUSPENDED UPON
THE FILING OF THE CRIMINAL ACTION. Under Section 2, Rule 111 of the amended 1985
Rules, a separate civil action, if reserved in the criminal action, could not be filed until
after final judgment was rendered in the criminal action. If the separate civil action was
filed before the commencement of the criminal action, the civil action, if still pending,
was suspended upon the filing of the criminal action until final judgment was rendered in
the criminal action. This rule applied only to the separate civil action filed to recover
liability ex-delicto. The rule did not apply to independent civil actions based on Articles
32, 33, 34 and 2176 of the Civil Code, which could proceed independently regardless of
the filing of the criminal action. . . . Thus, Section 2, Rule 111 of the present Rules did not
change the rule that the separate civil action, filed to recover damages ex-delicto, is
suspended upon the filing of the criminal action. Section 2 of the present Rule 111 also

prohibits the filing, after commencement of the criminal action, of a separate civil action
to recover damages ex-delicto. ISDHcT
10. ID.; ID.; ID.; INDEPENDENT CIVIL ACTION IN ARTICLES 32, 33, 34 AND 2176 OF THE
CIVIL CODE MAY BE FILED SEPARATELY BY THE OFFENDED PARTY EVEN WITHOUT
RESERVATION. Under Section I of the present Rule 111, the independent civil action in
Articles 32, 33, 34 and 2176 of the Civil Code is not deemed instituted with the criminal
action but may be filed separately by the offended party even without reservation. The
commencement of the criminal action does not suspend the prosecution of the
independent civil action under these articles of the Civil Code. The suspension in Section
2 of the present Rule 111 refers only to the civil action arising from the crime, if such civil
action is reserved or filed before the commencement of the criminal action.

11. ID.; ID.; ID.; OFFENDED PARTY CAN SEPARATELY FILE A CRIMINAL CASE AND A CIVIL
CASE FOR QUASI-DELICT, WITHOUT VIOLATING THE RULE ON NON-FORUM SHOPPING.
[T]he offended party can file two separate suits for the same act or omission. The first, a
criminal case where the civil action to recover civil liability ex-delicto is deemed
instituted, and the other a civil case for quasi-delict without violating the rule on nonforum shopping. The two cases can proceed simultaneously and independently of each
other. The commencement or prosecution of the criminal action will not suspend the civil
action for quasi-delict. The only limitation is that the offended party cannot recover
damages twice for the same act or omission of the defendant. In most cases, the
offended party will have no reason to file a second civil action since he cannot recover
damages twice for the same act or omission of the accused. In some instances, the
accused may be insolvent, necessitating the filing of another case against his employer
or guardians.
12. ID.; ID.; ID.; ACCUSED CAN FILE A CIVIL ACTION FOR QUASI-DELICT FOR THE SAME
ACT OR OMISSION HE IS ACCUSED OF IN THE CRIMINAL CASE. [T]he accused can file a
civil action for quasi-delict for the same act or omission he is accused of in the criminal
case. This is expressly allowed in paragraph 6, Section 1 of the present Rule 111 which
states that the counterclaim of the accused "may be litigated in a separate civil action."
This is only fair for two reasons. First, the accused is prohibited from setting up any
counterclaim in the civil aspect that is deemed instituted in the criminal case. The
accused is therefore forced to litigate separately his counterclaim against the offended
party. If the accused does not file a separate civil action for quasi-delict, the prescriptive

period may set in since the period continues to run until the civil action for quasi-delict is
filed. Second, the accused, who is presumed innocent, has a right to invoke Article 2177
of the Civil Code, in the same way that the offended party can avail of this remedy which
is independent of the criminal action. To disallow the accused from filing a separate civil
action for quasi-delict, while refusing to recognize his counterclaim in the criminal case,
is to deny him due process of law, access to the courts, and equal protection of the
law. cTaDHS
13. ID.; ID.; ID.; INDEPENDENT CIVIL ACTION MAY PROCEED INDEPENDENTLY OF THE
CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS AND REGARDLESS OF THE RESULT OF THE LATTER. We make
this ruling aware of the possibility that the decision of the trial court in the criminal case
may vary with the decision of the trial court in the independent civil action. This
possibility has always been recognized ever since the Civil Code introduced in 1950 the
concept of an independent civil action under Articles 32, 33, 34 and 2176 of the Code.
But the law itself, in Article 31 of the Code, expressly provides that the independent civil
action "may proceed independently of the criminal proceedings and regardless of the
result of the latter." In Azucena vs. Potenciano, the Court declared: ". . . . There can
indeed be no other logical conclusion than this, for to subordinate the civil action
contemplated in the said articles to the result of the criminal prosecution whether it be
conviction or acquittal would render meaningless the independent character of the
civil action and the clear injunction in Article 31 that this action 'may proceed
independently of the criminal proceedings and regardless of the result of the latter.'"
More than half a century has passed since the Civil Code introduced the concept of a civil
action separate and independent from the criminal action although arising from the
same act or omission. The Court, however, has yet to encounter a case of conflicting and
irreconcilable decisions of trial courts, one hearing the criminal case and the other the
civil action for quasi-delict. The fear of conflicting and irreconcilable decisions may be
more apparent than real. In any event, there are sufficient remedies under the Rules of
Court to deal with such remote possibilities.
14. ID.; ID.; RETROACTIVE EFFECT; APPLICABLE IN CASE AT BAR. The Revised Rules on
Criminal Procedure took effect on December 1, 2000 while the MCTC issued the order of
dismissal on December 28, 1999 or before the amendment of the rules. The Revised
Rules on Criminal Procedure must be given retroactive effect considering the well-settled
rule that ". . . statutes regulating the procedure of the court will be construed as
applicable to actions pending and undetermined at the time of their passage. Procedural
laws are retroactive in that sense and to that extent."

DECISION

CARPIO, J p:
The Case
This is a petition for review on certiorari to set aside the Resolution 1 dated December
28, 1999 dismissing the petition for certiorari and the Resolution 2 dated August 24,
2000 denying the motion for reconsideration, both issued by the Regional Trial Court of
Capas, Tarlac, Branch 66, in Special Civil Action No. 17-C (99).
The Facts
Two vehicles, one driven by respondent Mario Llavore Laroya ("Laroya" for brevity) and
the other owned by petitioner Roberto Capitulo ("Capitulo" for brevity) and driven by
petitioner Avelino Casupanan ("Casupanan" for brevity), figured in an accident. As a
result, two cases were filed with the Municipal Circuit Trial Court ("MCTC" for brevity) of
Capas, Tarlac. Laroya filed a criminal case against Casupanan for reckless imprudence
resulting in damage to property, docketed as Criminal Case No. 002-99. On the other
hand, Casupanan and Capitulo filed a civil case against Laroya for quasi-delict, docketed
as Civil Case No. 2089.
When the civil case was filed, the criminal case was then at its preliminary investigation
stage. Laroya, defendant in the civil case, filed a motion to dismiss the civil case on the
ground of forum-shopping considering the pendency of the criminal case. The MCTC
granted the motion in the Order of March 26, 1999 and dismissed the civil case.
On Motion for Reconsideration, Casupanan and Capitulo insisted that the civil case is a
separate civil action which can proceed independently of the criminal case. The MCTC
denied the motion for reconsideration in the Order of May 7, 1999. Casupanan and
Capitulo filed a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 before the Regional Trial Court
("Capas RTC" for brevity) of Capas, Tarlac, Branch 66, 3 assailing the MCTC's Order of
dismissal.
The Trial Court's Ruling
The Capas RTC rendered judgment on December 28, 1999 dismissing the petition
for certiorari for lack of merit. The Capas RTC ruled that the order of dismissal issued by
the MCTC is a final order which disposes of the case and therefore the proper remedy
should have been an appeal. The Capas RTC further held that a special civil action

for certiorari is not a substitute for a lost appeal. Finally, the Capas RTC declared that
even on the premise that the MCTC erred in dismissing the civil case, such error is a pure
error of judgment and not an abuse of discretion.
Casupanan and Capitulo filed a Motion for Reconsideration but the Capas RTC denied the
same in the Resolution of August 24, 2000.
Hence, this petition.
The Issue
The petition premises the legal issue in this wise:
"In a certain vehicular accident involving two parties, each one of them
may think and believe that the accident was caused by the fault of the
other. . . . [T]he first party, believing himself to be the aggrieved party,
opted to file a criminal case for reckless imprudence against the second
party. On the other hand, the second party, together with his operator,
believing themselves to be the real aggrieved parties, opted in turn to file a
civil case for quasi-delict against the first party who is the very private
complainant in the criminal case." 4
Thus, the issue raised is whether an accused in a pending criminal case for reckless
imprudence can validly file, simultaneously and independently, a separate civil action
for quasi-delict against the private complainant in the criminal case.
The Court's Ruling
Casupanan and Capitulo assert that Civil Case No. 2089, which the MCTC dismissed on
the ground of forum-shopping, constitutes a counterclaim in the criminal case.
Casupanan and Capitulo argue that if the accused in a criminal case has a counterclaim
against the private complainant, he may file the counterclaim in a separate civil action at
the proper time. They contend that an action on quasi-delict is different from an action
resulting from the crime of reckless imprudence, and an accused in a criminal case can
be an aggrieved party in a civil case arising from the same incident. They maintain that
under Articles 31 and 2176 of the Civil Code, the civil case can proceed independently of
the criminal action. Finally, they point out that Casupanan was not the only one who filed
the independent civil action based on quasi-delictbut also Capitulo, the owner-operator
of the vehicle, who was not a party in the criminal case.
In his Comment, Laroya claims that the petition is fatally defective as it does not state
the real antecedents. Laroya further alleges that Casupanan and Capitulo forfeited their

right to question the order of dismissal when they failed to avail of the proper remedy of
appeal. Laroya argues that there is no question of law to be resolved as the order of
dismissal is already final and a petition for certiorari is not a substitute for a lapsed
appeal.
In their Reply, Casupanan and Capitulo contend that the petition raises the legal
question of whether there is forum-shopping since they filed only one action the
independent civil action for quasi-delict against Laroya.
Nature of the Order of Dismissal
The MCTC dismissed the civil action for quasi-delict on the ground of forum-shopping
under Supreme Court Administrative Circular No. 04-94. The MCTC did not state in its
order of dismissal 5 that the dismissal was with prejudice. Under the Administrative
Circular, the order of dismissal is without prejudice to refiling the complaint, unless the
order of dismissal expressly states it is with prejudice. 6 Absent a declaration that the
dismissal is with prejudice, the same is deemed without prejudice. Thus, the MCTC's
dismissal, being silent on the matter, is a dismissal without prejudice.

Section 1 of Rule 41 7 provides that an order dismissing an action without prejudice is


not appealable. The remedy of the aggrieved party is to file a special civil action under
Rule 65. Section 1 of Rule 41 expressly states that "where the judgment or final order is
not appealable, the aggrieved party may file an appropriate special civil action under
Rule 65." Clearly, the Capas RTC's order dismissing the petition for certiorari, on the
ground that the proper remedy is an ordinary appeal, is erroneous.
Forum-Shopping
The essence of forum-shopping is the filing of multiple suits involving the same parties
for the same cause of action, either simultaneously or successively, to secure a favorable
judgment. 8 Forum-shopping is present when in the two or more cases pending, there is
identity of parties, rights of action and reliefs sought. 9 However, there is no forumshopping in the instant case because the law and the rules expressly allow the filing of a
separate civil action which can proceed independently of the criminal action.
Laroya filed the criminal case for reckless imprudence resulting in damage to property
based on the Revised Penal Code while Casupanan and Capitulo filed the civil action for
damages based on Article 2176 of the Civil Code. Although these two actions arose from
the same act or omission, they have different causes of action. The criminal case is

based on culpa criminal punishable under the Revised Penal Code while the civil case is
based on culpa aquiliana actionable under Articles 2176 and 2177 of the Civil Code.
These articles on culpa aquiliana read:
"Art. 2176. Whoever by act or omission causes damage to another, there
being fault or negligence, is obliged to pay for the damage done. Such fault
or negligence, if there is no pre-existing contractual relation between the
parties, is called a quasi-delict and is governed by the provisions of this
Chapter.
Art. 2177. Responsibility for fault or negligence under the preceding article
is entirely separate and distinct from the civil liability arising from
negligence under the Penal Code. But the plaintiff cannot recover damages
twice for the same act or omission of the defendant."
Any aggrieved person can invoke these articles provided he proves, by preponderance of
evidence, that he has suffered damage because of the fault or negligence of another.
Either the private complainant or the accused can file a separate civil action under these
articles. There is nothing in the law or rules that state only the private complainant in a
criminal case may invoke these articles.
Moreover, paragraph 6, Section 1, Rule 111 of the 2000 Rules on Criminal Procedure
("2000 Rules" for brevity) expressly requires the accused to litigate his counterclaim in a
separate civil action, to wit:
"SECTION 1. Institution of criminal and civil actions. (a) . . . .
"No counterclaim, cross-claim or third-party complaint may be filed by the
accused in the criminal case, but any cause of action which could have
been the subject thereof may be litigated in a separate civil action." (Italics
supplied)
Since the present Rules require the accused in a criminal action to file his
counterclaim in a separate civil action, there can be no forum-shopping if the accused
files such separate civil action.
Filing of a separate civil action
Section 1, Rule 111 of the 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure ("1985 Rules" for brevity),
as amended in 1988, allowed the filing of a separate civil action independently of the
criminal action provided the offended party reserved the right to file such civil action.

Unless the offended party reserved the civil action before the presentation of the
evidence for the prosecution, all civil actions arising from the same act or omission were
deemed "impliedly instituted" in the criminal case. These civil actions referred to the
recovery of civil liability ex-delicto, the recovery of damages for quasi-delict, and the
recovery of damages for violation of Articles 32, 33 and 34 of the Civil Code on Human
Relations.
Thus, to file a separate and independent civil action for quasi-delict under the 1985
Rules, the offended party had to reserve in the criminal action the right to bring such
action. Otherwise, such civil action was deemed "impliedly instituted" in the criminal
action. Section 1, Rule 111 of the 1985 Rules provided as follows:
"Section 1. Institution of criminal and civil actions. When a criminal
action is instituted, the civil action for the recovery of civil liability is
impliedly instituted with the criminal action, unless the offended party
waives the action, reserves his right to institute it separately, or institutes
the civil action prior to the criminal action.
Such civil action includes recovery of indemnity under the Revised Penal
Code, and damages under Articles 32, 33, 34 and 2176 of the Civil Code of
the Philippines arising from the same act or omission of the accused.
A waiver of any of the civil actions extinguishes the others. The institution
of, or the reservation of the right to file, any of said civil actions separately
waives the others.
The reservation of the right to institute the separate civil actions shall be
made before the prosecution starts to present its evidence and under
circumstances affording the offended party a reasonable opportunity to
make such reservation.
In no case may the offended party recover damages twice for the same act
or omission of the accused.
xxx xxx xxx." (Italics supplied)
Section 1, Rule 111 of the 1985 Rules was amended on December 1, 2000 and now
provides as follows:
"SECTION 1. Institution of criminal and civil actions. (a) When a criminal
action is instituted, the civil action for the recovery of civil liability arising

from the offense charged shall be deemed instituted with the criminal
action unless the offended party waives the civil action, reserves the right
to institute it separately or institutes the civil action prior to the criminal
action.
The reservation of the right to institute separately the civil action shall be
made before the prosecution starts presenting its evidence and under
circumstances affording the offended party a reasonable opportunity to
make such reservation.
xxx xxx xxx
(b) . . .
Where the civil action has been filed separately and trial thereof has not yet
commenced, it may be consolidated with the criminal action upon
application with the court trying the latter case. If the application is
granted, the trial of both actions shall proceed in accordance with section 2
of this rule governing consolidation of the civil and criminal actions." (Italics
supplied)
Under Section 1 of the present Rule 111, what is "deemed instituted" with the criminal
action is only the action to recover civil liability arising from the crime or ex-delicto. All
the other civil actions under Articles 32, 33, 34 and 2176 of the Civil Code are no longer
"deemed instituted," and may be filed separately and prosecuted independently even
without any reservation in the criminal action. The failure to make a reservation in the
criminal action is not a waiver of the right to file a separate and independent civil action
based on these articles of the Civil Code. The prescriptive period on the civil actions
based on these articles of the Civil Code continues to run even with the filing of the
criminal action. Verily, the civil actions based on these articles of the Civil Code are
separate, distinct and independent of the civil action "deemed instituted" in the criminal
action. 10
Under the present Rule 111, the offended party is still given the option to file a separate
civil action to recover civil liability ex-delicto by reserving such right in the criminal
action before the prosecution presents its evidence. Also, the offended party is deemed
to make such reservation if he files a separate civil action before filing the criminal
action. If the civil action to recover civil liability ex-delicto is filed separately but its trial
has not yet commenced, the civil action may be consolidated with the criminal

action. The consolidation under this Rule does not apply to separate civil actions arising
from the same act or omission filed under Articles 32, 33, 34 and 2176 of the Civil
Code. 11
Suspension of the Separate Civil Action
Under Section 2, Rule 111 of the amended 1985 Rules, a separate civil action, if reserved
in the criminal action, could not be filed until after final judgment was rendered in the
criminal action. If the separate civil action was filed before the commencement of the
criminal action, the civil action, if still pending, was suspended upon the filing of the
criminal action until final judgment was rendered in the criminal action. This rule applied
only to the separate civil action filed to recover liability ex-delicto.The rule did not apply
to independent civil actions based on Articles 32, 33, 34 and 2176 of the Civil Code,
which could proceed independently regardless of the filing of the criminal action.
The amended provision of Section 2, Rule 111 of the 2000 Rules continues this
procedure, to wit:
"SEC. 2. When separate civil action is suspended. After the criminal action
has been commenced, the separate civil action arising therefrom cannot be
instituted until final judgment has been entered in the criminal action.
If the criminal action is filed after the said civil action has already been
instituted, the latter shall be suspended in whatever stage it may be found
before judgment on the merits. The suspension shall last until final
judgment is rendered in the criminal action. Nevertheless, before judgment
on the merits is rendered in the civil action, the same may, upon motion of
the offended party, be consolidated with the criminal action in the court
trying the criminal action. In case of consolidation, the evidence already
adduced in the civil action shall be deemed automatically reproduced in the
criminal action without prejudice to the right of the prosecution to crossexamine the witnesses presented by the offended party in the criminal case
and of the parties to present additional evidence. The consolidated criminal
and civil actions shall be tried and decided jointly.

During the pendency of the criminal action, the running of the period of
prescription of the civil action which cannot be instituted separately or
whose proceeding has been suspended shall be tolled.

xxx xxx xxx." (Italics supplied)


Thus, Section 2, Rule 111 of the present Rules did not change the rule that the
separate civil action, filed to recover damages ex-delicto, is suspended upon the filing
of the criminal action. Section 2 of the present Rule 111 also prohibits the filing, after
commencement of the criminal action, of a separate civil action to recover
damages ex-delicto.
When civil action may proceed independently
The crucial question now is whether Casupanan and Capitulo, who are not the offended
parties in the criminal case, can file a separate civil action against the offended party in
the criminal case. Section 3, Rule 111 of the 2000 Rules provides as follows:
"SEC. 3. When civil action may proceed independently. In the cases
provided in Articles 32, 33, 34 and 2176 of the Civil Code of the Philippines,
the independent civil action may be brought by the offended party. It shall
proceed independently of the criminal action and shall require only a
preponderance of evidence. In no case, however, may the offended party
recover damages twice for the same act or omission charged in the criminal
action." (Italics supplied)
Section 3 of the present Rule 111, like its counterpart in the amended 1985 Rules,
expressly allows the "offended party" to bring an independent civil action under Articles
32, 33, 34 and 2176 of the Civil Code. As stated in Section 3 of the present Rule 111, this
civil action shall proceed independently of the criminal action and shall require only a
preponderance of evidence. In no case, however, may the "offended party recover
damages twice for the same act or omission charged in the criminal action."
There is no question that the offended party in the criminal action can file an
independent civil action for quasi-delict against the accused. Section 3 of the present
Rule 111 expressly states that the "offended party" may bring such an action but the
"offended party" may not recover damages twice for the same act or omission charged
in the criminal action. Clearly, Section 3 of Rule 111 refers to the offended party in the
criminal action, not to the accused.
Casupanan and Capitulo, however, invoke the ruling in Cabaero vs. Cantos 12 where the
Court held that the accused therein could validly institute a separate civil action
for quasi-delict against the private complainant in the criminal case. In Cabaero, the
accused in the criminal case filed his Answer with Counterclaim for malicious

prosecution. At that time the Court noted the "absence of clear-cut rules governing the
prosecution on impliedly instituted civil actions and the necessary consequences and
implications thereof." Thus, the Court ruled that the trial court should confine itself to the
criminal aspect of the case and disregard any counterclaim for civil liability. The Court
further ruled that the accused may file a separate civil case against the offended party
"after the criminal case is terminated and/or in accordance with the new Rules which
may be promulgated." The Court explained that a cross-claim, counterclaim or thirdparty complaint on the civil aspect will only unnecessarily complicate the proceedings
and delay the resolution of the criminal case.
Paragraph 6, Section 1 of the present Rule 111 was incorporated in the 2000 Rules
precisely to address the lacuna mentioned in Cabaero. Under this provision, the accused
is barred from filing a counterclaim, cross-claim or third-party complaint in the criminal
case. However, the same provision states that "any cause of action which could have
been the subject (of the counterclaim, cross-claim or third-party complaint) may be
litigated in a separate civil action." The present Rule 111 mandates the accused to file
his counterclaim in a separate civil action which shall proceed independently of the
criminal action, even as the civil action of the offended party is litigated in the criminal
action.
Conclusion
Under Section 1 of the present Rule 111, the independent civil action in Articles 32, 33,
34 and 2176 of the Civil Code is not deemed instituted with the criminal action but may
be filed separately by the offended party even without reservation. The commencement
of the criminal action does not suspend the prosecution of the independent civil action
under these articles of the Civil Code. The suspension in Section 2 of the present Rule
111 refers only to the civil action arising from the crime, if such civil action is reserved or
filed before the commencement of the criminal action.
Thus, the offended party can file two separate suits for the same act or omission. The
first a criminal case where the civil action to recover civil liability ex-delicto is deemed
instituted, and the other a civil case for quasi-delict without violating the rule on nonforum shopping. The two cases can proceed simultaneously and independently of each
other. The commencement or prosecution of the criminal action will not suspend the civil
action for quasi-delict. The only limitation is that the offended party cannot recover
damages twice for the same act or omission of the defendant. In most cases, the
offended party will have no reason to file a second civil action since he cannot recover

damages twice for the same act or omission of the accused. In some instances, the
accused may be insolvent, necessitating the filing of another case against his employer
or guardians.
Similarly, the accused can file a civil action for quasi-delict for the same act or omission
he is accused of in the criminal case. This is expressly allowed in paragraph 6, Section 1
of the present Rule 111 which states that the counterclaim of the accused "may be
litigated in a separate civil action." This is only fair for two reasons. First, the accused is
prohibited from setting up any counterclaim in the civil aspect that is deemed instituted
in the criminal case. The accused is therefore forced to litigate separately his
counterclaim against the offended party. If the accused does not file a separate civil
action for quasi-delict, the prescriptive period may set in since the period continues to
run until the civil action for quasi-delict is filed.
Second, the accused, who is presumed innocent, has a right to invoke Article 2177 of the
Civil Code, in the same way that the offended party can avail of this remedy which is
independent of the criminal action. To disallow the accused from filing a separate civil
action for quasi-delict, while refusing to recognize his counterclaim in the criminal case,
is to deny him due process of law, access to the courts, and equal protection of the law.
Thus, the civil action based on quasi-delict filed separately by Casupanan and Capitulo is
proper. The order of dismissal by the MCTC of Civil Case No. 2089 on the ground of
forum-shopping is erroneous.
We make this ruling aware of the possibility that the decision of the trial court in the
criminal case may vary with the decision of the trial court in the independent civil action.
This possibility has always been recognized ever since the Civil Code introduced in 1950
the concept of an independent civil action under Articles 32, 33, 34 and 2176 of the
Code. But the law itself, in Article 31 of the Code, expressly provides that the
independent civil action "may proceed independently of the criminal proceedings and
regardless of the result of the latter." In Azucena vs. Potenciano, 13 the Court declared:
". . . . There can indeed be no other logical conclusion than this, for to
subordinate the civil action contemplated in the said articles to the result of
the criminal prosecution whether it be conviction or acquittal would
render meaningless the independent character of the civil action and the
clear injunction in Article 31 that this action 'may proceed independently of
the criminal proceedings and regardless of the result of the latter.'"

More than half a century has passed since the Civil Code introduced the concept of a civil
action separate and independent from the criminal action although arising from the
same act or omission. The Court, however, has yet to encounter a case of conflicting and
irreconcilable decisions of trial courts, one hearing the criminal case and the other the
civil action for quasi-delict. The fear of conflicting and irreconcilable decisions may be
more apparent than real. In any event, there are sufficient remedies under the Rules of
Court to deal with such remote possibilities.
One final point. The Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure took effect on December 1,
2000 while the MCTC issued the order of dismissal on December 28, 1999 or before the
amendment of the rules. The Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure must be given
retroactive effect considering the well-settled rule that
". . . statutes regulating the procedure of the court will be construed as
applicable to actions pending and undetermined at the time of their
passage. Procedural laws are retroactive in that sense and to that
extent." 14
WHEREFORE, the petition for review on certiorari is hereby GRANTED. The Resolutions
dated December 28, 1999 and August 24, 2000 in Special Civil Action No. 17-C (99) are
ANNULLED and Civil Case No. 2089 is REINSTATED.
SO ORDERED.
Puno and Panganiban, JJ., concur.
Sandoval-Gutierrez, J., is on leave.
||| (Casupanan v. Laroya, G.R. No. 145391, [August 26, 2002], 436 PHIL 582-602)

FIRST DIVISION

[G.R. No. L-65295. March 10, 1987.]


PHOENIX

CONSTRUCTION,

INC.

and

ARMANDO

U.

CARBONEL, petitioners, vs. THE INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT and


LEONARDO DIONISIO,respondents.

DECISION

FELICIANO, J p:
In the early morning of 15 November 1975 at about 1:30 a.m. private respondent
Leonardo Dionisio was on his way home he lived in 1214-B Zamora Street, Bangkal,
Makati from a cocktails-and-dinner meeting with his boss, the general manager of a
marketing corporation. During the cocktails phase of the evening, Dionisio had taken "a
shot or two" of liquor. Dionisio was driving his Volkswagen car and had just crossed the
intersection of General Lacuna and General Santos Streets at Bangkal, Makati, not far
from his home, and was proceeding down General Lacuna Street, when his car
headlights (in his allegation) suddenly failed. He switched his headlights on "bright" and
thereupon he saw a Ford dump truck looming some 2-1/2 meters away from his car. The
dump truck, owned by and registered in the name of petitioner Phoenix Construction Inc.
("Phoenix"), was parked on the right hand side of General Lacuna Street (i.e., on the right
hand side of a person facing in the same direction toward which Dionisio's car was
proceeding), facing the oncoming traffic. The dump truck was parked askew (not parallel
to the street curb) in such a manner as to stick out onto the street, partly blocking the
way of oncoming traffic. There were no lights nor any so-called "early warning" reflector
devices set anywhere near the dump truck, front or rear. The dump truck had earlier that
evening been driven home by petitioner Armando U. Carbonel, its regular driver, with the
permission of his employer Phoenix, in view of work scheduled to be carried out early the
following morning, Dionisio claimed that he tried to avoid a collision by swerving his car
to the left but it was too late and his car smashed into the dump truck. As a result of the
collision, Dionisio suffered some physical injuries including some permanent facial scars,
a "nervous breakdown" and loss of two gold bridge dentures. LLpr
Dionisio commenced an action for damages in the Court of First Instance of Pampanga
basically claiming that the legal and proximate cause of his injuries was the negligent

manner in which Carbonel had parked the dump truck entrusted to him by his employer
Phoenix. Phoenix and Carbonel, on the other hand, countered that the proximate cause
of Dionisio's injuries was his own recklessness in driving fast at the time of the accident,
while under the influence of liquor, without his headlights on and without a curfew pass.
Phoenix also sought to establish that it had exercised due care in the selection and
supervision of the dump truck driver.
The trial court rendered judgment in favor of Dionisio and against Phoenix and Carbonel
and ordered the latter:
"(1) To pay plaintiff jointly and severally the sum of P15,000.00 for
hospital bills and the replacement of the lost dentures of plaintiff;
(2) To pay plaintiff jointly and severally the sum of P150,000.00 as loss
of expected income for plaintiff brought about the accident in
controversy and which is the result of the negligence of the
defendants;
(3) To pay the plaintiff jointly and severally the sum of P100,000.00 as
moral damages for the unexpected and sudden withdrawal of plaintiff
from his lifetime career as a marketing man; mental anguish, wounded
feeling, serious anxiety, social humiliation, besmirched reputation,
feeling of economic insecurity, and the untold sorrows and frustration
in life experienced by plaintiff and his family since the accident in
controversy up to the present time;
(4) To pay plaintiff jointly and severally the sum of P10,000.00 as
exemplary damages for the wanton disregard of defendants to settle
amicably this case with the plaintiff before the filing of this case in
court for a smaller amount.
(5) To pay the plaintiff jointly and severally the sum of P4,500.00 due
as and for attorney's fees; and
(6) The cost of suit." (Emphasis supplied).
Phoenix and Carbonel appealed to the Intermediate Appellate Court. That court in CAG.R. No. 65476 affirmed the decision of the trial court but modified the award of
damages to the following extent:

1. The award of P15,000.00 as compensatory damages was reduced


to P6,460.71, the latter being the only amount that the appellate court
found the plaintiff to have proved as actually sustained by him;
2. The award of P150,000.00 as loss of expected income was reduced
to P100,000.00, basically because Dionisio had voluntarily resigned his job
such that, in the opinion of the appellate court, his loss of income "was not
solely attributable to the accident in question;" and
3. The award of P100,000.00 as moral damages was held by the appellate
court as excessive and unconscionable and hence reduced to P50,000.00.
The award of P10,000.00 as exemplary damages and P4,500.00 as attorney's fees and
costs remained untouched.
This decision of the Intermediate Appellate Court is now before us on a petition for
review.
Both the trial court and the appellate court had made fairly explicit findings of fact
relating to the manner in which the dump truck was parked along General Lacuna Street
on the basis of which both courts drew the inference that there was negligence on the
part of Carbonel, the dump truck driver, and that this negligence was the proximate
cause of the accident and Dionisio's injuries. We note, however, that both courts failed to
pass upon the defense raised by Carbonel and Phoenix that the true legal and proximate
cause of the accident was not the way in which the dump truck had been parked but
rather the reckless way in which Dionisio had driven his car that night when he smashed
into the dump truck. The Intermediate Appellate Court in its questioned decision casually
conceded that Dionisio was "in some way, negligent" but apparently failed to see the
relevance of Dionisio's negligence and made no further mention of it. We have examined
the record both before the trial court and the Intermediate Appellate Court and we find
that both parties had placed into the record sufficient evidence on the basis of which the
trial court and the appellate court could have and should have made findings of fact
relating to the alleged reckless manner in which Dionisio drove his car that night. The
petitioners Phoenix and Carbonel contend that if there was negligence in the manner in
which the dump truck was parked, that negligence was merely a "passive and static
condition"

and

that

private

respondent

Dionisio's

recklessness

constituted

an

intervening, efficient cause determinative of the accident and the injuries he sustained.
The need to administer substantial justice as between the parties in this case, without
having to remand it back to the trial court after eleven years, compels us to address

directly the contention put forward by the petitioners and to examine for ourselves the
record pertaining to Dionisio's alleged negligence which must bear upon the liability, or
extent of liability, of Phoenix and Carbonel. llcd
There are four factual issues that need to be looked into: (a) whether or not private
respondent Dionisio had a curfew pass valid and effective for that eventful night; (b)
whether Dionisio was driving fast or speeding just before the collision with the dump
truck; (c) whether Dionisio had purposely turned off his car's headlights before contact
with the dump truck or whether those headlights accidentally malfunctioned moments
before the collision; and (d) whether Dionisio was intoxicated at the time of the accident.
As to the first issue relating to the curfew pass, it is clear that no curfew pass was found
on the person of Dionisio immediately after the accident nor was any found in his car.
Phoenix's evidence here consisted of the testimony of Patrolman Cuyno who had taken
Dionisio, unconscious, to

the Makati

Medical Center for

emergency

treatment

immediately after the accident. At the Makati Medical Center, a nurse took off Dionisio's
clothes and examined them along with the contents of pockets together with Patrolman
Cuyno. 1 Private respondent Dionisio was not able to produce any curfew pass during the
trial. Instead, he offered the explanation that his family may have misplaced his curfew
pass. He also offered a certification (dated two years after the accident) issued by one
Major Benjamin N. Libarnes of the Zone Integrated Police Intelligence Unit of Camp
Olivas, San Fernando, Pampanga, which was said to have authority to issue curfew
passes for Pampanga and Metro Manila. This certification was to the effect that private
respondent Dionisio had a valid curfew pass. This certification did not, however, specify
any pass serial number or date or period of effectivity of the supposed curfew pass. We
find that private respondent Dionisio was unable to prove possession of a valid curfew
pass during the night of the accident and that the preponderance of evidence shows that
he did not have such a pass during that night. The relevance of possession or nonpossession of a curfew pass that night lies in the light it tends to shed on the other
related issues: whether Dionisio was speeding home and whether he had indeed
purposely put out his headlights before the accident, in order to avoid detection and
possibly arrest by the police in the nearby police station for travelling after the onset of
curfew without a valid curfew pass. LibLex
On the second issue whether or not Dionisio was speeding home that night both the
trial court and the appellate court were completely silent.

The defendants in the trial court introduced the testimony of Patrolman Cuyno who was
at the scene of the accident almost immediately after it occurred, the police station
where he was based being barely 200 meters away. Patrolman Cuyno testified that
people who had gathered at the scene of the accident told him that Dionisio's car was
"moving fast" and did not have its headlights on. 2 Dionisio, on the other hand, claimed
that he was travelling at a moderate speed at 30 kilometers per hour and had just
crossed the intersection of General Santos and General Lacuna Streets and had started
to accelerate when his headlights failed just before the collision took place. 3

Private respondent Dionisio asserts that Patrolman Cuyno's testimony was hearsay and
did not fall within any of the recognized exceptions to the hearsay rule since the facts he
testified to were not acquired by him through official information and had not been given
by the informants pursuant to any duty to do so. Private respondent's objection fails to
take account of the fact that the testimony of Patrolman Cuyno is admissible not under
the official records exception to the hearsay rule 4 but rather as part of the res
gestae. 5 Testimonial evidence under this exception to the hearsay rule consists of
excited utterances made on the occasion of an occurrence or event sufficiently startling
in nature so as to render in-operative the normal reflective thought processes of the
observer and hence made as a spontaneous reaction to the occurrence or event, and not
the result of reflective thought. 6
We think that an automobile speeding down a street and suddenly smashing into a
stationary object in the dead of night is a sufficiently startling event as to evoke
spontaneous, rather than reflective, reactions from observers who happened to be
around at that time. The testimony of Patrolman Cuyno was therefore admissible as part
of the res gestae and should have been considered by the trial court. Clearly, substantial
weight should have been ascribed to such testimony, even though it did not, as it could
not, have purported to describe quantitatively the precise velocity at which Dionisio was
travelling just before impact with the Phoenix dump truck.
A third related issue is whether Dionisio purposely turned off his headlights, or whether
his headlights accidentally malfunctioned, just moments before the accident. The
Intermediate Appellate Court expressly found that the headlights of Dionisio's car went
off as he crossed the intersection but was non-committal as to why they did so. It is the
petitioners' contention that Dionisio purposely shut off his headlights even before he
reached the intersection so as not to be detected by the police in the police precinct

which he (being a resident in the area) knew was not far away from the intersection. We
believe that the petitioners' theory is a more credible explanation than that offered by
private respondent Dionisio i.e., that he had his headlights on but that, at the crucial
moment, these had in some mysterious if convenient way malfunctioned and gone off,
although he succeeded in switching his lights on again at "bright" split seconds before
contact with the dump truck. prcd
A fourth and final issue relates to whether Dionisio was intoxicated at the time of the
accident. The evidence here consisted of the testimony of Patrolman Cuyno to the effect
that private respondent Dionisio smelled of liquor at the time he was taken from his
smashed

car

and

brought

to

the

Makati

Medical

Center

in

an

unconscious

condition. 7 This testimony has to be taken in conjunction with the admission of Dionisio
that he had taken "a shot or two" of liquor before dinner with his boss that night. We do
not believe that this evidence is sufficient to show that Dionisio was so heavily under the
influence of liquor as to constitute his driving a motor vehicle per se an act of reckless
imprudence. 8 There simply is not enough evidence to show how much liquor he had in
fact taken and the effects of that upon his physical faculties or upon his judgment or
mental alertness. We are also aware that "one shot or two" of hard liquor may affect
different people differently.
The conclusion we draw from the factual circumstances outlined above is that private
respondent Dionisio was negligent the night of the accident. He was hurrying home that
night and driving faster than he should have been. Worse, he extinguished his headlights
at or near the intersection of General Lacuna and General Santos Streets and thus did
not see the dump truck that was parked askew and sticking out onto the road lane.
Nonetheless, we agree with the Court of First Instance and the Intermediate Appellate
Court that the legal and proximate cause of the accident and of Dionisio's injuries was
the wrongful or negligent manner in which the dump truck was parked in other words,
the negligence of petitioner Carbonel. That there was a reasonable relationship between
petitioner Carbonel's negligence on the one hand and the accident and respondent's
injuries on the other hand, is quite clear. Put in a slightly different manner, the collision
of Dionisio's car with the dump truck was a natural and foreseeable consequence of the
truck driver's negligence.
The petitioners, however, urge that the truck driver's negligence was merely a "passive
and static condition" and that private respondent Dionisio's negligence was an "efficient
intervening cause," and that consequently Dionisio's negligence must be regarded as the

legal and proximate cause of the accident rather than the earlier negligence of Carbonel.
We note that the petitioners' arguments are drawn from a reading of some of the older
cases in various jurisdictions in the United States but we are unable to persuade
ourselves that these arguments have any validity for our jurisdiction. We note, firstly,
that even in the United States, the distinctions between "cause" and "condition" which
the petitioners would have us adopt have already been "almost entirely discredited."
Professors Prosser and Keeton make this quite clear: LibLex
"Cause and condition. Many courts have sought to distinguish between the
active "cause" of the harm and the existing "conditions" upon which that
cause operated. If the defendant has created only a passive static condition
which made the damage possible, the defendant is said not to be
liable. But so far as the fact of causation is concerned, in the sense of
necessary antecedents which have played an important part in producing
the result, it is quite impossible to distinguish between active forces and
passive situations, particularly since, as is invariably the case, the latter
are the result of other active forces which have gone before. The defendant
who spills gasoline about the premises creates a "condition," but the act
may be culpable because of the danger of fire. When a spark ignites the
gasoline, the condition has done quite as much to bring about the fire as
the spark; and since that is the very risk which the defendant has created,
the

defendant

will

not

escape

responsibility.Even

the

lapse

of

considerable time during which the "condition" remains static will not
necessarily affect liability; one who digs a trench in the highway may still
be liable to another who falls into it a month afterward. "Cause" and
"condition" still find occasional mention in the decisions; but the distinction
is now almost entirely discredited. So far as it has any validity at all, it must
refer to the type of case where the forces set in operation by the defendant
have come to rest in a position of apparent safety, and some new force
intervenes. But even in such cases, it is not the distinction between "cause"
and "condition" which is important, but the nature of the risk and the
character of the intervening cause." 9
We believe, secondly, that the truck driver's negligence far from being a "passive and
static condition" was rather an indispensable and efficient cause. The collision between
the dump truck and the private respondent's car would in all probability not have
occurred had the dump truck not been parked askew without any warning lights or

reflector devices. The improper parking of the dump truck created an unreasonable risk
of injury for anyone driving down General Lacuna Street and for having so created this
risk, the truck driver must be held responsible. In our view, Dionisio's negligence,
although later in point of time than the truck driver's negligence and therefore closer to
the accident, was not an efficient intervening or independent cause. What the petitioners
describe as an "intervening cause" was no more than a foreseeable consequence of the
risk created by the negligent manner in which the truck driver had parked the dump
truck. In other words, the petitioner truck driver owed a duty to private respondent
Dionisio and others similarly situated not to impose upon them the very risk the truck
driver had created. Dionisio's negligence was not of an independent and overpowering
nature as to cut, as it were, the chain of causation in fact between the improper parking
of the dump truck and the accident, nor to sever the juris vinculum of liability. It is helpful
to quote once more from Prosser and Keeton: prLL
"Foreseeable Intervening Causes. If the intervening cause is one which in
ordinary human experience is reasonably to be anticipated, or one which
the defendant has reason to anticipate under the particular circumstances,
the defendant may be negligent, among other reasons, because of failure
to guard against it; or the defendant may be negligent only for that reason.
Thus one who sets a fire may be required to foresee that an ordinary, usual
and customary wind arising later will spread it beyond the defendant's own
property, and therefore to take precautions to prevent that event. The
person who leaves the combustible or explosive material exposed in a
public place may foresee the risk of fire from some independent source. . . .
In all of these cases there is an intervening cause combining with the
defendant's conduct to produce the result, and in each case the
defendant's negligence consists in failure to protect the plaintiff against
that very risk.
Obviously the defendant cannot be relieved from liability by the fact that
the risk or a substantial and important part of the risk, to which the
defendant has subjected the plaintiff has indeed come to pass. Foreseeable
intervening forces are within the scope of the original risk, and hence of the
defendant's negligence. The courts are quite generally agreed that
intervening causes which fall fairly in this category will not supersede the
defendant's responsibility.

Thus it has been held that a defendant will be required to anticipate the
usual weather of the vicinity, including all ordinary forces of nature such as
usual wind or rain, or snow or frost or fog or even lightning; that one who
leaves an obstruction on the road or a railroad track should foresee that a
vehicle or a train will run into it; . . . .
The risk created by the defendant may include the intervention of the
foreseeable negligence of others. . . . [T]he standard of reasonable conduct
may require the defendant to protect the plaintiff against `that occasional
negligence which is one of the ordinary incidents of human life, and
therefore to be anticipated.' Thus, a defendant who blocks the sidewalk and
forces the plaintiff to walk in a street where the plaintiff will be exposed to
the risks of heavy traffic becomes liable when the plaintiff is run down by a
car, even though the car is negligently driven; and one who parks an
automobile on the highway without lights at night is not relieved of
responsibility when another negligently drives into it. ---" 10
We hold that private respondent Dionisio's negligence was "only contributory," that the
"immediate and proximate cause" of the injury remained the truck driver's "lack of due
care" and that consequently respondent Dionisio may recover damages though such
damages are subject to mitigation by the courts (Article 2179, Civil Code of the
Philippines). LexLib
Petitioners also ask us to apply what they refer to as the "last clear chance" doctrine. The
theory here of petitioners is that while the petitioner truck driver was negligent, private
respondent Dionisio had the "last clear chance" of avoiding the accident and hence his
injuries, and that Dionisio having failed to take that "last clear chance" must bear his
own injuries alone. The last clear chance doctrine of the common law was imported into
our jurisdiction by Picart vs. Smith 11 but it is a matter for debate whether, or to what
extent, it has found its way into the Civil Code of the Philippines. The historical function
of that doctrine in the common law was to mitigate the harshness of another common
law doctrine or rule that of contributory negligence. 12 The common law rule of
contributory negligence prevented any recovery at all by a plaintiff who was also
negligent, even if the plaintiff's negligence was relatively minor as compared with the
wrongful act or omission of the defendant. 13 The common law notion of last clear
chance permitted courts to grant recovery to a plaintiff who had also been negligent

provided that the defendant had the last clear chance to avoid the casualty and failed to
do so. 14 Accordingly, it is difficult to see what role, if any, the common law last clear
chance doctrine has to play in a jurisdiction where the common law concept of
contributory negligence as an absolute bar to recovery by the plaintiff, has itself been
rejected, as it has been in Article 2179 of the Civil Code of the Philippines. 15
Is there perhaps a general concept of "last clear chance" that may be extracted from its
common law matrix and utilized as a general rule in negligence cases in a civil law
jurisdiction like ours? We do not believe so. Under Article 2179, the task of a court, in
technical terms, is to determine whose negligence the plaintiff's or the defendant's
was the legal or proximate cause of the injury. That task is not simply or even primarily
an exercise in chronology or physics, as the petitioners seem to imply by the use of
terms like "last" or "intervening" or "immediate." The relative location in the continuum
of time of the plaintiff's and the defendant's negligent acts or omissions, is only one of
the relevant factors that may be taken into account. Of more fundamental importance
are the nature of the negligent act or omission of each party and the character and
gravity of the risks created by such act or omission for the rest of the community. The
petitioners urge that the truck driver (and therefore his employer) should be absolved
from responsibility for his own prior negligence because the unfortunate plaintiff failed to
act with that increased diligence which had become necessary to avoid the peril
precisely created by the truck driver's own wrongful act or omission. To accept this
proposition is to come too close to wiping out the fundamental principle of law that a
man must respond for the foreseeable consequences of his own negligent act or
omission. Our law on quasi-delicts seeks to reduce the risks and burdens of living in
society and to allocate them among the members of society. To accept the petitioners'
proposition must tend to weaken the very bonds of society. cdll
Petitioner Carbonel's proven negligence creates a presumption of negligence on the part
of his employer Phoenix 16 in supervising its employees properly and adequately. The
respondent appellate court in effect found, correctly in our opinion, that Phoenix was not
able to overcome this presumption of negligence. The circumstance that Phoenix had
allowed its truck driver to bring the dump truck to his home whenever there was work to
be done early the following morning, when coupled with the failure to show any effort on
the part of Phoenix to supervise the manner in which the dump truck is parked when
away from company premises, is an affirmative showing of culpa in vigilando on the part
of Phoenix.

Turning to the award of damages and taking into account the comparative negligence of
private respondent Dionisio on one hand and petitioners Carbonel and Phoenix upon the
other hand, 17 we believe that the demands of substantial justice are satisfied by
allocating most of the damages on a 20-80 ratio. Thus, 20% of the damages awarded by
the respondent appellate court, except the award of P10,000.00 as exemplary damages
and P4,500.00 as attorney's fees and costs, shall be borne by private respondent; only
the balance of 80% needs to be paid by petitioners Carbonel and Phoenix who shall be
solidarily liable therefor to the former. The award of exemplary damages and attorney's
fees and costs shall be borne exclusively by the petitioners. Phoenix is of course entitled
to reimbursement from Carbonel. 18 We see no sufficient reason for disturbing the
reduced award of damages made by the respondent appellate court.
WHEREFORE, the decision of the respondent appellate court is modified by reducing the
aggregate amount of compensatory damages, loss of expected income and moral
damages private respondent Dionisio is entitled to by 20% of such amount. Costs against
the petitioners. cdphil
SO ORDERED.
Yap (Chairman), Narvasa, Cruz, Gancayco and Sarmiento, JJ., concur.
Melencio-Herrera, J., on official leave.
||| (Phoenix Construction, Inc. v. Intermediate Appellate Court, G.R. No. L-65295, [March
10, 1987], 232 PHIL 327-342)