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Republic of the Philippines Thereafter, plaintiff moved to amend the complaint to allege that as a result of

SUPREME COURT the intercourse, plaintiff had later given birth to a baby girl; but the court,
Manila sustaining defendant's objection, ruled that no amendment was allowable,
since the original complaint averred no cause of action. Wherefore, the plaintiff
EN BANC appealed directly to this Court.

G.R. No. 26795 July 31, 1970 We find the appealed orders of the court below to be untenable. A conceived
child, although as yet unborn, is given by law a provisional personality of its
CARMEN QUIMIGUING, Suing through her parents, ANTONIO own for all purposes favorable to it, as explicitly provided in Article 40 of the
QUIMIGUING and JACOBA CABILIN, plaintiffs-appellants, Civil Code of the Philippines. The unborn child, therefore, has a right to support
vs. from its progenitors, particularly of the defendant-appellee (whose paternity is
FELIX ICAO, defendant-appellee. deemed admitted for the purpose of the motion to dismiss), even if the said
child is only "en ventre de sa mere;" just as a conceived child, even if as yet
unborn, may receive donations as prescribed by Article 742 of the same Code,
Torcuato L. Galon for plaintiffs-appellants.
and its being ignored by the parent in his testament may result in preterition of
a forced heir that annuls the institution of the testamentary heir, even if such
Godardo Jacinto for defendant-appellee. child should be born after the death of the testator Article 854, Civil Code).

REYES, J.B.L., J.: ART. 742. Donations made to conceived and unborn children
may be accepted by those persons who would legally
Appeal on points of law from an order of the Court of First Instance of represent them if they were already born.
Zamboanga del Norte (Judge Onofre Sison Abalos, presiding), in its Civil Case
No. 1590, dismissing a complaint for support and damages, and another order ART. 854. The preterition or omission of one, some, or all of
denying amendment of the same pleading. the compulsory heirs in the direct line, whether living at the
time of the execution of the will or born after the death of the
The events in the court of origin can be summarized as follows: testator, shall annul the institution of heir; but the devises and
legacies shall be valid insofar as they are not inofficious.
Appellant, Carmen Quimiguing, assisted by her parents, sued Felix Icao in the
court below. In her complaint it was averred that the parties were neighbors in If the omitted compulsory heirs should die before the testator,
Dapitan City, and had close and confidential relations; that defendant Icao, the institution shall be effectual, without prejudice to the right of
although married, succeeded in having carnal intercourse with plaintiff several 'representation.
times by force and intimidation, and without her consent; that as a result she
became pregnant, despite efforts and drugs supplied by defendant, and It is thus clear that the lower court's theory that Article 291 of the Civil Code
plaintiff had to stop studying. Hence, she claimed support at P120.00 per declaring that support is an obligation of parents and illegitimate children "does
month, damages and attorney's fees. not contemplate support to children as yet unborn," violates Article 40
aforesaid, besides imposing a condition that nowhere appears in the text of
Duly summoned, defendant Icao moved to dismiss for lack of cause of action Article 291. It is true that Article 40 prescribing that "the conceived child shall
since the complaint did not allege that the child had been born; and after be considered born for all purposes that are favorable to it" adds further
hearing arguments, the trial judge sustained defendant's motion and dismissed "provided it be born later with the conditions specified in the following article"
the complaint. (i.e., that the foetus be alive at the time it is completely delivered from the
mother's womb). This proviso, however, is not a condition precedent to the
right of the conceived child; for if it were, the first part of Article 40 would
become entirely useless and ineffective. Manresa, in his Commentaries (5th Concepcion, C.J., Dizon, Makalintal, Zaldivar, Castro, Fernando, Teehankee,
Ed.) to the corresponding Article 29 of the Spanish Civil Code, clearly points Barredo and Villamor, JJ., concur.
this out:
Republic of the Philippines
Los derechos atribuidos al nasciturus no son simples expectativas, ni aun en SUPREME COURT
el sentido tecnico que la moderna doctrina da a esta figura juridica sino que Manila
constituyen un caso de los propiamente Ilamados 'derechos en estado de
pendenci'; el nacimiento del sujeto en las condiciones previstas por el art. 30, THIRD DIVISION
no determina el nacimiento de aquellos derechos (que ya existian de
antemano), sino que se trata de un hecho que tiene efectos declarativos. (1 G.R. No. 97336 February 19, 1993
Manresa, Op. cit., page 271)
A second reason for reversing the orders appealed from is that for a married vs.
man to force a woman not his wife to yield to his lust (as averred in the original HON. COURT OF APPEALS and MARILOU T. GONZALES, respondents.
complaint in this case) constitutes a clear violation of the rights of his victim
that entitles her to claim compensation for the damage caused. Says Article 21 Public Attorney's Office for petitioner.
of the Civil Code of the Philippines:
Corleto R. Castro for private respondent.
ART. 21. Any person who wilfully causes loss or injury to
another in a manner that is contrary to morals, good customs DAVIDE, JR., J.:
or public policy shall compensate the latter for the damage.
This is an appeal by certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court seeking to
The rule of Article 21 is supported by Article 2219 of the same Code: review and set aside the Decision1 of the respondent Court of Appeals in CA-
G.R. CV No. 24256 which affirmed in toto the 16 October 1939 Decision of
ART 2219. Moral damages may be recovered in the following Branch 38 (Lingayen) of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Pangasinan in Civil
and analogous cases: Case No. 16503. Presented is the issue of whether or not damages may be
recovered for a breach of promise to marry on the basis of Article 21 of the
(3) Seduction, abduction, rape or other lascivious acts:
Civil Code of the Philippines.
xxx xxx xxx The antecedents of this case are not complicated:

(10) Acts and actions referred to in Articles 21, 26, 27, 28 .... On 27 October 1987, private respondent, without the assistance of counsel,
filed with the aforesaid trial court a complaint2 for damages against the
Thus, independently of the right to Support of the child she was carrying, petitioner for the alleged violation of their agreement to get married. She
plaintiff herself had a cause of action for damages under the terms of the
alleges in said complaint that: she is twenty-two (22) years old, single, Filipino
complaint; and the order dismissing it for failure to state a cause of action was
doubly in error. and a pretty lass of good moral character and reputation duly respected in her
community; petitioner, on the other hand, is an Iranian citizen residing at the
WHEREFORE, the orders under appeal are reversed and set aside. Let the Lozano Apartments, Guilig, Dagupan City, and is an exchange student taking a
case be remanded to the court of origin for further proceedings conformable to medical course at the Lyceum Northwestern Colleges in Dagupan City; before
this decision. Costs against appellee Felix Icao. So ordered. 20 August 1987, the latter courted and proposed to marry her; she accepted
his love on the condition that they would get married; they therefore agreed to 1. That the plaintiff is single and resident (sic) of Bañaga, Bugallon,
get married after the end of the school semester, which was in October of that Pangasinan, while the defendant is single, Iranian citizen and resident (sic) of
year; petitioner then visited the private respondent's parents in Bañaga, Lozano Apartment, Guilig, Dagupan City since September 1, 1987 up to the
Bugallon, Pangasinan to secure their approval to the marriage; sometime in 20 present;
August 1987, the petitioner forced her to live with him in the Lozano
Apartments; she was a virgin before she began living with him; a week before 2. That the defendant is presently studying at Lyceum Northwestern, Dagupan
the filing of the complaint, petitioner's attitude towards her started to change; City, College of Medicine, second year medicine proper;
he maltreated and threatened to kill her; as a result of such maltreatment, she
3. That the plaintiff is (sic) an employee at Mabuhay Luncheonette , Fernandez
sustained injuries; during a confrontation with a representative of the barangay
Avenue, Dagupan City since July, 1986 up to the present and a (sic) high
captain of Guilig a day before the filing of the complaint, petitioner repudiated
school graduate;
their marriage agreement and asked her not to live with him anymore and; the
petitioner is already married to someone living in Bacolod City. Private 4. That the parties happened to know each other when the manager of the
respondent then prayed for judgment ordering the petitioner to pay her Mabuhay Luncheonette, Johhny Rabino introduced the defendant to the
damages in the amount of not less than P45,000.00, reimbursement for actual plaintiff on August 3, 1986.
expenses amounting to P600.00, attorney's fees and costs, and granting her
such other relief and remedies as may be just and equitable. The complaint After trial on the merits, the lower court, applying Article 21 of the Civil Code,
was docketed as Civil Case No. 16503. rendered on 16 October 1989 a decision5 favoring the private respondent. The
petitioner was thus ordered to pay the latter damages and attorney's fees; the
In his Answer with Counterclaim,3 petitioner admitted only the personal dispositive portion of the decision reads:
circumstances of the parties as averred in the complaint and denied the rest of
the allegations either for lack of knowledge or information sufficient to form a IN THE LIGHT of the foregoing consideration, judgment is hereby rendered in
belief as to the truth thereof or because the true facts are those alleged as his favor of the plaintiff and against the defendant.
Special and Affirmative Defenses. He thus claimed that he never proposed
1. Condemning (sic) the defendant to pay the plaintiff the sum of twenty
marriage to or agreed to be married with the private respondent; he neither
thousand (P20,000.00) pesos as moral damages.
sought the consent and approval of her parents nor forced her to live in his
apartment; he did not maltreat her, but only told her to stop coming to his place 2. Condemning further the defendant to play the plaintiff the sum of three
because he discovered that she had deceived him by stealing his money and thousand (P3,000.00) pesos as atty's fees and two thousand (P2,000.00)
passport; and finally, no confrontation took place with a representative of the pesos at (sic) litigation expenses and to pay the costs.
barangay captain. Insisting, in his Counterclaim, that the complaint is baseless
and unfounded and that as a result thereof, he was unnecessarily dragged into 3. All other claims are denied.6
court and compelled to incur expenses, and has suffered mental anxiety and a
besmirched reputation, he prayed for an award of P5,000.00 for miscellaneous The decision is anchored on the trial court's findings and conclusions that (a)
expenses and P25,000.00 as moral damages. petitioner and private respondent were lovers, (b) private respondent is not a
woman of loose morals or questionable virtue who readily submits to sexual
After conducting a pre-trial on 25 January 1988, the trial court issued a Pre- advances, (c) petitioner, through machinations, deceit and false pretenses,
Trial Order4 embodying the stipulated facts which the parties had agreed upon, promised to marry private respondent, d) because of his persuasive promise to
to wit: marry her, she allowed herself to be deflowered by him, (e) by reason of that

deceitful promise, private respondent and her parents — in accordance with plaintiff left defendant, went home to her parents, and thereafter consulted a
Filipino customs and traditions — made some preparations for the wedding lawyer who accompanied her to the barangay captain in Dagupan City.
that was to be held at the end of October 1987 by looking for pigs and Plaintiff, her lawyer, her godmother, and a barangay tanod sent by the
chickens, inviting friends and relatives and contracting sponsors, (f) petitioner barangay captain went to talk to defendant to still convince him to marry
did not fulfill his promise to marry her and (g) such acts of the petitioner, who is plaintiff, but defendant insisted that he could not do so because he was already
a foreigner and who has abused Philippine hospitality, have offended our married to a girl in Bacolod City, although the truth, as stipulated by the parties
sense of morality, good customs, culture and traditions. The trial court gave full at the pre-trial, is that defendant is still single.
credit to the private respondent's testimony because, inter alia, she would not
have had the temerity and courage to come to court and expose her honor and Plaintiff's father, a tricycle driver, also claimed that after defendant had
reputation to public scrutiny and ridicule if her claim was false.7 informed them of his desire to marry Marilou, he already looked for sponsors
for the wedding, started preparing for the reception by looking for pigs and
The above findings and conclusions were culled from the detailed summary of chickens, and even already invited many relatives and friends to the
the evidence for the private respondent in the foregoing decision, digested by forthcoming wedding. 8
the respondent Court as follows:
Petitioner appealed the trial court's decision to the respondent Court of
According to plaintiff, who claimed that she was a virgin at the time and that Appeals which docketed the case as CA-G.R. CV No. 24256. In his Brief,9 he
she never had a boyfriend before, defendant started courting her just a few contended that the trial court erred (a) in not dismissing the case for lack of
days after they first met. He later proposed marriage to her several times and factual and legal basis and (b) in ordering him to pay moral damages,
she accepted his love as well as his proposal of marriage on August 20, 1987, attorney's fees, litigation expenses and costs.
on which same day he went with her to her hometown of Bañaga, Bugallon,
Pangasinan, as he wanted to meet her parents and inform them of their On 18 February 1991, respondent Court promulgated the challenged
relationship and their intention to get married. The photographs Exhs. "A" to decision 10 affirming in toto the trial court's ruling of 16 October 1989. In
"E" (and their submarkings) of defendant with members of plaintiff's family or sustaining the trial court's findings of fact, respondent Court made the following
with plaintiff, were taken that day. Also on that occasion, defendant told analysis:
plaintiffs parents and brothers and sisters that he intended to marry her during
First of all, plaintiff, then only 21 years old when she met defendant who was
the semestral break in October, 1987, and because plaintiff's parents thought
already 29 years old at the time, does not appear to be a girl of loose morals. It
he was good and trusted him, they agreed to his proposal for him to marry their
is uncontradicted that she was a virgin prior to her unfortunate experience with
daughter, and they likewise allowed him to stay in their house and sleep with
defendant and never had boyfriend. She is, as described by the lower court, a
plaintiff during the few days that they were in Bugallon. When plaintiff and
barrio lass "not used and accustomed to trend of modern urban life", and
defendant later returned to Dagupan City, they continued to live together in
certainly would (sic) not have allowed
defendant's apartment. However, in the early days of October, 1987,
"herself to be deflowered by the defendant if there was no persuasive promise
defendant would tie plaintiff's hands and feet while he went to school, and he
made by the defendant to marry her." In fact, we agree with the lower court
even gave her medicine at 4 o'clock in the morning that made her sleep the
that plaintiff and defendant must have been sweethearts or so the plaintiff must
whole day and night until the following day. As a result of this live-in
have thought because of the deception of defendant, for otherwise, she would
relationship, plaintiff became pregnant, but defendant gave her some medicine
not have allowed herself to be photographed with defendant in public in so
to abort the fetus. Still plaintiff continued to live with defendant and kept
(sic) loving and tender poses as those depicted in the pictures Exhs. "D" and
reminding him of his promise to marry her until he told her that he could not do
"E". We cannot believe, therefore, defendant's pretense that plaintiff was a
so because he was already married to a girl in Bacolod City. That was the time
nobody to him except a waitress at the restaurant where he usually ate. palpably and undoubtedly against morals, good customs, and public policy,
Defendant in fact admitted that he went to plaintiff's hometown of Bañaga, and are even gravely and deeply derogatory and insulting to our women,
Bugallon, Pangasinan, at least thrice; at (sic) the town fiesta on February 27, coming as they do from a foreigner who has been enjoying the hospitality of
1987 (p. 54, tsn May 18, 1988), at (sic) a beach party together with the our people and taking advantage of the opportunity to study in one of our
manager and employees of the Mabuhay Luncheonette on March 3, 1987 (p. institutions of learning, defendant-appellant should indeed be made, under Art.
50, tsn id.), and on April 1, 1987 when he allegedly talked to plaintiff's mother 21 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, to compensate for the moral damages
who told him to marry her daughter (pp. 55-56, tsn id.). Would defendant have and injury that he had caused plaintiff, as the lower court ordered him to do in
left Dagupan City where he was involved in the serious study of medicine to go its decision in this case. 12
to plaintiff's hometown in Bañaga, Bugallon, unless there was (sic) some kind
of special relationship between them? And this special relationship must Unfazed by his second defeat, petitioner filed the instant petition on 26 March
indeed have led to defendant's insincere proposal of marriage to plaintiff, 1991; he raises therein the single issue of whether or not Article 21 of the Civil
communicated not only to her but also to her parents, and (sic) Marites Code applies to the case at bar. 13
Rabino, the owner of the restaurant where plaintiff was working and where
It is petitioner's thesis that said Article 21 is not applicable because he had not
defendant first proposed marriage to her, also knew of this love affair and
committed any moral wrong or injury or violated any good custom or public
defendant's proposal of marriage to plaintiff, which she declared was the
policy; he has not professed love or proposed marriage to the private
reason why plaintiff resigned from her job at the restaurant after she had
respondent; and he has never maltreated her. He criticizes the trial court for
accepted defendant's proposal (pp. 6-7, tsn March 7, 1988).
liberally invoking Filipino customs, traditions and culture, and ignoring the fact
Upon the other hand, appellant does not appear to be a man of good moral that since he is a foreigner, he is not conversant with such Filipino customs,
character and must think so low and have so little respect and regard for traditions and culture. As an Iranian Moslem, he is not familiar with Catholic
Filipino women that he openly admitted that when he studied in Bacolod City and Christian ways. He stresses that even if he had made a promise to marry,
for several years where he finished his B.S. Biology before he came to the subsequent failure to fulfill the same is excusable or tolerable because of
Dagupan City to study medicine, he had a common-law wife in Bacolod City. In his Moslem upbringing; he then alludes to the Muslim Code which purportedly
other words, he also lived with another woman in Bacolod City but did not allows a Muslim to take four (4) wives and concludes that on the basis thereof,
marry that woman, just like what he did to plaintiff. It is not surprising, then, that the trial court erred in ruling that he does not posses good moral character.
he felt so little compunction or remorse in pretending to love and promising to Moreover, his controversial "common law life" is now his legal wife as their
marry plaintiff, a young, innocent, trustful country girl, in order to satisfy his lust marriage had been solemnized in civil ceremonies in the Iranian Embassy. As
on her. 11 to his unlawful cohabitation with the private respondent, petitioner claims that
even if responsibility could be pinned on him for the live-in relationship, the
and then concluded: private respondent should also be faulted for consenting to an illicit
arrangement. Finally, petitioner asseverates that even if it was to be
In sum, we are strongly convinced and so hold that it was defendant- assumed arguendo that he had professed his love to the private respondent
appellant's fraudulent and deceptive protestations of love for and promise to and had also promised to marry her, such acts would not be actionable in view
marry plaintiff that made her surrender her virtue and womanhood to him and of the special circumstances of the case. The mere breach of promise is not
to live with him on the honest and sincere belief that he would keep said actionable. 14
promise, and it was likewise these (sic) fraud and deception on appellant's part
that made plaintiff's parents agree to their daughter's living-in with him On 26 August 1991, after the private respondent had filed her Comment to the
preparatory to their supposed marriage. And as these acts of appellant are petition and the petitioner had filed his Reply thereto, this Court gave due
course to the petition and required the parties to submit their respective 142 SCRA 593 [1986]); (8) When the findings of fact are conclusions without
Memoranda, which they subsequently complied with. citation of specific evidence on which they are based (Ibid.,); (9) When the
facts set forth in the petition as well as in the petitioners main and reply briefs
As may be gleaned from the foregoing summation of the petitioner's are not disputed by the respondents (Ibid.,); and (10) The finding of fact of the
arguments in support of his thesis, it is clear that questions of fact, which boil Court of Appeals is premised on the supposed absence of evidence and is
down to the issue of the credibility of witnesses, are also raised. It is the rule in contradicted by the evidence on record (Salazar v. Gutierrez, 33 SCRA 242
this jurisdiction that appellate courts will not disturb the trial court's findings as [1970]).
to the credibility of witnesses, the latter court having heard the witnesses and
having had the opportunity to observe closely their deportment and manner of Petitioner has not endeavored to joint out to Us the existence of any of the
testifying, unless the trial court had plainly overlooked facts of substance or above quoted exceptions in this case. Consequently, the factual findings of the
value which, if considered, might affect the result of the case. 15 trial and appellate courts must be respected.

Petitioner has miserably failed to convince Us that both the appellate and trial And now to the legal issue.
courts had overlooked any fact of substance or values which could alter the
result of the case. The existing rule is that a breach of promise to marry per se is not an
actionable wrong. 17 Congress deliberately eliminated from the draft of the New
Equally settled is the rule that only questions of law may be raised in a petition Civil Code the provisions that would have made it so. The reason therefor is
for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. It is not the set forth in the report of the Senate Committees on the Proposed Civil Code,
function of this Court to analyze or weigh all over again the evidence from which We quote:
introduced by the parties before the lower court. There are, however,
recognized exceptions to this rule. Thus, in Medina vs.Asistio, Jr., 16 this Court The elimination of this chapter is proposed. That breach of promise to marry is
took the time, again, to enumerate these exceptions: not actionable has been definitely decided in the case of De Jesus vs.
Syquia. 18 The history of breach of promise suits in the United States and in
xxx xxx xxx England has shown that no other action lends itself more readily to abuse by
designing women and unscrupulous men. It is this experience which has led to
(1) When the conclusion is a finding grounded entirely on speculation, the abolition of rights of action in the so-called Heart Balm suits in many of the
surmises or conjectures (Joaquin v. Navarro, 93 Phil. 257 [1953]); (2) When American states. . . . 19
the inference made is manifestly mistaken, absurb or impossible (Luna v.
Linatok, 74 Phil. 15 [1942]); (3) Where there is a grave abuse of discretion This notwithstanding, the said Code contains a provision, Article 21, which is
(Buyco v. People, 95 Phil. 453 [1955]); (4) When the judgment is based on a designed to expand the concept of torts or quasi-delict in this jurisdiction by
misapprehension of facts (Cruz v. Sosing, granting adequate legal remedy for the untold number of moral wrongs which
L-4875, Nov. 27, 1953); (5) When the findings of fact are conflicting (Casica v. is impossible for human foresight to specifically enumerate and punish in the
Villaseca, L-9590 Ap. 30, 1957; unrep.) (6) When the Court of Appeals, in statute books. 20
making its findings, went beyond the issues of the case and the same is
contrary to the admissions of both appellate and appellee (Evangelista v. Alto As the Code Commission itself stated in its Report:
Surety and Insurance Co., 103 Phil. 401 [1958]);
But the Code Commission had gone farther than the sphere of wrongs defined
(7) The findings of the Court of Appeals are contrary to those of the trial court
or determined by positive law. Fully sensible that there are countless gaps in
(Garcia v. Court of Appeals, 33 SCRA 622 [1970]; Sacay v. Sandiganbayan,
the statutes, which leave so many victims of moral wrongs helpless, even
though they have actually suffered material and moral injury, the Commission be covered by Article 2176 of the Civil Code. 22 In between these opposite
has deemed it necessary, in the interest of justice, to incorporate in the spectrums are injurious acts which, in the absence of Article 21, would have
proposed Civil Code the following rule: been beyond redress. Thus, Article 21 fills that vacuum. It is even postulated
that together with Articles 19 and 20 of the Civil Code, Article 21 has greatly
Art. 23. Any person who wilfully causes loss or injury to another in a manner broadened the scope of the law on civil wrongs; it has become much more
that is contrary to morals, good customs or public policy shall compensate the supple and adaptable than the Anglo-American law on torts. 23
latter for the damage.
In the light of the above laudable purpose of Article 21, We are of the opinion,
An example will illustrate the purview of the foregoing norm: "A" seduces the and so hold, that where a man's promise to marry is in fact the proximate
nineteen-year old daughter of "X". A promise of marriage either has not been cause of the acceptance of his love by a woman and his representation to fulfill
made, or can not be proved. The girl becomes pregnant. Under the present that promise thereafter becomes the proximate cause of the giving of herself
laws, there is no crime, as the girl is above nineteen years of age. Neither can unto him in a sexual congress, proof that he had, in reality, no intention of
any civil action for breach of promise of marriage be filed. Therefore, though marrying her and that the promise was only a subtle scheme or deceptive
the grievous moral wrong has been committed, and though the girl and family device to entice or inveigle her to accept him and to obtain her consent to the
have suffered incalculable moral damage, she and her parents cannot bring sexual act, could justify the award of damages pursuant to Article 21 not
action for damages. But under the proposed article, she and her parents would because of such promise to marry but because of the fraud and deceit behind
have such a right of action. it and the willful injury to her honor and reputation which followed thereafter. It
is essential, however, that such injury should have been committed in a
Thus at one stroke, the legislator, if the forgoing rule is approved, would
manner contrary to morals, good customs or public policy.
vouchsafe adequate legal remedy for that untold number of moral wrongs
which it is impossible for human foresight to provide for specifically in the In the instant case, respondent Court found that it was the petitioner's
statutes. 21 "fraudulent and deceptive protestations of love for and promise to marry
plaintiff that made her surrender her virtue and womanhood to him and to live
Article 2176 of the Civil Code, which defines a quasi-delict thus:
with him on the honest and sincere belief that he would keep said promise, and
Whoever by act or omission causes damage to another, there being fault or it was likewise these fraud and deception on appellant's part that made
negligence, is obliged to pay for the damage done. Such fault or negligence, if plaintiff's parents agree to their daughter's living-in with him preparatory to their
there is no pre-existing contractual relation between the parties, is called supposed marriage." 24 In short, the private respondent surrendered her
a quasi-delict and is governed by the provisions of this Chapter. virginity, the cherished possession of every single Filipina, not because of lust
but because of moral seduction — the kind illustrated by the Code Commission
is limited to negligent acts or omissions and excludes the notion of willfulness in its example earlier adverted to. The petitioner could not be held liable for
or intent. Quasi-delict, known in Spanish legal treatises as culpa aquiliana, is a criminal seduction punished under either Article 337 or Article 338 of the
civil law concept while torts is an Anglo-American or common law Revised Penal Code because the private respondent was above eighteen (18)
concept. Torts is much broader than culpa aquiliana because it includes not years of age at the time of the seduction.
only negligence, but international criminal acts as well such as assault and
battery, false imprisonment and deceit. In the general scheme of the Philippine Prior decisions of this Court clearly suggest that Article 21 may be applied in a
legal system envisioned by the Commission responsible for drafting the New breach of promise to marry where the woman is a victim of moral seduction.
Civil Code, intentional and malicious acts, with certain exceptions, are to be Thus, in Hermosisima vs. Court of Appeals,25 this Court denied recovery of
governed by the Revised Penal Code while negligent acts or omissions are to damages to the woman because:
. . . we find ourselves unable to say that petitioner is morally guilty of Accordingly it is not seduction where the willingness arises out of sexual desire
seduction, not only because he is approximately ten (10) years younger than of curiosity of the female, and the defendant merely affords her the needed
the complainant — who was around thirty-six (36) years of age, and as highly opportunity for the commission of the act. It has been emphasized that to allow
enlightened as a former high school teacher and a life insurance agent are a recovery in all such cases would tend to the demoralization of the female
supposed to be — when she became intimate with petitioner, then a mere sex, and would be a reward for unchastity by which a class of adventuresses
apprentice pilot, but, also, because the court of first instance found that, would be swift to profit. (47 Am. Jur. 662)
complainant "surrendered herself" to petitioner because, "overwhelmed by her
love" for him, she "wanted to bind" him by having a fruit of their engagement xxx xxx xxx
even before they had the benefit of clergy.
Over and above the partisan allegations, the fact stand out that for one whole
In Tanjanco vs. Court of Appeals, 26 while this Court likewise hinted at possible year, from 1958 to 1959, the plaintiff-appellee, a woman of adult age, maintain
recovery if there had been moral seduction, recovery was eventually denied intimate sexual relations with appellant, with repeated acts of intercourse. Such
because We were not convinced that such seduction existed. The following conduct is incompatible with the idea of seduction. Plainly there is here
enlightening disquisition and conclusion were made in the said case: voluntariness and mutual passion; for had the appellant been deceived, had
she surrendered exclusively because of the deceit, artful persuasions and
The Court of Appeals seem to have overlooked that the example set forth in wiles of the defendant, she would not have again yielded to his embraces,
the Code Commission's memorandum refers to a tort upon a minor who had much less for one year, without exacting early fulfillment of the alleged
been seduced. The essential feature is seduction, that in law is more than promises of marriage, and would have cut short all sexual relations upon
mere sexual intercourse, or a breach of a promise of marriage; it connotes finding that defendant did not intend to fulfill his defendant did not intend to
essentially the idea of deceit, enticement, superior power or abuse of fulfill his promise. Hence, we conclude that no case is made under article 21 of
confidence on the part of the seducer to which the woman has yielded (U.S. the Civil Code, and no other cause of action being alleged, no error was
vs. Buenaventura, 27 Phil. 121; U.S. vs. Arlante, 9 Phil. 595). committed by the Court of First Instance in dismissing the complaint. 27

It has been ruled in the Buenaventura case (supra) that — In his annotations on the Civil Code, 28 Associate Justice Edgardo L. Paras,
who recently retired from this Court, opined that in a breach of promise to
To constitute seduction there must in all cases be some sufficient promise or marry where there had been carnal knowledge, moral damages may be
inducement and the woman must yield because of the promise or other recovered:
inducement. If she consents merely from carnal lust and the intercourse is from
mutual desire, there is no seduction (43 Cent. Dig. tit. Seduction, par. 56) She . . . if there be criminal or moral seduction, but not if the intercourse was due to
must be induced to depart from the path of virtue by the use of some species mutual lust. (Hermosisima vs. Court of Appeals,
of arts, persuasions and wiles, which are calculated to have and do have that L-14628, Sept. 30, 1960; Estopa vs. Piansay, Jr., L-14733, Sept. 30, 1960;
effect, and which result in her person to ultimately submitting her person to the Batarra vs. Marcos, 7 Phil. 56 (sic); Beatriz Galang vs. Court of Appeals, et al.,
sexual embraces of her seducer (27 Phil. 123). L-17248, Jan. 29, 1962). (In other words, if the CAUSE be the promise to
marry, and the EFFECT be the carnal knowledge, there is a chance that there
And in American Jurisprudence we find: was criminal or moral seduction, hence recovery of moral damages will
prosper. If it be the other way around, there can be no recovery of moral
On the other hand, in an action by the woman, the enticement, persuasion or
damages, because here mutual lust has intervened). . . .
deception is the essence of the injury; and a mere proof of intercourse is
insufficient to warrant a recovery.
together with "ACTUAL damages, should there be any, such as the expenses 51-53, May 18, 1988). And this predicament prompted her to accept a
for the wedding presentations (See Domalagon v. Bolifer, 33 Phil. 471). proposition that may have been offered by the petitioner. 34

Senator Arturo M. Tolentino 29 is also of the same persuasion: These statements reveal the true character and motive of the petitioner. It is
clear that he harbors a condescending, if not sarcastic, regard for the private
It is submitted that the rule in Batarra vs. Marcos, 30 still subsists, respondent on account of the latter's ignoble birth, inferior educational
notwithstanding the incorporation of the present article31 in the Code. The background, poverty and, as perceived by him, dishonorable employment.
example given by the Code Commission is correct, if there was seduction, not Obviously then, from the very beginning, he was not at all moved by good faith
necessarily in the legal sense, but in the vulgar sense of deception. But when and an honest motive. Marrying with a woman so circumstances could not
the sexual act is accomplished without any deceit or qualifying circumstance of have even remotely occurred to him. Thus, his profession of love and promise
abuse of authority or influence, but the woman, already of age, has knowingly to marry were empty words directly intended to fool, dupe, entice, beguile and
given herself to a man, it cannot be said that there is an injury which can be deceive the poor woman into believing that indeed, he loved her and would
the basis for indemnity. want her to be his life's partner. His was nothing but pure lust which he wanted
satisfied by a Filipina who honestly believed that by accepting his proffer of
But so long as there is fraud, which is characterized by willfulness (sic), the
love and proposal of marriage, she would be able to enjoy a life of ease and
action lies. The court, however, must weigh the degree of fraud, if it is sufficient
security. Petitioner clearly violated the Filipino's concept of morality and
to deceive the woman under the circumstances, because an act which would
brazenly defied the traditional respect Filipinos have for their women. It can
deceive a girl sixteen years of age may not constitute deceit as to an
even be said that the petitioner committed such deplorable acts in blatant
experienced woman thirty years of age. But so long as there is a wrongful act
disregard of Article 19 of the Civil Code which directs every person to act with
and a resulting injury, there should be civil liability, even if the act is not
justice, give everyone his due and observe honesty and good faith in the
punishable under the criminal law and there should have been an acquittal or
exercise of his rights and in the performance of his obligations.
dismissal of the criminal case for that reason.
No foreigner must be allowed to make a mockery of our laws, customs and
We are unable to agree with the petitioner's alternative proposition to the effect
that granting, for argument's sake, that he did promise to marry the private
respondent, the latter is nevertheless also at fault. According to him, both The pari delicto rule does not apply in this case for while indeed, the private
parties are in pari delicto; hence, pursuant to Article 1412(1) of the Civil Code respondent may not have been impelled by the purest of intentions, she
and the doctrine laid down in Batarra vs. Marcos, 32 the private respondent eventually submitted to the petitioner in sexual congress not out of lust, but
cannot recover damages from the petitioner. The latter even goes as far as because of moral seduction. In fact, it is apparent that she had qualms of
stating that if the private respondent had "sustained any injury or damage in conscience about the entire episode for as soon as she found out that the
their relationship, it is primarily because of her own doing, 33 for: petitioner was not going to marry her after all, she left him. She is not,
therefore, in pari delicto with the petitioner. Pari delicto means "in equal fault;
. . . She is also interested in the petitioner as the latter will become a doctor
in a similar offense or crime; equal in guilt or in legal fault." 35At most, it could
sooner or later. Take notice that she is a plain high school graduate and a
be conceded that she is merely in delicto.
mere employee . . . (Annex "C") or a waitress (TSN, p. 51, January 25, 1988)
in a luncheonette and without doubt, is in need of a man who can give her Equity often interferes for the relief of the less guilty of the parties, where his
economic security. Her family is in dire need of financial assistance. (TSN, pp. transgression has been brought about by the imposition of undue influence of
the party on whom the burden of the original wrong principally rests, or where
his consent to the transaction was itself procured by The facts that culminated in this case started with dreams and hopes, followed
fraud. 36 by appropriate planning and serious endeavors, but terminated in frustration
and, what is worse, complete public humiliation.
In Mangayao vs. Lasud, 37 We declared:
Francisco X. Velez and Beatriz P. Wassmer, following their mutual promise of
Appellants likewise stress that both parties being at fault, there should be no love, decided to get married and set September 4, 1954 as the big day. On
action by one against the other (Art. 1412, New Civil Code). This rule, September 2, 1954 Velez left this note for his bride-to-be:
however, has been interpreted as applicable only where the fault on both sides
is, more or less, equivalent. It does not apply where one party is literate or Dear Bet —
intelligent and the other one is not. (c.f. Bough vs. Cantiveros, 40 Phil. 209).
Will have to postpone wedding — My mother opposes it. Am leaving on the
We should stress, however, that while We find for the private respondent, let it Convair today.
not be said that this Court condones the deplorable behavior of her parents in
letting her and the petitioner stay together in the same room in their house Please do not ask too many people about the reason why — That would only
after giving approval to their marriage. It is the solemn duty of parents to create a scandal.
protect the honor of their daughters and infuse upon them the higher values of
morality and dignity.
But the next day, September 3, he sent her the following telegram:
WHEREFORE, finding no reversible error in the challenged decision, the
instant petition is hereby DENIED, with costs against the petitioner. NOTHING CHANGED REST ASSURED RETURNING VERY SOON
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT Thereafter Velez did not appear nor was he heard from again.
Sued by Beatriz for damages, Velez filed no answer and was declared in
EN BANC default. Plaintiff adduced evidence before the clerk of court as commissioner,
and on April 29, 1955, judgment was rendered ordering defendant to pay
G.R. No. L-20089 December 26, 1964
plaintiff P2,000.00 as actual damages; P25,000.00 as moral and exemplary
BEATRIZ P. WASSMER, plaintiff-appellee, damages; P2,500.00 as attorney's fees; and the costs.
On June 21, 1955 defendant filed a "petition for relief from orders, judgment
FRANCISCO X. VELEZ, defendant-appellant.
and proceedings and motion for new trial and reconsideration." Plaintiff moved
Jalandoni & Jamir for defendant-appellant. to strike it cut. But the court, on August 2, 1955, ordered the parties and their
Samson S. Alcantara for plaintiff-appellee. attorneys to appear before it on August 23, 1955 "to explore at this stage of the
proceedings the possibility of arriving at an amicable settlement." It added that
BENGZON, J.P., J.: should any of them fail to appear "the petition for relief and the opposition
thereto will be deemed submitted for resolution."
On August 23, 1955 defendant failed to appear before court. Instead, on the as commissioner to receive evidence is sanctioned by Rule 34 (now Rule 33)
following day his counsel filed a motion to defer for two weeks the resolution of the Rules of Court. Now as to defendant's consent to said procedure, the
on defendants petition for relief. The counsel stated that he would confer with same did not have to be obtained for he was declared in default and thus had
defendant in Cagayan de Oro City — the latter's residence — on the possibility no standing in court (Velez vs. Ramas, 40 Phil. 787; Alano vs. Court of First
of an amicable element. The court granted two weeks counted from August 25, Instance, L-14557, October 30, 1959).
In support of his "motion for new trial and reconsideration," defendant asserts
Plaintiff manifested on June 15, 1956 that the two weeks given by the court that the judgment is contrary to law. The reason given is that "there is no
had expired on September 8, 1955 but that defendant and his counsel had provision of the Civil Code authorizing" an action for breach of promise to
failed to appear. marry. Indeed, our ruling in Hermosisima vs. Court of Appeals (L-14628, Sept.
30, 1960), as reiterated in Estopa vs. Biansay (L-14733, Sept. 30, 1960), is
Another chance for amicable settlement was given by the court in its order of that "mere breach of a promise to marry" is not an actionable wrong. We
July 6, 1956 calling the parties and their attorneys to appear on July 13, 1956. pointed out that Congress deliberately eliminated from the draft of the new Civil
This time. however, defendant's counsel informed the court that chances of Code the provisions that would have it so.
settling the case amicably were nil.
It must not be overlooked, however, that the extent to which acts not contrary
On July 20, 1956 the court issued an order denying defendant's aforesaid to law may be perpetrated with impunity, is not limitless for Article 21 of said
petition. Defendant has appealed to this Court. In his petition of June 21, 1955 Code provides that "any person who wilfully causes loss or injury to another in
in the court a quo defendant alleged excusable negligence as ground to set a manner that is contrary to morals, good customs or public policy shall
aside the judgment by default. Specifically, it was stated that defendant filed no compensate the latter for the damage."
answer in the belief that an amicable settlement was being negotiated.
The record reveals that on August 23, 1954 plaintiff and defendant applied for
A petition for relief from judgment on grounds of fraud, accident, mistake or a license to contract marriage, which was subsequently issued (Exhs. A, A-1).
excusable negligence, must be duly supported by an affidavit of merits stating Their wedding was set for September 4, 1954. Invitations were printed and
facts constituting a valid defense. (Sec. 3, Rule 38, Rules of Court.) distributed to relatives, friends and acquaintances (Tsn., 5; Exh. C). The bride-
Defendant's affidavit of merits attached to his petition of June 21, 1955 stated: to-be's trousseau, party drsrses and other apparel for the important occasion
"That he has a good and valid defense against plaintiff's cause of action, his were purchased (Tsn., 7-8). Dresses for the maid of honor and the flower girl
failure to marry the plaintiff as scheduled having been due to fortuitous event were prepared. A matrimonial bed, with accessories, was bought. Bridal
and/or circumstances beyond his control." An affidavit of merits like this stating showers were given and gifts received (Tsn., 6; Exh. E). And then, with but two
mere conclusions or opinions instead of facts is not valid. (Cortes vs. Co Bun days before the wedding, defendant, who was then 28 years old,: simply left a
Kim, L-3926, Oct. 10, 1951; Vaswani vs. P. Tarrachand Bros., L-15800, note for plaintiff stating: "Will have to postpone wedding — My mother opposes
December 29, 1960.) it ... " He enplaned to his home city in Mindanao, and the next day, the day
before the wedding, he wired plaintiff: "Nothing changed rest assured returning
Defendant, however, would contend that the affidavit of merits was in fact
soon." But he never returned and was never heard from again.
unnecessary, or a mere surplusage, because the judgment sought to be set
aside was null and void, it having been based on evidence adduced before the Surely this is not a case of mere breach of promise to marry. As stated, mere
clerk of court. In Province of Pangasinan vs. Palisoc, L-16519, October 30, breach of promise to marry is not an actionable wrong. But to formally set a
1962, this Court pointed out that the procedure of designating the clerk of court wedding and go through all the above-described preparation and publicity, only
to walk out of it when the matrimony is about to be solemnized, is quite Republic of the Philippines
different. This is palpably and unjustifiably contrary to good customs for which SUPREME COURT
defendant must be held answerable in damages in accordance with Article 21 Manila
Defendant urges in his afore-stated petition that the damages awarded were
excessive. No question is raised as to the award of actual damages. What G.R. No. 163794 November 28, 2008
defendant would really assert hereunder is that the award of moral and
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, represented by Romeo T. Acosta
exemplary damages, in the amount of P25,000.00, should be totally
(formerly Jose D. Malvas), Director of Forest Management Bureau,
Department of Environment and Natural Resources,petitioners,
Per express provision of Article 2219 (10) of the New Civil Code, moral vs.
damages are recoverable in the cases mentioned in Article 21 of said Code. HON. NORMELITO J. BALLOCANAG, Presiding Judge, Branch 41,
As to exemplary damages, defendant contends that the same could not be Regional Trial Court, Pinamalayan, Oriental Mindoro and DANILO
adjudged against him because under Article 2232 of the New Civil Code the REYES, respondents.
condition precedent is that "the defendant acted in a wanton, fraudulent,
reckless, oppressive, or malevolent manner." The argument is devoid of merit
as under the above-narrated circumstances of this case defendant clearly NACHURA, J.:
acted in a "wanton ... , reckless [and] oppressive manner." This Court's
opinion, however, is that considering the particular circumstances of this case, Before this Court is a Petition for Review on Certiorari1 under Rule 45 of the
P15,000.00 as moral and exemplary damages is deemed to be a reasonable Rules of Civil Procedure seeking the reversal of the Court of
Appeals (CA) Decision2 dated June 4, 2004, in CA-G.R. SP No. 52261, which
PREMISES CONSIDERED, with the above-indicated modification, the lower affirmed the Joint Order3 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Pinamalayan,
court's judgment is hereby affirmed, with costs. Oriental Mindoro, Branch 41, dated December 28, 1998.

The facts, as summarized by the CA, are as follows:

Sometime in 1970, [private respondent Danilo] Reyes bought the subject

182,941-square-meter land at Bgy. Banus, Pinamalayan, Oriental Mindoro
[subject land] from one Regina Castillo (or Castillo) in whose name it was titled
under Original Transfer Certificate of Title No. P-2388 issued pursuant to Free
Patent No. V-79606. Right after his purchase, Reyes introduced improvements
and planted the land with fruit trees, including about a thousand mango[es],
more than a hundred Mandarin citrus, and more than a hundred guyabanos.
He also had the title transferred in his name and was issued TCT No. 45232.

Reyes so prized this land which he bought in good faith. Unfortunately, it

turned out that about 162,500 square meters of this land is part of the
timberland of Oriental Mindoro and, therefore, cannot be subject to any amended to LC Map No. 2319 (Exh. "B"), the plotting shows that the 162,000
disposition or acquisition under any existing law, and is not registrable. square meters covered by OCT No. 2388 are entirely inside the 140 hectares
of the Agro-Forestry Farm Lease Agreement No. 175 in favor of Atty. Marte
Thus, in the Complaint (Annex "A", pp. 15 to 21, rollo) for "Cancellation of Title and the alienable and disposable area of Castillo's land is only around two (2)
and/or Reversion" filed by the Office of the Solicitor General (or OSG) in behalf hectares;
of the Republic [petitioner], as represented by the Bureau of Forest
Development (or BFD), it was explained that the source[,] Original Transfer b) Alberto Cardiño, an employee of the DENR who conducted the survey on
Certificate of Title No. P-2388 of Castillo, issued pursuant to Free Patent No. the land under litigation, corroborated the testimony of Cruz that only two
V-79606, is spurious, fictitious and irregularly issued on account of: hectares is alienable and disposable land; and

a) ONE HUNDRED SIXTY-TWO THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED (162,500) c) Vicente Mendoza, a Geodetic Engineer, who expounded on the procedure
SQUARE METERS, more or less, of the land covered by OCT No. P-2388 before the title could be issued to an applicant for a disposable and alienable
was, at the time it was applied for patent and or titling, a part of the timberland public land. He clarified that he did not make the survey for Castillo but upon
of Oriental Mindoro, per BFD Land Classification Map Nos. 2319 and 1715. presentation to him of the carpeta in open court he noticed that, while it
Copy of said maps are attached hereto as Annexes "B" and "C"; appears to be valid, it however has no certification of the Bureau of Forestry -
an essential requirement before title could be issued.
b) The 162,500 square meters covered by OCT No. P-2388 are entirely inside
the 140 hectares Agro-Forestry Farm Lease Agreement No. 175 in favor of For his side, Reyes presented evidence showing his extensive development of
Atty. Augusto D. Marte4 [Atty. Marte], copy of the Map of AFFLA No. 175 and and investment in the land, but however failed to traverse squarely the issue
AFFLA No. 175 are attached hereto as Annexes "D" and "E"; raised by the Republic against the inalienability and indisposability of his
acquired land. His lame argument that the absence of the Certification by the
c) Neither the private defendant nor his predecessors-in-interest have been in Bureau of Forestry on his carpeta does not necessarily mean that there was
possession of the property because the rightful occupant is Atty. Augusto D. none issued, failed to convince the court a quo.
Marte by virtue of the Agro-Forestry Farm Lease Agreement [AFFLA] No. 175,
issued to him by the Ministry of Natural Resources in 1986 to expire on Hence, Judge Edilberto Ramos, the then Presiding Judge of Branch 41 of the
December 21, 2011; Regional Trial Court of Pinamalayan, Oriental Mindoro, held5 that:

d) Since the parcel of land covered by TCT No. 45232, in the name of The defendants in this case did not assail the evidence of the plaintiff but
defendant Danilo Reyes, is a part of the timberland of Oriental Mindoro, per concentrated itself to the expenses incurred in the cultivation and in the
BFD Land Classification Map Nos. 2319 & 1715, the same cannot be the planting of trees in that disputed areas. Aside thereto, the plaintiff cited that it is
subject of any disposition or acquisition under any existing law (Li Hong Giap elementary principle of law that said areas not being capable of registration
vs. Director of Lands, 55 Phil. 693; Veno vs. Gov't of P.I. 41 Phil. 161; Director their inclusion in a certification of ownership or confer title on the registrant.
of Lands vs. Abanzado, 65 SCRA 5). (pp. 18 to 19, rollo) (Republic of the Philippines, et al. vs. Hon. Judge Jaime de los Angeles of the
Court of First Instance of Balayan, Batangas, et al., G.R. No. L-30240) It is
Aside from the documentary evidence presented to support these allegations, also a matter of principle that public forest [are non-alienable public lands.
the Republic presented as well and called to the witness stand: Accession of public forests] on the part of the claimant, however long, cannot
convert the same into private property. (Vano v. Government of PI, 41 Phils.
a) Armando Cruz, the supervising cartographer of the DENR, who explained
that based on Land Classification Map No. 1715 (Exh. "A") which was later
In view thereof, it appears that the preponderance of evidence is in favor the corresponding order to remove his mango, citrus and guyabano trees, and
of the plaintiff and against the defendants and therefore it is hereby that they be allowed to stay in the premises within that period to work on the
declared that Free Patent No. V-79606 issued on July 22, 1957 with Psu cutting and removal of the said trees. He also asked the RTC that in the
No. 155088 and OCT No. P-2388 in the name of Regina Castillo and its meantime that these trees are not yet removed, all the unharvested fruits be
derivative TCT No. 45232 in the name of Danilo Reyes is hereby declared appropriated by him, as provided for by law, to the exclusion of all other
null and void; and the defendant Danilo Reyes is hereby ordered to persons who may take advantage of the situation and harvest said fruits.
surrender the owner's duplicate copy of TCT No. 45232 and to vacate the
premises and directing the defendant Register of Deeds of Calapan, Petitioner opposed the motion, citing the principle of accession under Article
Oriental Mindoro, to cancel the title as null and void ab initio; and 44013 of the Civil Code. It further argued that the subject land, being timber
declaring the reversion of the land in question to the government subject land, is property of public dominion and, therefore, outside the commerce of
to the Agro-Forestry Farm Lease Agreement No. 175, to form part of the man and cannot be leased, donated, sold, or be the object of any contract.
public domain in the province of Oriental Mindoro. This being the case, there are no improvements to speak of, because the land
in question never ceased to be a property of the Republic, even if Reyes
The two-hectare lot, which appears disposable and alienable, is declared claimed that he was a purchaser for value and in good faith and was in
null and void for failure to secure certification from the Bureau of Forest possession for more than thirty (30) years. Moreover, petitioner averred that,
Development. assuming Reyes was initially a planter/sower in good faith, Article 448 of the
Civil Code cannot be of absolute application since from the time the reversion
The counter-claim of the defendant is hereby denied for lack of merit, case was filed by the petitioner on May 13, 1987, Reyes ceased to be a
with cost against the defendant.6 planter/sower in good faith and had become a planter/sower in bad faith.14
Reyes appealed the aforementioned RTC Decision to the CA. In its Meanwhile, on March 2, 1998, Atty. Marte filed a Complaint for Injunction With
Decision7 dated September 16, 1996, the CA affirmed the RTC Decision. His an Ancillary Prayer for the Immediate Issuance of a Temporary Restraining
motion for reconsideration was denied.8 Order against Reyes for allegedly encroaching upon and taking possession by
stealth, fraud and strategy some 16 hectares of his leased area without his
Thus, Reyes sought relief from this Court via a petition for review on certiorari.
permission or acquiescence and planted trees thereon in bad faith despite the
But in our Resolution9dated June 23, 1997, we resolved to deny his petition for
fact that the area is non-disposable and part of the public domain, among
failure to sufficiently show that the CA had committed any reversible error in
the questioned judgment. On November 24, 1997, this Court denied with
finality Reyes' motion for reconsideration.10 But the respondent RTC dismissed the said complaint in the assailed Joint
Order and ruled in favor of Reyes, finding Rule 39, Section 10, paragraph (d)
On February 4, 1998, Reyes filed a Motion11 to Remove Improvements
of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, applicable. The RTC ratiocinated:
Introduced by Defendant Danilo D. Reyes on the Property which is the Subject
of Execution in Accordance with Rule 39, Section 10, paragraph (d) of the Under the circumstance, it is but just and fair and equitable that Danilo Reyes
1997 Rules of Civil Procedure (motion).12 There he averred that: he occupied be given the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of his labor on the land which he
in good faith the subject land for around thirty years; he had already spent honestly believes was legally his. He was not aware that his certificate of title
millions of pesos in planting fruit-bearing trees thereon; and he employed many which was derived from OCT No. P-2388 issued in 1957 by the government
workers who regularly took care of the trees and other plants. Reyes prayed itself in the name of Regina Castillo contained legal infirmity, otherwise he
that he and/or his agents be given at least one (1) year from the issuance of would not have expoused (sic) himself from the risk of being ejected from the
land and losing all improvements thereon. Any way, if the court will grant the THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF THE
motion for the defendant's (sic) Danilo Reyes to remove his improvements on TRIAL COURT HOLDING THAT THE MOTION TO REMOVE
the disputed property, it will not prejudice Augusto Marte, otherwise, as the IMPROVEMENTS FILED BY PRIVATE RESPONDENT IS BUT AN INCIDENT
court sees it, he will immensely [benefit] from the toils of Danilo Reyes. OF THE REVERSION CASE OVER WHICH THE TRIAL COURT STILL HAS
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the motion to remove improvements filed The OSG posits that Reyes' assailed motion is barred by prior judgment under
by defendant Danilo Reyes dated January 28, 1998 is hereby GRANTED Section 47, Rule 39 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure because said motion
pursuant to the provisions of section 10, paragraph (d) of Rule 39 of the 1997 merely sprang from the civil case of reversion tried and decided on the merits
Rules of Civil Procedure and he is given a period of one (1) year from the by the RTC, and the decision is already final, after it was duly affirmed by the
issuance of this ORDER to remove, cut and appropriate the fruit-bearing trees CA and by this Court. The OSG stresses that one of Reyes' assigned errors in
which he had planted in the property in disputes (sic). the reversion case before the CA was that the RTC "erred in not granting his
(Reyes') counterclaims as well as his claims for improvements." The OSG
The COMMENT filed by the Office of the Solicitor General dated August 11,
claims that such assigned error was duly resolved by the CA when it held, to
1998 is hereby denied for lack of merit.
The [C]omplaint for Injunction filed by Augusto D. Marte on March 2, 1998
The non-award of appellant's "counterclaims" is understandable.
against Danilo Reyes is hereby ordered dismissed for lack of merit.
To begin with, no evidence whatsoever was presented by the appellant to
Petitioner, through the OSG, filed its Motion for Reconsideration15 which was
sustain his plea for damages. In fact, appellant never testified to prove his
denied by the RTC.16Aggrieved, petitioner went to the CA via Certiorari under
allegations as regards his counterclaims.
Rule 65 of the Rules of Civil Procedure17ascribing to the RTC grave abuse of
discretion and acting without jurisdiction in granting Reyes' motion to remove Then, too, there is no showing that appellant paid the docket fees for the court
improvements. to acquire jurisdiction over his purported counterclaims (Metal Engineering
Resources Corp. vs. Court of Appeals, 203 SCRA 273).
However, the CA dismissed the petition for certiorari, and affirmed the ruling of
the RTC, in this wise: Lastly, the allegations made in the Answer in support of the so-called
"counterclaims" clearly negate the nature of the claims as compulsory
It is notable that in the course of the suit for "Cancellation of Title and/or
counterclaim like that of reimbursement of the useful expenses (Cabangis vs.
Reversion" there was not an iota of evidence presented on record that Reyes
Court of Appeals, 200 SCRA 414).20
was in bad faith in acquiring the land nor in planting thereon perennial plants.
So it could never be said and held that he was a planter/sower in bad faith. Thus, the OSG posits that the issue of the improvements cannot be made the
Thus, this Court holds that Reyes sowed and planted in good faith, and that subject of the assailed motion on the pretext that such removal of
being so the appropriate provisions on right accession are Articles 445 and improvements is merely incidental to the reversion case. The OSG submits
448 also of the Civil Code.18 that the consideration of the issue is now barred by res judicata. Lastly, the
OSG argues that: the RTC and CA cannot vary a decision which has already
Hence, this Petition based on the sole ground that:
attained finality; for purposes of execution, what is controlling is the dispositive
portion of the decision; the RTC, except to order the execution of a decision
which had attained finality, had long lost jurisdiction over the case; and the The instant Petition lacks merit.
RTC erred and acted without jurisdiction when it granted Reyes' motion to
remove the improvements when the dispositive portion of the decision in the In an action for reversion, the pertinent allegations in the complaint would
reversion case did not provide for the removal of the same.21 admit State ownership of the disputed land.24 Indeed, the ownership over the
subject land reverted to the State by virtue of the decisions of the
In his Comment22 on the OSG petition, Reyes avers that the points raised by
the OSG are merely rehashed arguments which were adequately passed upon RTC and CA and our Resolution on the matter. But these decisions simply
by the CA. He fully agrees with the ruling of the CA that: he is a planter/sower ordered the reversion of the property to the State, and did not consider the
in good faith, as such, Articles 445 and 448 of the New Civil Code are improvements that Reyes had introduced on the property or provide him with
applicable; his motion is not entirely a new case, but merely an incident to the any remedy relative thereto. Thus, Reyes was left out in the cold, faced with
reversion case, a consequence of its grant and a legal solution to an important the prospect of losing not only the land which he thought he owned, but also of
issue overlooked, if not ignored by the State and by the courts in their forfeiting the improvements that he painstakingly built with his effort, time and
decisions in the reversion case; under Section 10, Rule 39 of the 1997 Rules money.
of Civil Procedure, he is allowed to remove the improvements; and the instant
We cannot agree with the OSG that the denial by the CA of Reyes'
Petition failed to abide with the proper manner as to the "proof of service"
counterclaim in the reversion case had the effect of completely foreclosing
required under Section 13, Rule 13 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. Most
whatever rights Reyes may have over these improvements. We note that the
importantly, Reyes avers that the land on which about 1,000 mango trees, 100
counterclaim was denied because Reyes failed to prove that it was in the
mandarin citrus trees and 100 guyabano trees are planted, was leased by the
nature of a compulsory counterclaim, and he did not pay docket fees thereon,
government to Atty. Marte, who entered into the possession of the subject land
even as the CA found that Reyes "never testified to prove his allegations as
when the trees were already bearing fruits. Thus, if said trees are not removed,
regards his counterclaims." Yet, the records of the reversion case reveal that
Atty. Marte would be unduly enriched as the beneficiary of these fruits without
Reyes adduced ample evidence of the extent of the improvements he
even spending a single centavo, at the expense of Reyes. Reyes posits that it
introduced and the expenses he incurred therefor. This is reflected in the
is a well-established fact, unrebutted by the petitioner, that he planted these
findings of the CA in the case at bench, and we concur with the appellate court
trees and to deny him the right to remove them would constitute a grave
when it said:
injustice and amount to confiscation without just compensation which is
violative of the Constitution. But this Court notes that while Reyes was half-hearted in his opposition to the
reversion, he instead focused on proving the improvements he has introduced
The OSG counters that copies of the instant Petition were properly served as
on the land, its extent and his expenses. Despite these proofs, the Decision of
shown by the photocopies of the registry return cards. Moreover, the OSG
April 13, 1992 made no mention nor provision for the improvements on the
avers that granting, without admitting, that another person would stand to be
land. With this legal vacuum, Reyes could not exercise the options allowed the
benefited by the improvements that Reyes introduced on the land is beside the
sower and planter in good faith. This thus left him no other alternative but to
point and is not the fault of the petitioner because the particular issue of the
avail of Paragraph (d) of Section 10 of Rule 39 of the 1997 Rules of Civil
improvements was already resolved with finality in the reversion case. The
Procedure in order to collect or get a return of his investment as allowed to a
OSG claims that a lower court cannot reverse or set aside decisions or orders
sower and planter in good faith by the Civil Code.
of a superior court, for to do so will negate the principle of hierarchy of courts
and nullify the essence of review - a final judgment, albeit erroneous, is binding Correlatively, the courts in the reversion case overlooked the issue of whether
on the whole world.23 Reyes, vis-à-vis his improvements, is a builder or planter in good faith. In the

instant case, the issue assumes full significance, because Articles 44825 and valid cause for the State to acquire these improvements, because, as
54626 of the Civil Code grant the builder or planter in good faith full discussed above, Reyes introduced the improvements in good faith. Thus, the
reimbursement of useful improvements and retention of the premises until Court of Appeals did not commit any error in ruling that Reyes is entitled to the
reimbursement is made. A builder or planter in good faith is one who builds or benefits of Articles 448 and 546 of the Civil Code.
plants on land with the belief that he is the owner thereof, unaware of any flaw
in his title to the land at the time he builds or plants on it. 27 Thus, even if we accept the OSG's submission that Reyes' entitlement to these
benefits is not absolute because he can no longer claim good faith after the
On this issue, we are disposed to agree with the CA that Reyes was a planter filing of the reversion case in 1987, still, there is no gainsaying that prior to that
in good faith. Reyes was of the belief that he was the owner of the subject ― all the way back to 1970 ― he had possessed the land and introduced
land; in fact, a TCT over the property was issued in his name. He tilled the improvements thereon in good faith. At the very least, then, Reyes is entitled to
land, planted fruit trees thereon, and invested money from 1970. He received these benefits for the 17 years that he had been a planter in good faith.
notice of the Republic's claim only when the reversion case was filed on May
13, 1987. The trees are now full-grown and fruit-bearing. However, we are mindful of the fact that the subject land is currently covered
by Agro-Forestry Farm Lease Agreement (AFFLA) No. 175 issued by the
To order Reyes to simply surrender all of these fruit-bearing trees in favor of Ministry of (now Department of Environment and) Natural Resources in favor
the State -- because the decision in the reversion case declaring that the land of Atty. Augusto D. Marte, which will expire on December 21, 2011. By the
is part of inalienable forest land and belongs to the State is already final and terms of the AFFLA, the lessee shall, among others, do all in his power to
immutable -- would inequitably result in unjust enrichment of the State at the suppress fires, cooperate with the Bureau of Forest Development (BFD) in the
expense of Reyes, a planter in good faith. protection and conservation of the forest growth in the area and undertake all
possible measures to insure the protection of watershed and environmental
Nemo cum alterius detrimento locupletari potest.28 This basic doctrine on values within the leased area and areas adjacent thereto. This obligation to
unjust enrichment simply means that a person shall not be allowed to profit or prevent any damage to the land subject of the lease is consonant with
enrich himself inequitably at another's expense.29 There is unjust enrichment fundamental principles and state policies set forth in Section 16,31 Article II and
when a person unjustly retains a benefit to the loss of another, or when a Section 4,32 Article XII of the Constitution.
person retains money or property of another against the fundamental principles
of justice, equity and good conscience.30 Article 22 of the Civil Code states the To allow Reyes to remove the fruit-bearing trees now full-grown on the subject
rule in this wise: land, even if he is legally entitled to do so, would be risking substantial damage
to the land. It would negate the policy consideration underlying the AFFLA -- to
ART. 22. Every person who, through an act of performance by another, or any protect and preserve the biodiversity and the environment, and to prevent any
other means, acquires or comes into possession of something at the expense damage to the land. Further, it would violate the implicit mandate of Article 547
of the latter without just or legal ground, shall return the same to him. of the Civil Code which provides:
The requisites for the application of this doctrine are present in the instant ART. 547. If the useful improvements can be removed without damage to the
case. There is enrichment on the part of the petitioner, as the State would principal thing, the possessor in good faith may remove them unless the
come into possession of -- and may technically appropriate -- the more than person who recovers the possession exercises the option under paragraph 2
one thousand fruit-bearing trees planted by the private respondent. There is of the preceding article.
impoverishment on the part of Reyes, because he stands to lose the
improvements he had painstakingly planted and invested in. There is lack of

In this light, the options that Reyes may exercise under Articles 448 and 546 of circumstances transpire after the finality of the decision rendering its execution
the Civil Code have been restricted. It is no longer feasible to permit him to unjust and inequitable.
remove the trees he planted. The only equitable alternative would be to order
the Republic to pay Reyes the value of the improvements he introduced on the In the exercise of our mandate as a court of justice and equity,34 we rule in
property. This is only fair because, after all, by the terms of the AFFLA, upon favor of Reyes pro hac vice. We reiterate that this Court is not precluded from
the expiration of the lease or upon its cancellation if there be any violation or rectifying errors of judgment if blind and stubborn adherence to the doctrine of
breach of its terms, all permanent improvements on the land shall pass to the immutability of final judgments would involve the sacrifice of justice for
ownership of the Republic without any obligation on its part to indemnify the technicality.35Indubitably, to order the reversion of the subject land without
lessee. payment of just compensation, in absolute disregard of the rights of Reyes
over the improvements which he, in good faith, introduced therein, would not
However, the AFFLA is not due to expire until December 21, 2011. In the only be unjust and inequitable but cruel as well.
interim, it is logical to assume that the lessee, Atty. Augusto D. Marte, will
derive financial gain from the fruits that the trees planted by Reyes would yield. WHEREFORE, the instant Petition is DENIED. The Decision dated June 4,
In fact, Atty. Marte may already have profited therefrom in the past several 2004 of the Court of Appeals is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION in that:
years. It is, therefore, reasonable to grant the Republic the right of subrogation
1) The Regional Trial Court of Pinamalayan, Oriental Mindoro, Branch 41, is
against the lessee who may have benefited from the improvements. The
hereby DIRECTED to determine the actual improvements introduced on the
Republic may, thus, demand reimbursement from Atty. Marte for whatever
subject land, their current value and the amount of the expenses actually spent
amount it will have to pay Reyes for these improvements.
by private respondent Danilo Reyes for the said improvements thereon from
As to the OSG's insistent invocation of res judicata and the immutability of final 1970 until May 13, 1987 with utmost dispatch.
judgments, our ruling in Temic Semiconductors, Inc. Employees Union
2) The Republic, through the Bureau of Forest Development of the Department
(TSIEU)-FFW, et al. v. Federation of Free Workers (FFW), et al.33 is
of Environment and Natural Resources, is DIRECTED to pay private
respondent Danilo Reyes the value of such actual improvements he introduced
It is axiomatic that a decision that has acquired finality becomes immutable on the subject land as determined by the Regional Trial Court, with the right of
and unalterable. A final judgment may no longer be modified in any respect, subrogation against Atty. Augusto D. Marte, the lessee in Agro-Forestry Farm
even if the modification is meant to correct erroneous conclusions of fact and Lease Agreement No. 175.
law; and whether it be made by the court that rendered it or by the highest
No costs.
court in the land. Any act which violates such principle must immediately be
struck down. Indeed, the principle of conclusiveness of prior adjudications is SO ORDERED.
not confined in its operation to the judgments of what are ordinarily known as
courts, but it extends to all bodies upon which judicial powers had been

The only exceptions to the rule on the immutability of a final judgment are: (1)
the correction of clerical errors; (2) the so-called nunc pro tunc entries which
cause no prejudice to any party; (3) void judgments; and (4) whenever

In the meantime, Zenaida and her husband, together with her mother Editha
left for Quezon City on January 28, 1991 and brought Editha to the Veterans
Memorial Hospital in Quezon City where she was confined from January 30,
1991 to March 21, 1991.

The telegram was finally delivered to Zenaida 25 days later or on February 15,
1991.4 On inquiry from RCPI why it took that long to deliver it, a messenger of
RCPI replied that he had nothing to do with the delivery thereof as it was
another messenger who previously was assigned to deliver the same but the
THIRD DIVISION address could not be located, hence, the telegram was resent on February 2,
1991, and the second messenger finally found the address on February 15,
G.R. No. 164349 January 31, 2006
Editha’s husband Alfonso Verchez (Verchez), by letter of March 5,
1991,5 demanded an explanation from the manager of the Service Quality
Control Department of the RCPI, Mrs. Lorna D. Fabian, who replied, by letter
of March 13, 1991,6 as follows:
CATIBOG, Respondents.
Our investigation on this matter disclosed that subject telegram was duly
processed in accordance with our standard operating procedure. However,
CARPIO MORALES, J.: delivery was not immediately effected due to the occurrence of circumstances
which were beyond the control and foresight of RCPI. Among others, during
On January 21, 1991, Editha Hebron Verchez (Editha) was confined at the the transmission process, the radio link connecting the points of
Sorsogon Provincial Hospital due to an ailment. On even date, her daughter communication involved encountered radio noise and interferences such that
Grace Verchez-Infante (Grace) immediately hied to the Sorsogon Branch of subject telegram did not initially registered (sic) in the receiving teleprinter
the Radio Communications of the Philippines, Inc. (RCPI) whose services she machine.
engaged to send a telegram to her sister Zenaida Verchez-Catibog (Zenaida)
who was residing at 18 Legal St., GSIS Village, Quezon City1 reading: "Send Our internal message monitoring led to the discovery of the above. Thus, a
check money Mommy hospital." For RCPI’s services, Grace paid P10.502 for repeat transmission was made and subsequent delivery was effected.
which she was issued a receipt.3 (Underscoring supplied)

As three days after RCPI was engaged to send the telegram to Zenaida no Verchez’s lawyer thereupon wrote RCPI’s manager Fabian, by letter of July 23,
response was received from her, Grace sent a letter to Zenaida, this time thru 1991,7 requesting for a conference on a specified date and time, but no
JRS Delivery Service, reprimanding her for not sending any financial aid. representative of RCPI showed up at said date and time.

Immediately after she received Grace’s letter, Zenaida, along with her husband On April 17, 1992, Editha died.
Fortunato Catibog, left on January 26, 1991 for Sorsogon. On her arrival at
On September 8, 1993, Verchez, along with his daughters Grace and Zenaida
Sorsogon, she disclaimed having received any telegram.
and their respective spouses, filed a complaint against RCPI before the
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Sorsogon for damages. In their complaint, the In the instant case, the obligation of the defendant to deliver the telegram to
plaintiffs alleged that, inter alia, the delay in delivering the telegram contributed the addressee is of an urgent nature. Its essence is the early delivery of the
to the early demise of the late Editha to their damage and prejudice,8 for which telegram to the concerned person. Yet, due to the negligence of its employees,
they prayed for the award of moral and exemplary damages9 and attorney’s the defendant failed to discharge of its obligation on time making it liable for
fees.10 damages under Article 2176.

After its motion to dismiss the complaint for improper venue11 was denied12 by The negligence on the part of the employees gives rise to the presumption of
Branch 5 of the RTC of Sorsogon, RCPI filed its answer, alleging that except negligence on the part of the employer.17 (Underscoring supplied),
with respect to Grace,13 the other plaintiffs had no privity of contract with it; any
delay in the sending of the telegram was due to force majeure, "specifically, rendered judgment against RCPI. Accordingly, it disposed:
but not limited to, radio noise and interferences which adversely affected the
WHEREFORE, in the light of the foregoing premises, judgment is hereby
transmission and/or reception of the telegraphic message";14 the clause in the
rendered in favor of the plaintiffs and against the defendant, to wit:
Telegram Transmission Form signed by Grace absolved it from liability for any
damage arising from the transmission other than the refund of telegram Ordering the defendant to pay the plaintiffs the following amount:
tolls;15 it observed due diligence in the selection and supervision of its
employees; and at all events, any cause of action had been barred by 1. The amount of One Hundred Thousand (P100,000.00) Pesos as moral
laches.16 damages;

The trial court, observing that "although the delayed delivery of the questioned 2. The amount of Twenty Thousand (P20,000.00) Pesos as attorney’s fees;
telegram was not apparently the proximate cause of the death of Editha," ruled and
out the presence of force majeure. Respecting the clause in the telegram relied
3. To pay the costs.
upon by RCPI, the trial court held that it partakes of the nature of a contract of
adhesion. SO ORDERED.18
Finding that the nature of RCPI’s business obligated it to dispatch the telegram On appeal, the Court of Appeals, by Decision of February 27, 2004,19 affirmed
to the addressee at the earliest possible time but that it did not in view of the the trial court’s decision.
negligence of its employees to repair its radio transmitter and the concomitant
delay in delivering the telegram on time, the trial court, upon the following Hence, RCPI’s present petition for review on certiorari, it raising the following
provisions of the Civil Code, to wit: questions: (1) "Is the award of moral damages proper even if the trial court
found that there was no direct connection between the injury and the alleged
Article 2176 – Whoever by act or omission causes damage to another, there negligent acts?"20 and (2) "Are the stipulations in the ‘Telegram Transmission
being at fault or negligence, is obliged to pay for the damage done. Such fault Form,’ in the nature "contracts of adhesion" (sic)?21
or negligence if there is no pre-existing contractual relation between the
parties, is called quasi-delict and is governed by the provisions of this Chapter. RCPI insists that respondents failed to prove any causal connection between
its delay in transmitting the telegram and Editha’s death.22
Article 1173 defines the fault of (sic) negligence of the obligor as the "omission
of the diligence which is required by the nature of the obligation and
corresponds with the circumstances of the person, of the time, or the place."

RCPI’s stand fails. It bears noting that its liability is anchored on culpa telegraphic message. Additionally, its messenger claimed he could not locate
contractual or breach of contract with regard to Grace, and on tort with regard the address of Zenaida and it was only on the third attempt that he was able to
to her co-plaintiffs-herein-co-respondents. deliver the telegram.

Article 1170 of the Civil Code provides: For the defense of force majeure to prosper,

Those who in the performance of their obligations are guilty of fraud, x x x it is necessary that one has committed no negligence or misconduct that
negligence, or delay, and those who in any manner contravene the tenor may have occasioned the loss. An act of God cannot be invoked to protect a
thereof, are liable for damages. (Underscoring supplied) person who has failed to take steps to forestall the possible adverse
consequences of such a loss. One’s negligence may have concurred with an
Passing on this codal provision, this Court explained: act of God in producing damage and injury to another; nonetheless, showing
that the immediate or proximate cause of the damage or injury was a fortuitous
In culpa contractual x x x the mere proof of the existence of the contract and
event would not exempt one from liability. When the effect is found to be
the failure of its compliance justify, prima facie, a corresponding right of relief.
partly the result of a person’s participation – whether by active
The law, recognizing the obligatory force of contracts, will not permit a party to
intervention, neglect or failure to act – the whole occurrence is
be set free from liability for any kind of misperformance of the contractual
humanized and removed from the rules applicable to acts of God.
undertaking or a contravention of the tenor thereof. A breach upon the contract
confers upon the injured party a valid cause for recovering that which may xxxx
have been lost or suffered. The remedy serves to preserve the interests of the
promissee that may include his "expectation interest," which is his interest in Article 1174 of the Civil Code states that no person shall be responsible for a
having the benefit of his bargain by being put in as good a position as he would fortuitous event that could not be foreseen or, though foreseen, was
have been in had the contract been performed, or his "reliance inevitable. In other words, there must be an exclusion of human
interest," which is his interest in being reimbursed for loss caused by reliance intervention from the cause of injury or loss.24 (Emphasis and underscoring
on the contract by being put in as good a position as he would have been in supplied)
had the contract not been made; or his "restitution interest," which is his
interest in having restored to him any benefit that he has conferred on the Assuming arguendo that fortuitous circumstances prevented RCPI from
other party. Indeed, agreements can accomplish little, either for their makers or delivering the telegram at the soonest possible time, it should have at least
for society, unless they are made the basis for action. The effect of every informed Grace of the non-transmission and the non-delivery so that she could
infraction is to create a new duty, that is, to make recompense to the one who have taken steps to remedy the situation. But it did not. There lies the fault or
has been injured by the failure of another to observe his contractual negligence.
obligation unless he can show extenuating circumstances, like proof of his
In an earlier case also involving RCPI, this Court held:
exercise of due diligence x x x or of the attendance of fortuitous event, to
excuse him from his ensuing liability.23 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) Considering the public utility of RCPI’s business and its contractual obligation
to transmit messages, it should exercise due diligence to ascertain that
In the case at bar, RCPI bound itself to deliver the telegram within the shortest
messages are delivered to the persons at the given address and
possible time. It took 25 days, however, for RCPI to deliver it.
should provide a system whereby in cases of undelivered messages the
RCPI invokes force majeure, specifically, the alleged radio noise and sender is given notice of non-delivery. Messages sent by cable or wireless
interferences which adversely affected the transmission and/or reception of the
means are usually more important and urgent than those which can wait for When pressed on cross-examination, private respondent Alfonso Verchez
the mail.25 could not give any plausible reason as to the reason why he did not
accompany his ailing wife to Manila.31
People depend on telecommunications companies in times of deep
emotional stress or pressing financial needs. Knowing that messages It is also important to consider in resolving private respondents’ claim for moral
about the illnesses or deaths of loved ones, births or marriages in a family, damages that private respondent Grace Verchez did not accompany her ailing
important business transactions, and notices of conferences or meetings as in mother to Manila.32
this case, are coursed through the petitioner and similar corporations, it is
incumbent upon them to exercise a greater amount of care and concern than xxxx
that shown in this case. Every reasonable effort to inform senders of the non-
It is the common reaction of a husband to be at his ailing wife’s side as much
delivery of messages should be undertaken.26
as possible. The fact that private respondent Alfonso Verchez stayed behind in
(Emphasis and underscoring supplied) Sorsogon for almost 1 week convincingly demonstrates that he himself knew
that his wife was not in critical condition.33
RCPI argues, however, against the presence of urgency in the delivery of the
telegram, as well as the basis for the award of moral damages, thus:27 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

The request to send check as written in the telegraphic text negates the RCPI’s arguments fail. For it is its breach of contract upon which its liability is,
existence of urgency that private respondents’ allegations that ‘time was of the it bears repeating, anchored. Since RCPI breached its contract, the
essence’ imports. A check drawn against a Manila Bank and transmitted to presumption is that it was at fault or negligent. It, however, failed to rebut this
Sorsogon, Sorsogon will have to be deposited in a bank in Sorsogon and pass presumption.
thru a minimum clearing period of 5 days before it may be encashed or
For breach of contract then, RCPI is liable to Grace for damages.
withdrawn. If the transmittal of the requested check to Sorsogon took 1 day –
private respondents could therefore still wait for 6 days before the same may And for quasi-delict, RCPI is liable to Grace’s co-respondents following Article
be withdrawn. Requesting a check that would take 6 days before it could be 2176 of the Civil Code which provides:
withdrawn therefore contradicts plaintiff’s claim of urgency or need.28
Whoever by act or omission causes damage to another, there being fault or
At any rate, any sense of urgency of the situation was met when Grace negligence, is obliged to pay for the damage done. Such fault or negligence, if
Verchez was able to communicate to Manila via a letter that she sent to the there is no pre-existing contractual relation between the parties, is called a
same addressee in Manila thru JRS.29 quasi-delict and is governed by the provisions of this Chapter. (Underscoring
RCPI’s liability as an employer could of course be avoided if it could prove that
As far as the respondent court’s award for moral damages is concerned, the
it observed the diligence of a good father of a family to prevent damage. Article
same has no basis whatsoever since private respondent Alfonso Verchez did
2180 of the Civil Code so provides:
not accompany his late wife when the latter went to Manila by bus. He stayed
behind in Sorsogon for almost 1 week before he proceeded to Manila. 30

The obligation imposed by Article 2176 is demandable not only for one’s own As reflected in the foregoing discussions, the second and third requisites are
acts or omissions, but also for those of persons for whom one is responsible. present.

xxxx On the fourth requisite, Article 2220 of the Civil Code provides:

The owners and managers of an establishment or enterprise are likewise Willful injury to property may be a legal ground for awarding moral damages if
responsible for damages caused by their employees in the service of the the court should find that, under the circumstances, such damages are justly
branches in which the latter are employed or on the occasion of their functions. due. The same rule applies to breaches of contract where the defendant
acted fraudulently or in bad faith. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
Employers shall be liable for the damages caused by their employees and
household helpers acting within the scope of their assigned tasks, even though After RCPI’s first attempt to deliver the telegram failed, it did not inform Grace
the former are not engaged in any business or industry. of the non-delivery thereof and waited for 12 days before trying to deliver it
again, knowing – as it should know – that time is of the essence in the delivery
xxxx of telegrams. When its second long-delayed attempt to deliver the telegram
again failed, it, again, waited for another 12 days before making a third
The responsibility treated of in this article shall cease when the persons herein
attempt. Such nonchalance in performing its urgent obligation indicates gross
mentioned prove that they observed all the diligence of a good father of a
negligence amounting to bad faith. The fourth requisite is thus also present.
family to prevent damage. (Underscoring supplied)
In applying the above-quoted Article 2220, this Court has awarded moral
RCPI failed, however, to prove that it observed all the diligence of a good
damages in cases of breach of contract where the defendant was guilty of
father of a family to prevent damage.
gross negligence amounting to bad faith, or in wanton disregard of his
Respecting the assailed award of moral damages, a determination of the contractual obligation.36
presence of the following requisites to justify the award is in order:
As for RCPI’s tort-based liability, Article 2219 of the Civil Code provides:
x x x firstly, evidence of besmirched reputation or physical, mental or
Moral damages may be recovered in the following and analogous cases:
psychological suffering sustained by the claimant; secondly, a culpable act or
omission factually established; thirdly, proof that the wrongful act or omission xxxx
of the defendant is the proximate cause of damages sustained by the claimant;
and fourthly, that the case is predicated on any of the instances expressed or (10) Acts and actions referred to in Articles 21, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 32, 34, and
envisioned by Article 2219 and Article 2220 of the Civil Code.34 35. (Emphasis supplied)

Respecting the first requisite, evidence of suffering by the plaintiffs-herein Article 26 of the Civil Code, in turn, provides:
respondents was correctly appreciated by the CA in this wise:
Every person shall respect the dignity, personality, privacy and peace of
The failure of RCPI to deliver the telegram containing the message of mind of his neighbors and other persons. The following and similar acts,
appellees on time, disturbed their filial tranquillity. Family members blamed though they may not constitute a criminal offense, shall produce a cause of
each other for failing to respond swiftly to an emergency that involved the life action for damages, prevention, and other relief:
of the late Mrs. Verchez, who suffered from diabetes.35
(2) Meddling with or disturbing the private life or family relations of another. opportunity to bargain on equal footing.38 (Emphasis and underscoring
(Emphasis supplied) supplied)

RCPI’s negligence in not promptly performing its obligation undoubtedly While a contract of adhesion is not necessarily void and unenforceable, since it
disturbed the peace of mind not only of Grace but also her co-respondents. As is construed strictly against the party who drafted it or gave rise to any
observed by the appellate court, it disrupted the "filial tranquillity" among them ambiguity therein, it is stricken down as void and unenforceable or subversive
as they blamed each other "for failing to respond swiftly to an emergency." The of public policy when the weaker party is imposed upon in dealing with the
tortious acts and/or omissions complained of in this case are, therefore, dominant bargaining party and is reduced to the alternative of taking it or
analogous to acts mentioned under Article 26 of the Civil Code, which are leaving it, completely deprived of the opportunity to bargain on equal footing.39
among the instances of quasi-delict when courts may award moral damages
under Article 2219 of the Civil Code. This Court holds that the Court of Appeals’ finding that the parties’ contract is
one of adhesion which is void is, given the facts and circumstances of the
In fine, the award to the plaintiffs-herein respondents of moral damages is in case, thus well-taken.
order, as is the award of attorney’s fees, respondents having been compelled
to litigate to protect their rights. WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED, and the challenged decision of the
Court of Appeals is AFFIRMED.
Clutching at straws, RCPI insists that the limited liability clause in the
"Telegram Transmission Form" is not a contract of adhesion. Thus it argues: Costs against petitioner.

Neither can the Telegram Transmission Form be considered a contract of SO ORDERED.

adhesion as held by the respondent court. The said stipulations were all written
in bold letters right in front of the Telegram Transmission Form. As a matter of
fact they were beside the space where the telegram senders write their
telegraphic messages. It would have been different if the stipulations were
written at the back for surely there is no way the sender will easily notice them.
The fact that the stipulations were located in a particular space where they can
easily be seen, is sufficient notice to any sender (like Grace Verchez-Infante)
where she could manifest her disapproval, leave the RCPI station and avail of
the services of the other telegram operators.37 (Underscoring supplied)

RCPI misunderstands the nature of a contract of adhesion. Neither the

readability of the stipulations nor their physical location in the contract
determines whether it is one of adhesion.

A contract of adhesion is defined as one in which one of the parties imposes a

ready-made form of contract, which the other party may accept or reject, but
which the latter cannot modify. One party prepares the stipulation in the
contract, while the other party merely affixes his signature or his "adhesion"
thereto, giving no room for negotiation and depriving the latter of the
she was being dropped from the membership of the club and that she would
not be a candidate for any award or citation from the school.

Delmo asked for a reconsideration of the decision but the petitioner denied it.
Republic of the Philippines Delmo, thus, appealed to the Office of the Director of the Bureau of Public
The Director after due investigation, rendered a decison on April 13, 1966
THIRD dIVISION which provided:
G.R. No. L-54598 April 15, 1988 Records of the preliminary investigation conducted by one of the legal officers
of this Office disclosed the following: That Violeta Delmo was the treasurer of
JOSE B. LEDESMA, petitioner,
the Student Leadership Club, an exclusive student organization; that pursuant
to Article IX of the of the Constitution and By-Laws of the club, it passed
Resolution No. 2, authorizing the treasurer to disburse funds of the Club to
DELMO (as private respondents), respondents.
student for financial aid and other humanitarian purposes; that in compliance
The Solicitor General for petitioner. with said resolution and as treasurer of the Club, Violeta Delmo extended
loans to some officers and members of the Club upon proper application duly
Luzel D. Demasu-ay for respondent. approved by the majority of the members of the Executive Board; and that
upon receiving the report from Mr. Jesse Dagoon, adviser of the funds of the
Club, that Office conducted an investigation on the matter and having been
GUTIERREZ, JR., J.: convinced of the guilt of Violets Delmo and the other officers and members of
the Club, that Office rendered the order or decision in question. In justifying
This petition seeks to reverse the decision of the respondent Court of Appeals that Office's order or decision, it is contended that approval by that Office of
which afirmed the decision of the Court of First Instance of Iloilo, adjudging the the Constitution and By-Laws of the Club is necessary for its effectivity and
petitioner, who was then the President of the West Visayas College liable for validity and since it was never submitted to that Office, the Club had no valid
damages under Article 27 of the Civil Code of the Philippines for failure to constitution and By-Laws and that as a consequence, Resolution No. 2 which
graduate a student with honors. was passed based on the Constitution and By-Laws- is without any force and
effect and the treasurer, Violeta Delmo, who extended loans to some officers
The facts are not disputed. and members of the Club pursuant thereto are illegal (sic), hence, she and the
other students involved are deemed guilty of misappropriating the funds of the
An organization named Student Leadership Club was formed by some
Club. On the other hand, Raclito Castaneda, Nestor Golez and Violeta Delmo,
students of the West Visayas College. They elected the late Violets Delmo as
President, Secretary and Treasurer of the Club, respectively, testified that the
the treasurer. In that capacity, Delmo extended loans from the funds of the
Club had adopted its Constitution and By-Laws in a meeting held last October
club to some of the students of the school. "the petitioner claims that the said
3, 1965, and that pursuant to Article I of said Constitution and By-Laws, the
act of extending loans was against school rules and regulations. Thus, the
majority of the members of the Executive Board passed Resolution No. 2,
petitioner, as President of the School, sent a letter to Delmo informing her that
which resolution became the basis for the extension on of loans to some
officers and members of the Club, that the Club honestly believed that its
Constitution and By-Laws has been approved by the superintendent because On April 27, 1966, the petitioner received by mail the decision of the Director
the adviser of the Club, Mr. Jesse Dagoon, assured the President of the Club and all the records of the case. On the same day, petitioner received a
that he will cause the approval of the Constitution and By-Laws by the telegram stating the following:
Superintendent; the officers of the Club have been inducted to office on
October 9,1965 by the Superintendent and that the Club had been likewise "AIRMAIL RECORDS DELMO CASE MISSENT THAT OFFICE"
allowed to cosponsor the Education Week Celebration.
The Director asked for the return only of the records but the petitioner allegedly
After a careful study of the records, this Office sustains the action taken by the mistook the telegram as ordering him to also send the decision back. On the
Superintendent in penalizing the adviser of the Club as well as the officers and same day, he returned by mail all the records plus the decision of the Director
members thereof by dropping them from membership therein. However, this to the Bureau of Public Schools.
Office is convinced that Violets M. Delmo had acted in good faith, in her
The next day, the petitioner received another telegram from the Director order
capacity as Club Treasurer, in extending loans to the officers and members of
him to furnish Delmo with a copy of the decision. The petitioner, in turn, sent a
the Student partnership Club. Resolution No. 2 authorizing the Club treasurer
night letter to the Director informing the latter that he had sent the decision
to discharge finds to students in need of financial assistance and other
back and that he had not retained a copy thereof..
humanitarian purposes had been approved by the Club adviser, Mr. Jesse
Dagoon, with the notation that approval was given in his capacity as adviser of On May 3, 1966, the day of the graduation, the petitioner received another
the Club and extension of the Superintendent's personality. Aside from telegram from the Director ordering him not to deprive Delmo of any honors
misleading the officers and members of the Club, Mr. Dagoon, had due her. As it was impossible by this time to include Delmo's name in the
unsatisfactorily explained why he failed to give the Constitution and By-Laws of program as one of the honor students, the petitioner let her graduate as a plain
the Club to the Superintendent for approval despite his assurance to the Club student instead of being awarded the Latin honor of Magna Cum Laude.
president that he would do so. With this finding of negligence on the part of the
Club adviser, not to mention laxity in the performance of his duties as such, To delay the matter further, the petitioner on May 5, 1966, wrote the Director
this Office considers as too severe and unwarranted that portion of the for a reconsideration of the latters" decision because he believed that Delmo
questioned order stating that Violeta Delmo "shall not be a candidate for any should not be allowed to graduate with honors. The Director denied the
award or citation from this school or any organization in this school." Violeta petitioner's request.
Delmo, it is noted, has been a consistent full scholar of the school and she
On July 12, 1966, the petitioner finally instructed the Registrar of the school to
alone has maintained her scholarship. The decision in question would,
enter into the scholastic records of Delmo the honor, "Magna Cum Laude."
therefore, set at naught all her sacrifice and frustrate her dreams of graduating
with honors in this year's commencement exercises. On July 30, 1966, Delmo, then a minor, was joined by her parents in flag action
for damages against the petitioner. During the pendency of the action,
In view of all the foregoing, this Office believes and so holds and hereby
however, Delmo passed away, and thus, an Amended and Supplemental
directs that appellant Violeta. M. Delmo, and for that matter all other Club
Complaint was filed by her parents as her sole and only heirs.
members or officers involved in this case, be not deprived of any award,
citation or honor from the school, if they are otherwise entitled thereto. (Rollo, The trial court after hearing rendered judgment against the petitioner and in
pp. 28-30) favor of the spouses Delmo. The court said:

Let us go to specific badges of the defendants (now petitioners) bad faith. Per urgency to the parties in the case, because graduation day was only four days
investigation of Violeta Delmo's appeal to Director Vitaliano Bernardino of the ahead? An examination of the telegrams sent by the defendant shows that he
Bureau of Public Schools (Exhibit L it was the defendant who inducted the had been sending ordinary telegram and not night letters. (Exh. "5", Exhibit
officers of the Student Leadership Club on October 9, 1965. In fact the Club "7"). At least, if the defendant could not furnish a copy of the decision, (Exh.
was allowed to cosponsor the Education Week Celebration. (Exh. "L"). If the "L"), to Miss Delmo, he should have told her about it or that Miss Delmo's
defendant he not approve of the constitution and by-laws of the Club, why did honors and citation in the commencement be announced or indicated. But Mr.
he induct the officers into office and allow the Club to sponsor the Education Ledesma is one who cannot admit a mistake. Very ungentlemanly this is home
Week Celebration"? It was through his own act that the students were misled out by his own testimony despite his knowledge that his decision to deprive
to do as they did. Coupled with the defendants tacit recognition of the Club Miss Delmo of honors due to her was overturned by Director Bernardino, he on
was the assurance of Mr. Jemm Dagoon, Club Adviser, who made the his wrong belief. To quote the defendant,1 believed that she did not deserve
students believe that he was acting as an extension of Mr. Ledesma's those honors(Tsn Feb. 5, 1974, p. 43,Empasized supplied). Despite the
personality. (Exhibit "L"). telegram of Director Bernardino which the defendant received hours before the
commencement executory on May 3-4,1966, he did not obey Director
Another badge of the defendan'ts want of good faith is the fact that, although, Bernardino because he said in his testimony that he would be embarrassment
he kaew as early as April 27,1966 that per on of r Bernardino, Exhibit "L," he . Tan Feb 5,1974, P. 46). Evidently, he knew only his embarrassment and not
was directed to give honors to Miss Delmo, he kept Id information to . He told that of r Bernardino whose order was being flagrantly and wantonly
the Court that he knew that the letter of Director Bernardino directed him not to disregarded by bim And certainly, not the least of Miss Delmo's
deprive Miss Delmo the honors due her, but she (sic) says that he has not embarrassment. His acts speak eloquently of ho bad faith and unjust of
finished reading the letter-decision, Exhibit "L," of Director Bernardino 0, him to mindwarped by his delicate sensitivity for having been challenged by Miss
give honors to Miss Delmo. (Tsn, Feb. 5, 1974, testimony of Mr. Ledesma, pp. Delmo, a mere student.
.33-35). It could not be true that he has not finished reading the letter-decision,
Exh. "L," because said letter consisted of only three pages, and the portion xxx xxx xxx
which directed that Miss Delmo "be not deprived of any award, citation or
honor from the school, if otherwise entitled thereto is found at the last Finally the defendant's behaviour relative to Miss s case smacks of
paragraph of the same. How did he know the last paragraph if he did not read contemptuous arrogance, oppression and abuse of power. Come to think of it.
the letter. He refused to obey the directive of Be o and instead, chose to feign ignorance
of it." (Reward on Appeal, p. 72-76).
Defendants actuations regarding Miss Delmo's cam had been one of bias and
prejudice. When his action would favor him, he was deliberate and aspect to The trial court awarded P20,000.00 to the estate of Violeta Delmo and
the utter prejudice and detriment of Miss Delmo. Thus, although, as early as P10,000.00 to her parents for moral damages; P5,000.00 for nominal damages
April 27, 1966, he knew of the exoneration of Miss Delino by Director to Violeta's estate; exemplary damages of P10,000.00 and P2,000.00
Bernardino, he withheld the information from Miss Delmo. This is eloquently attorney's fees.
dramatized by Exh. "11" and Exh. "13" On April 29,1966, Director Bernardino
On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the decision. Hence, this petition.
cabled him to furnish Violeta Delmo copy of the Decision, Exh. "L," but instead
of informing Miss Delmo about the decision, since he said he mailed back the The issues raised in this petition can be reduced to the sole question of
decision on April 28,1966, he sent a night letter on April 29,1966, to Director whether or not the respondent Court of Appeals erred in affirming the trial
Bernardino, informing the latter that he had returned the decision (Exh. "l3"),
together with the record. Why a night letter when the matter was of utmost
court's finding that petitioner is liable for damages under Article 27 of the New that he would be embarrassed if he did so, to the prejudice of and in complete
Civil Code. disregard of Miss Delmo's rights.

We find no reason why the findings of the trial and appellate courts should be Fifth, defendant did not even extend the courtesy of meeting Mr. Pacifico
reversed. It cannot be disputed that Violeta Delmo went through a painful Delmo, father of Miss Delmo, who tried several times to see defendant in his
ordeal which was brought about by the petitioner's neglect of duty and office thus Mr. Delmo suffered extreme disappointment and humiliation.
callousness. Thus, moral damages are but proper. As we have affirmed in the
case of (Prudenciado v. Alliance Transport System, Inc., 148 SCRA 440, 448): xxx xxx xxx

There is no argument that moral damages include physical suffering, mental Defendant, being a public officer should have acted with circumspection and
anguish, fright, serious anxiety, besmirched reputation, wounded feelings, due regard to the rights of Miss Delmo. Inasmuch as he exceeded the scope of
moral shock, social humiliation, and similar injury. Though incapable of his authority by defiantly disobeying the lawful directive of his superior, Director
pecuniary computation, moral damages may be recovered if they are the Bernardino, defendant is liable for damages in his personal capacity. . . .
proximate result of defendant's wrongly act or omission." (People v. Baylon, (Rollo, pp- 57-58)
129 SCRA 62 (1984).
Based on the undisputed facts, exemplary damages are also in order. In the
The Solicitor-General tries to cover-up the petitioner's deliberate omission to same case of Prudenciado v. Alliance Transport System, Inc., supra., at p.
inform Miss Delmo by stating that it was not the duty of the petitioner to furnish 450, we ruled:
her a copy of the Director's decision. Granting this to be true, it was
The rationale behind exemplary or corrective damages is, as the name implies,
nevertheless the petitioner's duty to enforce the said decision. He could have
to provide an example or correction for the public good (Lopez, et al. v. Pan
done so considering that he received the decision on April 27, 1966 and even
American World Airways, 16 SCRA 431).
though he sent it back with the records of the case, he undoubtedly read the
whole of it which consisted of only three pages. Moreover, the petitioner should However, we do not deem it appropriate to award the spouses Delmo
have had the decency to meet with Mr. Delmo, the girl's father, and inform the damages in the amount of P10,000.00 in their individual capacity, separately
latter, at the very least of the decision. This, the petitioner likewise failed to do, from and in addition to what they are already entitled to as sole heirs of the
and not without the attendant bad faith which the appellate court correctly deceased Violeta Delmo. Thus, the decision is modified insofar as moral
pointed out in its decision, to wit: damages are awarded to the spouses in their own behalf.

Third, assuming that defendant could not furnish Miss Delmo of a copy of the WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED for lack of merit. The decision of the
decision, he could have used his discretion and plain common sense by Court of Appeals is AFFIRMED with the slight modification as stated in the
informing her about it or he could have directed the inclusion of Miss Delmo's preceding paragraph. This decision is immediately executory.
honor in the printed commencement program or announced it during the
commencement exercises. SO ORDERED.

Fourth, defendant despite receipt of the telegram of Director Benardino hours

before the commencement exercises on May 3-4, 1966, disobeyed his
superior by refusing to give the honors due Miss Delmo with a lame excuse

Republic of the Philippines ordered by General Fabian Ver "to conduct pre-emptive strikes against known
SUPREME COURT communist-terrorist (CT) underground houses in view of increasing reports
Manila about CT plans to sow disturbances in Metro Manila," Plaintiffs allege, among
others, that complying with said order, elements of the TFM raided several
EN BANC places, employing in most cases defectively issued judicial search warrants;
that during these raids, certain members of the raiding party confiscated a
G.R. No. L-69866 April 15, 1988
number of purely personal items belonging to plaintiffs; that plaintiffs were
ROGELIO ABERCA, RODOLFO BENOSA, NESTOR BODINO NOEL arrested without proper warrants issued by the courts; that for some period
ETABAG DANILO DE LA FUENTE, BELEN DIAZ-FLORES, MANUEL after their arrest, they were denied visits of relatives and lawyers; that plaintiffs
MARIO GUZMAN, ALAN JAZMINEZ, EDWIN LOPEZ, ALFREDO MANSOS, were interrogated in violation of their rights to silence and counsel; that military
ALEX MARCELINO, ELIZABETH PROTACIO-MARCELINO, JOSEPH men who interrogated them employed threats, tortures and other forms of
OLAYER, CARLOS PALMA, MARCO PALO, ROLANDO SALUTIN, violence on them in order to obtain incriminatory information or confessions
BENJAMIN SESGUNDO, ARTURO TABARA, EDWIN TULALIAN and and in order to punish them; that all violations of plaintiffs constitutional rights
REBECCA TULALIAN petitioners, were part of a concerted and deliberate plan to forcibly extract information and
vs. incriminatory statements from plaintiffs and to terrorize, harass and punish
MAJ. GEN. FABIAN VER, COL. FIDEL SINGSON, COL. ROLANDO them, said plans being previously known to and sanctioned by defendants.
Plaintiffs sought actual/compensatory damages amounting to P39,030.00;
moral damages in the amount of at least P150,000.00 each or a total of
P3,000,000.00; exemplary damages in the amount of at least P150,000.00
each or a total of P3,000,000.00; and attorney's fees amounting to not less
TRIAL COURT, National Capital Judicial Region, Branch XCV (95),
than P200,000.00.
Quezon City, respondents.
A motion to dismiss was filed by defendants, through their counsel, then
Solicitor-General Estelito Mendoza, alleging that (1) plaintiffs may not cause a
YAP, J.: judicial inquiry into the circumstances of their detention in the guise of a
damage suit because, as to them, the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is
This petition for certiorari presents vital issues not heretofore passed upon by suspended; (2) assuming that the courts can entertain the present action,
this Court. It poses the question whether the suspension of the privilege of the defendants are immune from liability for acts done in the performance of their
writ of habeas corpus bars a civil action for damages for illegal searches official duties; and (3) the complaint states no cause of action against the
conducted by military personnel and other violations of rights and liberties defendants. Opposition to said motion to dismiss was filed by plaintiffs Marco
guaranteed under the Constitution. If such action for damages may be Palo, Danilo de la Fuente, Benjamin Sesgundo, Nel Etabag, Alfredo Mansos
maintained, who can be held liable for such violations: only the military and Rolando Salutin on July 8, 1983, and by plaintiffs Edwin Lopez, Manuel
personnel directly involved and/or their superiors as well. Mario Guzman, Alan Jasminez, Nestor Bodino, Carlos Palma, Arturo Tabara,
Joseph Olayer, Rodolfo Benosa, Belen Diaz, Flores, Rogelio Aberca, Alex
This case stems from alleged illegal searches and seizures and other
Marcelino and Elizabeth Marcelino on July 21, 1983. On November 7, 1983, a
violations of the rights and liberties of plaintiffs by various intelligence units of
Consolidated Reply was filed by defendants' counsel.
the Armed Forces of the Philippines, known as Task Force Makabansa (TFM)
Then, on November 8, 1983, the Regional Trial Court, National Capital Region, Felicitas Aquino and Arno Sanidad on April 12, 1984. On May 2,1984, the
Branch 95, Judge Willelmo C. Fortun, Presiding, 1 issued a resolution granting defendants filed a comment on said amplificatory motion for reconsideration.
the motion to dismiss. I sustained, lock, stock and barrel, the defendants'
contention (1) the plaintiffs may not cause a judicial inquiry into the In an order dated May 11, 1984, the trial court, Judge Esteban Lising,
circumstances of their detention in the guise of a damage suit because, as to Presiding, without acting on the motion to set aside order of November 8,
them, the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is suspended; (2) that 1983, issued an order, as follows:
assuming that the court can entertain the present action, defendants are
It appearing from the records that, indeed, the following plaintiffs, Rogelio
immune from liability for acts done in the performance of their official duties;
Aberca, Danilo de la Fuente and Marco Palo, represented by counsel, Atty.
and (3) that the complaint states no cause of action against defendants, since
Jose W. Diokno, Alan Jasminez represented by counsel, Atty. Augusta
there is no allegation that the defendants named in the complaint confiscated
Sanchez, Spouses Alex Marcelino and Elizabeth Protacio-Marcelino,
plaintiffs' purely personal properties in violation of their constitutional rights,
represented by counsel, Atty. Procopio Beltran, Alfredo Mansos represented
and with the possible exception of Major Rodolfo Aguinaldo and Sergeant
by counsel, Atty. Rene Sarmiento, and Rolando Salutin, represented by
Bienvenido Balabo committed acts of torture and maltreatment, or that the
counsel, Atty. Efren Mercado, failed to file a motion to reconsider the Order of
defendants had the duty to exercise direct supervision and control of their
November 8, 1983, dismissing the complaint, nor interposed an appeal
subordinates or that they had vicarious liability as employers under Article
therefrom within the reglementary period, as prayed for by the defendants, said
2180 of the Civil Code. The lower court stated, "After a careful study of
Order is now final against said plaintiffs.
defendants' arguments, the court finds the same to be meritorious and must,
therefore, be granted. On the other hand, plaintiffs' arguments in their Assailing the said order of May 11, 1984, the plaintiffs filed a motion for
opposition are lacking in merit." reconsideration on May 28,1984, alleging that it was not true that plaintiffs
Rogelio Aberca, Danilo de la Fuente, Marco Palo, Alan Jasminez, Alex
A motion to set aside the order dismissing the complaint and a supplemental
Marcelino, Elizabeth Protacio-Marcelino, Alfredo Mansos and Rolando Salutin
motion for reconsideration was filed by the plaintiffs on November 18, 1983,
failed to file a motion to reconsider the order of November 8, 1983 dismissing
and November 24, 1983, respectively. On December 9, 1983, the defendants
the complaint, within the reglementary period. Plaintiffs claimed that the motion
filed a comment on the aforesaid motion of plaintiffs, furnishing a copy thereof
to set aside the order of November 8, 1983 and the amplificatory motion for
to the attorneys of all the plaintiffs, namely, Attys. Jose W. Diokno, Procopio
reconsideration was filed for all the plaintiffs, although signed by only some of
Beltran, Rene Sarmiento, Efren Mercado, Auguso Sanchez, Antonio L.
the lawyers.
Rosales, Pedro B. Ella Jr., Arno V. Sanidad, Alexander Padilla, Joker Arroyo,
Rene Saguisag, Ramon Esguerra and Felicitas Aquino. In its resolution of September 21, 1984, the respondent court dealt with both
motions (1) to reconsider its order of May 11, 1984 declaring that with respect
On December 15, 1983, Judge Fortun issued an order voluntarily inhibiting
to certain plaintiffs, the resolution of November 8, 1983 had already become
himself from further proceeding in the case and leaving the resolution of the
final, and (2) to set aside its resolution of November 8, 1983 granting the
motion to set aside the order of dismissal to Judge Lising, "to preclude any
defendants' motion to dismiss. In the dispositive portion of the order of
suspicion that he (Judge Fortun) cannot resolve [the] aforesaid pending motion
September 21, 1984, the respondent court resolved:
with the cold neutrality of an impartial judge and to put an end to plaintiffs
assertion that the undersigned has no authority or jurisdiction to resolve said (1) That the motion to set aside the order of finality, dated May 11, 1984, of the
pending motion." This order prompted plaintiffs to reesolve an amplificatory Resolution of dismissal of the complaint of plaintiffs Rogelio Aberca, Danilo de
motion for reconsideration signed in the name of the Free Legal Assistance
Group (FLAG) of Mabini Legal Aid Committee, by Attys. Joker P. Arroyo,
la Fuente, Marco Palo, Alan Jasminez Alex Marcelino, Elizabeth Protacio- 1984. Respondents were required to comment on the petition, which it did on
Marcelino, Alfredo Mansos and Rolando Salutin is deed for lack of merit; November 9, 1985. A reply was filed by petitioners on August 26, 1986.

(2) For lack of cause of action as against the following defendants, to wit: We find the petition meritorious and decide to give it due course.

1. Gen Fabian Ver At the heart of petitioners' complaint is Article 32 of the Civil Code which
2. Col. Fidel Singson
ART. 32. Any public officer or employee, or any private individual who directly
3. Col. Rolando Abadilla or indirectly obstructs, defeats, violates or in any manner impedes or impairs
any of the following rights and liberties of another person shall be liable to the
4. Lt. Col. Conrado Lantoria, Jr.
latter for damages:
5. Col. Galileo Montanar
(1) Freedom of religion;
6. Col. Panfilo Lacson
(2) Freedom of speech;
7. Capt. Danilo Pizaro
(3) Freedom to write for the press or to maintain a periodical publication;
8. 1 Lt Pedro Tango
(4) Freedom from arbitrary or illegal detention;
9. Lt. Romeo Ricardo
(5) Freedom of suffrage;
10. Lt. Raul Bacalso
(6) The right against deprivation of property without due process
the motion to set aside and reconsider the Resolution of dismissal of the
(7) of law;
present action or complaint, dated November 8, 1983, is also denied but in so
far as it affects and refers to defendants, to wit: (8) The right to a just compensation when private property is taken for public
1. Major Rodolfo Aguinaldo, and
(9) The right to the equal protection of the laws;
2. Master Sgt. Bienvenido Balaba
(10) The right to be secure in one's person, house, papers, and effects against
the motion to reconsider and set aside the Resolution of dismissal dated
unreasonable searches and seizures;
November 3, 1983 is granted and the Resolution of dismissal is, in this
respect, reconsidered and modified. (11) The liberty of abode and of changing the same;
Hence, petitioners filed the instant petition for certiorari on March 15, 1985 (12) The privacy of cmmunication and correspondence;
seeking to annul and set aside the respondent court's resolution of November
8, 1983, its order of May 11, 1984, and its resolution dated September 21, (13) The right to become a member of associations or societies for purposes
not contrary to law;

(14) The right to take part in a peaceable assembly to petition the Government when the temptation is strongest to yield — borrowing the words of Chief
for redress of grievances; Justice Claudio Teehankee — to the law of force rather than the force of law, it
is necessary to remind ourselves that certain basic rights and liberties are
(15) The right to be free from involuntary servitude in any form; immutable and cannot be sacrificed to the transient needs or imperious
demands of the ruling power. The rule of law must prevail, or else liberty will
(16) The rigth of the accused against excessive bail;
perish. Our commitment to democratic principles and to the rule of law
(17) The rigth of the aaccused to be heard by himself and counsel, to be compels us to reject the view which reduces law to nothing but the expression
informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him, to have a of the will of the predominant power in the community. "Democracy cannot be
speedy and public trial, to meet the witnesses face to face, and to have a reign of progress, of liberty, of justice, unless the law is respected by him
compulsory process to secure the attendance of witness in behalf; who makes it and by him for whom it is made. Now this respect implies a
maximum of faith, a minimum of Idealism. On going to the bottom of the
(18) Freedom from being compelled to be a witness against ones self, or from matter, we discover that life demands of us a certain residuum of sentiment
being forced to confess guilt, or from being induced by a promise of immunity which is not derived from reason, but which reason nevertheless controls. 2
or reward to make such confession, except when the person confessing
becomes a State witness; Seeking to justify the dismissal of plaintiffs' complaint, the respondents
postulate the view that as public officers they are covered by the mantle of
(19) Freedom from excessive fines or cruel and unusual punishment, unless state immunity from suit for acts done in the performance of official duties or
the same is imposed or inflicted in accordance with a statute which has not function In support of said contention, respondents maintain that —
been judicially declared unconstitutional; and
Respondents are members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Their
(20) Freedom of access to the courts. primary duty is to safeguard public safety and order. The Constitution no less
provides that the President may call them "to prevent or supress lawless
In any of the cases referred to in this article, whether or not the defendant's act
violence, invasion, insurrection or rebellion, or imminent danger thereof."
or omission constitutes a criminal offense, the against grieved party has a right
(Constitution, Article VII, Section 9).
to commence an entirely separate and distinct civil action for damages, and for
other relief. Such civil action shall proceed independently of any criminal On January 17, 1981, the President issued Proclamation No. 2045 lifting
prosecution (if the latter be instituted), and may be proved by a preponderance martial law but providing for the continued suspension of the privilege of the
of evidence. writ of habeas corpus in view of the remaining dangers to the security of the
nation. The proclamation also provided "that the call to the Armed Forces of
The indemnity shall include moral damages. Exemplary damages may also be
the Philippines to prevent or suppress lawless violence, insuitection rebellion
and subversion shall continue to be in force and effect."
The responsibility herein set forth is not demandable from a judge unless his
Petitioners allege in their complaint that their causes of action proceed from
act or omission constitutes a violation of the Penal Code or other penal statute.
respondent General Ver's order to Task Force Makabansa to launch pre-
It is obvious that the purpose of the above codal provision is to provide a emptive strikes against communist terrorist underground houses in Metro
sanction to the deeply cherished rights and freedoms enshrined in the Manila. Petitioners claim that this order and its subsequent implementation by
Constitution. Its message is clear; no man may seek to violate those sacred elements of the task force resulted in the violation of their constitutional rights
rights with impunity. In times of great upheaval or of social and political stress, against unlawful searches, seizures and arrest, rights to counsel and to
silence, and the right to property and that, therefore, respondents Ver and the in any manner, for the purpose of controlling or interferring with the exercise of
named members of the task force should be held liable for damages. the political powers vested in the chief executive authority of the Government,
then it must follow that the courts cannot intervene for the purpose of declaring
But, by launching a pre-emptive strike against communist terrorists, that he is liable in damages for the exeercise of this authority.
respondent members of the armed forces merely performed their official and
constitutional duties. To allow petitioners to recover from respondents by way It may be that the respondents, as members of the Armed Forces of the
of damages for acts performed in the exercise of such duties run contrary to Philippines, were merely responding to their duty, as they claim, "to prevent or
the policy considerations to shield respondents as public officers from undue suppress lawless violence, insurrection, rebellion and subversion" in
interference with their duties and from potentially disabling threats of hability accordance with Proclamation No. 2054 of President Marcos, despite the lifting
(Aarlon v. Fitzgerald 102 S. Ct. 2731-1 Forbes v. Chuoco Tiaco, 16 Phil. 634), of martial law on January 27, 1981, and in pursuance of such objective, to
and upon the necessity of protecting the performance of governmental and launch pre- emptive strikes against alleged communist terrorist underground
public functions from being harassed unduly or constantly interrupted by houses. But this cannot be construed as a blanket license or a roving
private suits (McCallan v. State, 35 Cal. App. 605; Metran v. Paredes, 79 Phil. commission untramelled by any constitutional restraint, to disregard or
819). transgress upon the rights and liberties of the individual citizen enshrined in
and protected by the Constitution. The Constitution remains the supreme law
xxx xxx xxx of the land to which all officials, high or low, civilian or military, owe obedience
and allegiance at all times.
The immunity of public officers from liability arising from the performance of
their duties is now a settled jurisprudence Alzua v. Johnson, 21 Phil. 308; Article 32 of the Civil Code which renders any public officer or employee or any
Zulueta v. Nicolas, 102 Phil. 944; Spalding v. Vilas, 161 US 483; 40 L. Ed. 780, private individual liable in damages for violating the Constitutional rights and
16 S. Ct. 631; Barr v. Mateo, 360; Butz v. Economon, 438 US 478; 57 L. Ed. liberties of another, as enumerated therein, does not exempt the respondents
2d 895, 98 S. Ct. 2894; Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 US 232; Forbes v. Chuoco from responsibility. Only judges are excluded from liability under the said
Tiaco, supra; Miller v. de Leune, 602 F. 2d 198; Sami v. US, 617 F. 2d 755). article, provided their acts or omissions do not constitute a violation of the
Penal Code or other penal statute.
Respondents-defendants who merely obeyed the lawful orders of the
President and his call for the suppression of the rebellion involving petitioners This is not to say that military authorities are restrained from pursuing their
enjoy such immunity from Suit.3 assigned task or carrying out their mission with vigor. We have no quarrel with
their duty to protect the Republic from its enemies, whether of the left or of the
We find respondents' invocation of the doctrine of state immunity from suit
right, or from within or without, seeking to destroy or subvert our democratic
totally misplaced. The cases invoked by respondents actually involved acts
institutions and imperil their very existence. What we are merely trying to say is
done by officers in the performance of official duties written the ambit of their
that in carrying out this task and mission, constitutional and legal safeguards
powers. As held in Forbes, etc. vs. Chuoco Tiaco and Crossfield: 4
must be observed, otherwise, the very fabric of our faith will start to unravel. In
No one can be held legally responsible in damages or otherwise for doing in a the battle of competing Ideologies, the struggle for the mind is just as vital as
legal manner what he had authority, under the law, to do. Therefore, if the the struggle of arms. The linchpin in that psychological struggle is faith in the
Governor-General had authority, under the law to deport or expel the rule of law. Once that faith is lost or compromised, the struggle may well be
defendants, and circumstances justifying the deportation and the method of abandoned.
carrying it out are left to him, then he cannot be held liable in damages for the
exercise of this power. Moreover, if the courts are without authority to interfere
We do not find merit in respondents' suggestion that plaintiffs' cause of action to remain silent and to counsel and their right to protection against
is barred by the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. unreasonable searches and seizures and against torture and other cruel and
Respondents contend that "Petitioners cannot circumvent the suspension of inhuman treatment.
the privilege of the writ by resorting to a damage suit aimed at the same
purpose-judicial inquiry into the alleged illegality of their detention. While the However, we find it unnecessary to address the constitutional issue pressed
main relief they ask by the present action is indemnification for alleged upon us. On March 25, 1986, President Corazon C. Aquino issued
damages they suffered, their causes of action are inextricably based on the Proclamation No. 2, revoking Proclamation Nos. 2045 and 2045-A and lifting
same claim of violations of their constitutional rights that they invoked in the the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. The question
habeas corpus case as grounds for release from detention. Were the therefore has become moot and academic.
petitioners allowed the present suit, the judicial inquiry barred by the
This brings us to the crucial issue raised in this petition. May a superior officer
suspension of the privilege of the writ will take place. The net result is that what
under the notion of respondent superior be answerable for damages, jointly
the courts cannot do, i.e. override the suspension ordered by the President,
and severally with his subordinates, to the person whose constitutional rights
petitioners will be able to do by the mere expedient of altering the title of their
and liberties have been violated?
Respondents contend that the doctrine of respondent superior is applicable to
We do not agree. We find merit in petitioners' contention that the suspension of
the case. We agree. The doctrine of respondent superior has been generally
the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus does not destroy petitioners' right and
limited in its application to principal and agent or to master and servant (i.e.
cause of action for damages for illegal arrest and detention and other violations
employer and employee) relationship. No such relationship exists between
of their constitutional rights. The suspension does not render valid an
superior officers of the military and their subordinates.
otherwise illegal arrest or detention. What is suspended is merely the right of
the individual to seek release from detention through the writ of habeas corpus Be that as it may, however, the decisive factor in this case, in our view, is the
as a speedy means of obtaining his liberty. language of Article 32. The law speaks of an officer or employee or person
'directly' or "indirectly" responsible for the violation of the constitutional rights
Moreover, as pointed out by petitioners, their right and cause of action for
and liberties of another. Thus, it is not the actor alone (i.e. the one directly
damages are explicitly recognized in P.D. No. 1755 which amended Article
responsible) who must answer for damages under Article 32; the person
1146 of the Civil Code by adding the following to its text:
indirectly responsible has also to answer for the damages or injury caused to
However, when the action (for injury to the rights of the plaintiff or for a quasi- the aggrieved party.
delict) arises from or out of any act, activity or conduct of any public officer
By this provision, the principle of accountability of public officials under the
involving the exercise of powers or authority arising from Martial Law including
Constitution 5 acquires added meaning and asgilrnes a larger dimension. No
the arrest, detention and/or trial of the plaintiff, the same must be brought
longer may a superior official relax his vigilance or abdicate his duty to
within one (1) year.
supervise his subordinates, secure in the thought that he does not have to
Petitioners have a point in contending that even assuming that the suspension answer for the transgressions committed by the latter against the
of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus suspends petitioners' right of constitutionally protected rights and liberties of the citizen. Part of the factors
action for damages for illegal arrest and detention, it does not and cannot that propelled people power in February 1986 was the widely held perception
suspend their rights and causes of action for injuries suffered because of that the government was callous or indifferent to, if not actually responsible for,
respondents' confiscation of their private belongings, the violation of their right the rampant violations of human rights. While it would certainly be go naive to

expect that violators of human rights would easily be deterred by the prospect speaks of, among others, searches made without search warrants or based on
of facing damage suits, it should nonetheless be made clear in no ones terms irregularly issued or substantially defective warrants; seizures and confiscation,
that Article 32 of the Civil Code makes the persons who are directly, as well as without proper receipts, of cash and personal effects belonging to plaintiffs and
indirectly, responsible for the transgression joint tortfeasors. other items of property which were not subversive and illegal nor covered by
the search warrants; arrest and detention of plaintiffs without warrant or under
In the case at bar, the trial court dropped defendants General Fabian Ver, Col. irregular, improper and illegal circumstances; detention of plaintiffs at several
Fidel Singson, Col. Rolando Abadilla, Col. Gerardo Lantoria, Jr., Col. Galileo undisclosed places of 'safehouses" where they were kept incommunicado and
Kintanar, Col. Panfilo Lacson, Capt. Danilo Pizarro, lst Lt. Pedro Tango, Lt. subjected to physical and psychological torture and other inhuman, degrading
Romeo Ricardo and Lt. Ricardo Bacalso from the acts of their subordinates. and brutal treatment for the purpose of extracting incriminatory statements.
Only Major Rodolfo Aguinaldo and Master Sgt. Bienvenido Balaba were kept The complaint contains a detailed recital of abuses perpetrated upon the
as defendants on the ground that they alone 'have been specifically mentioned plaintiffs violative of their constitutional rights.
and Identified to have allegedly caused injuries on the persons of some of the
plaintiff which acts of alleged physical violence constitute a delict or wrong that Secondly, neither can it be said that only those shown to have participated
gave rise to a cause of action. But such finding is not supported by the record, "directly" should be held liable. Article 32 of the Civil Code encompasses within
nor is it in accord with law and jurisprudence. the ambit of its provisions those directly, as well as indirectly, responsible for
its violation.
Firstly, it is wrong to at the plaintiffs' action for damages 5 Section 1, Article 19.
to 'acts of alleged physical violence" which constituted delict or wrong. Article The responsibility of the defendants, whether direct or indirect, is amply set
32 clearly specifies as actionable the act of violating or in any manner forth in the complaint. It is well established in our law and jurisprudence that a
impeding or impairing any of the constitutional rights and liberties enumerated motion to dismiss on the ground that the complaint states no cause of action
therein, among others — must be based on what appears on the face of the complaint. 6 To determine
the sufficiency of the cause of action, only the facts alleged in the complaint,
1. Freedom from arbitrary arrest or illegal detention; and no others, should be considered. 7 For this purpose, the motion to dismiss
must hypothetically admit the truth of the facts alleged in the complaint. 8
2. The right against deprivation of property without due process of law;
Applying this test, it is difficult to justify the trial court's ruling, dismissing for
3. The right to be secure in one's person, house, papers and effects against
lack of cause of action the complaint against all the defendants, except Major
unreasonable searches and seizures;
Rodolfo Aguinaldo and Master Sgt. Bienvenido Balaba. The complaint
4. The privacy of communication and correspondence; contained allegations against all the defendants which, if admitted
hypothetically, would be sufficient to establish a cause or causes of action
5. Freedom from being compelled to be a witness against one's self, or from against all of them under Article 32 of the Civil Code.
being forced to confess guilt, or from being induced by a promise of immunity
or reward to make a confession, except when the person confessing becomes This brings us to the last issue. Was the trial court correct in dismissing the
a state witness. complaint with respect to plaintiffs Rogelio Aberca, Danilo de la Puente, Marco
Palo, Alan Jazminez, Alex Marcelino, Elizabeth Protacio-Marcelino, Alfredo
The complaint in this litigation alleges facts showing with abundant clarity and Mansos and Rolando Salutin, on the basis of the alleged failure of said
details, how plaintiffs' constitutional rights and liberties mentioned in Article 32 plaintiffs to file a motion for reconsideration of the court's resolution of
of the Civil Code were violated and impaired by defendants. The complaint November 8, 1983, granting the respondent's motion to dismiss?
It is undisputed that a timely motion to set aside said order of November 8, Fernan, Narvasa, Melencio-Herrera, Cruz, Paras, Feliciano, Gancayco, Bidin,
1983 was filed by 'plaintiffs, through counsel. True, the motion was signed only Sarmiento, Cortes and Griño-Aquino, JJ., concur.
by Atty. Joker P. Arroyo, counsel for Benjamin Sesgulido; Atty. Antonio
Rosales, counsel for Edwin Lopez and Manuel Martin Guzman; Atty. Pedro B. Gutierrez, Jr., J., concur in the result.
Ella, Jr., counsel for Nestor Bodino and Carlos Palma; Atty. Arno V. Sanidad,
Padilla, J., took no part.
counsel for Arturo Tabara; Atty. Felicitas S. Aquino, counsel for Joseph Olayer;
and Atty. Alexander Padilla, counsel for Rodolfo Benosa.

But the body of the motion itself clearly indicated that the motion was filed on
behalf of all the plaintiffs. And this must have been also the understanding of
defendants' counsel himself for when he filed his comment on the motion, he
furnished copies thereof, not just to the lawyers who signed the motion, but to
Separate Opinions
all the lawyers of plaintiffs, to wit: Attys. Jose Diokno, Procopio Beltran, Rene
Sarmiento, Efren Mercado, Augusto Sanchez, Antonio Rosales, Pedro Efla Jr.,
Arno Sanidad, Alexander Padilla, Joker Arroyo, Rene Saguisag, Ramon
Esguerra and Felicitas S. Aquino. TEEHANKEE, C.J., concurring:

In filing the motion to set aside the resolution of November 8, 1983, the signing The Court's judgment at bar makes clear that all persons, be they public
attorneys did so on behalf of all the plaintiff. They needed no specific authority officers or employees, or members of the military or police force or private
to do that. The authority of an attorney to appear for and in behalf of a party individuals who directly or indirectly obstruct, defeat, violate or in any manner
can be assumed, unless questioned or challenged by the adverse party or the impede or impair the constitutional rights and civil liberties of another person,
party concerned, which was never done in this case. Thus, it was grave abuse stand liable and may be sued in court for damages as provided in Art. 32 of the
on the part of respondent judge to take it upon himself to rule that the motion to Civil Code.
set aside the order of November 8, 1953 dismissing the complaint was filed
only by some of the plaintiffs, when by its very language it was clearly intended The case at bar specifically upholds and reinstates the civil action for damages
to be filed by and for the benefit of all of them. It is obvious that the respondent filed in the court below by petitioners-plaintiffs for illegal searches conducted
judge took umbrage under a contrived technicality to declare that the dismissal by military personnel and other violations of their constitutional rights and
of the complaint had already become final with respect to some of the plaintiffs liberties. At the same time it rejects the automatic application of the principle
whose lawyers did not sign the motion for reconsideration. Such action tainted of respondeat superior or command responsibility that would hold a superior
with legal infirmity cannot be sanctioned. officer jointly and severally accountable for damages, including moral and
exemplary, with his subordinates who committed such transgressions.
Accordingly, we grant the petition and annul and set aside the resolution of the However, the judgment gives the caveat that a superior officer must not
respondent court, dated November 8, 1983, its order dated May 11, 1984 and abdicate his duty to properly supervise his subordinates for he runs the risk of
its resolution dated September 21, 1984. Let the case be remanded to the being held responsible for gross negligence and of being held under the cited
respondent court for further proceedings. With costs against private provision of the Civil Code as indirectly and solidarily accountable with
respondents. the tortfeasor.

The rationale for this rule of law was best expressed by Brandeis in wise: "In a rights violations and take remedial measures against all such violations by the
government of laws, existence of the government be imperilled following it fails military as well as by the civilian groups.
to observe the law scrupulously. Our government is the potent omnipresent
teacher. For good or ill, it teaches the whole people by example. Crime is Separate Opinions
contagious. If the government becomes the law breaker, it breeds contempt for
TEEHANKEE, C.J., concurring:
the law, it invites every man to become a law unto himself, it invites anarchy.
To declare that in the administration of criminal law the end justifies the means The Court's judgment at bar makes clear that all persons, be they public
... would bring terrible retribution." 1 officers or employees, or members of the military or police force or private
individuals who directly or indirectly obstruct, defeat, violate or in any manner
As the writer stress in Hildawa vs. Enrile 2 Which Was an action to enjoin the
impede or impair the constitutional rights and civil liberties of another person,
operations of the dreaded secret marshals during the past regime, 'In a
stand liable and may be sued in court for damages as provided in Art. 32 of the
democratic state, you don't stoop to the level of criminals. If we stoop to what
Civil Code.
they do, then we're no better than they ... there would be no difference. ... The
Supreme Court stands as the guarantor of the Constitutional and human rights The case at bar specifically upholds and reinstates the civil action for damages
of all persons within its jurisdiction and cannot abdicate its basic role under the filed in the court below by petitioners-plaintiffs for illegal searches conducted
Constitution that these rights be respected and enforced. The spirit and letter by military personnel and other violations of their constitutional rights and
of the Constitution negates as contrary to the basic precepts of human rights liberties. At the same time it rejects the automatic application of the principle
and freedom that a person's life be snuffed out without due process in a split of respondeat superior or command responsibility that would hold a superior
second even if he is caught in flagrante delicto — unless it was caned for as an officer jointly and severally accountable for damages, including moral and
act of self-defense by the law agents using reasonable means to prevent or exemplary, with his subordinates who committed such transgressions.
repel an unlawful aggression on the part of the deceased. However, the judgment gives the caveat that a superior officer must not
abdicate his duty to properly supervise his subordinates for he runs the risk of
Needless to say, the criminal acts of the "Sparrow Units" or death squads of
being held responsible for gross negligence and of being held under the cited
the NPA which have infutrated the cities and suburbs and performed their
provision of the Civil Code as indirectly and solidarily accountable with
despicable killings of innocent civilians and military and police officers
the tortfeasor.
constitute an equally perverse violation of the sanctity of human life and must
be severely condemned by all who adhere tothe Rule of the Law. The rationale for this rule of law was best expressed by Brandeis in wise: "In a
government of laws, existence of the government be imperilled following it fails
It need only be pointed out that one of the first acts of the present government
to observe the law scrupulously. Our government is the potent omnipresent
under President Corazon C. Aquino after her assumption of office in February,
teacher. For good or ill, it teaches the whole people by example. Crime is
1986 was to file our government's ratification and access to all human rights
contagious. If the government becomes the law breaker, it breeds contempt for
instruments adopted under the auspices of the United Nations, declaring
the law, it invites every man to become a law unto himself, it invites anarchy.
thereby the government's commitment to observe the precepts of the United
To declare that in the administration of criminal law the end justifies the means
Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. More than
... would bring terrible retribution." 1
this, pursuant to our Constitution which the people decisively ratified on
February 2, 1987, the independent office of the Commission on Human Rights As the writer stress in Hildawa vs. Enrile 2 Which Was an action to enjoin the
hats been created and organized with ample powers to investigate human operations of the dreaded secret marshals during the past regime, 'In a
democratic state, you don't stoop to the level of criminals. If we stoop to what
they do, then we're no better than they ... there would be no difference. ... The CABRERA, GERRY ZARAGOZA, DONNA GATDULA, RODNEY P. DIOLA,
Supreme Court stands as the guarantor of the Constitutional and human rights RAUL VALINO, THELMA SAN JUAN and ROBERT COYIUTO,
of all persons within its jurisdiction and cannot abdicate its basic role under the JR.,Respondents.
Constitution that these rights be respected and enforced. The spirit and letter
of the Constitution negates as contrary to the basic precepts of human rights R E S O L U T I ON
and freedom that a person's life be snuffed out without due process in a split
second even if he is caught in flagrante delicto — unless it was caned for as an
act of self-defense by the law agents using reasonable means to prevent or For resolution is the Motion for Reconsideration1 dated January 15, 2010, filed
repel an unlawful aggression on the part of the deceased. by the respondents, and the Supplemental Motion for Reconsideration2 of
respondent Robert Coyiuto, Jr., dated March 17, 2010, from the Decision
Needless to say, the criminal acts of the "Sparrow Units" or death squads of
rendered in favor of petitioner Alfonso T. Yuchengco, dated November 25,
the NPA which have infutrated the cities and suburbs and performed their
despicable killings of innocent civilians and military and police officers
constitute an equally perverse violation of the sanctity of human life and must At the outset, a brief narration of the factual and procedural antecedents that
be severely condemned by all who adhere tothe Rule of the Law. transpired and led to the filing of the motions is in order.

It need only be pointed out that one of the first acts of the present government The present controversy arose when in the last quarter of 1993, several
under President Corazon C. Aquino after her assumption of office in February, allegedly defamatory articles against petitioner were published in The Manila
1986 was to file our government's ratification and access to all human rights Chronicle by Chronicle Publishing Corporation. Consequently, petitioner filed a
instruments adopted under the auspices of the United Nations, declaring complaint against respondents before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati
thereby the government's commitment to observe the precepts of the United City, Branch 136, docketed as Civil Case No. 94-1114, under three separate
Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. More than causes of action, namely: (1) for damages due to libelous publication against
this, pursuant to our Constitution which the people decisively ratified on Neal H. Cruz, Ernesto Tolentino, Noel Cabrera, Thelma San Juan, Gerry
February 2, 1987, the independent office of the Commission on Human Rights Zaragoza, Donna Gatdula, Raul Valino, Rodney P. Diola, all members of the
hats been created and organized with ample powers to investigate human editorial staff and writers of The Manila Chronicle, and Chronicle Publishing;
rights violations and take remedial measures against all such violations by the (2) for damages due to abuse of right against Robert Coyiuto, Jr. and
military as well as by the civilian groups. Chronicle Publishing; and (3) for attorney’s fees and costs against all the
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT On November 8, 2002, the trial court rendered a Decision3 in favor of
Manila petitioner.

SPECIAL THIRD DIVISION Aggrieved, respondents sought recourse before the Court of Appeals (CA). On
March 18, 2008, the CA rendered a Decision4 affirming in toto the decision of
G.R. No. 184315 November 28, 2011
the RTC.
Respondents then filed a Motion for Reconsideration5 praying that the CA
reconsider its earlier decision and reverse the decision of the trial court. On
August 28, 2008, the CA rendered an Amended Decision6 reversing the earlier Coyiuto, Jr.’s Supplemental Motion for Reconsideration11 dated 17 March
Decision. 2010.

Subsequently, petitioner filed the present recourse before this Court which puts In the Motion for Reconsideration, respondents moved for a reconsideration of
forth the following assignment of errors: the earlier decision on the following grounds:

On November 25, 2009, this Court rendered a Decision partially granting the
Respondents later filed a Motion for Reconsideration dated January 15, 2010, NEWSPAPER.
which the Court denied in the Resolution8 dated March 3, 2010.
Meanwhile, respondent Coyiuto, Jr. also filed a Motion for Leave to File FOR THE SUBJECT PUBLICATIONS.
Supplemental Motion for Reconsideration with Attached Supplemental Motion,
both dated March 17, 2010.
On April 21, 2010, this Court issued a Resolution9 resolving to recall the
Resolution dated March 3, 2010; grant Coyiuto, Jr.’s motion for leave to file
supplemental motion for reconsideration; note the supplemental motion for
reconsideration; and require petitioner to comment on the motion for
reconsideration and supplemental motion for reconsideration.
On June 22, 2010, petitioner filed his Comment on the Motion for
Reconsideration10 dated January 15, 2010 and Comment on respondent

In his Supplemental Motion for Reconsideration, Coyiuto, Jr. raises the From the foregoing, it is apparent that the motion for reconsideration generally
following arguments: restates and reiterates the arguments, which were previously advanced by
respondents and does not present any substantial reasons, which were not
I. formerly invoked and passed upon by the Court.
WITH ALL DUE RESPECT, THIS HONORABLE COURT OBVIOUSLY However, from the supplemental motion for reconsideration, it is apparent that
OVERLOOKED THE FACT THAT IN PETITIONER’S AMENDED COMPLAINT Coyiuto, Jr. raises a new matter which has not been raised in the proceedings
(DATED OCTOBER 17, 1994), RESPONDENT ROBERT COYIUTO, JR. WAS below. This notwithstanding, basic equity dictates that Coyiuto, Jr. should be
NOT SUED FOR DAMAGES ALLEGEDLY DUE TO "LIBELOUS given all the opportunity to ventilate his arguments in the present action, but
PUBLICATIONS" (FIRST CAUSE OF ACTION). HE WAS SUED, HOWEVER, more importantly, in order to write finis to the present controversy. It should be
IN HIS PERSONAL CAPACITY FOR "ABUSE OF RIGHT" (SECOND CAUSE noted that the Resolution denying the Motion for Reconsideration was later
OF ACTION) ALLEGEDLY, AS "CHAIRMAN" OF THE BOARD, "OFFICER," recalled by this Court in the Resolution dated March 3, 2010, and therein,
"PRINCIPAL OWNER," OF THE MANILA CHRONICLE PUBLISHING petitioner was given the opportunity to refute Coyiuto, Jr.’s arguments by filing
CORPORATION UNDER ARTICLES 19 AND 20 OF THE CIVIL CODE. AS his comment on the motion for reconsideration and the supplemental motion
SUCH, THE IMPOSITION OF MORAL (₱25 MILLION PESOS) AND for reconsideration, which petitioner complied with.
COYIUTO, JR. HAS NO BASIS IN LAW AND CONTRARY TO THE SPECIFIC From these Comments and contrary to Coyiuto, Jr.’s contention, it was
PROVISIONS OF ARTICLES 2219 AND 2229, IN RELATION TO ARTICLE substantially established that he was the Chairman of Manila Chronicle
2233, RESPECTIVELY, OF THE CIVIL CODE AS WILL BE ELUCIDATED Publishing Corporation when the subject articles were published. Coyiuto, Jr.
HEREUNDER. even admitted this fact in his Reply and Comment on Request for
Admission,14 to wit:
4. Defendant Robert Coyiuto Jr. ADMITS that he was the Chairman of the
WITH ALL DUE RESPECT, APART FROM THE SELF- Board but not President of the Manila Chronicle during the period Novemeber
IOTA OF EVIDENCE WAS ADDUCED ON TRIAL IN SUPPORT OF THE 5. Defendant Robert Coyiuto Jr. DENIES paragraph 11. He has already
ALLEGATION THAT RESPONDENT COYIUTO, JR. WAS "CHAIRMAN", conveyed such denial to plaintiff in the course of the pre-trial. It was The
"PRINCIPAL OWNER" AND "OFFICER" OF RESPONDENT MANILA Manila Chronicle, a newspaper of general circulation, of which he is, admittedly
CHRONICLE PUBLISHING CORPORATION. SEC DOCUMENTS SHOW THE Chairman of the Board, that published the items marked as plaintiff’s Exhibits
12. This case, based on plaintiff’s Amended Complaint, is limited to the
publications in The Manila Chronicle marked plaintiff’s Exhibits "A" to "G",
consecutively, published by defendant Manila Chronicle. Thus, only the
question of whether Mr. Robert Coyiuto, Jr. was Chairman and President of
defendant Manila Chronicle, during these publications and whether he caused
these publications, among all of plaintiffs’ queries, are relevant and material to of the old Code which merely stated the effects of the law, but failed to draw
this case. And defendant Robert Coyiuto, Jr. has answered that: "Yes", he was out its spirit, incorporated certain fundamental precepts which were "designed
Chairman of the Board. "No", he was never President of The Manila Chronicle. to indicate certain norms that spring from the fountain of good conscience" and
"No", he did not cause the publications in The Manila Chronicle: it was the which were also meant to serve as "guides for human conduct [that] should run
Manila Chronicle that published the news items adverted to.15 as golden threads through society, to the end that law may approach its
supreme ideal, which is the sway and dominance of justice." (Id.) Foremost
Both the trial court and the CA affirmed this fact. We reiterate that factual among these principles is that pronounced in Article 19 which provides:
findings of the trial court, when adopted and confirmed by the CA, are binding
and conclusive on this Court and will generally not be reviewed on appeal. Art. 19. Every person must, in the exercise of his rights and in the performance
While this Court has recognized several exceptions16 to this rule, none of these of his duties, act with justice, give everyone his due, and observe honesty and
exceptions exists in the present case. Accordingly, this Court finds no reason good faith.
to depart from the findings of fact of the trial court and the CA.
This article, known to contain what is commonly referred to as the principle of
More importantly and contrary again to Coyiuto, Jr.’s contention, the cause of abuse of rights, sets certain standards which must be observed not only in the
action of petitioner based on "abuse of rights," or Article 19, in relation to exercise of one's rights, but also in the performance of one's duties. These
Article 20 of the Civil Code, warrants the award of damages. standards are the following: to act with justice; to give everyone his due; and to
observe honesty and good faith. The law, therefore, recognizes a primordial
The principle of abuse of rights as enshrined in Article 19 of the Civil Code limitation on all rights; that in their exercise, the norms of human conduct set
provides: forth in Article 19 must be observed. A right, though by itself legal because
recognized or granted by law as such, may nevertheless become the source of
Art. 19. Every person must, in the exercise of his rights and in the performance
some illegality. When a right is exercised in a manner which does not conform
of his duties, act with justice, give everyone his due, and observe honesty and
with the norms enshrined in Article 19 and results in damage to another, a
good faith.
legal wrong is thereby committed for which the wrongdoer must be held
This provision of law sets standards which must be observed in the exercise of responsible. But while Article 19 lays down a rule of conduct for the
one’s rights as well as in the performance of its duties, to wit: to act with government of human relations and for the maintenance of social order, it does
justice; give everyone his due; and observe honesty and good faith.17 not provide a remedy for its violation. Generally, an action for damages under
either Article 20 or Article 21 would be proper.19
In Globe Mackay Cable and Radio Corporation v. Court of Appeals,18 it was
elucidated that while Article 19 "lays down a rule of conduct for the government Corollarilly, Article 20 provides that "every person who, contrary to law, willfully
of human relations and for the maintenance of social order, it does not provide or negligently causes damage to another shall indemnify the latter for the
a remedy for its violation. Generally, an action for damages under either Article same." It speaks of the general sanctions of all other provisions of law which
20 or Article 21 would be proper." The Court said: do not especially provide for its own sanction. When a right is exercised in a
manner which does not conform to the standards set forth in the said provision
One of the more notable innovations of the New Civil Code is the codification and results in damage to another, a legal wrong is thereby committed for which
of "some basic principles that are to be observed for the rightful relationship the wrongdoer must be responsible.20 Thus, if the provision does not provide a
between human beings and for the stability of the social order." [REPORT ON remedy for its violation, an action for damages under either Article 20 or Article
PHILIPPINES, p. 39]. The framers of the Code, seeking to remedy the defect
The question of whether or not the principle of abuse of rights has been appellate courts were "more likely to reduce damages for libel than to increase
violated resulting in damages under Article 20 or other applicable provision of them." So it must be in this case.
law, depends on the circumstances of each case. In the present case, it was
found that Coyiuto, Jr. indeed abused his rights as Chairman of The Manila Moral damages are not a bonanza. They are given to ease the defendant’s
Chronicle, which led to the publication of the libelous articles in the said grief and suffering. Moral damages should be reasonably approximate to the
newspaper, thus, entitling petitioner to damages under Article 19, in relation to extent of the hurt caused and the gravity of the wrong done.28 The Court,
Article 20. therefore, finds the award of moral damages in the first and second cause of
action in the amount of ₱2,000,000.00 and ₱25,000,000.00, respectively, to be
Consequently, the trial court and the CA correctly awarded moral damages to too excessive and holds that an award of ₱1,000,000.00 and ₱10,000,000.00,
petitioner. Such damages may be awarded when the transgression is the respectively, as moral damages are more reasonable.
cause of petitioner’s anguish.21 Further, converse to Coyiuto, Jr.’s argument,
although petitioner is claiming damages for violation of Articles 19 and 20 of As for exemplary damages, Article 2229 provides that exemplary damages
the Civil Code, still such violations directly resulted in the publication of the may be imposed by way of example or correction for the public good.
libelous articles in the newspaper, which, by analogy, is one of the ground for Nonetheless, exemplary damages are imposed not to enrich one party or
the recovery of moral damages under (7) of Article 2219.22 impoverish another, but to serve as a deterrent against or as a negative
incentive to curb socially deleterious actions.29 On this basis, the award of
However, despite the foregoing, the damages awarded to petitioner appear to exemplary damages in the first and second cause of action in the amount of
be too excessive and warrants a second hard look by the Court. ₱500,000.00 and ₱10,000,000.00, respectively, is reduced to ₱200,000.00 and
₱1,000,000.00, respectively.
While there is no hard-and-fast rule in determining what would be a fair and
reasonable amount of moral damages, the same should not be palpably and On the matter of attorney’s fees and costs of suit, Article 2208 of the same
scandalously excessive. Moral damages are not intended to impose a penalty Code provides, among others, that attorney’s fees and expenses of litigation
to the wrongdoer, neither to enrich the claimant at the expense of the may be recovered in cases when exemplary damages are awarded and where
defendant.23 the court deems it just and equitable that attorney’s fees and expenses of
litigation should be recovered. In any event, however, such award must be
Even petitioner, in his Comment24 dated June 21, 2010, agree that moral reasonable, just and equitable.30 Thus, the award of attorney’s fees and costs
damages "are not awarded in order to punish the respondents or to make the is reduced from ₱1,000,000.00 to ₱200,000.00.
petitioner any richer than he already is, but to enable the latter to find some
cure for the moral anguish and distress he has undergone by reason of the One final note, the case against respondent was one for damages based on
defamatory and damaging articles which the respondents wrote and the publication of libelous articles against petitioner; hence, only civil in nature.
published."25 Further, petitioner cites as sufficient basis for the award of The rule is that a party who has the burden of proof in a civil case must
damages the plain reason that he had to "go through the ordeal of defending establish his cause of action by a preponderance of evidence. Thus,
himself everytime someone approached him to ask whether or not the respondents’ liability was proven only on the basis of preponderance of
statements in the defamatory article are true." evidence, which is quite different from a criminal case for libel where proof
beyond reasonable doubt must be established.
In Philippine Journalists, Inc. (People’s Journal) v. Thoenen,26 citing Guevarra
v. Almario,27 We noted that the damages in a libel case must depend upon the Corollarilly, under Article 360 of the Revised Penal Code, the person who
facts of the particular case and the sound discretion of the court, although "caused the publication" of a defamatory article shall be responsible for the

same. Hence, Coyiuto, Jr. should have been held jointly and solidarily liable 2. On the Second Cause of Action, ordering defendants Robert Coyiuto, Jr.
with the other respondents in the first cause of action under this article and not and Chronicle Publishing to pay plaintiff Yuchengco, jointly and severally:
on the basis of violation of the principle of abuse of rights founded on Articles
19 and 20 of the Civil Code. Because of the exclusion of Coyiuto, Jr. in the first a. the amount of Ten Million Pesos (₱10,000,000.00) as moral damages; and
cause of action for libel, he cannot be held solidarily liable with the other
b. the amount of One Million Pesos (₱1,000,000.00) as exemplary damages;
respondents in the first cause of action. Nonetheless, since damage to
petitioner was in fact established warranting the award of moral and exemplary 3. On the Third Cause of Action, ordering all defendants to pay plaintiff
damages, the same could only be awarded based on petitioner’s second Yuchengco, jointly and severally, the amount of Two Hundred Thousand
cause of action impleading Coyiuto, Jr. for violation of the principle of abuse of Pesos (₱200,000.00) as attorney’s fee and legal costs.
Costs against respondents.
It did not escape the attention of the Court that in filing two different causes of
action based on the same published articles, petitioner intended the liability of SO ORDERED.
Coyiuto, Jr. to be different from the other respondents. It can be inferred that if
Coyiuto, Jr. was impleaded in the first cause of action for recovery of the civil
liability in libel, petitioner could not have prayed for higher damages,
considering that the other respondents, who are jointly and severally liable with
one another, are not in the same financial standing as Coyiuto, Jr. Petitioner, in
effect, had spared the other respondents from paying such steep amount of
damages, while at the same time prayed that Coyiuto, Jr. pay millions of pesos
by way of moral and exemplary damages in the second cause of action.

WHEREFORE, the Motion for Reconsideration and Supplemental Motion for

Reconsideration are PARTIALLY GRANTED.1âwphi1 The Decision of this
Court, dated November 25, 2009, is MODIFIED to read as follows:

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered as


1. On the First Cause of Action, ordering defendants Chronicle Publishing, Neil

H. Cruz, Ernesto Tolentino, Noel Cabrera, Thelma San Juan, Gerry Zaragoza,
Donna Gatdula, Raul Valino and Rodney Diola, to pay plaintiff Yuchengco,
jointly and severally:

a. the amount of One Million Pesos (₱1,000,000.00) as moral damages; and

b. the amount of Two Hundred Thousand Pesos (₱200,000.00) as exemplary


Republic of the Philippines xxx xxx xxx
Manila 7. I give, devise and bequeath unto MARIA HELEN CHRISTENSEN, now
married to Eduardo Garcia, about eighteen years of age and who,
EN BANC notwithstanding the fact that she was baptized Christensen, is not in any way
related to me, nor has she been at any time adopted by me, and who, from all
G.R. No. L-16749 January 31, 1963 information I have now resides in Egpit, Digos, Davao, Philippines, the sum of
THREE THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED PESOS (P3,600.00), Philippine Currency
the same to be deposited in trust for the said Maria Helen Christensen with the
Davao Branch of the Philippine National Bank, and paid to her at the rate of
ADOLFO C. AZNAR, Executor and LUCY CHRISTENSEN, Heir of the
One Hundred Pesos (P100.00), Philippine Currency per month until the
deceased, Executor and Heir-appellees,
principal thereof as well as any interest which may have accrued thereon, is
HELEN CHRISTENSEN GARCIA, oppositor-appellant.
xxx xxx xxx
M. R. Sotelo for executor and heir-appellees.
Leopoldo M. Abellera and Jovito Salonga for oppositor-appellant. 12. I hereby give, devise and bequeath, unto my well-beloved daughter, the
said MARIA LUCY CHRISTENSEN DANEY (Mrs. Bernard Daney), now
residing as aforesaid at No. 665 Rodger Young Village, Los Angeles,
This is an appeal from a decision of the Court of First Instance of Davao, Hon. California, U.S.A., all the income from the rest, remainder, and residue of my
Vicente N. Cusi, Jr., presiding, in Special Proceeding No. 622 of said court, property and estate, real, personal and/or mixed, of whatsoever kind or
dated September 14, 1949, approving among things the final accounts of the character, and wheresoever situated, of which I may be possessed at my
executor, directing the executor to reimburse Maria Lucy Christensen the death and which may have come to me from any source whatsoever, during
amount of P3,600 paid by her to Helen Christensen Garcia as her legacy, and her lifetime: ....
declaring Maria Lucy Christensen entitled to the residue of the property to be
It is in accordance with the above-quoted provisions that the executor in his
enjoyed during her lifetime, and in case of death without issue, one-half of said
final account and project of partition ratified the payment of only P3,600 to
residue to be payable to Mrs. Carrie Louise C. Borton, etc., in accordance with
Helen Christensen Garcia and proposed that the residue of the estate be
the provisions of the will of the testator Edward E. Christensen. The will was
transferred to his daughter, Maria Lucy Christensen.
executed in Manila on March 5, 1951 and contains the following provisions:
Opposition to the approval of the project of partition was filed by Helen
3. I declare ... that I have but ONE (1) child, named MARIA LUCY
Christensen Garcia, insofar as it deprives her (Helen) of her legitime as an
CHRISTENSEN (now Mrs. Bernard Daney), who was born in the Philippines
acknowledged natural child, she having been declared by Us in G.R. Nos. L-
about twenty-eight years ago, and who is now residing at No. 665 Rodger
11483-84 an acknowledged natural child of the deceased Edward E.
Young Village, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
Christensen. The legal grounds of opposition are (a) that the distribution
4. I further declare that I now have no living ascendants, and no descendants should be governed by the laws of the Philippines, and (b) that said order of
except my above named daughter, MARIA LUCY CHRISTENSEN DANEY. distribution is contrary thereto insofar as it denies to Helen Christensen, one of
two acknowledged natural children, one-half of the estate in full ownership. In

amplification of the above grounds it was alleged that the law that should THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN FAILING TO RECOGNIZE THAT UNDER
govern the estate of the deceased Christensen should not be the internal law INTERNATIONAL LAW, PARTICULARLY UNDER THE RENVOI DOCTRINE,
of California alone, but the entire law thereof because several foreign elements THE INTRINSIC VALIDITY OF THE TESTAMENTARY DISPOSITION OF
are involved, that the forum is the Philippines and even if the case were THE DISTRIBUTION OF THE ESTATE OF THE DECEASED EDWARD E.
decided in California, Section 946 of the California Civil Code, which requires CHRISTENSEN SHOULD BE GOVERNED BY THE LAWS OF THE
that the domicile of the decedent should apply, should be applicable. It was PHILIPPINES.
also alleged that Maria Helen Christensen having been declared an
acknowledged natural child of the decedent, she is deemed for all purposes IV
legitimate from the time of her birth.
The court below ruled that as Edward E. Christensen was a citizen of the OF DISTRIBUTION SUBMITTED BY THE EXECUTOR IS CONTRARY TO
United States and of the State of California at the time of his death, the THE PHILIPPINE LAWS.
successional rights and intrinsic validity of the provisions in his will are to be
governed by the law of California, in accordance with which a testator has the
right to dispose of his property in the way he desires, because the right of THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT DECLARING THAT UNDER THE
absolute dominion over his property is sacred and inviolable (In re McDaniel's PHILIPPINE LAWS HELEN CHRISTENSEN GARCIA IS ENTITLED TO ONE-
Estate, 77 Cal. Appl. 2d 877, 176 P. 2d 952, and In re Kaufman, 117 Cal. 286, HALF (1/2) OF THE ESTATE IN FULL OWNERSHIP.
49 Pac. 192, cited in page 179, Record on Appeal). Oppositor Maria Helen
Christensen, through counsel, filed various motions for reconsideration, but There is no question that Edward E. Christensen was a citizen of the United
these were denied. Hence, this appeal. States and of the State of California at the time of his death. But there is also
no question that at the time of his death he was domiciled in the Philippines, as
The most important assignments of error are as follows: witness the following facts admitted by the executor himself in appellee's brief:

I In the proceedings for admission of the will to probate, the facts of record show
that the deceased Edward E. Christensen was born on November 29, 1875 in
New York City, N.Y., U.S.A.; his first arrival in the Philippines, as an appointed
school teacher, was on July 1, 1901, on board the U.S. Army Transport
"Sheridan" with Port of Embarkation as the City of San Francisco, in the State
of California, U.S.A. He stayed in the Philippines until 1904.
In December, 1904, Mr. Christensen returned to the United States and stayed
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN ENTIRELY IGNORING AND/OR FAILING there for the following nine years until 1913, during which time he resided in,
TO RECOGNIZE THE EXISTENCE OF SEVERAL FACTORS, ELEMENTS and was teaching school in Sacramento, California.
Mr. Christensen's next arrival in the Philippines was in July of the year 1913.
However, in 1928, he again departed the Philippines for the United States and
III came back here the following year, 1929. Some nine years later, in 1938, he

again returned to his own country, and came back to the Philippines the his will in 1951 he declared that he was a citizen of that State; so that he
following year, 1939. appears never to have intended to abandon his California citizenship by
acquiring another. This conclusion is in accordance with the following principle
Wherefore, the parties respectfully pray that the foregoing stipulation of facts expounded by Goodrich in his Conflict of Laws.
be admitted and approved by this Honorable Court, without prejudice to the
parties adducing other evidence to prove their case not covered by this The terms "'residence" and "domicile" might well be taken to mean the same
stipulation of facts. 1äwphï1.ñët thing, a place of permanent abode. But domicile, as has been shown, has
acquired a technical meaning. Thus one may be domiciled in a place where he
Being an American citizen, Mr. Christensen was interned by the Japanese has never been. And he may reside in a place where he has no domicile. The
Military Forces in the Philippines during World War II. Upon liberation, in April man with two homes, between which he divides his time, certainly resides in
1945, he left for the United States but returned to the Philippines in December, each one, while living in it. But if he went on business which would require his
1945. Appellees Collective Exhibits "6", CFI Davao, Sp. Proc. 622, as Exhibits presence for several weeks or months, he might properly be said to have
"AA", "BB" and "CC-Daney"; Exhs. "MM", "MM-l", "MM-2-Daney" and p. 473, sufficient connection with the place to be called a resident. It is clear, however,
t.s.n., July 21, 1953.) that, if he treated his settlement as continuing only for the particular business
in hand, not giving up his former "home," he could not be a domiciled New
In April, 1951, Edward E. Christensen returned once more to California shortly
Yorker. Acquisition of a domicile of choice requires the exercise of intention as
after the making of his last will and testament (now in question herein) which
well as physical presence. "Residence simply requires bodily presence of an
he executed at his lawyers' offices in Manila on March 5, 1951. He died at the
inhabitant in a given place, while domicile requires bodily presence in that
St. Luke's Hospital in the City of Manila on April 30, 1953. (pp. 2-3)
place and also an intention to make it one's domicile." Residence, however, is
In arriving at the conclusion that the domicile of the deceased is the a term used with many shades of meaning, from the merest temporary
Philippines, we are persuaded by the fact that he was born in New York, presence to the most permanent abode, and it is not safe to insist that any one
migrated to California and resided there for nine years, and since he came to use et the only proper one. (Goodrich, p. 29)
the Philippines in 1913 he returned to California very rarely and only for short
The law that governs the validity of his testamentary dispositions is defined in
visits (perhaps to relatives), and considering that he appears never to have
Article 16 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, which is as follows:
owned or acquired a home or properties in that state, which would indicate that
he would ultimately abandon the Philippines and make home in the State of ART. 16. Real property as well as personal property is subject to the law of the
California. country where it is situated.
Sec. 16. Residence is a term used with many shades of meaning from mere However, intestate and testamentary successions, both with respect to the
temporary presence to the most permanent abode. Generally, however, it is order of succession and to the amount of successional rights and to the
used to denote something more than mere physical presence. (Goodrich on intrinsic validity of testamentary provisions, shall be regulated by the national
Conflict of Laws, p. 29) law of the person whose succession is under consideration, whatever may be
the nature of the property and regardless of the country where said property
As to his citizenship, however, We find that the citizenship that he acquired in
may be found.
California when he resided in Sacramento, California from 1904 to 1913, was
never lost by his stay in the Philippines, for the latter was a territory of the The application of this article in the case at bar requires the determination of
United States (not a state) until 1946 and the deceased appears to have the meaning of the term "national law"is used therein.
considered himself as a citizen of California by the fact that when he executed
There is no single American law governing the validity of testamentary the purely internal rules of law of the foreign system; i.e., to the totality of the
provisions in the United States, each state of the Union having its own private foreign law minus its Conflict of Laws rules?"
law applicable to its citizens only and in force only within the state. The
"national law" indicated in Article 16 of the Civil Code above quoted can not, On logic, the solution is not an easy one. The Michigan court chose to accept
therefore, possibly mean or apply to any general American law. So it can refer the renvoi, that is, applied the Conflict of Laws rule of Illinois which referred the
to no other than the private law of the State of California. matter back to Michigan law. But once having determined the the Conflict of
Laws principle is the rule looked to, it is difficult to see why the reference back
The next question is: What is the law in California governing the disposition of should not have been to Michigan Conflict of Laws. This would have resulted in
personal property? The decision of the court below, sustains the contention of the "endless chain of references" which has so often been criticized be legal
the executor-appellee that under the California Probate Code, a testator may writers. The opponents of the renvoi would have looked merely to the internal
dispose of his property by will in the form and manner he desires, citing the law of Illinois, thus rejecting the renvoi or the reference back. Yet there seems
case of Estate of McDaniel, 77 Cal. Appl. 2d 877, 176 P. 2d 952. But appellant no compelling logical reason why the original reference should be the internal
invokes the provisions of Article 946 of the Civil Code of California, which is as law rather than to the Conflict of Laws rule. It is true that such a solution avoids
follows: going on a merry-go-round, but those who have accepted the renvoi theory
avoid this inextricabilis circulas by getting off at the second reference and at
If there is no law to the contrary, in the place where personal property is that point applying internal law. Perhaps the opponents of the renvoi are a bit
situated, it is deemed to follow the person of its owner, and is governed by the more consistent for they look always to internal law as the rule of reference.
law of his domicile.
Strangely enough, both the advocates for and the objectors to the renvoi plead
The existence of this provision is alleged in appellant's opposition and is not that greater uniformity will result from adoption of their respective views. And
denied. We have checked it in the California Civil Code and it is there. still more strange is the fact that the only way to achieve uniformity in this
Appellee, on the other hand, relies on the case cited in the decision and choice-of-law problem is if in the dispute the two states whose laws form the
testified to by a witness. (Only the case of Kaufman is correctly cited.) It is legal basis of the litigation disagree as to whether the renvoi should be
argued on executor's behalf that as the deceased Christensen was a citizen of accepted. If both reject, or both accept the doctrine, the result of the litigation
the State of California, the internal law thereof, which is that given in the will vary with the choice of the forum. In the case stated above, had the
abovecited case, should govern the determination of the validity of the Michigan court rejected the renvoi, judgment would have been against the
testamentary provisions of Christensen's will, such law being in force in the woman; if the suit had been brought in the Illinois courts, and they too rejected
State of California of which Christensen was a citizen. Appellant, on the other the renvoi, judgment would be for the woman. The same result would happen,
hand, insists that Article 946 should be applicable, and in accordance therewith though the courts would switch with respect to which would hold liability, if both
and following the doctrine of the renvoi, the question of the validity of the courts accepted the renvoi.
testamentary provision in question should be referred back to the law of the
decedent's domicile, which is the Philippines. The Restatement accepts the renvoi theory in two instances: where the title to
land is in question, and where the validity of a decree of divorce is challenged.
The theory of doctrine of renvoi has been defined by various authors, thus: In these cases the Conflict of Laws rule of the situs of the land, or the domicile
of the parties in the divorce case, is applied by the forum, but any further
The problem has been stated in this way: "When the Conflict of Laws rule of
reference goes only to the internal law. Thus, a person's title to land,
the forum refers a jural matter to a foreign law for decision, is the reference to
recognized by the situs, will be recognized by every court; and every divorce,

valid by the domicile of the parties, will be valid everywhere. (Goodrich, cases result in returning the main controversy to be decided according to the
Conflict of Laws, Sec. 7, pp. 13-14.) law of the forum. ... (16 C.J.S. 872.)

X, a citizen of Massachusetts, dies intestate, domiciled in France, leaving Another theory, known as the "doctrine of renvoi", has been advanced. The
movable property in Massachusetts, England, and France. The question arises theory of the doctrine of renvoi is that the court of the forum, in determining the
as to how this property is to be distributed among X's next of kin. question before it, must take into account the whole law of the other
jurisdiction, but also its rules as to conflict of laws, and then apply the law to
Assume (1) that this question arises in a Massachusetts court. There the rule the actual question which the rules of the other jurisdiction prescribe. This may
of the conflict of laws as to intestate succession to movables calls for an be the law of the forum. The doctrine of the renvoi has generally been
application of the law of the deceased's last domicile. Since by hypothesis X's repudiated by the American authorities. (2 Am. Jur. 296)
last domicile was France, the natural thing for the Massachusetts court to do
would be to turn to French statute of distributions, or whatever corresponds The scope of the theory of renvoi has also been defined and the reasons for its
thereto in French law, and decree a distribution accordingly. An examination of application in a country explained by Prof. Lorenzen in an article in the Yale
French law, however, would show that if a French court were called upon to Law Journal, Vol. 27, 1917-1918, pp. 529-531. The pertinent parts of the article
determine how this property should be distributed, it would refer the distribution are quoted herein below:
to the national law of the deceased, thus applying the Massachusetts statute of
distributions. So on the surface of things the Massachusetts court has open to The recognition of the renvoi theory implies that the rules of the conflict of laws
it alternative course of action: (a) either to apply the French law is to intestate are to be understood as incorporating not only the ordinary or internal law of
succession, or (b) to resolve itself into a French court and apply the the foreign state or country, but its rules of the conflict of laws as well.
Massachusetts statute of distributions, on the assumption that this is what a According to this theory 'the law of a country' means the whole of its law.
French court would do. If it accepts the so-called renvoidoctrine, it will follow
xxx xxx xxx
the latter course, thus applying its own law.
Von Bar presented his views at the meeting of the Institute of International
This is one type of renvoi. A jural matter is presented which the conflict-of-laws
Law, at Neuchatel, in 1900, in the form of the following theses:
rule of the forum refers to a foreign law, the conflict-of-laws rule of which, in
turn, refers the matter back again to the law of the forum. This is renvoi in the (1) Every court shall observe the law of its country as regards the application of
narrower sense. The German term for this judicial process is foreign laws.
'Ruckverweisung.'" (Harvard Law Review, Vol. 31, pp. 523-571.)
(2) Provided that no express provision to the contrary exists, the court shall
After a decision has been arrived at that a foreign law is to be resorted to as respect:
governing a particular case, the further question may arise: Are the rules as to
the conflict of laws contained in such foreign law also to be resorted to? This is (a) The provisions of a foreign law which disclaims the right to bind its
a question which, while it has been considered by the courts in but a few nationals abroad as regards their personal statute, and desires that said
instances, has been the subject of frequent discussion by textwriters and personal statute shall be determined by the law of the domicile, or even by the
essayists; and the doctrine involved has been descriptively designated by them law of the place where the act in question occurred.
as the "Renvoyer" to send back, or the "Ruchversweisung", or the
"Weiterverweisung", since an affirmative answer to the question postulated
and the operation of the adoption of the foreign law in toto would in many
(b) The decision of two or more foreign systems of law, provided it be certain the domicile of the owner, is valid anywhere, is one of the universal application.
that one of them is necessarily competent, which agree in attributing the It had its origin in that international comity which was one of the first fruits of
determination of a question to the same system of law. civilization, and it this age, when business intercourse and the process of
accumulating property take but little notice of boundary lines, the practical
xxx xxx xxx wisdom and justice of the rule is more apparent than ever. (Goodrich, Conflict
of Laws, Sec. 164, pp. 442-443.)
If, for example, the English law directs its judge to distribute the personal
estate of an Englishman who has died domiciled in Belgium in accordance with Appellees argue that what Article 16 of the Civil Code of the Philippines
the law of his domicile, he must first inquire whether the law of Belgium would pointed out as the national law is the internal law of California. But as above
distribute personal property upon death in accordance with the law of domicile, explained the laws of California have prescribed two sets of laws for its
and if he finds that the Belgian law would make the distribution in accordance citizens, one for residents therein and another for those domiciled in other
with the law of nationality — that is the English law — he must accept this jurisdictions. Reason demands that We should enforce the California internal
reference back to his own law. law prescribed for its citizens residing therein, and enforce the conflict of laws
rules for the citizens domiciled abroad. If we must enforce the law of California
We note that Article 946 of the California Civil Code is its conflict of laws rule,
as in comity we are bound to go, as so declared in Article 16 of our Civil Code,
while the rule applied in In re Kaufman, Supra, its internal law. If the law on
then we must enforce the law of California in accordance with the express
succession and the conflict of laws rules of California are to be enforced jointly,
mandate thereof and as above explained, i.e., apply the internal law for
each in its own intended and appropriate sphere, the principle cited In re
residents therein, and its conflict-of-laws rule for those domiciled abroad.
Kaufman should apply to citizens living in the State, but Article 946 should
apply to such of its citizens as are not domiciled in California but in other It is argued on appellees' behalf that the clause "if there is no law to the
jurisdictions. The rule laid down of resorting to the law of the domicile in the contrary in the place where the property is situated" in Sec. 946 of the
determination of matters with foreign element involved is in accord with the California Civil Code refers to Article 16 of the Civil Code of the Philippines and
general principle of American law that the domiciliary law should govern in that the law to the contrary in the Philippines is the provision in said Article 16
most matters or rights which follow the person of the owner. that the national law of the deceased should govern. This contention can not
be sustained. As explained in the various authorities cited above the national
When a man dies leaving personal property in one or more states, and leaves
law mentioned in Article 16 of our Civil Code is the law on conflict of laws in the
a will directing the manner of distribution of the property, the law of the state
California Civil Code, i.e., Article 946, which authorizes the reference or return
where he was domiciled at the time of his death will be looked to in deciding
of the question to the law of the testator's domicile. The conflict of laws rule in
legal questions about the will, almost as completely as the law of situs is
California, Article 946, Civil Code, precisely refers back the case, when a
consulted in questions about the devise of land. It is logical that, since the
decedent is not domiciled in California, to the law of his domicile, the
domiciliary rules control devolution of the personal estate in case of intestate
Philippines in the case at bar. The court of the domicile can not and should not
succession, the same rules should determine the validity of an attempted
refer the case back to California; such action would leave the issue incapable
testamentary dispostion of the property. Here, also, it is not that the domiciliary
of determination because the case will then be like a football, tossed back and
has effect beyond the borders of the domiciliary state. The rules of the domicile
forth between the two states, between the country of which the decedent was a
are recognized as controlling by the Conflict of Laws rules at the situs property,
citizen and the country of his domicile. The Philippine court must apply its own
and the reason for the recognition as in the case of intestate succession, is the
law as directed in the conflict of laws rule of the state of the decedent, if the
general convenience of the doctrine. The New York court has said on the
question has to be decided, especially as the application of the internal law of
point: 'The general principle that a dispostiton of a personal property, valid at
California provides no legitime for children while the Philippine law, Arts.
887(4) and 894, Civil Code of the Philippines, makes natural children legally
acknowledged forced heirs of the parent recognizing them.

The Philippine cases (In re Estate of Johnson, 39 Phil. 156; Riera vs.
Palmaroli, 40 Phil. 105; Miciano vs. Brimo, 50 Phil. 867; Babcock Templeton
vs. Rider Babcock, 52 Phil. 130; and Gibbs vs. Government, 59 Phil. 293.)
cited by appellees to support the decision can not possibly apply in the case at
bar, for two important reasons, i.e., the subject in each case does not appear
to be a citizen of a state in the United States but with domicile in the
Philippines, and it does not appear in each case that there exists in the state of
which the subject is a citizen, a law similar to or identical with Art. 946 of the
California Civil Code.

We therefore find that as the domicile of the deceased Christensen, a citizen of

California, is the Philippines, the validity of the provisions of his will depriving
his acknowledged natural child, the appellant, should be governed by the
Philippine Law, the domicile, pursuant to Art. 946 of the Civil Code of
California, not by the internal law of California..

WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is hereby reversed and the case
returned to the lower court with instructions that the partition be made as the
Philippine law on succession provides. Judgment reversed, with costs against