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Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. L-33722 July 29, 1988
FEDERICO YLARDE and ADELAIDA DORONIO petitioners,
vs.
EDGARDO AQUINO, MAURO SORIANO and COURT OF APPEALS, respondents.
Buenaventura C. Evangelista for petitioners.
Modesto V. Cabanela for respondent Edgardo Aquino.
Manuel P. Pastor for respondent Mauro Soriano.

GANCAYCO, J.:
In this petition for review on certiorari seeking the reversal of the decision of the
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. 36390-R entitled "Federico Ylarde, et al. vs.
Edgardo Aquino, et al.," a case which originated from the Court of First Instance of
Pangasinan, We are again caned upon determine the responsibility of the
principals and teachers towards their students or pupils.
In 1963, private respondent Mariano Soriano was the principal of the Gabaldon
Primary School, a public educational institution located in Tayug, PangasinanPrivate respondent Edgardo Aquino was a teacher therein. At that time, the school
was fittered with several concrete blocks which were remnants of the old school
shop that was destroyed in World War II. Realizing that the huge stones were
serious hazards to the schoolchildren, another teacher by the name of Sergio
Banez started burying them one by one as early as 1962. In fact, he was able to
bury ten of these blocks all by himself.
Deciding to help his colleague, private respondent Edgardo Aquino gathered
eighteen of his male pupils, aged ten to eleven, after class dismissal on October 7,
1963. Being their teacher-in-charge, he ordered them to dig beside a one-ton
concrete block in order to make a hole wherein the stone can be buried. The work
was left unfinished. The following day, also after classes, private respondent
Aquino called four of the original eighteen pupils to continue the digging. These

four pupils Reynaldo Alonso, Francisco Alcantara, Ismael Abaga and Novelito
Ylarde, dug until the excavation was one meter and forty centimeters deep. At
this point, private respondent Aquino alone continued digging while the pupils
remained inside the pit throwing out the loose soil that was brought about by the
digging.
When the depth was right enough to accommodate the concrete block, private
respondent Aquino and his four pupils got out of the hole. Then, said private
respondent left the children to level the loose soil around the open hole while he
went to see Banez who was about thirty meters away. Private respondent wanted
to borrow from Banez the key to the school workroom where he could get some
rope. Before leaving. , private respondent Aquino allegedly told the children "not
to touch the stone."
A few minutes after private respondent Aquino left, three of the four kids, Alonso,
Alcantara and Ylarde, playfully jumped into the pit. Then, without any warning at
all, the remaining Abaga jumped on top of the concrete block causing it to slide
down towards the opening. Alonso and Alcantara were able to scramble out of the
excavation on time but unfortunately fo Ylarde, the concrete block caught him
before he could get out, pinning him to the wall in a standing position. As a result
thereof, Ylarde sustained the following injuries:
1. Contusion with hematoma, left inguinal region and suprapubic
region.
2. Contusion with ecchymosis entire scrotal region.
3. Lacerated wound, left lateral aspect of penile skin with phimosis
4. Abrasion, gluteal region, bilateral.
5. Intraperitoneal and extrapertitoneal extravasation of blood and urine
about 2 liters.
6. Fracture, simple, symphesis pubis
7. Ruptured (macerated) urinary bladder with body of bladder almost
entirely separated from its neck.
REMARKS:
1. Above were incurred by crushing injury.

2. Prognosis very poor.


(Sgd.) MELQUIADES A.
BRAVO
Physician on
Duty. 1
Three days later, Novelito Ylarde died.
Ylarde's parents, petitioners in this case, filed a suit for damages against both
private respondents Aquino and Soriano. The lower court dismissed the complaint
on the following grounds: (1) that the digging done by the pupils is in line with
their course called Work Education; (2) that Aquino exercised the utmost diligence
of a very cautious person; and (3) that the demise of Ylarde was due to his own
reckless imprudence. 2
On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the Decision of the lower court.
Petitioners base their action against private respondent Aquino on Article 2176 of
the Civil Code for his alleged negligence that caused their son's death while the
complaint against respondent Soriano as the head of school is founded on Article
2180 of the same Code.
Article 2176 of the Civil Code provides:
Art. 2176. Whoever by act or omission causes damage to another,
there being fault or negligence, is obliged to pay for the damage done.
Such fault or negligence, if there is no pre- existing contractual relation
between the parties, is called a quasi-delict and is governed by the
provisions of this Chapter.
On the other hand, the applicable provision of Article 2180 states:
Art. 2180. x x x
xxx xxx xxx
Lastly, teachers or heads of establishments of arts and trades shall be
liable for damages caused by their pupils and students or apprentices,
so long as they remain in their custody. 3
The issue to be resolved is whether or not under the cited provisions, both private
respondents can be held liable for damages.

As regards the principal, We hold that he cannot be made responsible for the
death of the child Ylarde, he being the head of an academic school and not a
school of arts and trades. This is in line with Our ruling in Amadora vs. Court of
Appeals, 4 wherein this Court thoroughly discussed the doctrine that under Article
2180 of the Civil Code, it is only the teacher and not the head of an academic
school who should be answerable for torts committed by their students. This Court
went on to say that in a school of arts and trades, it is only the head of the school
who can be held liable. In the same case, We explained:
After an exhaustive examination of the problem, the Court has come to
the conclusion that the provision in question should apply
to all schools, academic as well as non-academic. Where the school is
academic rather than technical or vocational in nature, responsibility
for the tort committed by the student will attach to the teacher in
charge of such student, following the first part of the provision. This is
the general rule. In the case of establishments of arts and trades, it is
the head thereof, and only he, who shall be held liable as an exception
to the general rule. In other words, teachers in general shall be liable
for the acts of their students except where the school is technical in
nature, in which case it is the head thereof who shall be answerable.
Following the canon ofreddendo singula sinquilis 'teachers' should
apply to the words "pupils and students' and 'heads of establishments
of arts and trades to the word "apprentices."
Hence, applying the said doctrine to this case, We rule that private respondent
Soriano, as principal, cannot be held liable for the reason that the school he heads
is an academic school and not a school of arts and trades. Besides, as clearly
admitted by private respondent Aquino, private respondent Soriano did not give
any instruction regarding the digging.
From the foregoing, it can be easily seen that private respondent Aquino can be
held liable under Article 2180 of the Civil Code as the teacher-in-charge of the
children for being negligent in his supervision over them and his failure to take
the necessary precautions to prevent any injury on their persons. However, as
earlier pointed out, petitioners base the alleged liability of private respondent
Aquino on Article 2176 which is separate and distinct from that provided for in
Article 2180.
With this in mind, the question We need to answer is this: Were there acts and
omissions on the part of private respondent Aquino amounting to fault or
negligence which have direct causal relation to the death of his pupil Ylarde? Our
answer is in the affirmative. He is liable for damages.

From a review of the record of this case, it is very clear that private respondent
Aquino acted with fault and gross negligence when he: (1) failed to avail himself
of services of adult manual laborers and instead utilized his pupils aged ten to
eleven to make an excavation near the one-ton concrete stone which he knew to
be a very hazardous task; (2) required the children to remain inside the pit even
after they had finished digging, knowing that the huge block was lying nearby and
could be easily pushed or kicked aside by any pupil who by chance may go to the
perilous area; (3) ordered them to level the soil around the excavation when it
was so apparent that the huge stone was at the brink of falling; (4) went to a
place where he would not be able to check on the children's safety; and (5) left
the children close to the excavation, an obviously attractive nuisance.
The negligent act of private respondent Aquino in leaving his pupils in such a
dangerous site has a direct causal connection to the death of the child Ylarde. Left
by themselves, it was but natural for the children to play around. Tired from the
strenuous digging, they just had to amuse themselves with whatever they found.
Driven by their playful and adventurous instincts and not knowing the risk they
were facing three of them jumped into the hole while the other one jumped on the
stone. Since the stone was so heavy and the soil was loose from the digging, it
was also a natural consequence that the stone would fall into the hole beside it,
causing injury on the unfortunate child caught by its heavy weight. Everything
that occurred was the natural and probable effect of the negligent acts of private
respondent Aquino. Needless to say, the child Ylarde would not have died were it
not for the unsafe situation created by private respondent Aquino which exposed
the lives of all the pupils concerned to real danger.
We cannot agree with the finding of the lower court that the injuries which
resulted in the death of the child Ylarde were caused by his own reckless
imprudence, It should be remembered that he was only ten years old at the time
of the incident, As such, he is expected to be playful and daring. His actuations
were natural to a boy his age. Going back to the facts, it was not only him but the
three of them who jumped into the hole while the remaining boy jumped on the
block. From this, it is clear that he only did what any other ten-year old child
would do in the same situation.
In ruling that the child Ylarde was imprudent, it is evident that the lower court did
not consider his age and maturity. This should not be the case. The degree of care
required to be exercised must vary with the capacity of the person endangered to
care for himself. A minor should not be held to the same degree of care as an
adult, but his conduct should be judged according to the average conduct of
persons of his age and experience. 5 The standard of conduct to which a child
must conform for his own protection is that degree of care ordinarily exercised by

children of the same age, capacity, discretion, knowledge and experience under
the same or similar circumstances. 6Bearing this in mind, We cannot charge the
child Ylarde with reckless imprudence.
The court is not persuaded that the digging done by the pupils can pass as part of
their Work Education. A single glance at the picture showing the excavation and
the huge concrete block 7 would reveal a dangerous site requiring the attendance
of strong, mature laborers and not ten-year old grade-four pupils. We cannot
comprehend why the lower court saw it otherwise when private respondent
Aquino himself admitted that there were no instructions from the principal
requiring what the pupils were told to do. Nor was there any showing that it was
included in the lesson plan for their Work Education. Even the Court of Appeals
made mention of the fact that respondent Aquino decided all by himself to help
his co-teacher Banez bury the concrete remnants of the old school
shop. 8 Furthermore, the excavation should not be placed in the category of school
gardening, planting trees, and the like as these undertakings do not expose the
children to any risk that could result in death or physical injuries.
The contention that private respondent Aquino exercised the utmost diligence of a
very cautious person is certainly without cogent basis. A reasonably prudent
person would have foreseen that bringing children to an excavation site, and more
so, leaving them there all by themselves, may result in an accident. An ordinarily
careful human being would not assume that a simple warning "not to touch the
stone" is sufficient to cast away all the serious danger that a huge concrete block
adjacent to an excavation would present to the children. Moreover, a teacher who
stands in loco parentis to his pupils would have made sure that the children are
protected from all harm in his company.
We close by categorically stating that a truly careful and cautious person would
have acted in all contrast to the way private respondent Aquino did. Were it not
for his gross negligence, the unfortunate incident would not have occurred and
the child Ylarde would probably be alive today, a grown- man of thirty-five. Due to
his failure to take the necessary precautions to avoid the hazard, Ylarde's parents
suffered great anguish all these years.
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the petition is hereby GRANTED and the
questioned judgment of the respondent court is REVERSED and SET ASIDE and
another judgment is hereby rendered ordering private respondent Edagardo
Aquino to pay petitioners the following:
(1) Indemnity for the death of Child Ylarde P30,000.00

(2) Exemplary damages 10,000.00


(3) Moral damages 20,000.00
SO ORDERED.
Narvasa Cruz, Grio-Aquino and Medialdea, JJ., concur.
SECOND DIVISION

[G.R. No. 119092. December 10, 1998]

SANITARY STEAM LAUNDRY, INC., petitioner, vs. THE COURT OF APPEALS,


NICANOR BERNABE III, JOSEFINA BERNABE, in their individual capacities and
as HEIRS OF JASON BERNABE, JOHN JOSEPH BERNABE, VICTOR IGNACIO,
JULIETA ENRIQUEZ and RAMON ENRIQUEZ, RENE TABLANTE, LEOMAR
MACASPAC, JR., CHARITO ESTOLANO, NENITA SALUNOY, in their individual
capacities and as HEIRS OF DALMACIO SALUNOY, respondents.
DECISION
MENDOZA, J.:
This case involves a collision between a Mercedes Benz panel truck of
petitioner Sanitary Steam Laundry and a Cimarron which caused the death of
three persons and the injuries of several others. The accident took place at the
Aguinaldo Highway in Imus, Cavite on August 31, 1980. All the victims were riding
in the Cimarron. One of those who died was the driver. The Regional Trial Court of
Makati found petitioners driver to be responsible for the vehicular accident and
accordingly held petitioner liable to private respondents for P472,262.30 in
damages and attorneys fees. Its decision was affirmed in toto by the Court of
Appeals. It is here for a review of the appellate courts decision.
The passengers of the Cimarron were mostly employees of the Project
Management Consultants, Inc. (PMCI). They had just visited the construction site
of a company project at Lian, Batangas. The other passengers were family
members and friends whom they invited to an excursion to the beach after the
visit to the construction site. The group stayed at Lian beach until 5:30 p.m., when
they decided to go back to Manila.
The Cimarron, with Plate No. 840-4J, was owned by Salvador Salenga, father of
one of the employees of PMCI. Driving the vehicle was Rolando Hernandez. It
appears that at about 8:00 p.m., as it was traveling along Aguinaldo Highway in
Imus, Cavite on its way back to Manila, the Cimarron was hit on its front portion
by petitioners panel truck, bearing Plate No. 581 XM, which was traveling in the

opposite direction. The panel truck was on its way to petitioners plant in
Dasmarias, Cavite after delivering some linen to the Makati Medical Center. The
driver, Herman Hernandez, claimed that a jeepney in front of him suddenly
stopped. He said he stepped on the brakes to avoid hitting the jeepney and that
this caused his vehicle to swerve to the left and encroach on a portion of the
opposite lane. As a result, his panel truck collided with the Cimarron on the northbound lane.
The driver of the Cimarron, Rolando Hernandez, and two of his passengers,
namely, Jason Bernabe and Dalmacio Salunoy, died. Several of the other
passengers of the Cimarron were injured and taken to various hospitals.
On December 4, 1980, private respondents filed this civil case for damages
before the then Court of First Instance of Rizal, Pasig Branch, against petitioner.
On November 23, 1990, the Regional Trial Court of Makati, to which the case
was transferred following the reorganization of the judiciary, rendered judgment
for private respondents. The dispositive portion of its decision reads:
It is for the reasons stated above that the court is persuaded to award the
damages incurred by the plaintiffs as proved in the trial as follows:
Actual or compensatory expenses:
a. Charito Estolano P35,813.87 (Exh. J)
b. Nicanor Bernabe III 20,024.94
& Josefina C. Bernabe
c. Julieta, Ailyn & 45,830.45 (Exh. QQ)
Josefina Enriquez
and Josefina Valeiro
d. Leonor Macaspac 2,740.00
e. Victor Rey Ignacio 14,820.64 (Exh. EEE)
f. Rene Tablante 10,032.40 (Exh. QQQ)
g. Nenita Salonoy, widow; 20,000.00
and Manilyn, children
Moral damages should also be awarded as follows:
For the injuries sustained by:

a. Charito Estolano P10,000.00 (Exh. F)


b. Julieta P. Enriquez 15,000.00 (Exh. MM)
c. Ailyn C. Enriquez 8,000.00 (Exh. NN)
d. Josefina R. Enriquez 10,000.00 (Exh. OO)
e. Josefina P. Valerio 2,000.00 (Exh. PP)
f. Nenita Salonoy 20,000.00 (Exh. DD)
g. Nicanor Bernabe III 8,000.00 (Exh. Q)
h. Josephine Bernabe 2,000.00 (Exh. R)
i. John Joseph Bernabe 10,000.00
j. Manilyn G. Salonoy 10,000.00 (Exh. EE)
k. Jack Salonoy 10,000.00 (Exh. JJ)
l. Leonor C. Macaspac 2,000.00 (Exh. AAA)
m. Victor Ignacio 8,000.00 (Exh. DDD)
n. Rene Tablanta 8,000.00 (Exh. FFF)
and finally the heirs of Jason Bernabe should be awarded the sum of P50,000.00
for the latters death. The heirs of Dalmacio Salunoy should be given the sum
of P100,000.00 for moral damages and unearned income.
The foregoing considered, judgment is rendered in favor of plaintiffs ordering
defendant to pay the amounts aforecited and to pay the further sum
of P50,000.00 for attorneys fees and the costs.
SO ORDERED.
As already stated, the Court of Appeals, to which the decision of the trial court
was appealed, affirmed the decision on January 26, 1995. Hence, this appeal.
First. Petitioner contends that the driver of the Cimarron was guilty of
contributory negligence and, therefore, its liability should be mitigated, if not
totally extinguished. It claims that the driver of the Cimarron was guilty of
violation of traffic rules and regulations at the time of the mishap. Hence, in
accordance with Art. 2185 of the Civil Code, he was presumed to be negligent.
According to petitioner, the negligence consisted of the following:

1. The Cimarron was overloaded because there were from 20 to 25


passengers inside when the passenger capacity of the vehicle was only 17.
2. The front seat of the Cimarron was occupied by four adults, including the
driver.
3. The Cimarron had only one headlight on (its right headlight) as its left
headlight was not functioning.
Petitioner cites Art. III, 2 of R.A. No. 4136, known as the Land Transportation
and Traffic Code, which provides that No person operating any vehicle shall allow
more passengers or more freight or cargo in his vehicle than its registered carry
capacity and Art. IV, 3(e) which states that Every motor vehicle of more than one
meter of projected width, while in use on any public highway shall bear two
headlights... which not later than one-half hour after sunset and until at least onehalf hour before sunrise and whenever weather conditions so require, shall both
be lighted.
Petitioner asserts that the fact that its panel truck encroached on a portion of
the lane of the Cimarron does not show that its driver was negligent. Petitioner
cites the case of Bayasen v. Court of Appeals,[1] which allegedly held that the
sudden swerving of a vehicle caused by its driver stepping on the brakes is not
negligence per se. Petitioner further claims that even if petitioners swerving to the
lane of respondents were considered proof of negligence, this fact would not
negate the presumption of negligence on the part of the other driver arising from
his violations of traffic rules and regulations.
Petitioner likewise invokes the ruling in Mckee v. Intermediate Appellate Court,
in which a driver who invaded the opposite lane and caused a collision between
his car and a truck coming from the opposite lane, was exonerated based on the
doctrine of last clear chance, which states that a person who has the last clear
chance or opportunity of avoiding an accident, notwithstanding the negligent acts
of his opponent, is solely responsible for the consequences of the accident.
[2]

Petitioner contends that the ruling in that case should be applied to the
present case. According to petitioner, although the driver of the panel truck was
initially negligent, the driver of the Cimarron had the last opportunity to avoid the
accident. However, because of his negligence (i.e., the aforementioned violations
of traffic rules and regulations such as the use of only one headlight at night and
the overcrowding at the front seat of the vehicle), he was not able to avoid a
collision with the panel truck.
We find the foregoing contention to be without merit.
First of all, it has not been shown how the alleged negligence of the Cimarron
driver contributed to the collision between the vehicles. Indeed, petitioner has the
burden of showing a causal connection between the injury received and the
violation of the Land Transportation and Traffic Code. He must show that the
violation of the statute was the proximate or legal cause of the injury or that it
substantially contributed thereto. Negligence, consisting in whole or in part, of
violation of law, like any other negligence, is without legal consequence unless it

is a contributing cause of the injury. [3] Petitioner says that driving an overloaded
vehicle with only one functioning headlight during nighttime certainly increases
the risk of accident,[4] that because the Cimarron had only one headlight, there
was decreased visibility, and that the fact that the vehicle was overloaded and its
front seat overcrowded decreased [its] maneuverability. [5] However, mere
allegations such as these are not sufficient to discharge its burden of proving
clearly that such alleged negligence was the contributing cause of the injury.
Furthermore, based on the evidence in this case, there was no way either
driver could have avoided the collision. The panel truck driver testified:[6]
Q. You stated you were following a jeepney along the highway in Imus, Cavite,
what happened afterwards, if any?
A. The passenger jeepney I was following made a sudden stop so I stepped on
the brakes.
Q. Upon stepping on your brakes, what happened if any?
A. The Mercedes Benz (panel) suddenly swerved to the left, sir.
Q. How big was the swerving to the left?
A. The distance which my vehicle swerved beyond the middle line or center line
to the left was about this distance, sir (witness demonstrating by using both
hands the distance).
ATTY. ALILING:
Can we stipulate that it is 1 foot, Your Honor.
ATTY. GONZALES:
A little more, 1 1/2 feet.
ATTY. ALILING:
1 1/4 feet.
ATTY. GONZALES:
Between 1 1/4 and 1 1/2 feet.
The panel truck drivers testimony is consistent with the testimonies of private
respondents that the panel truck went out of control and simply smashed into the
Cimarron in which they were riding. Thus, Nicanor Bernabe III testified:[7]
Q: And did you see how the accident happened?
A: I just saw a glare of light. That is all and then the impact.
Q: Where did you see that glare of light?
A: Coming in front ahead of us.
Q: When you say ahead of you, was it . . . ?
A: Towards us.

....
Q: And from what did those glare of light come from?
A: Based on information I received, the light came from the headlights of a
certain panel owned by Sanitary Steam Laundry, Inc.
....
Q: You said that the lights were going towards you. Now, at what pace did these
lights come toward you?
A: Fast pace.
Charito Estolano, another passenger who was seated in front of the Cimarron,
similarly testified that they just saw the panel truck hurtling toward them. She
said:[8]
Q Now, you said earlier that you were involved in an accident. What was that
accident?
A An approaching vehicle hit us.
Q Now, why do you know that there was the approaching vehicle?
A There was a light which glared us and I knew that it came from a vehicle. We
were blinded.
Q Where was this vehicle headed for?
A Headed for Cavite.
Q Coming from?
A Coming from Manila, I think.
Q So that, actually, in relation to your vehicle, it was coming from the opposite
direction?
A Yes, sir.
Q Now, you said that the light headed towards your vehicle. On which side of
the highway was your Tamaraw vehicle travelling at that time?
A We were on the right lane.
Q Did you actually see this light from the vehicle coming from the opposite
direction heading towards your vehicle?
A Yes, sir.
Q And what happened after that?
A After that, there was an impact.
Q All right. Will you tell the Court which bumped which?
A We were bumped by the vehicle which was coming from the opposite
direction.

The foregoing testimonies show that the driver of the panel truck lost control
of his vehicle and bumped the Cimarron. Hence, even if both headlights of the
Cimarron were lighted, it would have been bumped just the same because the
driver of the panel truck could not stop despite the fact that he applied the
brakes. Petitioners contention that because of decreased visibility, caused by the
fact that the Cimarron allegedly had only one headlight on, its driver failed to see
the Cimarron is without any basis in fact. Only its driver claimed that the Cimarron
had only one headlight on. The police investigator did not state in his report or in
his testimony that the Cimarron had only one headlight on.
Nor is there any basis in fact for petitioners contention that because of
overcrowding in the front seat of the Cimarron there was decreased
maneuverability which prevented the Cimarron driver from avoiding the panel
truck. There is absolutely no basis for this claim. There is nothing in the
testimonies of the passengers of the Cimarron, particularly Charito Estolano, who
was seated in front, which suggest that the driver had no elbow room for
maneuvering the vehicle. To the contrary, from the testimony of some of the
witnesses,[9] it appears that the driver of the Cimarron tried to avoid the collision
but because of the emergency created by the speeding panel truck coming from
the opposite direction he was not able to fully move his Cimarron away from the
path of the oncoming vehicle. We are convinced that no maneuvering which the
Cimarron driver could have done would have avoided a collision with the panel
truck, given the suddenness of the events. Clearly, the overcrowding in the front
seat was immaterial.
All these point to the fact that the proximate cause of the accident was the
negligence of petitioners driver. As the trial court noted, the swerving of
petitioners panel truck to the opposite lane could mean not only that petitioners
driver was running the vehicle at a very high speed but that he was tailgating the
passenger jeepney ahead of it as well.
Petitioners driver claimed that the distance between the panel truck and the
passenger jeepney in front was about 12 meters. [10] If this was so, he would have
had no difficulty bringing his panel truck to a stop. It is very probable that the
driver did not really apply his brakes (which is why there were no skid marks) but
that finding the jeepney in front of him to be in close proximity, he tried to avoid
hitting it by swerving his vehicle to the left. In the process, however, he invaded a
portion of the opposite lane and consequently hit the Cimarron. Indeed, the panel
truck driver testified that his vehicle was running at the speed of 60 miles per
hour.[11] He tried to correct himself when asked by petitioners counsel whether the
panel truck speedometer indicated miles or kilometers by saying that the
speedometer measured kilometers and not miles, but on cross examination his
testimony got muddled.[12]
Be that as it may, whether the driver meant 60 miles per hour (which could be
96.77 kilometers per hour) or 60 kilometers per hour, the fact remains that the
panel truck was overspeeding because the maximum allowable speed for trucks
and buses on open country roads, such as the Aguinaldo Highway in Imus, Cavite,
is only 50 kilometers per hour.[13]

The case of Bayasen, which petitioner invokes, cannot apply to this


case. There was no swerving of the vehicle in that case but skidding, and it was
caused by the fact that the road was wet and slippery.In this case, the road was
dry and safe. There was no reason for the vehicle to swerve because of road
condition. The only explanation for this occurrence was human error.
Petitioners reliance on the McKee case is also misplaced. In that case, the
driver of the vehicle at fault, a truck, had an opportunity to avoid the collision but
he ignored the signals from the other vehicle, a car, to slow down and allow it to
safely pass the bridge. In this case, there was no such opportunity given the
Cimarron on the night of the mishap. Everything happened so quickly that before
the passengers of the Cimarron knew it, the vehicle had been bumped by the
truck.
Second. On its liability as employer of the negligent driver, petitioner contends
that the non-submission of the NBI clearance and police clearance of its driver
does not mean that it failed to exercise the diligence of a good father of the family
in the selection and supervision of its employees. It argues that there is no law
requiring employees to submit NBI and police clearance prior to their
employment.Hence, petitioners failure to require submission of these documents
does not mean that it did not exercise due diligence in the selection and
supervision of its employees. On the other hand, it asserts that its employment of
Herman Hernandez as a driver means that he had passed the screening tests of
the company, including submission of the aforementioned documents. Petitioner
maintains that the presumption is that the said driver submitted NBI and police
clearance.
Petitioner likewise contends that the Court of Appeals position that it failed to
exercise due diligence in the selection and supervision of its employees by not
requiring its prospective employees to undergo psychological and physical tests
before employment has no basis in law because there is no law requiring such
tests prior to hiring employees.
The petitioners contention has no merit. The Court of Appeals did not say that
petitioners failure to submit NBI and police clearances of its driver was proof that
petitioner failed to exercise due diligence in the selection of its employees. What
the Court of Appeals said was that petitioners policy of requiring prospective
employees to submit NBI and police clearance and to have at least two (2) years
experience as driver prior to employment was not enough to prove the exercise of
due diligence and that even this policy petitioner failed to prove by its failure to
present the drivers NBI and police records during the trial.
With respect to the requirement of passing psychological and physical tests
prior to his employment, although no law requires it, such circumstance would
certainly be a reliable indicator of the exercise of due diligence. As the trial court
said:[14]
. . . No tests of skill, physical as well as mental and emotional, were conducted on
their would-be employees. No on-the-job training and seminars reminding
employees, especially drivers, of road courtesies and road rules and regulations

were done. There were no instructions given to defendants drivers as to how to


react in cases of emergency nor what to do after an emergency occurs. There was
even failure on the part of defendant to present its concerned employees 204
file. All these could only mean failure on the part of defendant to exercise the
diligence required of it of a good father of a family in the selection and supervision
of its employees.
Indeed, driving exacts a more than usual toll on the senses. [15] Accordingly, it
behooves employers to exert extra care in the selection and supervision of their
employees. They must go beyond the minimum requirements fixed by law. In this
case, David Bautista, the office manager of petitioner in its Dasmarias plant, said
that petitioner has a policy of requiring job applicants to submit clearances from
the police and the NBI. In the case of applicants for the position of driver they are
required to have at least two (2) years driving experience and to be holders of a
professional drivers license for at least two years. But the supposed company
policies on employment were not in writing. Nor did Bautista show in what manner
he supervised the drivers to ensure that they drove their vehicles in a safe way.
Third. With respect to the question of damages, we find no reversible error
committed in the award of actual damages to private respondents. To justify an
award of actual damages, there must be competent proof of the actual amount of
loss. Credence can be given only to claims which are duly supported by receipts.
[16]
Here, the actual damages claimed by private respondents were duly supported
by receipts and appear to have been really incurred.
As to the moral damages awarded, we find them to be reasonable and
necessary in view of the circumstances of this case. Moral damages are awarded
to allow the victims to obtain means, diversion, or amusement to alleviate the
moral suffering they had undergone due to the defendants culpable action. [17] In
this case, private respondents doubtless suffered some ordeal because some of
them lost their loved ones, while others lost their future. Within the meaning of
Art. 2217 of the Civil Code, they suffered sleepless nights, mental anguish, serious
anxiety, and wounded feelings. An award of moral damages in their favor is thus
justified.
The award of P50,000.00 to the heirs of Jason Bernabe as death indemnity is
likewise in accordance with law. [18] However, the award of P100,000 to the heirs of
Dalmacio Salunoy, denominated in the decision of the trial court as moral
damages and unearned income cannot be upheld. The heirs were already
included among those awarded moral damages. Marilyn Salunoy was ordered to
be
paid P10,000,
Jack
Salunoy, P10,000,
and
their
mother
Nenita
Salunoy, P20,000, as moral damages. The amount of P100,000 was presumably
awarded primarily for loss of earning capacity but even then the amount must be
modified. In accordance with our cases[19] on this question, the formula for
determining the life expectancy of Dalmacio Salunoy must be determined by
applying the formula 2/3 multiplied by (80 minus the age of the deceased). Since
Salunoy was 46 years of age at the time of his death, as stated in his death
certificate, then his life expectancy was 22.6 years, or up to 68 years old.

Next, his net earnings must be computed. At the time of his death, Dalmacio
Salunoy was earning more than P900.00 a month as bookkeeper at the PMCI so
that his annual gross earnings was aboutP11,000.00. From this amount, about
50% should be deducted as reasonable and necessary living expenses because it
seems his wife occasionally finds work and thus helps in the household expenses.
Based on the foregoing, his net earning capacity was P124,300.00 computed as
follows:[20]
net earning life
capacity (x) = expectancy x [Gross annual income less reasonable &
necessary living expenses]
x = [2 (80-46)] x [P11,000 - P5,500]
3
= 22.6 x 5,500
= P124,300.00
In addition, the heirs of Dalmacio Salunoy should be paid P50,000.00 as death
indemnity.
Finally, the award of attorneys fees should be disallowed as the trial court did
not give any justification for granting it in its decision. It is now settled that
awards of attorneys fees must be based on findings of fact and law, stated in the
decision of the trial court.[21]
WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals is MODIFIED in the sense
that the award of P100,000.00 denominated for moral damages and unearned
income is deleted, and in lieu thereof the amount of P124,300.00 for loss of
earning capacity and the further amount of P50,000.00 for death indemnity are
awarded to the heirs of Dalmacio Salunoy and the award of P50,000.00 for
attorneys fees is disallowed. In all other respects the appealed decision is
AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.
Bellosillo (Chairman), Puno, and Martinez, JJ., concur.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
THIRD DIVISION
G.R. No. L-52732 August 29, 1988
F.F. CRUZ and CO., INC., petitioner,
vs.
THE COURT OF APPEALS, GREGORIO MABLE as substituted by his wife LUZ
ALMONTE MABLE and children DOMING, LEONIDAS, LIGAYA, ELENA, GREGORIO,
JR., SALOME, ANTONIO, and BERNARDO all surnamed MABLE, respondents.
Luis S. Topacio for petitioner.
Mauricio M. Monta for respondents.

CORTES, J.:
This petition to review the decision of the Court of Appeals puts in issue the
application of the common law doctrine of res ipsa loquitur.
The essential facts of the case are not disputed.
The furniture manufacturing shop of petitioner in Caloocan City was situated
adjacent to the residence of private respondents. Sometime in August 1971,
private respondent Gregorio Mable first approached Eric Cruz, petitioner's plant
manager, to request that a firewall be constructed between the shop and private
respondents' residence. The request was repeated several times but they fell on
deaf ears. In the early morning of September 6, 1974, fire broke out in petitioner's
shop. Petitioner's employees, who slept in the shop premises, tried to put out the
fire, but their efforts proved futile. The fire spread to private respondents' house.
Both the shop and the house were razed to the ground. The cause of the
conflagration was never discovered. The National Bureau of Investigation found
specimens from the burned structures negative for the presence of inflammable
substances.
Subsequently, private respondents collected P35,000.00 on the insurance on their
house and the contents thereof.

On January 23, 1975, private respondents filed an action for damages against
petitioner, praying for a judgment in their favor awarding P150,000.00 as actual
damages, P50,000.00 as moral damages, P25,000.00 as exemplary damages,
P20,000.00 as attorney's fees and costs. The Court of First Instance held for
private respondents:
WHEREFORE, the Court hereby renders judgment, in favor of plaintiffs,
and against the defendant:
1. Ordering the defendant to pay to the plaintiffs the amount of
P80,000.00 for damages suffered by said plaintiffs for the loss of their
house, with interest of 6% from the date of the filing of the Complaint
on January 23, 1975, until fully paid;
2. Ordering the defendant to pay to the plaintiffs the sum of
P50,000.00 for the loss of plaintiffs' furnitures, religious images,
silverwares, chinawares, jewelries, books, kitchen utensils, clothing and
other valuables, with interest of 6% from date of the filing of the
Complaint on January 23, 1975, until fully paid;
3. Ordering the defendant to pay to the plaintiffs the sum of P5,000.00
as moral damages, P2,000.00 as exemplary damages, and P5,000.00
as and by way of attorney's fees;
4. With costs against the defendant;
5. Counterclaim is ordered dismissed, for lack of merit. [CA Decision,
pp. 1-2; Rollo, pp. 29-30.]
On appeal, the Court of Appeals, in a decision promulgated on November 19,
1979, affirmed the decision of the trial court but reduced the award of damages:
WHEREFORE, the decision declaring the defendants liable is affirmed.
The damages to be awarded to plaintiff should be reduced to
P70,000.00 for the house and P50,000.00 for the furniture and other
fixtures with legal interest from the date of the filing of the complaint
until full payment thereof. [CA Decision, p. 7; Rollo, p. 35.]
A motion for reconsideration was filed on December 3, 1979 but was denied in a
resolution dated February 18, 1980. Hence, petitioner filed the instant petition for
review on February 22, 1980. After the comment and reply were filed, the Court
resolved to deny the petition for lack of merit on June 11, 1980.

However, petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration, which was granted, and the
petition was given due course on September 12, 1980. After the parties filed their
memoranda, the case was submitted for decision on January 21, 1981.
Petitioner contends that the Court of Appeals erred:
1. In not deducting the sum of P35,000.00, which private respondents recovered
on the insurance on their house, from the award of damages.
2. In awarding excessive and/or unproved damages.
3. In applying the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur to the facts of the instant case.
The pivotal issue in this case is the applicability of the common law doctrine of res
ipsa loquitur, the issue of damages being merely consequential. In view thereof,
the errors assigned by petitioner shall be discussed in the reverse order.
1. The doctrine of res ipsa loquitur, whose application to the instant case
petitioner objects to, may be stated as follows:
Where the thing which caused the injury complained of is shown to be
under the management of the defendant or his servants and the
accident is such as in the ordinary course of things does not happen if
those who have its management or control use proper care, it affords
reasonable evidence, in the absence of explanation by the defendant,
that the accident arose from want of care. [Africa v. Caltex (Phil.), Inc.,
G.R. No. L-12986, March 31, 1966, 16 SCRA 448.]
Thus, in Africa, supra, where fire broke out in a Caltex service station while
gasoline from a tank truck was being unloaded into an underground storage tank
through a hose and the fire spread to and burned neighboring houses, this Court,
applying the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur, adjudged Caltex liable for the loss.
The facts of the case likewise call for the application of the doctrine, considering
that in the normal course of operations of a furniture manufacturing shop,
combustible material such as wood chips, sawdust, paint, varnish and fuel and
lubricants for machinery may be found thereon.
It must also be noted that negligence or want of care on the part of petitioner or
its employees was not merely presumed. The Court of Appeals found that
petitioner failed to construct a firewall between its shop and the residence of
private respondents as required by a city ordinance; that the fire could have been
caused by a heated motor or a lit cigarette; that gasoline and alcohol were used

and stored in the shop; and that workers sometimes smoked inside the shop [CA
Decision, p. 5; Rollo, p. 33.]
Even without applying the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur, petitioner's failure to
construct a firewall in accordance with city ordinances would suffice to support a
finding of negligence.
Even then the fire possibly would not have spread to the neighboring
houses were it not for another negligent omission on the part of
defendants, namely, their failure to provide a concrete wall high
enough to prevent the flames from leaping over it. As it was the
concrete wall was only 2-1/2 meters high, and beyond that height it
consisted merely of galvanized iron sheets, which would predictably
crumble and melt when subjected to intense heat. Defendant's
negligence, therefore, was not only with respect to the cause of the
fire but also with respect to the spread thereof to the neighboring
houses. [Africa v. Caltex (Phil.), Inc., supra; Emphasis supplied.]
In the instant case, with more reason should petitioner be found guilty of
negligence since it had failed to construct a firewall between its property and
private respondents' residence which sufficiently complies with the pertinent city
ordinances. The failure to comply with an ordinance providing for safety
regulations had been ruled by the Court as an act of negligence [Teague v.
Fernandez, G.R. No. L-29745, June 4, 1973, 51 SCRA 181.]
The Court of Appeals, therefore, had more than adequate basis to find petitioner
liable for the loss sustained by private respondents.
2. Since the amount of the loss sustained by private respondents constitutes a
finding of fact, such finding by the Court of Appeals should not be disturbed by
this Court [M.D. Transit & Taxi Co., Inc. v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. L-23882,
February 17, 1968, 22 SCRA 559], more so when there is no showing of
arbitrariness.
In the instant case, both the CFI and the Court of Appeals were in agreement as to
the value of private respondents' furniture and fixtures and personal effects lost in
the fire (i.e. P50,000.00). With regard to the house, the Court of Appeals reduced
the award to P70,000.00 from P80,000.00. Such cannot be categorized as
arbitrary considering that the evidence shows that the house was built in 1951 for
P40,000.00 and, according to private respondents, its reconstruction would cost
P246,000.00. Considering the appreciation in value of real estate and the

diminution of the real value of the peso, the valuation of the house at P70,000.00
at the time it was razed cannot be said to be excessive.
3. While this Court finds that petitioner is liable for damages to private
respondents as found by the Court of Appeals, the fact that private respondents
have been indemnified by their insurer in the amount of P35,000.00 for the
damage caused to their house and its contents has not escaped the attention of
the Court. Hence, the Court holds that in accordance with Article 2207 of the Civil
Code the amount of P35,000.00 should be deducted from the amount awarded as
damages. Said article provides:
Art. 2207. If the plaintiffs property has been insured, and he has
received indemnity from the insurance company for the injury or loss
arising out of the wrong or breach of contract complained of, the
insurance company is subrogated to the rights of the insured against
the wrongdoer or the person who violated the contract. If the amount
paid by the insurance company does not fully cover the injury or loss,
the aggrieved party shall be entitled to recover the deficiency from the
person causing the loss or injury. (Emphasis supplied.]
The law is clear and needs no interpretation. Having been indemnified by their
insurer, private respondents are only entitled to recover the deficiency from
petitioner.
On the other hand, the insurer, if it is so minded, may seek reimbursement of the
amount it indemnified private respondents from petitioner. This is the essence of
its right to be subrogated to the rights of the insured, as expressly provided in
Article 2207. Upon payment of the loss incurred by the insured, the insurer is
entitled to be subrogated pro tanto to any right of action which the insured may
have against the third person whose negligence or wrongful act caused the loss
[Fireman's Fund Insurance Co. v. Jamila & Co., Inc., G.R. No. L-27427, April 7, 1976,
70 SCRA 323.]
Under Article 2207, the real party in interest with regard to the indemnity received
by the insured is the insurer [Phil. Air Lines, Inc. v. Heald Lumber Co., 101 Phil.
1031, (1957).] Whether or not the insurer should exercise the rights of the insured
to which it had been subrogated lies solely within the former's sound discretion.
Since the insurer is not a party to the case, its identity is not of record and no
claim is made on its behalf, the private respondent's insurer has to claim his right
to reimbursement of the P35,000.00 paid to the insured.

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the decision of the Court of Appeals is


hereby AFFIRMED with the following modifications as to the damages awarded for
the loss of private respondents' house, considering their receipt of P35,000.00
from their insurer: (1) the damages awarded for the loss of the house is reduced
to P35,000.00; and (2) the right of the insurer to subrogation and thus seek
reimbursement from petitioner for the P35,000.00 it had paid private respondents
is recognized.
SO ORDERED.
Fernan, C.J., Gutierrez, Jr., Feliciano and Bidin, JJ., concur.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. L-29745 June 4, 1973


MERCEDES M. TEAGUE, petitioner,
vs.
ELENA FERNANDEZ, et al., respondent.
Jose W. Diokno for petitioner.
Jose G. Gatchalian for respondents.

MAKALINTAL, J.:
The facts are stated in the decision of the Court of Appeals as follows:
The Realistic Institute, admittedly owned and operated by defendantappellee Mercedes M. Teague was a vocational school for hair and
beauty culture situated on the second floor of the Gil-Armi Building, a
two-storey, semi-concrete edifice (Exhs. "C", "C-1" to "C-5" and "4")
located at the corner of Quezon Boulevard and Soler Street, Quiapo,
Manila. The said second floor was unpartitioned, had a total area of
about 400 square meters, and although it had only one stairway, of
about 1.50 meters in width, it had eight windows, each of which was
provided with two fire-escape ladders (Exh. "4"), and the presence of
each of said fire-exits was indicated on the wall (Exh. "5").
At about four o'clock in the afternoon of October 24, 1955, a fire broke
out in a store for surplus materials located about ten meters away from
the institute. Soler Street lay between that store and the institute.
Upon seeing the fire, some of the students in the Realistic Institute
shouted 'Fire! Fire!' and thereafter, a panic ensued. Four instructresses
and six assistant instructress of the Institute were present and they,
together with the registrar, tried to calm down the students, who
numbered about 180 at the time, telling them not to be afraid because
the Gil-Armi Building would not get burned as it is made of concrete,
and that the fire was anyway, across the street. They told the students
not to rush out but just to go down the stairway two by two, or to use
the fire-escapes. Mrs. Justitia Prieto, one of the instructresses, took to

the microphone so as to convey to the students the above admonitions


more effectively, and she even slapped three students in order to quiet
them down. Miss Frino Meliton, the registrar, whose desk was near the
stairway, stood up and tried with outstretched arms to stop the
students from rushing and pushing their way to the stairs. The panic,
however, could not be subdued and the students, with the exception of
the few who made use of fire-escapes kept on rushing and pushing
their way through the stairs, thereby causing stampede therein.
Indeed, no part of the Gil-Armi Building caught fire. But, after the panic
was over, four students, including Lourdes Fernandez, a sister of
plaintiffs-appellants, were found dead and several others injured on
account of the stampede.
xxx xxx xxx
The injuries sustained by Lourdes Fernandez consisted of lacerations in both eyes
and on the upper lip, contused abrasions in different parts of the body, internal
hemorrhage and fractures in the second and third right ribs. The cause of death,
according to the autopsy report, was "Shock due to traumatic fractures of the ribs
with perinephric hematoma and lacerations of the conjunctiva of both eyes."
The deceased's five brothers and sisters filed an action for damages against
Mercedes M. Teague as owner and operator of Realistic Institute. The Court of First
Instance of Manila found for the defendant and dismissed the case. The plaintiffs
thereupon appealed to the Court of Appeals, which by a divided vote of 3 to 2 (a
special division of five members having been constituted) rendered a judgment of
reversal and sentenced the defendant to pay damages to the plaintiffs in the sum
of P11,000.00, plus interest at the legal rate from the date the complaint was
filed.
The case came up to this Court on a petition for review filed by the defendant
below.
The decision of the appellate court declared that the defendant, hereinafter to be
referred to as the petitioner, was negligent and that such negligence was the
proximate cause of the death of Lourdes Fernandez. This finding of negligence is
based primarily on the fact that the provision of Section 491 Of the Revised
Ordinances of the City of Manila had not been complied with in connection with
the construction and use of the Gil-Armi building where the petitioner's vocational
school was housed. This provision reads as follows:

Sec. 491. Firepro of partitions, exits and stairways. ... All buildings
and separate sections of buildings or buildings otherwise known as
accessorias having less than three stories, having one or more persons
domiciled therein either temporarily or permanently, and all public or
quasi-public buildings having less than three stories, such as hospitals,
sanitarium, schools, reformatories, places of human detention,
assembly halls, clubs, restaurants or panciterias, and the like, shall be
provided with at least two unobstructed stairways of not less than one
meter and twenty centimeters in width and an inclination of not less
than forty degrees from the perpendicular, in case of large buildings
more than two stairways shall likewise be provided when required by
the chief of the fire department, said stairways shall be placed as far
apart as possible.
The alleged violation of the ordinance above-quoted consisted in the fact that the
second storey of the Gil-Armi building had only one stairway, 1.5 meters wide,
instead of two of at least 1.2 meters each, although at the time of the fire the
owner of the building had a second stairway under construction.
In ruling that such non-compliance with the City Ordinances was an act of
negligence and that such negligence was the proximate cause of the death of
Lourdes Fernandez, reliance is based on a number of authorities in the American
jurisdiction, thus: .
The mere fact of violation of a statute is not sufficient basis for an
inference that such violation was the proximate cause of the injury
complained. However, if the very injury has happened which was
intended to be prevented by the statute, it has been held that violation
of the statute will be deemed to be proximate cause of the injury. (65
C.J.S. 1156).
The generally accepted view is that violation of a statutory duty
constitutes negligence, negligence as a matter or law, or, according to
the decisions on the question, negligence per se for the reason that
non-observance of what the legislature has prescribed as a suitable
precaution is failure to observe that care which an ordinarily prudent
man would observe, and, when the state regards certain acts as so
liable to injure others as to justify their absolute prohibition, doing the
forbidden act is a breach of duty with respect to those who may be
injured thereby; or, as it has been otherwise expressed, when the
standard of care is fixed by law, failure to conform to such standard is
negligence, negligence per se or negligence in and of itself, in the

absence of a legal excuse. According to this view it is immaterial,


where a statute has been violated, whether the act or omission
constituting such violation would have been regarded as negligence in
the absence of any statute on the subject or whether there was, as a
matter of fact, any reason to anticipate that injury would result from
such violation. .... (65 C.J.S. pp. 623-628).
But the existence of an ordinance changes the situation. If a driver
causes an accident by exceeding the speed limit, for example, do not
inquire whether his prohibited conduct was unreasonably dangerous. It
is enough that it was prohibited. Violation of an ordinance intended to
promote safety is negligence. If by creating the hazard which the
ordinance was intended to avoid it brings about the harm which the
ordinance was intended to prevent, it is a legal cause of the harm. This
comes only to saying that in such circumstances the law has no reason
to ignore the causal relation which obviously exists in fact. The law has
excellent reason to recognize it, since it is the very relation which the
makers of the ordinance anticipated. This court has applied these
principles to speed limits and other regulations of the manner of
driving. (Ross vs. Hartman, 139 Fed. 2d 14 at 15).
... However, the fact that other happenings causing or contributing
toward an injury intervened between the violation of a statute or
ordinance and the injury does not necessarily make the result so
remote that no action can be maintained. The test is to be found not in
the number of intervening events or agents, but in their character and
in the natural and probable connection between the wrong done and
the injurious consequence. The general principle is that the violation of
a statute or ordinance is not rendered remote as the cause of an injury
by the intervention of another agency if the occurrence of the accident,
in the manner in which it happened, was the very thing which the
statute or ordinance was intended to Prevent. (38 Am Jur 841).
The petitioner has raised a number of issues. The first is that Section 491 of the
Revised Ordinances of the City of Manila refers to public buildings and hence did
not apply to the Gil-Armi building which was of private ownership. It will be noted
from the text of the ordinance, however, that it is not ownership which determines
the character of buildings subject to its requirements, but rather the use or the
purpose for which a particular building is utilized. Thus the same may be privately
owned, but if it is devoted to any one of the purposes mentioned in the ordinance
for instance as a school, which the Realistic Institute precisely was then the
building is within the coverage of the ordinance. Indeed the requirement that such

a building should have two (2) separate stairways instead of only one (1) has no
relevance or reasonable relation to the fact of ownership, but does have such
relation to the use or purpose for which the building is devoted.
It is next contended that the obligation to comply with the ordinance devolved
upon the owners of the building and therefore it is they and not the petitioner
herein, who is a mere lessee, who should be liable for the violation. The
contention ignores the fact that it was the use of the building for school purposes
which brought the same within the coverage of the ordinance; and it was the
petitioner and not the owners who was responsible for such use.
The next issue, indeed the basic one, raised by the petitioner is whether or not
the failure to comply with the requirement of the ordinance was the proximate
cause of the death of Lourdes Fernandez. The case ofVillanueva Vda. de Bataclan,
et al. vs. Medina, G. R. No. L-10126, October 22, 1957, is cited in support of the
contention that such failure was not the proximate cause. It is there stated by this
Court:
The proximate legal cause is that acting first and producing the injury,
either immediately or by settling other events in motion, all
constituting a natural and continuous chain of events, each having a
close causal connection with its immediate predecessor, the final event
in the chain immediately affecting the injury as a natural and probable
result of the cause which first acted, under such circumstances that
the person responsible for the first event should, as an ordinarily
prudent and intelligent person, have reasonable ground to expect at
the moment of his act or default that an injury to some person might
probably result therefrom.
Having in view the decision just quoted, the petitioner relates the chain of events
that resulted in the death of Lourdes Fernandez as follows: (1) violation of
ordinance; (2) fire at a neighboring place; (3) shouts of "Fire!, Fire!"; (4) panic in
the Institute; (5) stampede; and (6) injuries and death.
As thus projected the violation of the ordinance, it is argued, was only a remote
cause, if at all, and cannot be the basis of liability since there intervened a
number of independent causes which produced the injury complained of. A
statement of the doctrine relied upon is found in Manila Electric Co. vs.
Remoquillo, L-8328, May 18, 1956, wherein this Court, citing Corpus Juris said:
A prior and remote cause cannot be made the basis of an action if such
remote cause did nothing more than furnish the condition or give rise

to the occasion by which the injury was made possible, if there


intervened between such prior or remote cause and the injury a
distinct, successive unrelated, and efficient cause of the injury, even
though such injury would not have happened but for such condition or
occasion. If no danger existed in the condition except because of the
independent cause, such condition was not the proximate cause. And if
an independent negligent act or defective condition sets into operation
the circumstances which result in injury because of the prior defective
condition, such subsequent act or condition is the proximate cause. (45
C.J. p. 931.)
According to the petitioner "the events of fire, panic and stampede were
independent causes with no causal connection at all with the violation of the
ordinance." The weakness in the argument springs from a faulty juxtaposition of
the events which formed a chain and resulted in the injury. It is true that the
petitioner's non-compliance with the ordinance in question was ahead of and prior
to the other events in point of time, in the sense that it was coetaneous with its
occupancy of the building. But the violation was a continuing one, since the
ordinance was a measure of safety designed to prevent a specific situation which
would pose a danger to the occupants of the building. That situation was undue
overcrowding in case it should become necessary to evacuate the building, which,
it could be reasonably foreseen, was bound to happen under emergency
conditions if there was only one stairway available. It is true that in this particular
case there would have been no overcrowding in the single stairway if there had
not been a fire in the neighborhood which caused the students to panic and rush
headlong for the stairs in order to go down. But it was precisely such
contingencies or event that the authors of the ordinance had in mind, for under
normal conditions one stairway would be adequate for the occupants of the
building. Thus, as stated in 38 American Jurisprudence, page 841: "The general
principle is that the violation of a statute or ordinance is not rendered remote as
the cause of an injury by the intervention of another agency if the occurrence of
the accident, in the manner in which it happened, was the very thing which the
statute or ordinance was intended to prevent." To consider the violation of the
ordinance as the proximate cause of the injury does not portray the situation in its
true perspective; it would be more accurate to say that the overcrowding at the
stairway was the proximate cause and that it was precisely what the ordinance
intended to prevent by requiring that there be two stairways instead of only one.
Under the doctrine of the cases cited by the respondents, the principle of
proximate cause applies to such violation.

A procedural point mentioned by the petitioner is that the complaint did not
specifically allege that the ordinance in question had been violated. The violation,
however, as an act of negligence which gave rise to liability, was sufficiently
comprehended within paragraph 7 of the complaint, which reads: .
Par. 7. That the death of Lourdes Fernandez was due to the gross
negligence of the defendant who failed to exercise due care and
diligence for the safety of its students in not providing the building with
adequate fire exits and in not practicing fire drill exercises to avoid the
stampede, aside from the fact that the defendant did not have a
permit to use the building as a school-house.
The decision appealed from is affirmed, with costs.
Zaldivar, Fernando, Teehankee, Makasiar, Antonio and Esguerra, JJ., concur.
Castro and Barredo, JJ., reserve their votes.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. L-35283

November 5, 1932

JULIAN DEL ROSARIO, plaintiff-appellant,


vs.
MANILA ELECTRIC COMPANY, defendant-appellee.
Vicente Sotto for appellant.
Ross, Lawrence & Selph and Antonio T. Carrascoso, Jr. for appellee.

STREET, J.:
This action was instituted by Julian del Rosario for the purpose of recovering
damages from the Manila Electric Company for the death of his son, Alberto del
Rosario, resulting from a shock from a wire used by the defendant for the
transmission of electricity. The accident occurred on Dimas-Alang Street, in the
municipality of Caloocan, Province of Rizal. Damages are claimed in the complaint
in the amount of P30,000. Upon hearing the cause the trial court absolved the
defendant, and the plaintiff appealed.
Shortly after 2 o'clock on the afternoon of August 4, 1930, trouble developed in a
wire used by the defendant on Dimas-Alang Street for the purpose of conducting
electricity used in lighting the City of Manila and its suburbs. Jose Noguera, who
had charge of a tienda nearby, first noticed that the wire was burning and its
connections smoking. In a short while the wire parted and one of the ends of the

wire fell to the ground among some shrubbery close to the way. As soon as
Noguera took cognizance of the trouble, he stepped into a garage which was
located nearby and asked Jose Soco, the timekeeper, to telephone the Malabon
station of the Manila Electric Company that an electrical wire was burning at that
place. Soco transmitted the message at 2.25 p.m. and received answer from the
station to the effect that they would send an inspector. From the testimony of the
two witnesses mentioned we are justified in the conclusion that information to the
effect that the electric wire at the point mentioned had developed trouble was
received by the company's servant at the time stated. At the time that message
was sent the wire had not yet parted, but from the testimony of Demetrio Bingao,
one of the witnesses for the defense, it is clear that the end of the wire was on the
ground shortly after 3 p.m.
At 4 p. m. the neighborhood school was dismissed and the children went home.
Among these was Alberto del Rosario, of the age of 9 years, who was a few paces
ahead of two other boys, all members of the second grade in the public school.
These other two boys were Jose Salvador, of the age of 8, and Saturnino Endrina,
of the age of 10. As the three neared the place where the wire was down,
Saturnino made a motion as if it touch it. His companion, Jose Salvador, happened
to be the son of an electrician and his father had cautioned him never to touch a
broken electrical wire, as it might have a current. Jose therefore stopped
Saturnino, telling him that the wire might be charged. Saturnino yielded to this
admonition and desisted from his design, but Alberto del Rosario, who was
somewhat ahead, said, I have for some time been in the habit of touching wires
("Yo desde hace tiempo cojo alambres"). Jose Salvador rejoined that he should
into touch wires as they carry a current, but Alberto, no doubt feeling that he was
challenged in the matter, put out his index finger and touch the wire. He
immediately fell face downwards, exclaiming "Ay! madre". The end of the wire
remained in contact with his body which fell near the post. A crowd soon
collected, and some one cut the wire and disengaged the body. Upon being taken
to St. Luke's Hospital the child was pronounced dead.
The wire was an ordinary number 6 triple braid weather proof wire, such as is
commonly used by the defendant company for the purpose of conducting
electricity for lighting. The wire was cased in the usual covering, but this had been
burned off for some distance from the point where the wire parted. The engineer
of the company says that it was customary for the company to make a special
inspection of these wires at least once in six months, and that all of the
company's inspectors were required in their daily rounds to keep a lookout for
trouble of this kind. There is nothing in the record indicating any particular cause
for the parting of the wire.lawphil.net

We are of the opinion that the presumption of negligence on the part of the
company from the breakage of this wire has not been overcome, and the
defendant is in our opinion responsible for the accident. Furthermore, when notice
was received at the Malabon station at 2.25 p. m., somebody should have been
dispatched to the scene of the trouble at once, or other measures taken to guard
the point of danger; but more than an hour and a half passed before anyone
representing the company appeared on the scene, and in the meantime this child
had been claimed as a victim.
It is doubtful whether contributory negligence can properly be imputed to the
deceased, owing to his immature years and the natural curiosity which a child
would feel to do something out of the ordinary, and the mere fact that the
deceased ignored the caution of a companion of the age of 8 years does not, in
our opinion, alter the case. But even supposing that contributory negligence could
in some measure be properly imputed to the deceased, a proposition upon
which the members of the court do not all agree, yet such negligence would
not be wholly fatal to the right of action in this case, not having been the
determining cause of the accident. (Rakes vs. Atlantic, Gulf and Pacific Co., 7 Phil.,
359.)
With respect to the amount of damages recoverable the majority of the members
of this court are of the opinion that the plaintiff is entitled to recover P250 for
expenses incurred in connection with the death and burial of the boy. For the rest,
in accordance with the precedents cited in Astudillo vs. Manila Electric Company
(55 Phil., 427), the majority of the court are of the opinion that the plaintiff should
recover the sum of P1,000 as general damages for loss of service.
The judgment appealed from is therefore reversed and the plaintiff will recover of
the defendant the sum of P1,250, with costs of both instances. So ordered.
Avancea, C.J., Malcolm, Ostrand, Villa-Real, Vickers, Imperial and Butte, JJ.,
concur.

SECOND DIVISION
[G.R. No. 110398. November 7, 1997]
NEGROS NAVIGATION CO., INC., petitioner, vs. THE COURT OF APPEALS, RAMON
MIRANDA, SPS. RICARDO and VIRGINIA DE LA VICTORIA,respondents.

DECISION
MENDOZA, J.:
This is a petition for review on certiorari of the decision of the Court of Appeals
affirming with modification the Regional Trial Courts award of damages to private
respondents for the death of relatives as a result of the sinking of petitioners
vessel.
In April of 1980, private respondent Ramon Miranda purchased from the
Negros Navigation Co., Inc. four special cabin tickets (#74411, 74412, 74413 and
74414) for his wife, daughter, son and niece who were going to Bacolod City to
attend a family reunion. The tickets were for Voyage No. 457-A of the M/V Don
Juan, leaving Manila at 1:00 p.m. on April 22, 1980.
The ship sailed from the port of Manila on schedule.
At about 10:30 in the evening of April 22, 1980, the Don Juan collided off the
Tablas Strait in Mindoro, with the M/T Tacloban City, an oil tanker owned by the
Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC) and the PNOC Shipping and Transport
Corporation (PNOC/STC). As a result, the M/V Don Juan sank. Several of her
passengers perished in the sea tragedy. The bodies of some of the victims were
found and brought to shore, but the four members of private respondents families
were never found.
Private respondents filed a complaint on July 16, 1980 in the Regional Trial
Court of Manila, Branch 34, against the Negros Navigation, the Philippine National
Oil Company (PNOC), and the PNOC Shipping and Transport Corporation
(PNOC/STC), seeking damages for the death of Ardita de la Victoria Miranda, 48,
Rosario V. Miranda, 19, Ramon V. Miranda, Jr., 16, and Elfreda de la Victoria, 26.
In its answer, petitioner admitted that private respondents purchased ticket
numbers 74411, 74412, 74413 and 74414; that the ticket numbers were listed in
the passenger manifest; and that the Don Juan left Pier 2, North Harbor, Manila on
April 22, 1980 and sank that night after being rammed by the oil tanker
M/T Tacloban City, and that, as a result of the collision, some of the passengers of
the M/V Don Juan died. Petitioner, however, denied that the four relatives of
private respondents actually boarded the vessel as shown by the fact that their
bodies were never recovered. Petitioner further averred that the Don Juan was
seaworthy and manned by a full and competent crew, and that the collision was
entirely due to the fault of the crew of the M/T Tacloban City.

On January 20, 1986, the PNOC and petitioner Negros Navigation Co., Inc.
entered into a compromise agreement whereby petitioner assumed full
responsibility for the payment and satisfaction of all claims arising out of or in
connection with the collision and releasing the PNOC and the PNOC/STC from any
liability to it. The agreement was subsequently held by the trial court to be
binding upon petitioner, PNOC and PNOC/STC. Private respondents did not join in
the agreement.
After trial, the court rendered judgment on February 21, 1991, the dispositive
portion of which reads as follows:
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the
plaintiffs, ordering all the defendants to pay jointly and severally to the plaintiffs
damages as follows:
To Ramon Miranda:
P42,025.00 for actual damages;
P152,654.55 as compensatory damages for loss of earning capacity of his wife;
P90,000.00 as compensatory damages for wrongful death of three (3) victims;
P300,000.00 as moral damages;
P50,000.00 as exemplary damages, all in the total amount of P634,679.55;
and
P40,000.00 as attorneys fees.
To Spouses Ricardo and Virginia de la Victoria:
P12,000.00 for actual damages;
P158,899.00 as compensatory damages for loss of earning capacity;
P30,000.00 as compensatory damages for wrongful death;
P100,000.00 as moral damages;
P20,000.00 as exemplary damages, all in the total amount of P320,899.00;
and
P15,000.00 as attorneys fees.

On appeal, the Court of Appeals[1] affirmed the decision of the Regional Trial
Court with modification
1. Ordering and sentencing defendants-appellants, jointly and severally, to
pay plaintiff-appellee Ramon Miranda the amount of P23,075.00 as actual
damages instead of P42,025.00;
2. Ordering and sentencing defendants-appellants, jointly and severally, to
pay plaintiff-appellee Ramon Miranda the amount of P150,000.00,
instead of P90,000.00, as compensatory damages for the death of his
wife and two children;
3. Ordering and sentencing defendants-appellants, jointly and severally, to
pay plaintiffs-appellees Dela Victoria spouses the amount of P50,000.00,
instead of P30,000.00, as compensatory damages for the death of their
daughter Elfreda Dela Victoria;
Hence this petition, raising the following issues:
(1) whether the members of private respondents families were actually
passengers of the Don Juan;
(2) whether the ruling in Mecenas v. Court of Appeals,[2] finding the crew
members of petitioner to be grossly negligent in the performance of their
duties, is binding in this case;
(3) whether the total loss of the M/V Don Juan extinguished petitioners
liability; and
(4) whether the damages awarded by the appellate court are excessive,
unreasonable and unwarranted.
First. The trial court held that the fact that the victims were passengers of the
M/V Don Juan was sufficiently proven by private respondent Ramon Miranda, who
testified that he purchased tickets numbered 74411, 74412, 74413, and 74414
at P131.30 each from the Makati office of petitioner for Voyage No. 47-A of the
M/V Don Juan, which was leaving Manila on April 22, 1980. This was corroborated
by the passenger manifest (Exh. E) on which the numbers of the tickets and the
names of Ardita Miranda and her children and Elfreda de la Victoria appear.
Petitioner contends that the purchase of the tickets does not necessarily mean
that the alleged victims actually took the trip. Petitioner asserts that it is common
knowledge that passengers purchase tickets in advance but do not actually use

them. Hence, private respondent should also prove the presence of the victims on
the ship. The witnesses who affirmed that the victims were on the ship were
biased and unreliable.
This contention is without merit. Private respondent Ramon Miranda testified
that he personally took his family and his niece to the vessel on the day of the
voyage and stayed with them on the ship until it was time for it to leave. There is
no reason he should claim members of his family to have perished in the accident
just to maintain an action. People do not normally lie about so grave a matter as
the loss of dear ones. It would be more difficult for private respondents to keep
the existence of their relatives if indeed they are alive than it is for petitioner to
show the contrary. Petitioners only proof is that the bodies of the supposed
victims were not among those recovered from the site of the mishap. But so were
the bodies of the other passengers reported missing not recovered, as this Court
noted in the Mecenas[3] case.
Private respondent Mirandas testimony was corroborated by Edgardo
Ramirez. Ramirez was a seminarian and one of the survivors of the collision. He
testified that he saw Mrs. Miranda and Elfreda de la Victoria on the ship and that
he talked with them. He knew Mrs. Miranda who was his teacher in the grade
school. He also knew Elfreda who was his childhood friend and townmate. Ramirez
said he was with Mrs. Miranda and her children and niece from 7:00 p.m. until
10:00 p.m. when the collision happened and that he in fact had dinner with
them. Ramirez said he and Elfreda stayed on the deck after dinner and it was
there where they were jolted by the collision of the two vessels. Recounting the
moments after the collision, Ramirez testified that Elfreda ran to fetch Mrs.
Miranda. He escorted her to the room and then tried to go back to the deck when
the lights went out. He tried to return to the cabin but was not able to do so
because it was dark and there was a stampede of passengers from the deck.
Petitioner casts doubt on Ramirez testimony, claiming that Ramirez could not
have talked with the victims for about three hours and not run out of stories to
tell, unless Ramirez had a storehouse of stories. But what is incredible about
acquaintances thrown together on a long journey staying together for hours on
end, in idle conversation precisely to while the hours away?
Petitioner also points out that it took Ramirez three (3) days before he finally
contacted private respondent Ramon Miranda to tell him about the fate of his
family. But it is not improbable that it took Ramirez three days before calling on
private respondent Miranda to tell him about the last hours of Mrs. Miranda and
her children and niece, in view of the confusion in the days following the collision
as rescue teams and relatives searched for survivors.

Indeed, given the facts of this case, it is improper for petitioner to even
suggest that private respondents relatives did not board the ill-fated vessel and
perish in the accident simply because their bodies were not recovered.
Second. In finding petitioner guilty of negligence and in failing to exercise the
extraordinary diligence required of it in the carriage of passengers, both the trial
court and the appellate court relied on the findings of this Court in Mecenas v.
Intermediate Appellate Court,[4] which case was brought for the death of other
passengers. In that case it was found that although the proximate cause of the
mishap was the negligence of the crew of the M/T Tacloban City, the crew of
the Don Juan was equally negligent as it found that the latters master, Capt.
Rogelio Santisteban, was playing mahjong at the time of collision, and the officer
on watch, Senior Third Mate Rogelio De Vera, admitted that he failed to call the
attention of Santisteban to the imminent danger facing them. This Court found
that Capt. Santisteban and the crew of the M/V Don Juan failed to take steps to
prevent the collision or at least delay the sinking of the ship and supervise the
abandoning of the ship.
Petitioner Negros Navigation was found equally negligent in tolerating the
playing of mahjong by the ship captain and other crew members while on board
the ship and failing to keep the M/V Don Juan seaworthy so much so that the ship
sank within 10 to 15 minutes of its impact with the M/T Tacloban City.
In addition, the Court found that the Don Juan was overloaded. The Certificate
of Inspection, dated August 27, 1979, issued by the Philippine Coast Guard
Commander at Iloilo City stated that the total number of persons allowed on the
ship was 864, of whom 810 are passengers, but there were actually 1,004 on
board the vessel when it sank, 140 persons more than the maximum number that
could be safely carried by it.
Taking these circumstances together, and the fact that the M/V Don Juan, as
the faster and better-equipped vessel, could have avoided a collision with
the PNOC tanker, this Court held that even if the Tacloban City had been at fault
for failing to observe an internationally-recognized rule of navigation, the Don
Juan was guilty of contributory negligence. Through Justice Feliciano, this Court
held:
The grossness of the negligence of the Don Juan is underscored when one
considers the foregoing circumstances in the context of the following facts: Firstly,
the Don Juan was more than twice as fast as the Tacloban City. The Don Juans top
speed was 17 knots; while that of the Tacloban City was 6.3. knots. Secondly, the
Don Juan carried the full complement of officers and crew members specified for a

passenger vessel of her class. Thirdly, the Don Juan was equipped with radar
which was functioning that night. Fourthly, the Don Juans officer on-watch had
sighted the Tacloban City on his radar screen while the latter was still four (4)
nautical miles away. Visual confirmation of radar contact was established by the
Don Juan while the Tacloban City was still 2.7 miles away. In the total set of
circumstances which existed in the instant case, the Don Juan, had it taken
seriously its duty of extraordinary diligence, could have easily avoided the
collision with the Tacloban City. Indeed, the Don Juan might well have avoided the
collision even if it had exercised ordinary diligence merely.
It is true that the Tacloban City failed to follow Rule 18 of the International Rules of
the Road which requires two (2) power-driven vessels meeting end on or nearly
end on each to alter her course to starboard (right) so that each vessel may pass
on the port side (left) of the other. The Tacloban City, when the two (2) vessels
were only three-tenths (0.3) of a mile apart, turned (for the second time) 15o to
port side while the Don Juan veered hard to starboard. . . . [But] route observance
of the International Rules of the Road will not relieve a vessel from responsibility if
the collision could have been avoided by proper care and skill on her part or even
by a departure from the rules.
In the petition at bar, the Don Juan having sighted the Tacloban City when it was
still a long way off was negligent in failing to take early preventive action and in
allowing the two (2) vessels to come to such close quarters as to render the
collision inevitable when there was no necessity for passing so near to the
Tacloban City as to create that hazard or inevitability, for the Don Juan could
choose its own distance.It is noteworthy that the Tacloban City, upon turning hard
to port shortly before the moment of collision, signalled its intention to do so by
giving two (2) short blasts with its horn. The Don Juan gave no answering horn
blast to signal its own intention and proceeded to turn hard to starboard.
We conclude that Capt. Santisteban and Negros Navigation are properly held
liable for gross negligence in connection with the collision of the Don Juan and
Tacloban City and the sinking of the Don Juan leading to the death of hundreds of
passengers. . . .[5]
Petitioner criticizes the lower courts reliance on the Mecenas case, arguing
that, although this case arose out of the same incident as that involved
in Mecenas, the parties are different and trial was conducted separately. Petitioner
contends that the decision in this case should be based on the allegations and
defenses pleaded and evidence adduced in it or, in short, on the record of this
case.

The contention is without merit. What petitioner contends may be true with
respect to the merits of the individual claims against petitioner but not as to the
cause of the sinking of its ship on April 22, 1980 and its liability for such accident,
of which there can only be one truth. Otherwise, one would be subscribing to the
sophistry: truth on one side of the Pyrenees, falsehood on the other!
Adherence to the Mecenas case is dictated by this Courts policy of maintaining
stability in jurisprudence in accordance with the legal maxim stare decisis et non
quieta movere (Follow past precedents and do not disturb what has been
settled.) Where, as in this case, the same questions relating to the same event
have been put forward by parties similarly situated as in a previous case litigated
and decided by a competent court, the rule of stare decisis is a bar to any attempt
to relitigate the same issue.[6] In Woulfe v. Associated Realties Corporation,[7] the
Supreme Court of New Jersey held that where substantially similar cases to the
pending case were presented and applicable principles declared in prior decisions,
the court was bound by the principle of stare decisis. Similarly, in State ex rel.
Tollinger v. Gill,[8] it was held that under the doctrine of stare decisis a ruling is
final even as to parties who are strangers to the original proceeding and not
bound by the judgment under the res judicata doctrine. The Philadelphia court
expressed itself in this wise: Stare decisis simply declares that, for the sake of
certainty, a conclusion reached in one case should be applied to those which
follow, if the facts are substantially the same, even though the parties may be
different.[9] Thus, in J. M. Tuason v. Mariano,supra, this Court relied on its rulings in
other cases involving different parties in sustaining the validity of a land title on
the principle of stare decisis et non quieta movere.
Indeed, the evidence presented in this case was the same as those presented
in the Mecenas case, to wit:
Document Mecenas case This case
Decision of Commandant Exh. 10[10] Exh. 11-B-NN/X
Phil. Coast Guard in BMI Case
No. 415-80 dated 3/26/81
Decision of the Minister Exh. 11[11] Exh. ZZ
of National Defense dated 3/12/82
Resolution on the motion Exh. 13[12] Exh. AAA

for reconsideration of the (private respondents)


decision of the Minister of
National Defense dated 7/24/84
Certificate of inspection Exh. 1-A[13] Exh. 19-NN
dated 8/27/79
Certificate of Stability Exh. 6-A[14] Exh. 19-D-NN
dated 12/16/76
Nor is it true that the trial court merely based its decision on
the Mecenas case. The trial court made its own independent findings on the basis
of the testimonies of witnesses, such as Senior Third Mate Rogelio de Vera, who
incidentally gave substantially the same testimony on petitioners behalf before
the Board of Marine Inquiry. The trial court agreed with the conclusions of the then
Minister of National Defense finding both vessels to be negligent.
Third. The next issue is whether petitioner is liable to pay damages
notwithstanding the total loss of its ship. The issue is not one of first
impression. The rule is well-entrenched in our jurisprudence that a shipowner may
be held liable for injuries to passengers notwithstanding the exclusively real and
hypothecary nature of maritime law if fault can be attributed to the shipowner. [15]
In Mecenas, this Court found petitioner guilty of negligence in (1) allowing or
tolerating the ship captain and crew members in playing mahjong during the
voyage, (2) in failing to maintain the vessel seaworthy and (3) in allowing the ship
to carry more passengers than it was allowed to carry. Petitioner is, therefore,
clearly liable for damages to the full extent.
Fourth. Petitioner contends that, assuming that the Mecenas case applies,
private respondents should be allowed to claim only P43,857.14 each as moral
damages because in theMecenas case, the amount of P307,500.00 was awarded
to the seven children of the Mecenas couple. Under petitioners formula, Ramon
Miranda should receive P43,857.14, while the De la Victoria spouses should
receive P97,714.28.
Here is where the principle of stare decisis does not apply in view of
differences in the personal circumstances of the victims. For that matter,
differentiation would be justified even if private respondents had joined the

private respondents in the Mecenas case. The doctrine of stare decisis works as a
bar only against issues litigated in a previous case. Where the issue involved was
not raised nor presented to the court and not passed upon by the court in the
previous case, the decision in the previous case is not stare decisis of the question
presently presented.[16] The decision in the Mecenas case relates to damages for
which petitioner was liable to the claimants in that case.
In the case at bar, the award of P300,000.00 for moral damages is reasonable
considering the grief petitioner Ramon Miranda suffered as a result of the loss of
his entire family. As a matter of fact, three months after the collision, he
developed a heart condition undoubtedly caused by the strain of the loss of his
family. The P100,000.00 given to Mr. and Mrs. de la Victoria is likewise reasonable
and should be affirmed.
As for the amount of civil indemnity awarded to private respondents, the
appellate courts award of P50,000.00 per victim should be sustained. The amount
of P30,000.00 formerly set inDe Lima v. Laguna Tayabas Co., [17] Heirs of Amparo
delos Santos v. Court of Appeals,[18] and Philippine Rabbit Bus Lines, Inc. v.
Intermediate Appellate Court[19] as benchmark was subsequently increased
to P50,000.00 in the case of Sulpicio Lines, Inc. v. Court of Appeals,[20] which
involved the sinking of another interisland ship on October 24, 1988.
We now turn to the determination of the earning capacity of the victims. With
respect to Ardita Miranda, the trial court awarded damages computed as follows:
[21]

In the case of victim Ardita V. Miranda whose age at the time of the accident was
48 years, her life expectancy was computed to be 21.33 years, and therefore, she
could have lived up to almost 70 years old.Her gross earnings for 21.33 years
based on P10,224.00 per annum, would be P218,077.92. Deducting therefrom
30% as her living expenses, her net earnings would be P152,654.55, to which
plaintiff Ramon Miranda is entitled to compensatory damages for the loss of
earning capacity of his wife. In considering 30% as the living expenses of Ardita
Miranda, the Court takes into account the fact that plaintiff and his wife were
supporting their daughter and son who were both college students taking
Medicine and Law respectively.
In accordance with the ruling in Villa-Rey Transit, Inc. v. Court of Appeals,[22] we
think the life expectancy of Ardita Miranda was correctly determined to be 21.33
years, or up to age 69.Petitioner contends, however, that Mrs. Miranda would
have retired from her job as a public school teacher at 65, hence her loss of
earning capacity should be reckoned up to 17.33 years only.

The accepted formula for determining life expectancy is 2/3 multiplied by (80
minus the age of the deceased). It may be that in the Philippines the age of
retirement generally is 65 but, in calculating the life expectancy of individuals for
the purpose of determining loss of earning capacity under Art. 2206(1) of the Civil
Code, it is assumed that the deceased would have earned income even after
retirement from a particular job. In this case, the trial court took into account the
fact that Mrs. Miranda had a masters degree and a good prospect of becoming
principal of the school in which she was teaching. There was reason to believe
that her income would have increased through the years and she could still earn
more after her retirement, e.g., by becoming a consultant, had she not died. The
gross earnings which Mrs. Miranda could reasonably be expected to earn were it
not for her untimely death was, therefore, correctly computed by the trial court to
be P218,077.92 (given a gross annual income of P10,224.00 and life expectancy
of 21.33 years).
Petitioner contends that from the amount of gross earnings, 60% should be
deducted as necessary living expenses, not merely 30% as the trial court
allowed. Petitioner contends that 30% is unrealistic, considering that Mrs.
Mirandas earnings would have been subject to taxes, social security deductions
and inflation.
We agree with this contention. In Villa-Rey Transit, Inc. v. Court of Appeals,
the Court allowed a deduction of P1,184.00 for living expenses from
the P2,184.00 annual salary of the victim, which is roughly 54.2% thereof. The
deceased was 29 years old and a training assistant in the Bacnotan Cement
Industries. In People v. Quilaton,[24] the deceased was a 26-year old laborer
earning a daily wage. The court allowed a deduction of P120,000.00 which was
51.3% of his annual gross earnings of P234,000.00. In People v. Teehankee,[25] the
court allowed a deduction of P19,800.00, roughly 42.4% thereof from the
deceaseds annual salary of P46,659.21. The deceased, Maureen Hultman, was 17
years old and had just received her first paycheck as a secretary. In the case at
bar, we hold that a deduction of 50% from Mrs. Mirandas gross earnings
(P218,077.92) would be reasonable, so that her net earning capacity should
be P109,038.96. There is no basis for supposing that her living expenses
constituted a smaller percentage of her gross income than the living expenses in
the decided cases. To hold that she would have used only a small part of her
income for herself, a larger part going to the support of her children would be
conjectural and unreasonable.
[23]

As for Elfreda de la Victoria, the trial court found that, at the time of her death,
she was 26 years old, a teacher in a private school in Malolos, Bulacan,
earning P6,192.00 per annum.Although a probationary employee, she had already

been working in the school for two years at the time of her death and she had a
general efficiency rating of 92.85% and it can be presumed that, if not for her
untimely death, she would have become a regular teacher. Hence, her loss of
earning capacity is P111,456.00, computed as follows:
net earning capacity (x) = life expectancy x [ gross annual income less reasonable
& necessary living expenses (50%) ]
x = [ 2 (80-26) ] x [P6,192.00 - P3,096.00]
3
= 36 x 3,096.00
= P111,456.00
On the other hand, the award of actual damages in the amount of P23,075.00
was determined by the Court of Appeals on the basis of receipts submitted by
private respondents. This amount is reasonable considering the expenses incurred
by private respondent Miranda in organizing three search teams to look for his
family, spending for transportation in going to places such as Batangas City and
Iloilo, where survivors and the bodies of other victims were found, making long
distance calls, erecting a monument in honor of the four victims, spending for
obituaries in the Bulletin Today and for food, masses and novenas.
Petitioners contention that the expenses for the erection of a monument and
other expenses for memorial services for the victims should be considered
included in the indemnity for death awarded to private respondents is without
merit. Indemnity for death is given to compensate for violation of the rights of the
deceased, i.e., his right to life and physical integrity. [26] On the other hand,
damages incidental to or arising out of such death are for pecuniary losses of the
beneficiaries of the deceased.
As for the award of attorneys fees, we agree with the Court of Appeals that the
amount of P40,000.00 for private respondent Ramon Miranda and P15,000.00 for
the de la Victoria spouses is justified. The appellate court correctly held:
The Mecenas case cannot be made the basis for determining the award for
attorneys fees. The award would naturally vary or differ in each case. While it is
admitted that plaintiff-appellee Ramon Miranda who is himself a lawyer,
represented also plaintiffs-appellees Dela Victoria spouses, we note that separate
testimonial evidence were adduced by plaintiff-appellee Ramon Miranda (TSN,
February 26, 1982, p. 6) and plaintiffs-appellees spouses Dela Victoria (TSN,

August 13, 1981, p. 43). Considering the amount of work and effort put into the
case as indicated by the voluminous transcripts of stenographic notes, we find no
reason to disturb the award of P40,000.00 for plaintiff-appellee Ramon Miranda
and P15,000.00 for plaintiffs-appellees Dela Victoria spouses. [27]
The award of exemplary damages should be increased to P300,000.00 for
Ramon Miranda and P100,000.00 for the de la Victoria spouses in accordance with
our ruling in the Mecenascase:
Exemplary damages are designed by our civil law to permit the courts to reshape
behaviour that is socially deleterious in its consequence by creating negative
incentives or deterrents against such behaviour.In requiring compliance with the
standard of extraordinary diligence, a standard which is in fact that of the highest
possible degree of diligence, from common carriers and in creating a presumption
of negligence against them, the law seeks to compel them to control their
employees, to tame their reckless instincts and to force them to take adequate
care of human beings and their property. The Court will take judicial notice of the
dreadful regularity with which grievous maritime disasters occur in our waters
with massive loss of life. The bulk of our population is too poor to afford domestic
air transportation.So it is that notwithstanding the frequent sinking of passenger
vessels in our waters, crowds of people continue to travel by sea. This Court is
prepared to use the instruments given to it by the law for securing the ends of law
and public policy. One of those instruments is the institution of exemplary
damages; one of those ends, of special importance in an archipelagic state like
the Philippines, is the safe and reliable carriage of people and goods by sea. [28]
WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals is AFFIRMED with
modification and petitioner is ORDERED to pay private respondents damages as
follows:
To private respondent Ramon Miranda:
P23,075.00 for actual damages;
P109,038.96 as compensatory damages for loss of earning capacity of his
wife;
P150,000.00 as compensatory damages for wrongful death of three (3)
victims;
P300,000.00 as moral damages;

P300,000.00 as exemplary damages, all in the total amount


of P882,113.96; and
P40,000.00 as attorneys fees.
To private respondents Spouses Ricardo and Virginia de la Victoria:
P12,000.00 for actual damages;
P111,456.00 as compensatory damages for loss of earning capacity;
P50,000.00 as compensatory damages for wrongful death;
P100,000.00 as moral damages;
P100,000.00 as exemplary damages, all in the total amount
of P373,456.00; and
P15,000.00 as attorneys fees.
Petitioners are further ordered to pay costs of suit.
In the event the Philippine National Oil Company and/or the PNOC Shipping
and Transport Corporation pay or are required to pay all or a portion of the
amounts adjudged, petitioner Negros Navigation Co., Inc. shall reimburse either of
them such amount or amounts as either may have paid, and in the event of
failure of Negros Navigation Co., Inc., to make the necessary reimbursement,
PNOC and/or PNOC/STC shall be entitled to a writ of execution without need of
filing another action.
SO ORDERED.
Regalado, (Chairman), and Puno, JJ., concur.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. L-57079 September 29, 1989
PHILIPPINE LONG DISTANCE TELEPHONE CO., INC., petitioner,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS and SPOUSES ANTONIO ESTEBAN and GLORIA
ESTEBAN, respondents.

REGALADO, J.:
This case had its inception in an action for damages instituted in the former Court
of First Instance of Negros Occidental 1 by private respondent spouses against
petitioner Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT, for brevity) for the
injuries they sustained in the evening of July 30, 1968 when their jeep ran over a
mound of earth and fell into an open trench, an excavation allegedly undertaken
by PLDT for the installation of its underground conduit system. The complaint
alleged that respondent Antonio Esteban failed to notice the open trench which
was left uncovered because of the creeping darkness and the lack of any warning
light or signs. As a result of the accident, respondent Gloria Esteban allegedly
sustained injuries on her arms, legs and face, leaving a permanent scar on her
cheek, while the respondent husband suffered cut lips. In addition, the windshield
of the jeep was shattered. 2
PLDT, in its answer, denies liability on the contention that the injuries sustained
by respondent spouses were the result of their own negligence and that the entity
which should be held responsible, if at all, is L.R. Barte and Company (Barte, for
short), an independent contractor which undertook the construction of the
manhole and the conduit system. 3 Accordingly, PLDT filed a third-party complaint
against Barte alleging that, under the terms of their agreement, PLDT should in no
manner be answerable for any accident or injuries arising from the negligence or
carelessness of Barte or any of its employees. 4 In answer thereto, Barte claimed
that it was not aware nor was it notified of the accident involving respondent
spouses and that it had complied with the terms of its contract with PLDT by
installing the necessary and appropriate standard signs in the vicinity of the work
site, with barricades at both ends of the excavation and with red lights at night

along the excavated area to warn the traveling public of the presence of
excavations. 5
On October 1, 1974, the trial court rendered a decision in favor of private
respondents, the decretal part of which reads:
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING considerations the defendant Philippine
Long Distance Telephone Company is hereby ordered (A) to pay the
plaintiff Gloria Esteban the sum of P20,000.00 as moral damages and
P5,000.00 exemplary damages; to plaintiff Antonio Esteban the sum of
P2,000.00 as moral damages and P500.00 as exemplary damages, with
legal rate of interest from the date of the filing of the complaint until
fully paid. The defendant is hereby ordered to pay the plaintiff the sum
of P3,000.00 as attorney's fees.
(B) The third-party defendant is hereby ordered to reimburse whatever
amount the defendant-third party plaintiff has paid to the plaintiff. With
costs against the defendant. 6
From this decision both PLDT and private respondents appealed, the latter
appealing only as to the amount of damages. Third-party defendant Barte did not
appeal.
On September 25, 1979, the Special Second Division of the Court of Appeals
rendered a decision in said appealed case, with Justice Corazon Juliano Agrava
as ponente, reversing the decision of the lower court and dismissing the
complaint of respondent spouses. It held that respondent Esteban spouses were
negligent and consequently absolved petitioner PLDT from the claim for
damages. 7 A copy of this decision was received by private respondents on
October 10, 1979. 8 On October 25, 1979, said respondents filed a motion for
reconsideration dated October 24, 1979. 9 On January 24, 1980, the Special Ninth
Division of the Court of Appeals denied said motion for reconsideration. 10 This
resolution was received by respondent spouses on February 22, 1980. 11
On February 29, 1980, respondent Court of Appeals received private respondents'
motion for leave of court to file a second motion for reconsideration, dated
February 27, 1980. 12 On March 11, 1980, respondent court, in a resolution
likewise penned by Justice Agrava, allowed respondents to file a second motion for
reconsideration, within ten (10) days from notice thereof. 13 Said resolution was
received by private respondents on April 1, 1980 but prior thereto, private
respondents had already filed their second motion for reconsideration on March 7,
1980. 14

On April 30,1980 petitioner PLDT filed an opposition to and/or motion to dismiss


said second motion for reconsideration. 15 The Court of Appeals, in view of the
divergent opinions on the resolution of the second motion for reconsideration,
designated two additional justices to form a division of five. 16 On September 3,
1980, said division of five promulgated its resolution, penned by Justice Mariano A.
Zosa, setting aside the decision dated September 25, 1979, as well as the
resolution dated, January 24,1980, and affirming in toto the decision of the lower
court. 17
On September 19, 1980, petitioner PLDT filed a motion to set aside and/or for
reconsideration of the resolution of September 3, 1980, contending that the
second motion for reconsideration of private respondent spouses was filed out of
time and that the decision of September 25, 1979 penned by Justice Agrava was
already final. It further submitted therein that the relationship of Barte and
petitioner PLDT should be viewed in the light of the contract between them and,
under the independent contractor rule, PLDT is not liable for the acts of an
independent contractor. 18 On May 11, 1981, respondent Court of Appeals
promulgated its resolution denying said motion to set aside and/or for
reconsideration and affirming in toto the decision of the lower court dated October
1, 1974. 19
Coming to this Court on a petition for review on certiorari, petitioner assigns the
following errors:
1. Respondent Court of Appeals erred in not denying private respondents' second
motion for reconsideration on the ground that the decision of the Special Second
Division, dated September 25, 1979, and the resolution of the Special Ninth
Division, dated January 24, 1980, are already final, and on the additional ground
that said second motion for reconsideration is pro forma.
2. Respondent court erred in reversing the aforesaid decision and resolution and
in misapplying the independent contractor rule in holding PLDT liable to
respondent Esteban spouses.
A convenient resume of the relevant proceedings in the respondent court, as
shown by the records and admitted by both parties, may be graphically presented
as follows:
(a) September 25, 1979, a decision was rendered by the Court of
Appeals with Justice Agrava asponente;

(b) October 10, 1979, a copy of said decision was received by private
respondents;
(c) October 25, 1979, a motion for reconsideration was filed by private
respondents;
(d) January 24, 1980, a resolution was issued denying said motion for
reconsideration;
(e) February 22, 1980, a copy of said denial resolution was received by
private respondents;
(f) February 29, 1980, a motion for leave to file a second motion for
reconsideration was filed by private respondents
(g) March 7, 1980, a second motion for reconsideration was filed by
private respondents;
(h) March 11, 1980, a resolution was issued allowing respondents to
file a second motion for reconsideration within ten (10) days from
receipt; and
(i) September 3, 1980, a resolution was issued, penned by Justice Zosa,
reversing the original decision dated September 25, 1979 and setting
aside the resolution dated January 24, 1980.
From the foregoing chronology, we are convinced that both the motion for leave
to file a second motion for reconsideration and, consequently, said second motion
for reconsideration itself were filed out of time.
Section 1, Rule 52 of the Rules of Court, which had procedural governance at the
time, provided that a second motion for reconsideration may be presented within
fifteen (15) days from notice of the order or judgment deducting the time in which
the first motion has been pending. 20 Private respondents having filed their first
motion for reconsideration on the last day of the reglementary period of fifteen
(15) days within which to do so, they had only one (1) day from receipt of the
order denying said motion to file, with leave of court, a second motion for
reconsideration. 21 In the present case, after their receipt on February 22, 1980 of
the resolution denying their first motion for reconsideration, private respondents
had two remedial options. On February 23, 1980, the remaining one (1) day of the
aforesaid reglementary period, they could have filed a motion for leave of court to
file a second motion for reconsideration, conceivably with a prayer for the
extension of the period within which to do so. On the other hand, they could have

appealed through a petition for review on certiorari to this Court within fifteen (15)
days from February 23, 1980. 22 Instead, they filed a motion for leave to file a
second motion 'for reconsideration on February 29, 1980, and said second motion
for reconsideration on March 7, 1980, both of which motions were by then timebarred.
Consequently, after the expiration on February 24, 1980 of the original fifteen (15)
day period, the running of which was suspended during the pendency of the first
motion for reconsideration, the Court of Appeals could no longer validly take
further proceedings on the merits of the case, much less to alter, modify or
reconsider its aforesaid decision and/or resolution. The filing of the motion for
leave to file a second motion for reconsideration by herein respondents on
February 29, 1980 and the subsequent filing of the motion itself on March 7, 1980,
after the expiration of the reglementary period to file the same, produced no legal
effects. Only a motion for re-hearing or reconsideration filed in time shall stay the
final order or judgment sought to be re-examined. 23
The consequential result is that the resolution of respondent court of March 11,
1980 granting private respondents' aforesaid motion for leave and, giving them
an extension of ten (10) days to file a second motion for reconsideration, is null
and void. The period for filing a second motion for reconsideration had already
expired when private respondents sought leave to file the same, and respondent
court no longer had the power to entertain or grant the said motion. The aforesaid
extension of ten (10) days for private respondents to file their second motion for
reconsideration was of no legal consequence since it was given when there was
no more period to extend. It is an elementary rule that an application for
extension of time must be filed prior to the expiration of the period sought to be
extended. 24 Necessarily, the discretion of respondent court to grant said
extension for filing a second motion for reconsideration is conditioned upon the
timeliness of the motion seeking the same.
No appeal having been taken seasonably, the respondent court's decision, dated
September 25, 1979, became final and executory on March 9, 1980. The
subsequent resolutions of respondent court, dated March 11, 1980 and
September 3, 1980, allowing private respondents to file a second motion for
reconsideration and reversing the original decision are null and void and cannot
disturb the finality of the judgment nor restore jurisdiction to respondent court.
This is but in line with the accepted rule that once a decision has become final
and executory it is removed from the power and jurisdiction of the court which
rendered it to further alter or amend, much less revoke it. 25 The decision rendered
anew is null and void. 26 The court's inherent power to correct its own errors should
be exercised before the finality of the decision or order sought to be corrected,

otherwise litigation will be endless and no question could be considered finally


settled. Although the granting or denial of a motion for reconsideration involves
the exercise of discretion, 27 the same should not be exercised whimsically,
capriciously or arbitrarily, but prudently in conformity with law, justice, reason and
equity. 28
Prescinding from the aforesaid procedural lapses into the substantive merits of
the case, we find no error in the findings of the respondent court in its original
decision that the accident which befell private respondents was due to the lack of
diligence of respondent Antonio Esteban and was not imputable to negligent
omission on the part of petitioner PLDT. Such findings were reached after an
exhaustive assessment and evaluation of the evidence on record, as evidenced by
the respondent court's resolution of January 24, 1980 which we quote with
approval:
First. Plaintiff's jeep was running along the inside lane of Lacson Street.
If it had remained on that inside lane, it would not have hit the
ACCIDENT MOUND.
Exhibit B shows, through the tiremarks, that the ACCIDENT MOUND
was hit by the jeep swerving from the left that is, swerving from the
inside lane. What caused the swerving is not disclosed; but, as the
cause of the accident, defendant cannot be made liable for the
damages suffered by plaintiffs. The accident was not due to the
absence of warning signs, but to the unexplained abrupt swerving of
the jeep from the inside lane. That may explain plaintiff-husband's
insistence that he did not see the ACCIDENT MOUND for which reason
he ran into it.
Second. That plaintiff's jeep was on the inside lane before it swerved to
hit the ACCIDENT MOUND could have been corroborated by a picture
showing Lacson Street to the south of the ACCIDENT MOUND.
It has been stated that the ditches along Lacson Street had already
been covered except the 3 or 4 meters where the ACCIDENT MOUND
was located. Exhibit B-1 shows that the ditches on Lacson Street north
of the ACCIDENT MOUND had already been covered, but not in such a
way as to allow the outer lane to be freely and conveniently passable
to vehicles. The situation could have been worse to the south of the
ACCIDENT MOUND for which reason no picture of the ACCIDENT
MOUND facing south was taken.

Third. Plaintiff's jeep was not running at 25 kilometers an hour as


plaintiff-husband claimed. At that speed, he could have braked the
vehicle the moment it struck the ACCIDENT MOUND. The jeep would
not have climbed the ACCIDENT MOUND several feet as indicated by
the tiremarks in Exhibit B. The jeep must have been running quite fast.
If the jeep had been braked at 25 kilometers an hour, plaintiff's would
not have been thrown against the windshield and they would not have
suffered their injuries.
Fourth. If the accident did not happen because the jeep was running
quite fast on the inside lane and for some reason or other it had to
swerve suddenly to the right and had to climb over the ACCIDENT
MOUND, then plaintiff-husband had not exercised the diligence of a
good father of a family to avoid the accident. With the drizzle, he
should not have run on dim lights, but should have put on his regular
lights which should have made him see the ACCIDENT MOUND in time.
If he was running on the outside lane at 25 kilometers an hour, even on
dim lights, his failure to see the ACCIDENT MOUND in time to brake the
car was negligence on his part. The ACCIDENT MOUND was relatively
big and visible, being 2 to 3 feet high and 1-1/2 feet wide. If he did not
see the ACCIDENT MOUND in time, he would not have seen any
warning sign either. He knew of the existence and location of the
ACCIDENT MOUND, having seen it many previous times. With ordinary
precaution, he should have driven his jeep on the night of the accident
so as to avoid hitting the ACCIDENT MOUND. 29
The above findings clearly show that the negligence of respondent Antonio
Esteban was not only contributory to his injuries and those of his wife but goes to
the very cause of the occurrence of the accident, as one of its determining
factors, and thereby precludes their right to recover damages. 30 The perils of the
road were known to, hence appreciated and assumed by, private respondents. By
exercising reasonable care and prudence, respondent Antonio Esteban could have
avoided the injurious consequences of his act, even assuming arguendo that there
was some alleged negligence on the part of petitioner.
The presence of warning signs could not have completely prevented the accident;
the only purpose of said signs was to inform and warn the public of the presence
of excavations on the site. The private respondents already knew of the presence
of said excavations. It was not the lack of knowledge of these excavations which
caused the jeep of respondents to fall into the excavation but the unexplained
sudden swerving of the jeep from the inside lane towards the accident mound. As
opined in some quarters, the omission to perform a duty, such as the placing of

warning signs on the site of the excavation, constitutes the proximate cause only
when the doing of the said omitted act would have prevented the injury. 31 It is
basic that private respondents cannot charge PLDT for their injuries where their
own failure to exercise due and reasonable care was the cause thereof. It is both a
societal norm and necessity that one should exercise a reasonable degree of
caution for his own protection. Furthermore, respondent Antonio Esteban had the
last clear chance or opportunity to avoid the accident, notwithstanding the
negligence he imputes to petitioner PLDT. As a resident of Lacson Street, he
passed on that street almost everyday and had knowledge of the presence and
location of the excavations there. It was his negligence that exposed him and his
wife to danger, hence he is solely responsible for the consequences of his
imprudence.
Moreover, we also sustain the findings of respondent Court of Appeals in its
original decision that there was insufficient evidence to prove any negligence on
the part of PLDT. We have for consideration only the self-serving testimony of
respondent Antonio Esteban and the unverified photograph of merely a portion of
the scene of the accident. The absence of a police report of the incident and the
non-submission of a medical report from the hospital where private respondents
were allegedly treated have not even been satisfactorily explained.
As aptly observed by respondent court in its aforecited extended resolution of
January 24, 1980
(a) There was no third party eyewitness of the accident. As to how the
accident occurred, the Court can only rely on the testimonial evidence
of plaintiffs themselves, and such evidence should be very carefully
evaluated, with defendant, as the party being charged, being given the
benefit of any doubt. Definitely without ascribing the same motivation
to plaintiffs, another person could have deliberately engineered a
similar accident in the hope and expectation that the Court can grant
him substantial moral and exemplary damages from the big
corporation that defendant is. The statement is made only to stress the
disadvantageous position of defendant which would have extreme
difficulty in contesting such person's claim. If there were no witness or
record available from the police department of Bacolod, defendant
would not be able to determine for itself which of the conflicting
testimonies of plaintiffs is correct as to the report or non-report of the
accident to the police department. 32
A person claiming damages for the negligence of another has the burden of
proving the existence of such fault or negligence causative thereof. The facts

constitutive of negligence must be affirmatively established by competent


evidence. 33 Whosoever relies on negligence for his cause of action has the burden
in the first instance of proving the existence of the same if contested, otherwise
his action must fail.
WHEREFORE, the resolutions of respondent Court of Appeals, dated March 11,
1980 and September 3,1980, are hereby SET ASIDE. Its original decision,
promulgated on September 25,1979, is hereby REINSTATED and AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.
Melencio-Herrera (Chairperson), Paras, Padilla and Sarmiento JJ., concur.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
THIRD DIVISION

G.R. No. L-68102 July 16, 1992


GEORGE MCKEE and ARACELI KOH MCKEE, petitioners,
vs.
INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT, JAIME TAYAG and ROSALINDA
MANALO, respondents.
G.R. No. L-68103 July 16, 1992
CARMEN DAYRIT KOH, LETICIA KOH, JULIETA KOH TUQUERO, ARACELI KOH MCKEE,
ANTONIO KOH and ELIZABETH KOH TURLA, petitioners,
vs.
INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT, JAIME TAYAG and ROSALINDA
MANALO, respondents.

DAVIDE, JR., J.:


Petitioners urge this Court to review and reverse the Resolution of the Court of
Appeals in C.A.-G.R. CV Nos. 69040-41, promulgated on 3 April 1984, which set
aside its previous Decision dated 29 November 1983 reversing the Decision of the
trial court which dismissed petitioners' complaints in Civil Case No. 4477 and Civil
Case No. 4478 of the then Court of First Instance (now Regional Trial Court) of
Pampanga entitled "Carmen Dayrit Koh, Leticia Koh, Julieta Koh Tuquero, Araceli
Koh McKee and Elizabeth Koh Turla vs. Jaime Tayag and Rosalinda Manalo," and
"George McKee and Araceli Koh McKee vs. Jaime Tayag and Rosalinda Manalo,"
respectively, and granted the private respondents' counterclaim for moral
damages, attorney's fees and litigation expenses.
The said civil cases for damages based on quasi-delict were filed as a result of a
vehicular accident which led to the deaths of Jose Koh, Kim Koh McKee and Loida
Bondoc and caused physical injuries to George Koh McKee, Christopher Koh McKee
and petitioner Araceli Koh McKee.
Petitioners in G.R. No. 68102, parents of the minors George Koh McKee,
Christopher Koh McKee and the deceased Kim Koh McKee, were the plaintiffs in
Civil Case No. 4478, while petitioner Carmen Dayrit Koh and her co-petitioners in
G.R. No. 68103, who are the wife and children, respectively, of the late Jose Koh,
were the plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 4477. Upon the other hand, private

respondents are the owners of the cargo truck which figured in the mishap; a
certain Ruben Galang was the driver of the truck at the time of the accident.
The antecedent facts are not disputed.
Between nine and ten o'clock in the morning of 8 January 1977, in Pulong Pulo
Bridge along MacArthur Highway, between Angeles City and San Fernando,
Pampanga, a head-on-collision took place between an International cargo truck,
Loadstar, with Plate No. RF912-T Philippines '76 owned by private respondents,
and driven by Ruben Galang, and a Ford Escort car bearing Plate No. S2-850
Pampanga '76 driven by Jose Koh. The collision resulted in the deaths of Jose Koh,
Kim Koh McKee and Loida Bondoc, and physical injuries to George Koh McKee,
Christopher Koh McKee and Araceli Koh McKee, all passengers of the Ford Escort.
Jose Koh was the father of petitioner Araceli Koh McKee, the mother of minors
George, Christopher and Kim Koh McKee. Loida Bondoc, on the other hand, was
the baby sitter of one and a half year old Kim. At the time of the collision, Kim was
seated on the lap of Loida Bondoc who was at the front passenger's seat of the
car while Araceli and her two (2) sons were seated at the car's back seat.
Immediately before the collision, the cargo truck, which was loaded with two
hundred (200) cavans of rice weighing about 10,000 kilos, was traveling
southward from Angeles City to San Fernando Pampanga, and was bound for
Manila. The Ford Escort, on the other hand, was on its way to Angeles City from
San Fernando. When the northbound car was about (10) meters away from the
southern approach of the bridge, two (2) boys suddenly darted from the right side
of the road and into the lane of the car. The boys were moving back and forth,
unsure of whether to cross all the way to the other side or turn back. Jose Koh
blew the horn of the car, swerved to the left and entered the lane of the truck; he
then switched on the headlights of the car, applied the brakes and thereafter
attempted to return to his lane. Before he could do so, his car collided with the
truck. The collision occurred in the lane of the truck, which was the opposite lane,
on the said bridge.
The incident was immediately reported to the police station in Angeles City;
consequently, a team of police officers was forthwith dispatched to conduct an on
the spot investigation. In the sketch 1 prepared by the investigating officers, the
bridge is described to be sixty (60) "footsteps" long and fourteen (14) "footsteps"
wide seven (7) "footsteps" from the center line to the inner edge of the side
walk on both sides. 2 Pulong Pulo Bridge, which spans a dry brook, is made of
concrete with soft shoulders and concrete railings on both sides about three (3)
feet high.

The sketch of the investigating officer discloses that the right rear portion of the
cargo truck was two (2) "footsteps" from the edge of the right sidewalk, while its
left front portion was touching the center line of the bridge, with the smashed
front side of the car resting on its front bumper. The truck was about sixteen (16)
"footsteps" away from the northern end of the bridge while the car was about
thirty-six (36) "footsteps" from the opposite end. Skid marks produced by the right
front tire of the truck measured nine (9) "footsteps", while skid marks produced by
the left front tire measured five (5) "footsteps." The two (2) rear tires of the truck,
however, produced no skid marks.
In his statement to the investigating police officers immediately after the
accident, Galang admitted that he was traveling at thirty (30) miles (48
kilometers) per hour.
As a consequence of the collision, two (2) cases, Civil Case No. 4477 and No.
4478, were filed on 31 January 1977 before the then Court of First Instance of
Pampanga and were raffled to Branch III and Branch V of the said court,
respectively. In the first, herein petitioners in G.R. No. 68103 prayed for the award
of P12,000.00 as indemnity for the death of Jose Koh, P150,000.00 as moral
damages, P60,000.00 as exemplary damages, P10,000.00 for litigation expenses,
P6,000.00 for burial expenses, P3,650.00 for the burial lot and P9,500.00 for the
tomb, plus attorney's fees. 3 In the second case, petitioners in G.R. No. 68102
prayed for the following: (a) in connection with the death of Kim McKee, the sum
of P12,000.00 as death benefit, P3,150.00 for funeral services, P3,650.00 for the
cemetery lot, P3,000.00 for the tomb, P50,000.00 as moral damages, P10,000.00
as exemplary damages and P2,000.00 as miscellaneous damages; (b) in the case
of Araceli Koh McKee, in connection with the serious physical injuries suffered, the
sum of P100,000.00 as moral damages, P20,000.00 as exemplary damages,
P12,000.00 for loss of earnings, P5,000.00 for the hospitalization expenses up to
the date of the filing of the complaint; and (c) with respect to George McKee, Jr., in
connection with the serious physical injuries suffered, the sum of P50,000.00 as
moral damages, P20,000.00 as exemplary damages and the following medical
expenses: P3,400 payable to the Medical Center, P3,500.00 payable to the St.
Francis Medical Center, P5,175.00 payable to the Clark Air Base Hospital, and
miscellaneous expenses amounting to P5,000.00. They also sought an award of
attorney's fees amounting to 25% of the total award plus traveling and hotel
expenses, with costs. 4
On 1 March 1977, an Information charging Ruben Galang with the crime of
"Reckless Imprudence Resulting to (sic) Multiple Homicide and Physical Injuries
and Damage to Property" was filed with the trial court. It was docketed as

Criminal Case No. 3751 and was raffled to Branch V of the court, the same Branch
where Civil Case No. 4478 was assigned. 5
In their Answer with Counterclaim in Civil Case No. 4477, private respondents
asserted that it was the Ford Escort car which "invaded and bumped (sic) the lane
of the truck driven by Ruben Galang and, as counterclaim, prayed for the award of
P15,000.00 as attorney's fees, P20,000.00 as actual and liquidated damages,
P100,000.00 as moral damages and P30,000.00 as business losses. 6 In Civil Case
No. 4478, private respondents first filed a motion to dismiss on grounds of
pendency of another action (Civil Case No. 4477) and failure to implead an
indispensable party, Ruben Galang, the truck driver; they also filed a motion to
consolidate the case with Civil Case No. 4477 pending before Branch III of the
same court, which was opposed by the plaintiffs. 7 Both motions were denied by
Branch V, then presided over by Judge Ignacio Capulong. Thereupon, private
respondents filed their Answer with Counter-claim 8 wherein they alleged that
Jose Koh was the person "at fault having approached the lane of the truck driven
by Ruben Galang, . . . which was on the right lane going towards Manila and at a
moderate speed observing all traffic rules and regulations applicable under the
circumstances then prevailing;" in their counterclaim, they prayed for an award of
damages as may be determined by the court after due hearing, and the sums of
P10,000.00 as attorney's fees and P5,000.00 as expenses of litigation.
Petitioners filed their Answers to the Counterclaims in both cases.
To expedite the proceedings, the plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 4478 filed on 27 March
1978 a motion to adopt the testimonies of witnesses taken during the hearing of
Criminal Case No. 3751, which private respondents opposed and which the court
denied. 9 Petitioners subsequently moved to reconsider the order denying the
motion for consolidation, 10 which Judge Capulong granted in the Order of 5
September 1978; he then directed that Civil Case No. 4478 be consolidated with
Civil Case No. 4477 in Branch III of the court then presided over by Judge Mario
Castaeda, Jr.
Left then with Branch V of the trial court was Criminal Case No. 3751.
In the civil cases, the plaintiffs presented as witnesses Araceli Koh McKee,
Fernando Nuag, Col. Robert Fitzgerald, Primitivo Parel, Eugenio Tanhueco,
Carmen Koh and Antonio Koh, 11 and offered several documentary exhibits. Upon
the other hand, private respondents presented as witnesses Ruben Galang,
Zenaida Soliman, Jaime Tayag and Roman Dayrit. 12

In the criminal case, the prosecution presented as witnesses Mrs. Araceli McKee,
Salud Samia, Pfc. Fernando Nuag, Dr. Ramon Panlilio, Dr. Robert Fitzgerald, Dr.
Roberto Yuson, Dr. Hector, Ulanday, Pfc. Benigno de Leon, Marina Bolos, Primitivo
Parel, Rogelio Pineda, Benito Caraan and Eugenio Tanhueco, and offered several
documentary exhibits. 13 Upon the other hand, the defense presented the accused
Ruben Galang, Luciano Punzalan, Zenaida Soliman and Roman Dayrit, and offered
documentary exhibits. 14
On 1 October 1980, Judge Capulong rendered a decision against the accused
Ruben Galang in the aforesaid criminal case. The dispositive portion of the
decision reads as follows:
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered
finding the accused Ruben Galang guilty beyond reasonable doubt of
the crime charged in the information and after applying the provisions
of Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code and indeterminate sentence
law, this Court, imposes upon said accused Ruben Galang the penalty
of six (6) months of arresto mayor as minimum to two (2) years, four
(4) months and one (1) day of prision correccional as maximum; the
accused is further sentenced to pay and indemnify the heirs of Loida
Bondoc the amount of P12,000.00 as indemnity for her death; to
reimburse the heirs of Loida Bondoc the amount of P2,000.00
representing the funeral expenses; to pay the heirs of Loida Bondoc
the amount of P20,000.00 representing her loss of income; to
indemnify and pay the heirs of the deceased Jose Koh the value of the
car in the amount of P53,910.95, and to pay the costs. 15
The aforecited decision was promulgated only on 17 November 1980; on the
same day, counsel for petitioners filed with Branch III of the court where the
two (2) civil cases were pending a manifestation to that effect and attached
thereto a copy of the decision. 16
Upon the other hand, Judge Mario Castaeda, Jr. dismissed the two (2) civil cases
on 12 November 1980 and awarded the private respondents moral damages,
exemplary damages and attorney's fees. 17 The dispositive portion of the said
decision reads as follows:
WHEREFORE, finding the preponderance of evidence to be in favor of
the defendants and against the plaintiffs, these cases are hereby
ordered DISMISSED with costs against the plaintiffs. The defendants
had proven their counter-claim, thru evidences (sic) presented and
unrebutted. Hence, they are hereby awarded moral and exemplary

damages in the amount of P100,000.00 plus attorney's fee of


P15,000.00 and litigation expenses for (sic) P2,000.00. The actual
damages claimed for (sic) by the defendants is (sic) hereby dismissing
for lack of proof to that effect (sic). 18
A copy of the decision was sent by registered mail to the petitioners on 28
November 1980 and was received on 2 December 1980. 19
Accused Ruben Galang appealed the judgment of conviction to the Court of
Appeals. The appeal was docketed as C.A.-G.R. Blg. 24764-CR and was assigned
to the court's Third Division. Plaintiffs in Civil Cases Nos. 4477 and 4478 likewise
separately appealed the 12 November 1980 decision to the appellate court. The
appeals were docketed as C.A.-G.R. No. 69041-R and C.A.-G.R. No. 69040-R,
respectively, and were assigned to the Fourth Civil Cases Division.
On 4 October 1982, the respondent Court promulgated its decision 20 in C.A.-G.R.
Blg. 24764-CR affirming the conviction of Galang. 21 The dispositive portion of the
decision reads:
DAHIL DITO, ang hatol na paksa ng naritong paghahabol ay Aming
pinagtitibay sa kanyang kabuuan. Ang naghahabol pa rin ang
pinagbabayad ng gugol ng paghahabol.
A motion for reconsideration of the decision was denied by the respondent Court
in its Kapasiyahan promulgated on 25 November 1982. 22 A petition for its
review 23 was filed with this Court; said petition was subsequently denied. A
motion for its reconsideration was denied with finality in the Resolution of 20 April
1983. 24
On 29 November 1983, respondent Court, by then known as the Intermediate
Appellate Court, promulgated its consolidated decision in A.C.-G.R. CV Nos. 69040
and 69041, 25 the dispositive portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from it hereby reversed and set
aside and another one is rendered, ordering defendants-appellees to
pay plaintiffs-appellants as follows:
For the death of Jose Koh:
P
P
P
P

50,000.00 as moral damages


12,000.00 as death indemnity
16,000.00 for the lot and tomb (Exhs. U and U-1)
4,000.00 expenses for holding a wake (p. 9, tsn April 19,

1979)
P 950.00 for the casket (Exh. M)
P 375.00 for the vault services (Exhs. V and V-1)
For the death of Kim Koh McKee:
P
P
P
P
P

50,000.00 as moral damages


12,000.00 as death indemnity
1,000.00 for the purchase of the burial lot (Exh. M)
950.00 for funeral services (Exh. M-1)
375.00 for vault services (Exhs. V and V-1)

For the physical injuries suffered by George Koh McKee:


P 25,000.00 as moral damages
P 672.00 for Clark Field Hospital (Exh. E)
P 4,384.00 paid to Angeles Medical Clinic (Exhs. D, D-1 and
D-2)
P 1,555.00 paid to St. Francis Medical Center (Exhs. B and
B-1)
For the physical injuries suffered by Araceli Koh McKee:
P 25,000.00 as moral damages
P 1,055.00 paid to St. Francis Medical Center (Exhs. G and
G-1)
P 75.00 paid to St. Francis Medical Center (Exhs. G-2 and G3)
P 428.00 to Carmelite General Hospital (Exh. F)
P 114.20 to Muoz Clinic (Exh. MM)
For the physical injuries suffered by Christopher Koh McKee:
P 10,000.00 as moral damages
P 1,231.10 to St. Francis Medical Center (Exhs. L and L-1)
P 321.95 to F.C.E.A. Hospital (Exhs. G and D-1)
In addition, We award P10,000.00 as counsel (sic) fees in Civil Case No.
4477 and another P10,000.00; as counsel (sic) fees in Civil Case No.
4478.
No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.

26

The decision is anchored principally on the respondent Court's findings that it was
Ruben Galang's inattentiveness or reckless imprudence which caused the
accident. The appellate court further said that the law presumes negligence on
the part of the defendants (private respondents), as employers of Galang, in the
selection and supervision of the latter; it was further asserted that these
defendants did not allege in their Answers the defense of having exercised the
diligence of a good father of a family in selecting and supervising the said
employee. 27 This conclusion of reckless imprudence is based on the
following findings of fact:
In the face of these diametrically opposed judicial positions, the
determinative issue in this appeal is posited in the fourth assigned
error as follows:
IV
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED WHEN IT HELD THE (sic) DRIVER OF THE
TRUCK STOPPED HIS TRUCK BLEW HIS HORN SWITCHED ON HIS
HEADLIGHTS AND COULD NOT SWERVE TO THE RIGHT.
Supportive of plaintiffs' version, principal witness Araceli Koh McKee testified thus:
Q What happened after that, as you approached the bridge?
A When we were approaching the bridge, two (2) boys tried
to cross the right lane on the right side of the highway going
to San Fernando. My father, who is (sic) the driver of the car
tried to avoid the two (2) boys who were crossing, he blew
his horn and swerved to the left to avoid hitting the two (2)
boys. We noticed the truck, he switched on the headlights to
warn the truck driver, to slow down to give us the right of
way to come back to our right lane.
Q Did the truck slow down?
A No, sir, it did not, just (sic) continued on its way.
Q What happened after that?
A After avoiding the two (2) boys, the car tried to go back to
the right lane since the truck is (sic) coming, my father

stepped on the brakes and all what (sic) I heard is the sound
of impact (sic), sir. (tsn, pp. 5-6, July 22, 1977); or (Exhibit
"O" in these Civil Cases).
xxx xxx xxx
Q Mrs. how did you know that the truck driven by the herein
accused, Ruben Galang did not reduce its speed before the
actual impact of collision (sic) as you narrated in this Exhibit
"1," how did you know (sic)?
A It just kept on coming, sir. If only he reduced his speed,
we could have got (sic) back to our right lane on side (sic) of
the highway, sir. (tsn. pp. 33-34 July 22, 1977) or (Exhibit
"O" in these Civil Cases) (pp. 30-31, Appellants' Brief).
Plaintiffs' version was successfully corroborated to Our satisfaction by the
following facts and circumstances:
1. An impartial eye-witness to the mishap, Eugenio Tanhueco, declared
that the truck stopped only when it had already collided with the car:
xxx xxx xxx
Tanhueco repeated the same testimony during the hearing in the
criminal case:
xxx xxx xxx
Tanhueco could (sic) not be tagged as an accommodation witness
because he was one of the first to arrive at the scene of the accident.
As a matter of fact, he brought one of the injured passengers to the
hospital.
We are not prepared to accord faith and credit to defendants'
witnesses, Zenaida Soliman, a passenger of the truck, and Roman
Dayrit, who supposedly lived across the street.
Regarding Soliman, experience has shown that in the ordinary course
of events people usually take the side of the person with whom they
are associated at the time of the accident, because, as a general rule,
they do not wish to be identified with the person who was at fault. Thus
an imaginary bond is unconsciously created among the several

persons within the same group (People vs. Vivencio, CA-G.R. No.
00310-CR, Jan. 31, 1962).
With respect to Dayrit, We can not help suspecting (sic) that he is an
accommodation witness. He did not go to the succor of the injured
persons. He said he wanted to call the police authorities about the
mishap, but his phone had no dial tone. Be this (sic) as it may, the trial
court in the criminal case acted correctly in refusing to believe Dayrit.
2. Exhibit 2, the statement of Galang, does not include the claim that
Galang stopped his truck at a safe distance from the car, according to
plaintiffs (p. 25, Appellants' Brief). This contention of appellants was
completely passed sub-silencio or was not refuted by appellees in their
brief. Exhibit 2 is one of the exhibits not included in the record.
According to the Table of Contents submitted by the court below, said
Exhibit 2 was not submitted by defendants-appellees. In this light, it is
not far-fetched to surmise that Galang's claim that he stopped was an
eleventh-hour desperate attempt to exculpate himself from
imprisonment and damages.
3. Galang divulged that he stopped after seeing the car about 10
meters away:
ATTY. SOTTO:
Q Do I understand from your testimony that inspite of the
fact that you admitted that the road is straight and you may
be able to (sic) see 500-1000 meters away from you any
vehicle, you first saw that car only about ten (10) meters
away from you for the first time?
xxx xxx xxx
A I noticed it, sir, that it was about ten (10) meters away.
ATTY. SOTTO:
Q So, for clarification, you clarify and state under your oath
that you have (sic) not noticed it before that ten (10)
meters? (Tsn. 3 to 5, Sept. 18, 1979). (p. 16, Appellants'
Brief)

Galang's testimony substantiate (sic) Tanhueco's statement that


Galang stopped only because of the impact. At ten (10) meters away,
with the truck running at 30 miles per hour, as revealed in Galang's
affidavit (Exh. 2; p. 25, Appellants' brief), it is well-nigh impossible to
avoid a collision on a bridge.
5. Galang's truck stopped because of the collision, and not because he
waited for Jose Koh to return to his proper lane. The police investigator,
Pfc. Fernando L. Nuag, stated that he found skid marks under the
truck but there were not (sic) skid marks behind the truck (pp. 19-20,
t.s.n., Nov. 3, 1978). The presence of skid marks show (sic) that the
truck was speeding. Since the skid marks were found under the truck
and none were found at the rear of the truck, the reasonable
conclusion is that the skid marks under the truck were caused by the
truck's front wheels when the trucks (sic) suddenly stopped seconds
before the mishap in an endeavor to avoid the same. But, as aforesaid,
Galang saw the car at barely 10 meters away, a very short distance to
avoid a collision, and in his futile endeavor to avoid the collision he
abruptly stepped on his brakes but the smashup happened just the
same.
For the inattentiveness or reckless imprudence of Galang, the law
presumes negligence on the part of the defendants in the selection of
their driver or in the supervision over him. Appellees did not allege
such defense of having exercised the duties of a good father of a
family in the selection and supervision of their employees in their
answers. They did not even adduce evidence that they did in fact have
methods of selection and programs of supervision. The inattentiveness
or negligence of Galang was the proximate cause of the mishap. If
Galang's attention was on the highway, he would have sighted the car
earlier or at a very safe distance than (sic) 10 meters. He proceeded to
cross the bridge, and tried to stop when a collision was already
inevitable, because at the time that he entered the bridge his attention
was not riveted to the road in front of him.
On the question of damages, the claims of appellants were amply
proven, but the items must be reduced. 28
A motion for reconsideration alleging improper appreciation of the facts was
subsequently filed by private respondents on the basis of which the respondent
Court, in its Resolution of 3 April 1984, 29 reconsidered and set aside its 29
November 1983 decision and affirmed in toto the trial court's judgment of 12

November 1980. A motion to reconsider this Resolution was denied by the


respondent Court on 4 July 1984. 30
Hence, this petition.
Petitioners allege that respondent Court:
I
. . . COMMITTED A VERY SERIOUS AND GRAVE ERROR WHEN IT TOTALLY
REVERSED ITS DECISION BY MERELY BASING IT FROM (sic) A MERE
"PRESUMPTION," TOTALLY DISREGARDING THE PRIVATE RESPONDENTS'
DRIVER'S ADMISSIONS AND CONFESSIONS, WHO EXCLUSIVELY
COMMITTED THE PROXIMATE CAUSE OF THE ACCIDENT (sic), FURTHER,
IT ALSO DISREGARDED THE EVIDENCE ADDUCED AND FOUND IN THE
RECORDS; THEREFORE, RESPONDENT COURT'S RESOLUTIONS
(ANNEXES A and B, PETITION) ARE CLEARLY ERRONEOUS, PURELY
BASED ON SPECULATIONS, CONJECTURES AND WITHOUT SURE
FOUNDATION IN THE EVIDENCE.
II
. . . GRAVELY ABUSED ITS DISCRETION AND ERRED WHEN IN EFFECT IT
DISREGARDED A DOCTRINE LAID DOWN BY THIS HONORABLE COURT
BY STATING AMONG OTHERS, "IT CANNOT CATEGORICALLY ADOPT THE
FINDINGS OF GUILT IN THE CRIMINAL CASE WHERE THE DRIVER OF THE
TRUCK INVOLVED IN THE ACCIDENT WAS INDICTED.
III
. . . PATENTLY COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AND MADE A
MISLEADING PRONOUNCEMENT, WHEN IT HELD: "IT IS THUS
INCUMBENT UPON THE PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS (APPELLEES WRONGLY
MENTIONED IN THE RESOLUTION) TO PROVE THEIR ALLEGATIONS THAT
THE PROXIMATE CAUSE OF THE ACCIDENT WAS THE NEGLIGENCE OF
PRIVATE RESPONDENTS' DRIVER.
IV
. . . COMMITTED ANOTHER GRIEVIOUS (sic) ERROR; COMMITTED GRAVE
ABUSE OF DISCRETION AND CITED ANOTHER CASE WHICH IS CLEARLY
INAPPLICABLE TO THESE CASES.

V
. . . COMMITTED A PATENT ERROR AND GRAVELY ABUSED ITS
DISCRETION IN ADOPTING THE FINDINGS OF THE TRIAL COURT WHICH
ARE CLEARLY ERRONEOUS AND CONTRARY TO THE EVIDENCE FOUND
IN THE RECORDS, SPECIALLY THEY (sic) ARE CONTRARY TO THE
ADMITTED FACTS AND JUDICIAL ADMISSIONS MADE BY THE PRIVATE
RESPONDENTS' DRIVER.
VI
. . . EXCEEDED ITS JURISDICTION, COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF
DISCRETION AND GRAVELY ERRED WHEN IT AWARDED DAMAGES TO
THE PRIVATE RESPONDENTS WHEN SAID AWARD IS NOT SUPPORTED BY
EVIDENCE, IN THE RECORDS, AND SAID AWARD IS NOT ALLOWED BY
LAW AND THE CONSISTENT DECISIONS OF THIS HONORABLE COURT.
VII
. . . EXCEEDED ITS JURISDICTION, COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF
DISCRETION AND GRAVELY ERRED WHEN IT ERRONEOUSLY SET ASIDE
ITS DECISION AWARDING DAMAGES TO PETITIONERS WHICH IS
CLEARLY IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE EVIDENCE, THE LAW AND
JURISPRUDENCE RELATIVE TO THE AWARD OF DAMAGES. 31
In the Resolution of 12 September 1984, We required private respondents to
Comment on the petition. 32 After the said Comment 33 was filed, petitioners
submitted a Reply 34 thereto; this Court then gave due course to the instant
petitions and required petitioners to file their Brief, 35 which they accordingly
complied with.
There is merit in the petition. Before We take on the main task of dissecting the
arguments and counter-arguments, some observations on the procedural
vicissitudes of these cases are in order.
Civil Cases Nos. 4477 and 4478, which were for the recovery of civil liability
arising from a quasi-delict under Article 2176 in relation to Article 2180 of the Civil
Code, were filed ahead of Criminal Case No. 3751. Civil Case No. 4478 was
eventually consolidated with Civil Case No. 4477 for joint trial in Branch III of the
trial court. The records do not indicate any attempt on the part of the parties, and
it may therefore be reasonably concluded that none was made, to consolidate
Criminal Case No. 3751 with the civil cases, or vice-versa. The parties may have
then believed, and understandably so, since by then no specific provision of law or

ruling of this Court expressly allowed such a consolidation, that an independent


civil action, authorized under Article 33 in relation to Article 2177 of the Civil
Code, such as the civil cases in this case, cannot be consolidated with the criminal
case. Indeed, such consolidation could have been farthest from their minds as
Article 33 itself expressly provides that the "civil action shall proceed
independently of the criminal prosecution, and shall require only a preponderance
of evidence." Be that as it may, there was then no legal impediment against such
consolidation. Section 1, Rule 31 of the Rules of Court, which seeks to avoid a
multiplicity of suits, guard against oppression and abuse, prevent delays, clear
congested dockets to simplify the work of the trial court, or in short, attain justice
with the least expense to the parties litigants, 36 would have easily sustained a
consolidation, thereby preventing the unseeming, if no ludicrous, spectacle of two
(2) judges appreciating, according to their respective orientation, perception and
perhaps even prejudice, the same facts differently, and thereafter
rendering conflicting decisions. Such was what happened in this case. It should
not, hopefully, happen anymore. In the recent case of Cojuangco vs. Court or
Appeals, 37 this Court held that the present provisions of Rule 111 of the Revised
Rules of Court allow a consolidation of an independent civil action for the recovery
of civil liability authorized under Articles 32, 33, 34 or 2176 of the Civil Code with
the criminal action subject, however, to the condition that no final judgment has
been rendered in that criminal case.
Let it be stressed, however, that the judgment in Criminal Case No. 3751 finding
Galang guilty of reckless imprudence, although already final by virtue of the
denial by no less than this Court of his last attempt to set aside the respondent
Court's affirmance of the verdict of conviction, has no relevance or importance to
this case.
As We held in Dionisio vs. Alvendia, 38 the responsibility arising from fault or
negligence in a quasi-delict is entirely separate and distinct from the civil liability
arising from negligence under the Penal Code. And, as more concretely stated in
the concurring opinion of Justice J.B.L. Reyes, "in the case of independent civil
actions under the new Civil Code, the result of the criminal case, whether
acquittal or conviction, would be entirely irrelevant to the civil action." 39 In Salta
vs. De Veyra and PNB vs. Purisima, 40 this Court stated:
. . . It seems perfectly reasonable to conclude that the civil actions
mentioned in Article 33, permitted in the same manner to be filed
separately from the criminal case, may proceed similarly regardless of
the result of the criminal case.

Indeed, when the law has allowed a civil case related to a criminal
case, to be filed separately and to proceed independently even during
the pendency of the latter case, the intention is patent to make the
court's disposition of the criminal case of no effect whatsoever on the
separate civil case. This must be so because the offenses specified in
Article 33 are of such a nature, unlike other offenses not mentioned,
that they may be made the subject of a separate civil action because
of the distinct separability of their respective juridical cause or basis of
action . . . .
What remains to be the most important consideration as to why the decision in
the criminal case should not be considered in this appeal is the fact that private
respondents were not parties therein. It would have been entirely different if the
petitioners' cause of action was for damages arising from a delict, in which case
private respondents' liability could only be subsidiary pursuant to Article 103 of
the Revised Penal Code. In the absence of any collusion, the judgment of
conviction in the criminal case against Galang would have been conclusive in the
civil cases for the subsidiary liability of the private respondents. 41
And now to the merits of the petition.
It is readily apparent from the pleadings that the principal issue raised in this
petition is whether or not respondent Court's findings in its challenged resolution
are supported by evidence or are based on mere speculations, conjectures and
presumptions.
The principle is well-established that this Court is not a trier of facts. Therefore, in
an appeal by certiorari under Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of Court, only questions
of law may be raised. The resolution of factual issues is the function of the lower
courts whose findings on these matters are received with respect and are, as a
rule, binding on this Court. 42
The foregoing rule, however, is not without exceptions. Findings of facts of the
trial courts and the Court of Appeals may be set aside when such findings are not
supported by the evidence or when the trial court failed to consider the material
facts which would have led to a conclusion different from what was stated in its
judgment. 43The same is true where the appellate court's conclusions are
grounded entirely on conjectures, speculations and surmises 44 or where the
conclusions of the lower courts are based on a misapprehension of facts. 45
It is at once obvious to this Court that the instant case qualifies as one of the
aforementioned exceptions as the findings and conclusions of the trial court and

the respondent Court in its challenged resolution are not supported by the
evidence, are based on an misapprehension of facts and the inferences made
therefrom are manifestly mistaken. The respondent Court's decision of 29
November 1983 makes the correct findings of fact.
In the assailed resolution, the respondent Court held that the fact that the car
improperly invaded the lane of the truck and that the collision occurred in said
lane gave rise to the presumption that the driver of the car, Jose Koh, was
negligent. On the basis of this presumed negligence, the appellate court
immediately concluded that it was Jose Koh's negligence that was the immediate
and proximate cause of the collision. This is an unwarranted deduction as the
evidence for the petitioners convincingly shows that the car swerved into the
truck's lane because as it approached the southern end of the bridge, two (2)
boys darted across the road from the right sidewalk into the lane of the car. As
testified to by petitioner Araceli Koh McKee:
Q What happened after that, as you approached the bridge?
A When we were approaching the bridge, two (2) boys tried
to cross the right lane on the right side of the highway going
to San Fernando. My father, who is (sic) the driver of the car
tried to avoid the two (2) boys who were crossing, he blew
his horn and swerved to the left to avoid hitting the two (2)
boys. We noticed the truck, he switched on the headlights to
warn the truck driver, to slow down to give us the right of
way to come back to our right lane.
Q Did the truck slow down?
A No sir, it did not, just (sic) continued on its way.
Q What happened after that?
A After avoiding the two (2) boys, the car tried to go back to
the right lane since the truck is (sic) coming, my father
stepped on the brakes and all what (sic) I heard is the sound
of impact (sic), sir. 46
Her credibility and testimony remained intact even during cross examination. Jose
Koh's entry into the lane of the truck was necessary in order to avoid what was, in
his mind at that time, a greater peril death or injury to the two (2) boys. Such
act can hardly be classified as negligent.

Negligence was defined and described by this Court in Layugan vs. Intermediate
Appellate Court, 47 thus:
. . . Negligence is the omission to do something which a reasonable
man, guided by those considerations which ordinarily regulate the
conduct of human affairs, would do, or the doing of something which a
prudent and reasonable man would not do (Black's Law Dictionary,
Fifth Edition, 930), or as Judge Cooley defines it, "(T)he failure to
observe for the protection of the interests of another person, that
degree of care, precaution, and vigilance which the circumstances
justly demand, whereby such other person suffers injury." (Cooley on
Torts, Fourth Edition, vol. 3, 265)
In Picart vs. Smith (37 Phil 809, 813), decided more than seventy years
ago but still a sound rule, (W)e held:
The test by which to determine the existence of negligence
in a particular case may be stated as follows: Did the
defendant in doing the alleged negligent act use
that(reasonable care and caution which an ordinarily
prudent person would have used in the same situation?) If
not, then he is guilty of negligence. The law here in effect
adopts the standard supposed to be supplied by the
imaginary conduct of the discreet paterfamiliasof the
Roman
law. . . .
In Corliss vs. Manila Railroad Company,

48

We held:

. . . Negligence is want of the care required by the circumstances. It is


a relative or comparative, not an absolute, term and its application
depends upon the situation of the parties and the degree of care and
vigilance which the circumstances reasonably require. Where the
danger is great, a high degree of care is necessary, and the failure to
observe it is a want of ordinary care under the circumstances. (citing
Ahern v. Oregon Telephone Co., 35 Pac. 549 (1894).
On the basis of the foregoing definition, the test of negligence and the facts
obtaining in this case, it is manifest that no negligence could be imputed to Jose
Koh. Any reasonable and ordinary prudent man would have tried to avoid running
over the two boys by swerving the car away from where they were even if this
would mean entering the opposite lane. Avoiding such immediate peril would be

the natural course to take particularly where the vehicle in the opposite lane
would be several meters away and could very well slow down, move to the side of
the road and give way to the oncoming car. Moreover, under what is known as the
emergency rule, "one who suddenly finds himself in a place of danger, and is
required to act without time to consider the best means that may be adopted to
avoid the impending danger, is not guilty of negligence, if he fails to adopt what
subsequently and upon reflection may appear to have been a better method,
unless the emergency in which he finds himself is brought about by his own
negligence." 49
Considering the sudden intrusion of the two (2) boys into the lane of the car, We
find that Jose Koh adopted the best means possible in the given situation to avoid
hitting them. Applying the above test, therefore, it is clear that he was not guilty
of negligence.
In any case, assuming, arguendo that Jose Koh is negligent, it cannot be said that
his negligence was the proximate cause of the collision. Proximate cause has been
defined as:
. . . that cause, which, in natural and continuous sequence, unbroken
by any efficient intervening cause, produces the injury, and without
which the result would not have occurred. And more comprehensively,
the proximate legal cause is that acting first and producing the injury,
either immediately or by setting other events in motion, all constituting
a natural and continuous chain of events, each having a close causal
connection with its immediate predecessor, the final event in the chain
immediately effecting the injury as a natural and probable result of the
cause which first acted, under such circumstances that the person
responsible for the first event should, as an ordinary prudent and
intelligent person, have reasonable ground to expect at the moment of
his act or default that an injury to some person might probably result
therefrom. 50
Applying the above definition, although it may be said that the act of Jose Koh, if
at all negligent, was the initial act in the chain of events, it cannot be said that the
same caused the eventual injuries and deaths because of the occurrence of a
sufficient intervening event, the negligent act of the truck driver, which was the
actual cause of the tragedy. The entry of the car into the lane of the truck would
not have resulted in the collision had the latter heeded the emergency signals
given by the former to slow down and give the car an opportunity to go back into
its proper lane. Instead of slowing down and swerving to the far right of the road,
which was the proper precautionary measure under the given circumstances, the

truck driver continued at full speed towards the car. The truck driver's negligence
becomes more apparent in view of the fact that the road is 7.50 meters wide
while the car measures 1.598 meters and the truck, 2.286 meters, in width. This
would mean that both car and truck could pass side by side with a clearance of
3.661 meters to spare. 51 Furthermore, the bridge has a level sidewalk which could
have partially accommodated the truck. Any reasonable man finding himself in
the given situation would have tried to avoid the car instead of meeting it headon.
The truck driver's negligence is apparent in the records. He himself said that his
truck was running at 30 miles (48 kilometers) per hour along the bridge while the
maximum speed allowed by law on a bridge 52 is only 30 kilometers per hour.
Under Article 2185 of the Civil Code, a person driving a vehicle is presumed
negligent if at the time of the mishap, he was violating any traffic regulation. We
cannot give credence to private respondents' claim that there was an error in the
translation by the investigating officer of the truck driver's response in Pampango
as to whether the speed cited was in kilometers per hour or miles per hour. The
law presumes that official duty has been regularly performed; 53 unless there is
proof to the contrary, this presumption holds. In the instant case, private
respondents' claim is based on mere conjecture.
The truck driver's negligence was likewise duly established through the earlier
quoted testimony of petitioner Araceli Koh McKee which was duly corroborated by
the testimony of Eugenio Tanhueco, an impartial eyewitness to the mishap.
Araceli Koh McKee testified further, thus:
xxx xxx xxx
Q Mrs. how did you know that the truck driven by the herein
accused, Ruben Galang did not reduce its speed before the
actual impact of collision as you narrated in this Exhibit "1,"
how did you know?
A It just kept on coming, sir. If only he reduced his speed,
we could have got (sic) back to our right lane on side (sic) of
the highway, sir. (tsn, pp. 33-34, July 22, 1977) or (Exhibit;
"O" in these Civil Cases) (pp. 30-31, Appellants' Brief) 54
while Eugenio Tanhueco testified thus:
Q When you saw the truck, how was it moving?

A It was moving 50 to 60 kilometers per hour, sir.


Q Immediately after you saw this truck, do you know what
happened?
A I saw the truck and a car collided (sic), sir, and I went to
the place to help the victims. (tsn. 28, April 19, 1979)
xxx xxx xxx
Q From the time you saw the truck to the time of the
impact, will you tell us if the said truck ever stopped?
A I saw it stopped (sic) when it has (sic) already collided
with the car and it was already motionless. (tsn. 31, April
19, 1979; Emphasis Supplied). (p. 27, Appellants' Brief). 55
Clearly, therefore, it was the truck driver's subsequent negligence in failing to
take the proper measures and degree of care necessary to avoid the collision
which was the proximate cause of the resulting accident.
Even if Jose Koh was indeed negligent, the doctrine of last clear chance finds
application here. Last clear chance is a doctrine in the law of torts which states
that the contributory negligence of the party injured will not defeat the claim for
damages if it is shown that the defendant might, by the exercise of reasonable
care and prudence, have avoided the consequences of the negligence of the
injured party. In such cases, the person who had the last clear chance to avoid the
mishap is considered in law solely responsible for the consequences thereof. 56
In Bustamante vs. Court of Appeals,

57

We held:

The respondent court adopted the doctrine of "last clear chance." The
doctrine, stated broadly, is that the negligence of the plaintiff does not
preclude a recovery for the negligence of the defendant where it
appears that the defendant, by exercising reasonable care and
prudence, might have avoided injurious consequences to the plaintiff
notwithstanding the plaintiff's negligence. In other words, the doctrine
of last clear chance means that even though a person's own acts may
have placed him in a position of peril, and an injury results, the injured
person is entitled to recovery (sic). As the doctrine is usually stated, a
person who has the last clear chance or opportunity of avoiding an
accident, notwithstanding the negligent acts of his opponent or that of
a third person imputed to the opponent is considered in law solely

responsible for the consequences of the accident. (Sangco, Torts and


Damages, 4th Ed., 1986, p. 165).
The practical import of the doctrine is that a negligent defendant is
held liable to a negligent plaintiff, or even to a plaintiff who has been
grossly negligent in placing himself in peril, if he, aware of the
plaintiff's peril, or according to some authorities, should have been
aware of it in the reasonable exercise of due care, had in fact an
opportunity later than that of the plaintiff to avoid an accident (57 Am.
Jur., 2d, pp. 798-799).
In Pantranco North Express, Inc., vs. Baesa,

58

We ruled:

The doctrine of last clear chance was defined by this Court in the case
of Ong v. Metropolitan Water District, 104 Phil. 397 (1958), in this wise:
The doctrine of the last clear chance simply, means that the
negligence of a claimant does not preclude a recovery for
the negligence of defendant where it appears that the
latter, by exercising reasonable care and prudence, might
have avoided injurious consequences to claimant
notwithstanding his negligence.
The doctrine applies only in a situation where the plaintiff was guilty of
prior or antecedent negligence but the defendant, who had the last fair
chance to avoid the impending harm and failed to do so, is made liable
for all the consequences of the accident notwithstanding the prior
negligence of the plaintiff [Picart v. Smith, 37 Phil. 809 (1918); Glan
People's Lumber and Hardware, et al. vs. Intermediate Appellate Court,
Cecilia Alferez Vda. de Calibo, et al., G.R. No. 70493, May, 18, 1989].
The subsequent negligence of the defendant in failing to exercise
ordinary care to avoid injury to plaintiff becomes the immediate or
proximate cause of the accident which intervenes between the
accident and the more remote negligence of the plaintiff, thus making
the defendant liable to the plaintiff [Picart v. Smith, supra].
Generally, the last clear chance doctrine is invoked for the purpose of
making a defendant liable to a plaintiff who was guilty of prior or
antecedent negligence, although it may also be raised as a defense to
defeat claim (sic) for damages.

Applying the foregoing doctrine, it is not difficult to rule, as We now rule, that it
was the truck driver's negligence in failing to exert ordinary care to avoid the
collision which was, in law, the proximate cause of the collision. As employers of
the truck driver, the private respondents are, under Article 2180 of the Civil Code,
directly and primarily liable for the resulting damages. The presumption that they
are negligent flows from the negligence of their employee. That presumption,
however, is only juris tantum, not juris et de jure. 59 Their only possible defense is
that they exercised all the diligence of a good father of a family to prevent the
damage. Article 2180 reads as follows:
The obligation imposed by Article 2176 is demandable not only for
one's own acts or omissions, but also for those of persons for whom
one is responsible.
xxx xxx xxx
Employers shall be liable for the damages caused by their employees
and household helpers acting within the scope of their assigned tasks,
even though the former are not engaged in any business or industry.
xxx xxx xxx
The responsibility treated of in this article shall cease when the
persons herein mentioned prove that they observed all the diligence of
a good father of a family to prevent damage.
The diligence of a good father referred to means the diligence in the selection and
supervision of employees. 60The answers of the private respondents in Civil Cases
Nos. 4477 and 4478 did not interpose this defense. Neither did they attempt to
prove it.
The respondent Court was then correct in its Decision of 29 November 1983 in
reversing the decision of the trial court which dismissed Civil Cases Nos. 4477 and
4478. Its assailed Resolution of 3 April 1984 finds no sufficient legal and factual
moorings.
In the light of recent decisions of this Court, 61 the indemnity for death must,
however, be increased from P12,000.00 to P50,000.00.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is GRANTED. The assailed Resolution of the
respondent Court of 3 April 1984 is SET ASIDE while its Decision of 29 November
1983 in C.A.-G.R. CV Nos. 69040-41 is REINSTATED, subject to the modification

that the indemnity for death is increased from P12,000.00 to P50,000.00 each for
the death of Jose Koh and Kim Koh McKee.
Costs against private respondents.
SO ORDERED.
Gutierrez, Jr., Feliciano and Romero, JJ., concur.
Bidin, J., took no part.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISON
G.R. No. 115024

February 7, 1996

MA. LOURDES VALENZUELA, petitioner,


vs.
COURT OF APPEALS, RICHARD LI and ALEXANDER COMMERCIAL,
INC., respondents.
x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x
G.R. No. 117944

February 7, 1996

RICHARD LI, petitioner,


vs.
COURT OF APPEALS and LOURDES VALENZUELA, respondents.
DECISION
KAPUNAN, J.:
These two petitions for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of
Court stem from an action to recover damages by petitioner Lourdes Valenzuela in
the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City for injuries sustained by her in a vehicular
accident in the early morning of June 24, 1990. The facts found by the trial court
are succinctly summarized by the Court of Appeals below:
This is an action to recover damages based on quasi-delict, for serious
physical injuries sustained in a vehicular accident.
Plaintiff's version of the accident is as follows: At around 2:00 in the morning
of June 24, 1990, plaintiff Ma. Lourdes Valenzuela was driving a blue
Mitsubishi lancer with Plate No. FFU 542 from her restaurant at Marcos
highway to her home at Palanza Street, Araneta Avenue. She was travelling
along Aurora Blvd. with a companion, Cecilia Ramon, heading towards the
direction of Manila. Before reaching A. Lake Street, she noticed something
wrong with her tires; she stopped at a lighted place where there were
people, to verify whether she had a flat tire and to solicit help if needed.
Having been told by the people present that her rear right tire was flat and
that she cannot reach her home in that car's condition, she parked along the
sidewalk, about 1-1/2 feet away, put on her emergency lights, alighted from
the car, and went to the rear to open the trunk. She was standing at the left
side of the rear of her car pointing to the tools to a man who will help her fix
the tire when she was suddenly bumped by a 1987 Mitsubishi Lancer driven
by defendant Richard Li and registered in the name of defendant Alexander
Commercial, Inc. Because of the impact plaintiff was thrown against the
windshield of the car of the defendant, which was destroyed, and then fell to
the ground. She was pulled out from under defendant's car. Plaintiff's left leg
was severed up to the middle of her thigh, with only some skin and sucle
connected to the rest of the body. She was brought to the UERM Medical
Memorial Center where she was found to have a "traumatic amputation, leg,
left up to distal thigh (above knee)". She was confined in the hospital for
twenty (20) days and was eventually fitted with an artificial leg. The
expenses for the hospital confinement (P120,000.00) and the cost of the
artificial leg (P27,000.00) were paid by defendants from the car insurance.

In her complaint, plaintiff prayed for moral damages in the amount of P1


million, exemplary damages in the amount of P100,000.00 and other
medical and related expenses amounting to a total of P180,000.00, including
loss of expected earnings.
Defendant Richard Li denied that he was negligent. He was on his way
home, travelling at 55 kph; considering that it was raining, visibility was
affected and the road was wet. Traffic was light. He testified that he was
driving along the inner portion of the right lane of Aurora Blvd. towards the
direction of Araneta Avenue, when he was suddenly confronted, in the
vicinity of A. Lake Street, San Juan, with a car coming from the opposite
direction, travelling at 80 kph, with "full bright lights". Temporarily blinded,
he instinctively swerved to the right to avoid colliding with the oncoming
vehicle, and bumped plaintiff's car, which he did not see because it was
midnight blue in color, with no parking lights or early warning device, and
the area was poorly lighted. He alleged in his defense that the left rear
portion of plaintiff's car was protruding as it was then "at a standstill
diagonally" on the outer portion of the right lane towards Araneta Avenue
(par. 18, Answer). He confirmed the testimony of plaintiff's witness that after
being bumped the car of the plaintiff swerved to the right and hit another
car parked on the sidewalk. Defendants counterclaimed for damages,
alleging that plaintiff was reckless or negligent, as she was not a licensed
driver.
The police investigator, Pfc. Felic Ramos, who prepared the vehicular
accident report and the sketch of the three cars involved in the accident,
testified that the plaintiff's car was "near the sidewalk"; this witness did not
remember whether the hazard lights of plaintiff's car were on, and did not
notice if there was an early warning device; there was a street light at the
corner of Aurora Blvd. and F. Roman, about 100 meters away. It was not
mostly dark, i.e. "things can be seen" (p. 16, tsn, Oct. 28, 1991).
A witness for the plaintiff, Rogelio Rodriguez, testified that after plaintiff
alighted from her car and opened the trunk compartment, defendant's car
came approaching very fast ten meters from the scene; the car was
"zigzagging". The rear left side of plaintiff's car was bumped by the front
right portion of defendant's car; as a consequence, the plaintiff's car
swerved to the right and hit the parked car on the sidewalk. Plaintiff was
thrown to the windshield of defendant's car, which was destroyed, and
landed under the car. He stated that defendant was under the influence of
liquor as he could "smell it very well" (pp. 43, 79, tsn, June 17, 1991).

After trial, the lower court sustained the plaintiff's submissions and found
defendant Richard Li guilty of gross negligence and liable for damages under
Article 2176 of the Civil Code. The trial court likewise held Alexander Commercial,
Inc., Li's employer, jointly and severally liable for damages pursuant to Article
2180. It ordered the defendants to jointly and severally pay the following
amounts:
1. P41,840.00, as actual damages, representing the miscellaneous expenses
of the plaintiff as a result of her severed left leg;
2. The sums of (a) P37,500.00, for the unrealized profits because of the
stoppage of plaintiff's Bistro La Conga restaurant three (3) weeks after the
accident on June 24, 1990; (b) P20,000.00, a month, as unrealized profits of
the plaintiff in her Bistro La Conga restaurant, from August, 1990 until the
date of this judgment and (c) P30,000.00, a month for unrealized profits in
plaintiff's two (2) beauty salons from July, 1990 until the date of this
decision;
3. P1,000,000.00, in moral damages;
4. P50,000.00, as exemplary damages;
5. P60,000.00, as reasonable attorney's fees; and
6. Costs.
As a result of the trial court's decision, defendants filed an Omnibus Motion for
New Trial and for Reconsideration, citing testimony in Criminal Case O.C. No.
804367 (People vs. Richard Li), tending to show that the point of impact, as
depicted by the pieces of glass/debris from the parties' cars, appeared to be at
the center of the right lane of Aurora Blvd. The trial court denied the motion.
Defendants forthwith filed an appeal with the respondent Court of Appeals. In a
Decision rendered March 30, 1994, the Court of Appeals found that there was
"ample basis from the evidence of record for the trial court's finding that the
plaintiff's car was properly parked at the right, beside the sidewalk when it was
bumped by defendant's car."1 Dismissing the defendants' argument that the
plaintiff's car was improperly parked, almost at the center of the road, the
respondent court noted that evidence which was supposed to prove that the car
was at or near center of the right lane was never presented during the trial of the
case.2 The respondent court furthermore observed that:
Defendant Li's testimony that he was driving at a safe speed of 55 km./hour
is self serving; it was not corroborated. It was in fact contradicted by

eyewitness Rodriguez who stated that he was outside his beerhouse located
at Aurora Boulevard after A. Lake Street, at or about 2:00 a.m. of June 24,
1990 when his attention was caught by a beautiful lady (referring to the
plaintiff) alighting from her car and opening the trunk compartment; he
noticed the car of Richard Li "approaching very fast ten (10) meters away
from the scene"; defendant's car was zigzagging", although there were no
holes and hazards on the street, and "bumped the leg of the plaintiff" who
was thrown against the windshield of defendant's care, causing its
destruction. He came to the rescue of the plaintiff, who was pulled out from
under defendant's car and was able to say "hurting words" to Richard Li
because he noticed that the latter was under the influence of liquor, because
he "could smell it very well" (p. 36, et. seq., tsn, June 17, 1991). He knew
that plaintiff owned a beerhouse in Sta. Mesa in the 1970's, but did not know
either plaintiff or defendant Li before the accident.
In agreeing with the trial court that the defendant Li was liable for the injuries
sustained by the plaintiff, the Court of Appeals, in its decision, however, absolved
the Li's employer, Alexander Commercial, Inc. from any liability towards petitioner
Lourdes Valenzuela and reduced the amount of moral damages to P500,000.00.
Finding justification for exemplary damages, the respondent court allowed an
award of P50,000.00 for the same, in addition to costs, attorney's fees and the
other damages. The Court of Appeals, likewise, dismissed the defendants'
counterclaims.3
Consequently, both parties assail the respondent court's decision by filing two
separate petitions before this Court. Richard Li, in G.R. No. 117944, contends that
he should not be held liable for damages because the proximate cause of the
accident was Ma. Lourdes Valenzuela's own negligence. Alternatively, he argues
that in the event that this Court finds him negligent, such negligence ought to be
mitigated by the contributory negligence of Valenzuela.
On the other hand, in G.R. No. 115024, Ma. Lourdes Valenzuela assails the
respondent court's decision insofar as it absolves Alexander Commercial, Inc. from
liability as the owner of the car driven by Richard Li and insofar as it reduces the
amount of the actual and moral damages awarded by the trial court. 4
As the issues are intimately related, both petitions are hereby consolidated.
It is plainly evident that the petition for review in G.R. No. 117944 raises no
substantial questions of law. What it, in effect, attempts to have this Court review
are factual findings of the trial court, as sustained by the Court of Appeals finding
Richard Li grossly negligent in driving the Mitsubishi Lancer provided by his

company in the early morning hours of June 24, 1990. This we will not do. As a
general rule, findings of fact of the Court of Appeals are binding and conclusive
upon us, and this Court will not normally disturb such factual findings unless the
findings of fact of the said court are palpably unsupported by the evidence on
record or unless the judgment itself is based on a misapprehension of facts. 5
In the first place, Valenzuela's version of the incident was fully corroborated by an
uninterested witness, Rogelio Rodriguez, the owner-operator of an establishment
located just across the scene of the accident. On trial, he testified that he
observed a car being driven at a "very fast" speed, racing towards the general
direction of Araneta Avenue.6 Rodriguez further added that he was standing in
front of his establishment, just ten to twenty feet away from the scene of the
accident, when he saw the car hit Valenzuela, hurtling her against the windshield
of the defendant's Mitsubishi Lancer, from where she eventually fell under the
defendant's car. Spontaneously reacting to the incident, he crossed the street,
noting that a man reeking with the smell of liquor had alighted from the offending
vehicle in order to survey the incident.7 Equally important, Rodriguez declared
that he observed Valenzuela's car parked parallel and very near the
sidewalk,8 contrary to Li's allegation that Valenzuela's car was close to the center
of the right lane. We agree that as between Li's "self-serving" asseverations and
the observations of a witness who did not even know the accident victim
personally and who immediately gave a statement of the incident similar to his
testimony to the investigator immediately after the incident, the latter's
testimony deserves greater weight. As the court emphasized:
The issue is one of credibility and from Our own examination of the
transcript, We are not prepared to set aside the trial court's reliance on the
testimony of Rodriguez negating defendant's assertion that he was driving
at a safe speed. While Rodriguez drives only a motorcycle, his perception of
speed is not necessarily impaired. He was subjected to cross-examination
and no attempt was made to question .his competence or the accuracy of
his statement that defendant was driving "very fast". This was the same
statement he gave to the police investigator after the incident, as told to a
newspaper report (Exh. "P"). We see no compelling basis for disregarding his
testimony.
The alleged inconsistencies in Rodriguez' testimony are not borne out by an
examination of the testimony. Rodriguez testified that the scene of the
accident was across the street where his beerhouse is located about ten to
twenty feet away (pp. 35-36, tsn, June 17, 1991). He did not state that the
accident transpired immediately in front of his establishment. The ownership
of the Lambingan se Kambingan is not material; the business is registered in

the name of his mother, but he explained that he owns the establishment (p.
5, tsn, June 20, 1991). Moreover, the testimony that the streetlights on his
side of Aurora Boulevard were on the night the accident transpired (p. 8) is
not necessarily contradictory to the testimony of Pfc. Ramos that there was
a streetlight at the corner of Aurora Boulevard and F. Roman Street (p. 45,
tsn, Oct. 20, 1991).
With respect to the weather condition, Rodriguez testified that there was
only a drizzle, not a heavy rain and the rain has stopped and he was outside
his establishment at the time the accident transpired (pp. 64-65, tsn, June
17, 1991). This was consistent with plaintiff's testimony that it was no longer
raining when she left Bistro La Conga (pp. 10-11, tsn, April 29, 1991). It was
defendant Li who stated that it was raining all the way in an attempt to
explain why he was travelling at only 50-55 kph. (p. 11, tsn, Oct. 14, 1991).
As to the testimony of Pfc. Ramos that it was raining, he arrived at the scene
only in response to a telephone call after the accident had transpired (pp. 910, tsn, Oct. 28, 1991). We find no substantial inconsistencies in Rodriguez's
testimony that would impair the essential integrity of his testimony or reflect
on his honesty. We are compelled to affirm the trial court's acceptance of the
testimony of said eyewitness.
Against the unassailable testimony of witness Rodriguez we note that Li's
testimony was peppered with so many inconsistencies leading us to conclude that
his version of the accident was merely adroitly crafted to provide a version,
obviously self-serving, which would exculpate him from any and all liability in the
incident. Against Valenzuela's corroborated claims, his allegations were neither
backed up by other witnesses nor by the circumstances proven in the course of
trial. He claimed that he was driving merely at a speed of 55 kph. when "out of
nowhere he saw a dark maroon lancer right in front of him, which was (the)
plaintiff's car". He alleged that upon seeing this sudden "apparition" he put on his
brakes to no avail as the road was slippery.9
One will have to suspend disbelief in order to give credence to Li's disingenuous
and patently self-serving asseverations. The average motorist alert to road
conditions will have no difficulty applying the brakes to a car traveling at the
speed claimed by Li. Given a light rainfall, the visibility of the street, and the road
conditions on a principal metropolitan thoroughfare like Aurora Boulevard, Li
would have had ample time to react to the changing conditions of the road if he
were alert - as every driver should be - to those conditions. Driving exacts a more
than usual toll on the senses. Physiological "fight or flight" 10 mechanisms are at
work, provided such mechanisms were not dulled by drugs, alcohol, exhaustion,
drowsiness, etc.11 Li's failure to react in a manner which would have avoided the

accident could therefore have been only due to either or both of the two factors:
1) that he was driving at a "very fast" speed as testified by Rodriguez; and 2) that
he was under the influence of alcohol.12 Either factor working independently would
have diminished his responsiveness to road conditions, since normally he would
have slowed down prior to reaching Valenzuela's car, rather than be in a situation
forcing him to suddenly apply his brakes. As the trial court noted (quoted with
approval by respondent court):
Secondly, as narrated by defendant Richard Li to the San Juan Police
immediately after the incident, he said that while driving along Aurora Blvd.,
out of nowhere he saw a dark maroon lancer right in front of him which was
plaintiff's car, indicating, again, thereby that, indeed, he was driving very
fast, oblivious of his surroundings and the road ahead of him, because if he
was not, then he could not have missed noticing at a still far distance the
parked car of the plaintiff at the right side near the sidewalk which had its
emergency lights on, thereby avoiding forcefully bumping at the plaintiff
who was then standing at the left rear edge of her car.
Since, according to him, in his narration to the San Juan Police, he put on his
brakes when he saw the plaintiff's car in front of him, but that it failed as the
road was wet and slippery, this goes to show again, that, contrary to his
claim, he was, indeed, running very fast. For, were it otherwise, he could
have easily completely stopped his car, thereby avoiding the bumping of the
plaintiff, notwithstanding that the road was wet and slippery. Verily, since, if,
indeed, he was running slow, as he claimed, at only about 55 kilometers per
hour, then, inspite of the wet and slippery road, he could have avoided
hitting the plaintiff by the mere expedient or applying his brakes at the
proper time and distance.
It could not be true, therefore, as he now claims during his testimony, which
is contrary to what he told the police immediately after the accident and is,
therefore, more believable, that he did not actually step on his brakes but
simply swerved a little to the right when he saw the on-coming car with
glaring headlights, from the opposite direction, in order to avoid it.
For, had this been what he did, he would not have bumped the car of the
plaintiff which was properly parked at the right beside the sidewalk. And, it
was not even necessary for him to swerve a little to the right in order to
safely avoid a collision with the on-coming car, considering that Aurora Blvd.
is a double lane avenue separated at the center by a dotted white paint, and
there is plenty of space for both cars, since her car was running at the right

lane going towards Manila on the on-coming car was also on its right lane
going to Cubao.13
Having come to the conclusion that Li was negligent in driving his company-issued
Mitsubishi Lancer, the next question for us to determine is whether or not
Valenzuela was likewise guilty of contributory negligence in parking her car
alongside Aurora Boulevard, which entire area Li points out, is a no parking zone.
We agree with the respondent court that Valenzuela was not guilty of contributory
negligence.
Contributory negligence is conduct on the part of the injured party, contributing
as a legal cause to the harm he has suffered, which falls below the standard to
which he is required to conform for his own protection.14 Based on the foregoing
definition, the standard or act to which, according to petitioner Li, Valenzuela
ought to have conformed for her own protection was not to park at all at any point
of Aurora Boulevard, a no parking zone. We cannot agree.
Courts have traditionally been compelled to recognize that an actor who is
confronted with an emergency is not to be held up to the standard of conduct
normally applied to an individual who is in no such situation. The law takes stock
of impulses of humanity when placed in threatening or dangerous situations and
does not require the same standard of thoughtful and reflective care from persons
confronted by unusual and oftentimes threatening conditions.15
Under the "emergency rule" adopted by this Court in Gan vs. Court of
Appeals,16 an individual who suddenly finds himself in a situation of danger and is
required to act without much time to consider the best means that may be
adopted to avoid the impending danger, is not guilty of negligence if he fails to
undertake what subsequently and upon reflection may appear to be a better
solution, unless the emergency was brought by his own negligence. 17
Applying this principle to a case in which the victims in a vehicular accident
swerved to the wrong lane to avoid hitting two children suddenly darting into the
street, we held, in Mc Kee vs. Intermediate Appellate Court,18 that the driver
therein, Jose Koh, "adopted the best means possible in the given situation" to
avoid hitting the children. Using the "emergency rule" the Court concluded that
Koh, in spite of the fact that he was in the wrong lane when the collision with an
oncoming truck occurred, was not guilty of negligence. 19
While the emergency rule applies to those cases in which reflective thought, or
the opportunity to adequately weigh a threatening situation is absent, the

conduct which is required of an individual in such cases is dictated not exclusively


by the suddenness of the event which absolutely negates thoroughful care, but by
the over-all nature of the circumstances. A woman driving a vehicle suddenly
crippled by a flat tire on a rainy night will not be faulted for stopping at a point
which is both convenient for her to do so and which is not a hazard to other
motorists. She is not expected to run the entire boulevard in search for a parking
zone or turn on a dark street or alley where she would likely find no one to help
her. It would be hazardous for her not to stop and assess the emergency (simply
because the entire length of Aurora Boulevard is a no-parking zone) because the
hobbling vehicle would be both a threat to her safety and to other motorists. In
the instant case, Valenzuela, upon reaching that portion of Aurora Boulevard close
to A. Lake St., noticed that she had a flat tire. To avoid putting herself and other
motorists in danger, she did what was best under the situation. As narrated by
respondent court: "She stopped at a lighted place where there were people, to
verify whether she had a flat tire and to solicit help if needed. Having been told by
the people present that her rear right tire was flat and that she cannot reach her
home she parked along the sidewalk, about 1 1/2 feet away, behind a Toyota
Corona Car."20 In fact, respondent court noted, Pfc. Felix Ramos, the investigator
on the scene of the accident confirmed that Valenzuela's car was parked very
close to the sidewalk.21 The sketch which he prepared after the incident showed
Valenzuela's car partly straddling the sidewalk, clear and at a convenient distance
from motorists passing the right lane of Aurora Boulevard. This fact was itself
corroborated by the testimony of witness Rodriguez.22
Under the circumstances described, Valenzuela did exercise the standard
reasonably dictated by the emergency and could not be considered to have
contributed to the unfortunate circumstances which eventually led to the
amputation of one of her lower extremities. The emergency which led her to park
her car on a sidewalk in Aurora Boulevard was not of her own making, and it was
evident that she had taken all reasonable precautions.
Obviously in the case at bench, the only negligence ascribable was the negligence
of Li on the night of the accident. "Negligence, as it is commonly understood is
conduct which creates an undue risk of harm to others."23It is the failure to
observe that degree of care, precaution, and vigilance which the circumstances
justly demand, whereby such other person suffers injury. 24 We stressed, in Corliss
vs. Manila Railroad Company,25 that negligence is the want of care required by the
circumstances.
The circumstances established by the evidence adduced in the court below plainly
demonstrate that Li was grossly negligent in driving his Mitsubishi Lancer. It bears
emphasis that he was driving at a fast speed at about 2:00 A.M. after a heavy

downpour had settled into a drizzle rendering the street slippery. There is ample
testimonial evidence on record to show that he was under the influence of liquor.
Under these conditions, his chances of effectively dealing with changing
conditions on the road were significantly lessened. As Presser and Keaton
emphasize:
[U]nder present day traffic conditions, any driver of an automobile must be
prepared for the sudden appearance of obstacles and persons on the
highway, and of other vehicles at intersections, such as one who sees a child
on the curb may be required to anticipate its sudden dash into the street,
and his failure to act properly when they appear may be found to amount to
negligence.26
Li's obvious unpreparedness to cope with the situation confronting him on the
night of the accident was clearly of his own making.
We now come to the question of the liability of Alexander Commercial, Inc. Li's
employer. In denying liability on the part of Alexander Commercial, the
respondent court held that:
There is no evidence, not even defendant Li's testimony, that the visit was in
connection with official matters. His functions as assistant manager
sometimes required him to perform work outside the office as he has to visit
buyers and company clients, but he admitted that on the night of the
accident he came from BF Homes Paranaque he did not have "business from
the company" (pp. 25-26, ten, Sept. 23, 1991). The use of the company car
was partly required by the nature of his work, but the privilege of using it for
non-official business is a "benefit", apparently referring to the fringe benefits
attaching to his position.
Under the civil law, an employer is liable for the negligence of his employees
in the discharge of their respective duties, the basis of which liability is
not respondeat superior, but the relationship of pater familias, which theory
bases the liability of the master ultimately on his own negligence and not on
that of his servant (Cuison v. Norton and Harrison Co., 55 Phil. 18). Before an
employer may be held liable for the negligence of his employee, the act or
omission which caused damage must have occurred while an employee was
in the actual performance of his assigned tasks or duties (Francis High
School vs. Court of Appeals, 194 SCRA 341). In defining an employer's
liability for the acts done within the scope of the employee's assigned tasks,
the Supreme Court has held that this includes any act done by an employee,
in furtherance of the interests of the employer or for the account of the

employer at the time of the infliction of the injury or damage (Filamer


Christian Institute vs. Intermediate Appellate Court, 212 SCRA 637). An
employer is expected to impose upon its employees the necessary discipline
called for in the performance of any act "indispensable to the business and
beneficial to their employer" (at p. 645).
In light of the foregoing, We are unable to sustain the trial court's finding
that since defendant Li was authorized by the company to use the company
car "either officially or socially or even bring it home", he can be considered
as using the company car in the service of his employer or on the occasion
of his functions. Driving the company car was not among his functions as
assistant manager; using it for non-official purposes would appear to be a
fringe benefit, one of the perks attached to his position. But to impose
liability upon the employer under Article 2180 of the Civil Code, earlier
quoted, there must be a showing that the damage was caused by their
employees in the service of the employer or on the occasion of their
functions. There is no evidence that Richard Li was at the time of the
accident performing any act in furtherance of the company's business or its
interests, or at least for its benefit. The imposition of solidary liability against
defendant Alexander Commercial Corporation must therefore fail. 27
We agree with the respondent court that the relationship in question is not based
on the principle of respondeat superior, which holds the master liable for acts of
the servant, but that of pater familias, in which the liability ultimately falls upon
the employer, for his failure to exercise the diligence of a good father of the family
in the selection and supervision of his employees. It is up to this point, however,
that our agreement with the respondent court ends. Utilizing the bonus pater
familias standard expressed in Article 2180 of the Civil Code, 28 we are of the
opinion that Li's employer, Alexander Commercial, Inc. is jointly and solidarily
liable for the damage caused by the accident of June 24, 1990.
First, the case of St. Francis High School vs. Court of Appeals29 upon which
respondent court has placed undue reliance, dealt with the subject of a school and
its teacher's supervision of students during an extracurricular activity. These
cases now fall under the provision on special parental authority found in Art. 218
of the Family Code which generally encompasses all authorized school activities,
whether inside or outside school premises.
Second, the employer's primary liability under the concept of pater
familias embodied by Art 2180 (in relation to Art. 2176) of the Civil Code is quasidelictual or tortious in character. His liability is relieved on a showing that he
exercised the diligence of a good father of the family in the selection and

supervision of its employees. Once evidence is introduced showing that the


employer exercised the required amount of care in selecting its employees, half of
the employer's burden is overcome. The question of diligent supervision, however,
depends on the circumstances of employment.
Ordinarily, evidence demonstrating that the employer has exercised diligent
supervision of its employee during the performance of the latter's assigned tasks
would be enough to relieve him of the liability imposed by Article 2180 in relation
to Article 2176 of the Civil Code. The employer is not expected to exercise
supervision over either the employee's private activities or during the
performance of tasks either unsanctioned by the former or unrelated to the
employee's tasks. The case at bench presents a situation of a different character,
involving a practice utilized by large companies with either their employees of
managerial rank or their representatives.
It is customary for large companies to provide certain classes of their employees
with courtesy vehicles. These company cars are either wholly owned and
maintained by the company itself or are subject to various plans through which
employees eventually acquire their vehicles after a given period of service, or
after paying a token amount. Many companies provide liberal "car plans" to
enable their managerial or other employees of rank to purchase cars, which, given
the cost of vehicles these days, they would not otherwise be able to purchase on
their own.
Under the first example, the company actually owns and maintains the car up to
the point of turnover of ownership to the employee; in the second example, the
car is really owned and maintained by the employee himself. In furnishing vehicles
to such employees, are companies totally absolved of responsibility when an
accident involving a company-issued car occurs during private use after normal
office hours?
Most pharmaceutical companies, for instance, which provide cars under the first
plan, require rigorous tests of road worthiness from their agents prior to turning
over the car (subject of company maintenance) to their representatives. In other
words, like a good father of a family, they entrust the company vehicle only after
they are satisfied that the employee to whom the car has been given full use of
the said company car for company or private purposes will not be a threat or
menace to himself, the company or to others. When a company gives full use and
enjoyment of a company car to its employee, it in effect guarantees that it is, like
every good father, satisfied that its employee will use the privilege reasonably
and responsively.

In the ordinary course of business, not all company employees are given the
privilege of using a company-issued car. For large companies other than those
cited in the example of the preceding paragraph, the privilege serves important
business purposes either related to the image of success an entity intends to
present to its clients and to the public in general, or - for practical and utilitarian
reasons - to enable its managerial and other employees of rank or its sales agents
to reach clients conveniently. In most cases, providing a company car serves both
purposes. Since important business transactions and decisions may occur at all
hours in all sorts of situations and under all kinds of guises, the provision for the
unlimited use of a company car therefore principally serves the business and
goodwill of a company and only incidentally the private purposes of the individual
who actually uses the car, the managerial employee or company sales agent. As
such, in providing for a company car for business use and/or for the purpose of
furthering the company's image, a company owes a responsibility to the public to
see to it that the managerial or other employees to whom it entrusts virtually
unlimited use of a company issued car are able to use the company issue capably
and responsibly.
In the instant case, Li was an Assistant Manager of Alexander Commercial, Inc. In
his testimony before the trial court, he admitted that his functions as Assistant
Manager did not require him to scrupulously keep normal office hours as he was
required quite often to perform work outside the office, visiting prospective buyers
and contacting and meeting with company clients. 30 These meetings, clearly,
were not strictly confined to routine hours because, as a managerial employee
tasked with the job of representing his company with its clients, meetings with
clients were both social as well as work-related functions. The service car
assigned to Li by Alexander Commercial, Inc. therefore enabled both Li - as well as
the corporation - to put up the front of a highly successful entity, increasing the
latter's goodwill before its clientele. It also facilitated meeting between Li and its
clients by providing the former with a convenient mode of travel.
Moreover, Li's claim that he happened to be on the road on the night of the
accident because he was coming from a social visit with an officemate in
Paranaque was a bare allegation which was never corroborated in the court below.
It was obviously self-serving. Assuming he really came from his officemate's place,
the same could give rise to speculation that he and his officemate had just been
from a work-related function, or they were together to discuss sales and other
work related strategies.
In fine, Alexander Commercial, inc. has not demonstrated, to our satisfaction, that
it exercised the care and diligence of a good father of the family in entrusting its
company car to Li. No allegations were made as to whether or not the company

took the steps necessary to determine or ascertain the driving proficiency and
history of Li, to whom it gave full and unlimited use of a company car. 31 Not
having been able to overcome the burden of demonstrating that it should be
absolved of liability for entrusting its company car to Li, said company, based on
the principle of bonus pater familias, ought to be jointly and severally liable with
the former for the injuries sustained by Ma. Lourdes Valenzuela during the
accident.
Finally, we find no reason to overturn the amount of damages awarded by the
respondent court, except as to the amount of moral damages. In the case of
moral damages, while the said damages are not intended to enrich the plaintiff at
the expense of a defendant, the award should nonetheless be commensurate to
the suffering inflicted. In the instant case we are of the opinion that the reduction
in moral damages from an amount of P1,000,000.00 to P800,000,00 by the Court
of Appeals was not justified considering the nature of the resulting damage and
the predictable sequelae of the injury.
As a result of the accident, Ma. Lourdes Valenzuela underwent a traumatic
amputation of her left lower extremity at the distal left thigh just above the knee.
Because of this, Valenzuela will forever be deprived of the full ambulatory
functions of her left extremity, even with the use of state of the art prosthetic
technology. Well beyond the period of hospitalization (which was paid for by Li),
she will be required to undergo adjustments in her prosthetic devise due to the
shrinkage of the stump from the process of healing.
These adjustments entail costs, prosthetic replacements and months of physical
and occupational rehabilitation and therapy. During her lifetime, the prosthetic
devise will have to be replaced and re-adjusted to changes in the size of her lower
limb effected by the biological changes of middle-age, menopause and aging.
Assuming she reaches menopause, for example, the prosthetic will have to be
adjusted to respond to the changes in bone resulting from a precipitate decrease
in calcium levels observed in the bones of all post-menopausal women. In other
words, the damage done to her would not only be permanent and lasting, it would
also be permanently changing and adjusting to the physiologic changes which her
body would normally undergo through the years. The replacements, changes, and
adjustments will require corresponding adjustive physical and occupational
therapy. All of these adjustments, it has been documented, are painful.
The foregoing discussion does not even scratch the surface of the nature of the
resulting damage because it would be highly speculative to estimate the amount
of psychological pain, damage and injury which goes with the sudden severing of
a vital portion of the human body. A prosthetic device, however technologically

advanced, will only allow a reasonable amount of functional restoration of the


motor functions of the lower limb. The sensory functions are forever lost. The
resultant anxiety, sleeplessness, psychological injury, mental and physical pain
are inestimable.
As the amount of moral damages are subject to this Court's discretion, we are of
the opinion that the amount of P1,000,000.00 granted by the trial court is in
greater accord with the extent and nature of the injury - physical and
psychological - suffered by Valenzuela as a result of Li's grossly negligent driving
of his Mitsubishi Lancer in the early morning hours of the accident.
WHEREFORE, PREMISES CONSIDERED, the decision of the Court of Appeals is
modified with the effect of REINSTATING the judgment of the Regional Trial Court.
SO ORDERED.
Padilla, Bellosillo and Hermosisima, Jr., JJ., concur.