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MWSS (Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System) v. Act Theater, Inc. (G.R. No.

14706)
June 17, 2004
Callejo, Sr.
Petition for review on certiorari
FACTS:
This case stemmed from 2 consolidated cases, which were jointly tried as they arose from the same
factual circumstances: Criminal Case No. Q-89-2142 (People v. Rodolfo Tabian, et al.) for
violation of P.D. No. 401 (PENALIZING THE UNAUTHORIZED INSTALLATION OF WATER, ELECTRICAL
OR TELEPHONE CONNECTIONS, THE USE OF TAMPERED WATER OR ELECTRICAL METERS, AND
OTHER ACTS), as amended by B.P. Blg. 876, and Civil Case No. Q-88-768 (Act Theater, Inc. v.
MWSS)
September 22, 1988 4 employees of Act Theater, Inc. (Rodolfo Tabian, Armando Aguilar, Arnel
Concha and Modesto Ruales) were apprehended by members of the Quezon City police force for
allegedly tampering with a water meter, in violation of P.D. No. 401, as amended by B.P. Blg. 87,
and were criminally charged.
September 23, 1988 as a result of the incident, Acts water service connection was cut off. The
company had to deposit Php200,000.00 with MWSS for the restoration of its water services and
contract another source to provide water for a number of days.
Act Theater filed a complaint for injunction with damages against MWSS with the RTC of QC,
alleging that MWSS acted arbitrarily, whimsically, and capriciously in cutting off Acts water service
connection without prior notice, adversely affecting the health and sanitation of Acts patrons as
well as the surrounding premises.
RTCs decision
o Criminal case acquittal for failure of prosecution to prove the guilt of the accused beyond
reasonable doubt
o Civil case ordered MWSS to pay actual or compensatory damages (Php25,000.00) and
return deposit Act made (Php200,000.00) for the restoration of its water services;
dismissed MWSSs counterclaim for undecollection (Php530,759.96) for lack of merit;
ordered MWSS to pay costs of suit and attorneys fees (Php5,000.00); made the
mandatory injunction permanent
MWSS appealed the civil aspect of the division to the CA, who dismissed the appeal held that the
RTC correctly found that MWSS act of cutting off Act water service connection without prior notice
was arbitrary, injurious, and prejudicial to the latter; award of damages justified under Art. 19, New
Civil Code
MWSS filed petition for certiorari with Supreme Court
ISSUES:
Whether or not the CA validly affirmed the decision of the RTC in resolving MWSSs appeal YES
Whether or not the CA validly upheld the award of attorneys fees YES
Whether or not the CA correctly applied the provision of Art. 19 of the New Civil Code without
considering the applicable provision of Art. 429 of the same Code YES
HELD: Petition DENIED. CA Decision is AFFIRMED in toto.
RATIO:
MWSS insists that in cutting off Acts water service connection, it was merely exercising its
proprietary right under Article 429 of the Civil Code: The owner or lawful possessor of a thing has
the right to exclude any person from the enjoyment and disposal thereof. For this purpose, he may
use such force as may be reasonable to repel or prevent an actual or threatened unlawful physical
invasion or usurpation of his property.
o Right power, privilege, or immunity guaranteed under a constitution, statute, or decisional
law, or recognized as a result of long usage, constitutive of a legally enforceable claim of
one person against the other
MWSS, as owned of the utility providing water supply to certain consumers including Act, had the
right to exclude any person from the enjoyment and disposal thereof. HOWEVER, the exercise of
rights is not without limitations. Having the right manner by which such right is to be exercised
Article 19 of the Civil Code: Every person must, in the exercise of his rights and in the

performance of his duties, act with justice, give everyone his due, and observe honesty and good
faith.
o When a right is exercised in a manner which discards these norms resulting in damage to
another, a legal wrong is committed for which actor can be held accountable.
o MWSS failed to act with justice and give Act what is due to it when it unceremoniously cut off
Acts water service connection.
o CAs findings: MWSS sent the notice of investigation to Act only a few hours before its water
services were disconnected + Acts assistant manager went to the MWSS office to ascertain
the matter but was treated badly on the flimsy excuse that he had no authority to represent
Act + Acts water services were cut at midnight of the day following the employees
apprehension = DENIAL OF DUE PROCESS
MWSS act was arbitrary, injurious, and prejudicial to Act, justifying the award of damages under
Article 19 of the Civil Code.
Not really relevant to the topic in the syllabus but knowledge = power! The award of attorneys fees
is reasonable and warranted.
o In quoting the decretal portion of the RTCs decision, the CA made a HUGE typo: it wrote
Php500,000.00 instead of Php5,000.00 as attorneys fees. But it was obviously a typo. CA
was affirming the RTCs Php5,000.00 attorneys fees, Php25,000.00 actual and
compensatory damages, and Php200,000.00 reimbursement of deposit.
o Attorneys fees may be awarded when a party is compelled to litigate or incur expenses to
protect his interest by reason of an unjustified act of the other party.