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RepublicofthePhilippines
SUPREMECOURT
Manila

THIRDDIVISION

G.R.No.149547July4,2008

PHILIPPINEAIRLINES,INC.,petitioner,
vs.
HON.ADRIANOSAVILLO,PresidingJudgeofRTCBranch30,IloiloCity,andSIMPLICIOGRIO,
respondents.

DECISION

CHICONAZARIO,J.:

ThisisaPetitionforReviewonCertiorariunderRule45oftheRulesofCourt,assailingtheDecision1 dated 17
August 2001, rendered by the Court of Appeals in CAG.R. SP No. 48664, affirming intoto the Order2 dated 9
June1998,ofBranch30oftheRegionalTrialCourt(RTC)ofIloiloCity,dismissingtheMotiontoDismissfiledby
petitioner Philippine Airlines Inc. (PAL) in the case entitled, Simplicio Grio v. Philippine Airlines, Inc. and
SingaporeAirlines,docketedasCivilCaseNo.23773.

PAL is a corporation duly organized under Philippine law, engaged in the business of providing air carriage for
passengers,baggageandcargo.3

PublicrespondentHon.AdrianoSavilloisthepresidingjudgeofBranch30oftheIloiloRTC,whereCivilCaseNo.
23773wasfiledwhileprivaterespondentSimplicioGrioistheplaintiffintheaforementionedcase.

Thefactsareundisputed.

Privaterespondentwasinvitedtoparticipateinthe1993ASEANSeniorsAnnualGolfTournamentheldinJakarta,
Indonesia.HeandseveralcompanionsdecidedtopurchasetheirrespectivepassengerticketsfromPALwiththe
following points of passage: MANILASINGAPOREJAKARTASINGAPOREMANILA. Private respondent and his
companions were made to understand by PAL that its plane would take them from Manila to Singapore, while
SingaporeAirlineswouldtakethemfromSingaporetoJakarta.4

On3October1993,privaterespondentandhiscompanionstookthePALflighttoSingaporeandarrivedatabout
6:00oclockintheevening.Upontheirarrival,theyproceededtotheSingaporeAirlinesofficetocheckinfortheir
flighttoJakartascheduledat8:00oclockinthesameevening.SingaporeAirlinesrejectedtheticketsofprivate
respondentandhisgroupbecausetheywerenotendorsedbyPAL.Itwasexplainedtoprivaterespondentand
hisgroupthatifSingaporeAirlineshonoredtheticketswithoutPALsendorsement,PALwouldnotpaySingapore
Airlinesfortheirpassage.PrivaterespondenttriedtocontactPALsofficeattheairport,onlytofindoutthatitwas
closed.5

Stranded at the airport in Singapore and left with no recourse, private respondent was in panic and at a loss
where to go and was subjected to humiliation, embarrassment, mental anguish, serious anxiety, fear and
distress.Eventually,privaterespondentandhiscompanionswereforcedtopurchaseticketsfromGarudaAirlines
andboarditslastflightboundforJakarta.WhentheyarrivedinJakartaatabout12:00oclockmidnight,theparty
whowassupposedtofetchthemfromtheairporthadalreadyleftandtheyhadtoarrangefortheirtransportation
tothehotelataverylatehour.Aftertheseriesofnervewrackingexperiences,privaterespondentbecameilland
wasunabletoparticipateinthetournament.6

Upon his return to the Philippines, private respondent brought the matter to the attention of PAL. He sent a
demandlettertoPALon20December1993andanothertoSingaporeAirlineson21March1994.However,both
airlines disowned liability and blamed each other for the fiasco. On 15 August 1997, private respondent filed a
Complaint for Damages before the RTC docketed as Civil Case No. 23773, seeking compensation for moral
damagesintheamountofP1,000,000.00andattorneysfees.7
InsteadoffilingananswertoprivaterespondentsComplaint,PALfiledaMotiontoDismiss8dated18September
1998onthegroundthatthesaidcomplaintwasbarredonthegroundofprescriptionunderSection1(f)ofRule
16oftheRulesofCourt.9PALarguedthattheWarsawConvention,10particularlyArticle29thereof,11governed
thiscase,asitprovidesthatanyclaimfordamagesinconnectionwiththeinternationaltransportationofpersons
is subject to the prescription period of two years. Since the Complaint was filed on 15 August 1997, more than
threeyearsafterPALreceivedthedemandletteron25January1994,itwasalreadybarredbyprescription.

On9June1998,theRTCissuedanOrder12denyingtheMotiontoDismiss.Itmaintainedthattheprovisionsof
the Civil Code and other pertinent laws of the Philippines, not the Warsaw Convention, were applicable to the
presentcase.

TheCourtofAppeals,initsassailedDecisiondated17August2001,likewisedismissedthePetitionforCertiorari
filed by PAL and affirmed the 9 June 1998 Order of the RTC. It pronounced that the application of the Warsaw
Convention must not be construed to preclude the application of the Civil Code and other pertinent laws. By
applying Article 1144 of the Civil Code,13 which allowed for a tenyear prescription period, the appellate court
declaredthattheComplaintfiledbyprivaterespondentshouldnotbedismissed.14

Hence,thepresentPetition,inwhichpetitionerraisesthefollowingissues:

THECOURTOFAPPEALSERREDINNOTGIVINGDUECOURSETOTHEPETITIONASRESPONDENT
JUDGE COMMITED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK OF JURSIDICTION IN
DENYINGPALSMOTIONTODISMISS.

II

THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT APPLYING THE PROVISIONS OF THE WARSAW
CONVENTION DESPITE THE FACT THAT GRIOS CAUSE OF ACTION AROSE FROM A BREACH OF
CONTRACTFORINTERNATIONALAIRTRANSPORT.

III

THECOURTOFAPPEALSERREDINNOTHOLDINGTHATTHECOMPLAINTFILEDBYGRIOBEYOND
THETWO(2)YEARPERIODPROVIDEDUNDERTHEWARSAWCONVENTIONISALREADYBARREDBY
PRESCRIPTION.15

Thepetitioniswithoutmerit.

In determining whether PALs Motion to Dismiss should have been granted by the trial court, it must be
ascertained if all the claims made by the private respondent in his Complaint are covered by the Warsaw
Convention,whicheffectivelybarsallclaimsmadeoutsidethetwoyearprescriptionperiodprovidedunderArticle
29 thereof. If the Warsaw Convention covers all of private respondents claims, then Civil Case No. 23773 has
already prescribed and should therefore be dismissed. On the other hand, if some, if not all, of respondents
claimsareoutsidethecoverageoftheWarsawConvention,theRTCmaystillproceedtohearthecase.

TheWarsawConventionappliesto"allinternationaltransportationofpersons,baggageorgoodsperformedby
any aircraft for hire." It seeks to accommodate or balance the interests of passengers seeking recovery for
personal injuries and the interests of air carriers seeking to limit potential liability. It employs a scheme of strict
liability favoring passengers and imposing damage caps to benefit air carriers.16 The cardinal purpose of the
WarsawConventionistoprovideuniformityofrulesgoverningclaimsarisingfrominternationalairtravelthus,it
precludesapassengerfrommaintaininganactionforpersonalinjurydamagesunderlocallawwhenhisorher
claimdoesnotsatisfytheconditionsofliabilityundertheConvention.17

Article 19 of the Warsaw Convention provides for liability on the part of a carrier for "damages occasioned by
delayinthetransportationbyairofpassengers,baggageorgoods."Article24excludesotherremediesbyfurther
providingthat"(1)inthecasescoveredbyarticles18and19,anyactionfordamages,howeverfounded,canonly
be brought subject to the conditions and limits set out in this convention." Therefore, a claim covered by the
Warsaw Convention can no longer be recovered under local law, if the statute of limitations of two years has
alreadylapsed.

Nevertheless,thisCourtnotesthatjurisprudenceinthePhilippinesandtheUnitedStatesalsorecognizesthatthe
Warsaw Convention does not "exclusively regulate" the relationship between passenger and carrier on an
international flight. This Court finds that the present case is substantially similar to cases in which the damages
soughtwereconsideredtobeoutsidethecoverageoftheWarsawConvention.
InUnitedAirlinesv.Uy,18thisCourtdistinguishedbetweenthe(1)damagetothepassengersbaggageand(2)
humiliation he suffered at the hands of the airlines employees. The first cause of action was covered by the
Warsaw Convention which prescribes in two years, while the second was covered by the provisions of the Civil
Codeontorts,whichprescribesinfouryears.

SimilardistinctionsweremadeinAmericanjurisprudence.InMahaneyv.AirFrance,19apassengerwasdenied
accesstoanairlineflightbetweenNewYorkandMexico,despitethefactthatsheheldaconfirmedreservation.
Thecourtthereinruledthatiftheplaintiffweretoclaimdamagesbasedsolelyonthedelaysheexperiencedfor
instance,thecostsofrentingavan,whichshehadtoarrangeonherownasaconsequenceofthedelaythe
complaint would be barred by the twoyear statute of limitations. However, where the plaintiff alleged that the
airlines subjected her to unjust discrimination or undue or unreasonable preference or disadvantage, an act
punishableundertheUnitedStateslaws,thentheplaintiffmayclaimpurelynominalcompensatorydamagesfor
humiliation and hurt feelings, which are not provided for by the Warsaw Convention. In another case, Wolgelv.
MexicanaAirlines,20 the court pronounced that actions for damages for the "bumping off" itself, rather than the
incidentaldamagesduetothedelay,falloutsidetheWarsawConventionanddonotprescribeintwoyears.

InthePetitionatbar,privaterespondentsComplaintallegedthatbothPALandSingaporeAirlineswereguiltyof
grossnegligence,whichresultedinhisbeingsubjectedto"humiliation,embarrassment,mentalanguish,serious
anxiety,fearanddistress."21Theemotionalharmsufferedbytheprivaterespondentasaresultofhavingbeen
unreasonablyandunjustlypreventedfromboardingtheplaneshouldbedistinguishedfromtheactualdamages
whichresultedfromthesameincident.UndertheCivilCodeprovisionsontort,22suchemotionalharmgivesrise
tocompensationwheregrossnegligenceormaliceisproven.

TheinstantcaseiscomparabletothecaseofLathigrav.BritishAirways.23

InLathigra, it was held that the airlines negligent act of reconfirming the passengers reservation days before
departure and failing to inform the latter that the flight had already been discontinued is not among the acts
covered by the Warsaw Convention, since the alleged negligence did not occur during the performance of the
contractofcarriagebut,rather,daysbeforethescheduledflight.

In the case at hand, Singapore Airlines barred private respondent from boarding the Singapore Airlines flight
because PAL allegedly failed to endorse the tickets of private respondent and his companions, despite PALs
assurancestorespondentthatSingaporeAirlineshadalreadyconfirmedtheirpassage.Whilethisfactstillneeds
tobeheardandestablishedbyadequateproofbeforetheRTC,anactionbasedontheseallegationswillnotfall
under the Warsaw Convention, since the purported negligence on the part of PAL did not occur during the
performanceofthecontractofcarriagebutdaysbeforethescheduledflight.Thus,thepresentactioncannotbe
dismissedbasedonthestatuteoflimitationsprovidedunderArticle29oftheWarsawConvention.

Hadthepresentcasemerelyconsistedofclaimsincidentaltotheairlinesdelayintransportingtheirpassengers,
the private respondents Complaint would have been timebarred under Article 29 of the Warsaw Convention.
However,thepresentcaseinvolvesaspecialspeciesofinjuryresultingfromthefailureofPALand/orSingapore
Airlines to transport private respondent from Singapore to Jakarta the profound distress, fear, anxiety and
humiliation that private respondent experienced when, despite PALs earlier assurance that Singapore Airlines
confirmedhispassage,hewaspreventedfromboardingtheplaneandhefacedthedauntingpossibilitythathe
wouldbestrandedinSingaporeAirportbecausethePALofficewasalreadyclosed.

These claims are covered by the Civil Code provisions on tort, and not within the purview of the Warsaw
Convention.Hence,theapplicableprescriptionperiodisthatprovidedunderArticle1146oftheCivilCode:

Art.1146.Thefollowingactionsmustbeinstitutedwithinfouryears:

(1)Uponaninjurytotherightsoftheplaintiff

(2)Uponaquasidelict.

PrivaterespondentsComplaintwasfiledwiththeRTCon15August1997,whichwaslessthanfouryearssince
PAL received his extrajudicial demand on 25 January 1994. Thus, private respondents claims have not yet
prescribedandPALsMotiontoDismissmustbedenied.

Moreover,shouldtherebeanydoubtastotheprescriptionofprivaterespondentsComplaint,themoreprudent
action is for the RTC to continue hearing the same and deny the Motion to Dismiss. Where it cannot be
determinedwithcertaintywhethertheactionhasalreadyprescribedornot,thedefenseofprescriptioncannotbe
sustainedonameremotiontodismissbasedonwhatappearstobeonthefaceofthecomplaint.24Andwhere
thegroundonwhichprescriptionisbaseddoesnotappeartobeindubitable,thecourtmaydowelltodeferaction
onthemotiontodismissuntilaftertrialonthemerits.25
INVIEWOFTHEFOREGOING,theinstantPetitionisDENIED.TheassailedDecisionoftheCourtofAppealsin
CAG.R.SPNo.48664,promulgatedon17August2001isAFFIRMED.Costsagainstthepetitioner.

SOORDERED.

YnaresSantiago,Chairperson,AustriaMartinez,Nachura,Reyes,JJ.,concur.

Footnotes
1PennedbyAssociateJusticeAliciaL.SantoswithAssociateJusticesRamonA.BarcelonaandMercedes
GozoDadole,concurring.Rollo,pp.3946.

2PennedbyJudgeAdrianoS.Savillo.CArollo,pp.2931.

3CArollo,p.33.

4Id.

5Id.

6Id.at34.

7Id.

8Id.at3740.

9Section1.Grounds.Withinthetimeforbutbeforefilingtheanswertothecomplaintorpleadingasserting
aclaim,amotiontodismissmaybemadeonanyofthefollowinggrounds:

xxxx

(f)ThatthecauseofactionisbarredbyapriorjudgmentorbytheStatuteofLimitations.

xxxx

10TheofficialtitleoftheWarsawConventionis"TheConventionfortheUnificationofCertainRules
RelatingtoInternationalCarriagebyAir,"12October1929.InthecaseofthePhilippines,theWarsaw
ConventionwasconcurredinbytheSenate,throughResolutionNo.19,on16May1950.ThePhilippine
instrumentofaccessionwassignedbyPresidentElpidioQuirinoon13October1950andwasdeposited
withthePolishGovernmenton9November1950.TheConventionbecameapplicabletothePhilippineson
9February1951.On23September1955,PresidentRamonMagsaysayissuedProclamationNo.201,
declaringthePhilippinesformaladherencethereto,"totheendthatthesameandeveryarticleandclause
thereofmaybeobservedandfulfilledingoodfaithbytheRepublicofthePhilippinesandthecitizens
thereof."(Mapav.CourtofAppeals,341Phil.281,295296[1997].)
11Article29.(1)Therighttodamagesshallbeextinguishedifanactionisnotbroughtwithintwoyears,
reckonedfromthedateofarrivalatthedestination,orfromthedateonwhichtheaircraftoughttohave
arrived,orfromthedateonwhichthecarriagestopped.

(2)Themethodofcalculatingtheperiodoflimitationshallbedeterminedbythelawofthecourttowhich
thecaseissubmitted.

12CArollo,pp.2931.

13Thefollowingactionsmustbebroughtwithintenyearsfromthetimetherightofactionaccrues:

(1)Uponawrittencontract

(2)Uponanobligationcreatedbylaw

(3)Uponajudgment.

14Rollo,pp.1417.
15Id.at25.

16Penningtonv.BritishAirways,275F.Supp.2d601,11July2003.

17Robertsonv.AmericanAirlines,277F.Supp.2d91,18August2003.

18376Phil.688(1999).

19474F.Supp.532,28June1979.

20821F.2d442,12June1987.

21CArollo,p.34.

22Art2176.Whoeverbyactoromissioncausesdamagetoanother,therebeingfaultornegligence,is
obligedtopayforthedamagedone.Suchfaultornegligence,ifthereisnopreexistingcontractualrelation
betweenparties,iscalledaquasidelictandisgovernedbytheprovisionsofthisChapter.

Art.19.Everypersonmust,intheexerciseofhisrightsandintheperformanceofhisduties,actwith
justice,giveeveryonehisdue,andobservehonestyandgoodfaith.

Art.21.Anypersonwhowillfullycauseslossorinjurytoanotherinamannerthatiscontraryto
morals,goodcustomsorpublicpolicyshallcompensatethelatterforthedamage.

2341F.3d535,1December1994.

24Sisonv.McQuaid,94Phil201,203204(1953).

25Cordovav.Cordova,102Phil1182(1958).

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