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ALFONSO D. GAVIOLA, Petitioner, respective residences which rent liabilities when computed annually for each of them is in the sum of
vs. PESOS: THREE THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED (P3,600.00), Philippine Currency;
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.
d) Ordering defendants to pay plaintiff jointly and severally the sum of PESOS: THIRTY THOUSAND
DECISION (P30,000.00), Philippine Currency, representing moral damages;

CALLEJO, SR., J.: e) Ordering defendants to pay plaintiff jointly and severally the sum of PESOS: TWENTY-FIVE THOUSAND
(P25,000.00), Philippine Currency, representing attorney’s fee and litigation expenses.
Before the Court is a petition for review of the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR No.
24413 affirming the ruling2 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Nava, Biliran, Branch 16, in Criminal Case Plaintiff prays for such relief and other remedies as may be just and equitable in the premises.7
No. N-1901, where petitioner Alfonso Gaviola was convicted of qualified theft.
In their answer to the complaint, the defendants averred that the property in which their houses were
The antecedents are as follows: located is different from that which was adjudicated by the court in Civil Case No. 111 to Eusebio Mejarito.

On May 25, 1954, Elias Gaviola filed a complaint against Eusebio Mejarito in the then Court of First Instance The parties could not agree on the identification and metes and bounds of the parcel of land claimed and
of Carigara, Leyte, for quieting of title with a plea for injunctive relief. The suit involved a 40,500-square- owned by the plaintiff and those claimed and owned by the defendants. This impelled the court to appoint
meter parcel of coconut land located in Barrio Calbani, Maripipi, Leyte, identified as Cadastral Lot 1301 Bienvenido Ricafort, the Officer-in-Charge of the sub-office of the Provincial Assessor, as Commissioner,
and covered by Tax Declaration (TD) No. 743.3 The case was docketed as Civil Case No. 111. Eusebio, for to resurvey the property subject of the complaint. A sketch of the property was prepared, indicating the
his part, claimed ownership over the property. location of the plaintiff’s lot (Lot 1301) and the parcel of land where the house of Gaviola stood (Lot 1311).
The Commissioner also prepared a report8 stating that the property adjudicated to Eusebio Mejarito in
On July 29, 1955, the trial court ordered the dismissal of the complaint and declared Eusebio the lawful Civil Case No. 111 was Cadastral Lot No. 1301, while that which belonged to Elias Gaviola was Cadastral
owner of the property. The dispositive portion of the decision reads: Lot No. 1311; and the old one-storey house of defendant Alfonso Gaviola was located in the latter lot. The
defendant did not object to the report.9
WHEREFORE, for the foregoing, the Court renders judgment dismissing the plaintiffs’ complaint and
declaring the defendants the absolute owners and entitled to the possession of the disputed land. The On May 4, 1990, the court rendered judgment in favor of the defendants in Civil Case No. B-0600 and
preliminary injunction which was granted by this Court through Judge Lorenzo Carlitos is ordered ordered the complaint dismissed. The court ruled that the parcels of land occupied by the defendants,
dissolved, with costs against the plaintiffs. inclusive of Lot 1311, were different from the property adjudicated to Eusebio Mejarito in Civil Case No.
111, which is actually Lot 1301. The court also ruled that the plaintiff had no cause of action for the
SO ORDERED.4
execution of the court’s decision in Civil Case No. 111 because such decision had long been enforced, per
The decision became final and executory. On September 3, 1955, the trial court ordered the sheriff to place report of the sheriff.10
Eusebio in possession of the property.5 The sheriff complied with the order on December 19, 1958.6
Eusebio appealed the decision to the CA which rendered judgment on September 18, 1992, affirming the
In the meantime, Eusebio died intestate and was survived by his son, Cleto. Elias Gaviola also died intestate decision of the RTC.11 The appellate court declared that the house of Alfonso Gaviola was located in Lot
and was survived by his son, Alfonso. 1311 covered by TD 1611 under the name of Elias Gaviola. Cleto filed a petition for review on certiorari
with this Court, which was denied due course in a Resolution12 dated March 24, 1993. Thus, the CA decision
Almost 30 years thereafter, on October 1985, Cleto filed a complaint against Alfonso and four others for became final and executory. The trial court issued a writ of execution, a copy of which Sheriff Ludenilo S.
recovery of possession of a parcel of land and execution of judgment in Civil Case No. 111. The property Ador served on the defendants on August 5, 1993.13
involved was located on the north of Lot 1301 and covered by TD No. 1546. The case was docketed as Civil
Case No. B-0600. In the meantime, Cleto Mejarito left the Philippines and stayed in the United States of America. He
entrusted the land to the care of his nephew, Rafael Lozano.
The plaintiff therein alleged that the houses of the defendants were located in the property that had been
adjudicated to his father, Eusebio Mejarito, in Civil Case No. 111. He prayed that the court issue judgment At 7:00 a.m. on September 6, 1997, Jovencio Mejarito, a nephew of Cleto Mejarito, and a barangay
as follows: councilman, saw Gavino Gaviola, Rodrigo Gaviola and Domingo Caingcoy climbing the coconut trees in Lot
1301. Under the supervision of the spouses Alfonso and Leticia Gaviola, they
a) Ordering [the] immediate execution of judgment in Civil Case No. 111, against defendants Segundo
Gaviola and Alfonso Gaviola; gathered 1,500 coconuts worth P3,000.00 from the coconut trees.14 The Officer-in-Charge of the Maripipi
Police Station then filed a criminal complaint for qualified theft against the spouses Gaviola and those who
b) Ordering all defendants evicted from any portion of the land they presently occupy as residential; gathered the coconuts in the municipal trial court.15 In the meantime, the coconuts were entrusted to the
care of the barangay captain.
c) Ordering all defendants to pay rent in favor of the plaintiff with legal interests imposed reckoned from
June 1984 until full payment of what is due and/or until their complete and absolute eviction from their
2

On February 6, 1998, an Information was filed with the RTC of Naval, Biliran, against the spouses Alfonso Moreover, his honest belief that he owned the land negates intent to steal, an essential element of the
and Leticia Gaviola for qualified theft. The accusatory portion of the decision reads: felony of theft. He argues that the RTC in Civil Case No. B-0600 declared him to be the owner of the
property where the coconut trees were planted; the property was placed in his possession by the sheriff
That on or about the 6th day of September 1997, at around 9 o’clock in the morning at Brgy. Calbani, and, since then, he had planted bananas and gathered coconuts from the coconut trees.
Municipality of Maripipi, Province of Biliran, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
Court, the above-named accused, conspiring and confederating with one another, and with intent to gain, In its comment on the petition, the Office of the Solicitor General avers that the decision of the RTC, which
did then and there unlawfully, feloniously, deliberately took, harvested and gathered one thousand five was affirmed by the CA, is in accord with the evidence on record. The OSG maintains that under the
hundred (1,500) coconut fruits from the plantation of Cleto Mejarito without the consent and authority of decision of the then CFI in Civil Case No. 111, the RTC in Civil Case No. B-0600 and that of the CA affirming
the latter, to the damage and prejudice of the owner amounting to P3,000.00. on appeal the RTC ruling, the owner of Lot 1301, the property from which the coconuts were taken, was
Eusebio Mejarito, the private complainant’s father.
Contrary to Law.16
We rule against the petitioner.
Alfonso admitted that the coconuts were taken upon his instructions, but insisted that the trees from
which they were taken were planted on Lot 1311, the property he had inherited from his father, Elias Article 308 of the Revised Penal Code defines theft as follows:
Gaviola; the property of private complainant Cleto Mejarito, Lot 1301, was adjacent to his lot. Alfonso
testified that the property was placed in his possession by the sheriff since August 5, 1993, and that since Art. 308. Who are liable for theft.– Theft is committed by any person who, with intent to gain but without
then he had been gathering coconuts every three months without being confronted or prosecuted by violence, against or intimidation of persons nor force upon things, shall take personal property of another
anybody.17 He insisted that his claim was based on the decision of the RTC in Civil Case No. B-0600, which without the latter’s consent.
was affirmed by the CA.18
Theft is likewise committed by:
On April 13, 2000, the RTC rendered judgment convicting Alfonso of qualified theft. The fallo of the
1. Any person who, having found lost property, shall fail to deliver the same to the local authorities or to
decision reads:
its owner;
WHEREFORE, this Court finds the accused Alfonso Gaviola y Dimakiling guilty beyond reasonable doubt of
2. Any person who, after having maliciously damaged the property of another, shall remove or make use
the crime of qualified theft; hereby imposing upon him the indeterminate penalty of imprisonment from
of the fruits or objects of the damage caused by him; and
Five (5) Years, Five (5) Months and Ten (10) days of prision correccional, maximum period, as the minimum,
to Eight (8) Years and One (1) day of prision mayor, minimum, as the maximum. 3. Any person who shall enter an enclosed estate or a field where trespass is forbidden or which belongs
to another and without the consent of its owner, shall hunt or fish upon the same or shall gather fruits,
The accused shall pay the private complainant Cleto Mejarito, through his duly authorized representative,
cereals, or other forest or farm products.20
exemplary damages in the amount of P20,000.00 and liquidated damages in the amount of P3,000.00.
Thus, the elements of theft are: (1) that there be taking of personal property; (2) that said property belongs
SO ORDERED.19
to another; (3) that the taking be done with intent to gain; (4) that the taking be done without the consent
The trial court ruled that the accused took the coconuts from the coconut trees planted on Cadastral Lot of the owner; and (5) that the taking be accomplished without the use of violence against or intimidation
1301 which was owned by Cleto Mejarito, and not on his own property, Lot 1311, as he claimed. of persons or force upon things.21

Alfonso Gaviola appealed the decision to the CA which rendered judgment, on October 1, 2003, affirming The provision was taken from Article 530 of the Spanish Penal Code which reads:
the decision of the RTC. He then filed a motion for reconsideration of the decision, which the appellate
1. Los que con ánimo de lucrarse, y sin violencia o intimidación en las personas ni fuerza en las cosas,
court denied.
toman las cosas muebles ajenas sin la voluntad, de su dueño.
Alfonso, now the petitioner, raises the following issues in the instant petition: (1) whether the prosecution
2. Los que encontrándose una cosa perdida y sabiendo quién es su dueño se la apropiaren con intencion
proved beyond reasonable doubt that he had intent to gain when the coconuts were taken upon his
de lucro.
instruction; and (2) whether he is liable for exemplary and liquidated damages.
3. Los dañadores que sustrajeren o utilizaren los frutos u objeto del daño causado, salvo los casos previstos
On the first issue, petitioner avers that the prosecution failed to prove animus lucrandi (intent to gain) on
en los artículos 606, num. 1., 2. y 3; 608, num. 1; 610, num. 1.; 611;613; segundo párrafo del 617 y 618.
his part. He asserts that he had been taking coconuts from the property in broad daylight three times a
(Art. 437 del Cod. Penal de 1850. – Art. 379, Cdo. Franc. – Art. 331, Codigo Brasil. – Art. 151, Cod. Austr. –
year since August 5, 1993 on his honest belief that he was the owner of the land where the coconut trees
Arts. 461 y 508, Cod. Belg. – Art. 242, Cod. Alem. – Arts. 422 y 423, Cod. Port. – Art. 402, Cod. Ital.)22
were planted. He points out that it was only after he took coconuts on September 6, 1997 that he was
charged of qualified theft. According to Article 310 of the Revised Penal Code, theft is qualified if coconuts are taken from the
premises of a plantation:
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Art. 310. Qualified theft. – The crime of theft shall be punished by the penalties next higher by two degrees predecessor-in-interest Eusebio Mejarito by virtue of Civil Case No. 111 (Exh. "A") (See also Exh. "6," Tax
than those respectively specified in the next preceding article, if committed by a domestic servant, or with Declaration No. 3437, reverse side).
grave abuse of confidence, or if the property stolen is motor vehicle, mail matter or large cattle or consists
of coconuts taken from the premises of a plantation, fish taken from a fishpond or fishery or if property is Alfonso Gaviola could not have made a mistake to extricate themselves from the ejectment, Cleto Mejarito
taken on the occasion of fire, earthquake, typhoon, volcanic eruption, or any other calamity, vehicular wanted to pursue in Civil Case No. B-0600.
accident or civil disturbance.
They submitted a well entrenched analyses as they concluded further; to quote:
For one to be guilty of theft, the accused must have an intent to steal (animus furandi) personal property,
"Finally, that these three parcels of lands are separate and distinct from each other is confirmed by the
meaning the intent to deprive another of his ownership/lawful possession of personal property which
cadastral survey were the lands of plaintiff (Cleto Mejarito), of Elias Gaviola (Alfonso) and of Segunda
intent is apart from, but concurrent with the general criminal intent which is an essential element of a
Gaviola, are denominated as Cadastral Lot Nos. 1301, 1311 and 1303, respectively. Not only that, their
felony of dolo (dolos malus). The animo being a state of the mind may be proved by direct or circumstantial
definite locations and boundaries are even delineated in the sketch prepared by the court-appointed
evidence, inclusive of the manner and conduct of the accused before, during and after the taking of the
commissioner, which sketch is now marked as Exhibits "H" and series" (Memorandum of defendants
personal property. General criminal intent is presumed or inferred from the very fact that the wrongful
Gaviolas dated April 13, 1989, in Civil Case No. B-0600).
act is done since one is presumed to have willed the natural consequences of his own acts. Likewise,
animus furandi is presumed from the taking of personal property without the consent of the owner or The general rule is that a judicial admission is conclusive upon the party making it and does not require
lawful possessor thereof. The same may be rebutted by the accused by evidence that he took the personal proof; except when it is shown that the admission was made through palpable mistake and (2) when shown
property under a bona fide belief that he owns the property.23 that no such admission was in fact made. (Atillo III vs. C.A. 266 SCRA 596).27
In Black v. State,24 the State Supreme Court of Alabama ruled that the open and notorious taking, without The findings of the RTC were affirmed by the appellate court. The well-entrenched rule is that the findings
any attempt at concealment or denial, but an avowal of the taking, raises a strong presumption that there of facts of the trial court, affirmed by the appellate court, are conclusive on this Court, absent any evidence
is no animus furandi. But, if the claim is dishonest, a mere pretense, taking the property of another will that the trial court and the appellate court ignored, misconstrued, or misinterpreted cogent facts and
not protect the taker: circumstances of substance which, if considered, would warrant a modification or reversal of the outcome
of the case. We have reviewed the records and find no justification to modify, much less reverse, the
xxx "In all cases where one in good faith takes another’s property under claim of title in himself, he is
findings of the trial and appellate courts.
exempt from the charge of larceny, however puerile or mistaken the claim may in fact be. And the same
is true where the taking is on behalf of another, believed to be the true owner. Still, if the claim is dishonest, The petitioner cannot feign ignorance or even unfamiliarity with the location, identity and the metes and
a mere pretense, it will not protect the taker." bounds of the private complainant’s property, Lot 1301, vis-à-vis that of his own, Lot 1311. Indeed, in his
Memorandum in Civil Case No. B-0600, petitioner as one of the defendants below, categorically stated:
The gist of the offense is the intent to deprive another of his property in a chattel, either for gain or out of
wantonness or malice to deprive another of his right in the thing taken. This cannot be where the taker From the above enumeration or statement of boundaries, it is clear that these three parcels of land are
honestly believes the property is his own or that of another, and that he has a right to take possession of distinct and separate from each other, as the following observations can be made:
it for himself or for another, for the protection of the latter.25
1. land of plaintiff and Elias (Alfonso) Gaviola:
In Charles v. State,26 the State Supreme Court of Florida ruled that the belief of the accused of his
ownership over the property must be honest and in good faith and not a mere sham or pretense. a. Both have the same northern boundary: Isabela Mejarito. But the same can be explained by the fact
that sometime in 1934 Isabela Mejarito, through Pastor Armoela, sold the land now owned by Elias
In the present case, the trial court found the petitioner’s claim of having acted in the honest belief that he (Alfonso) Gaviola to him. See Ex. "15." In fact, the first time that the land bought by Elias Gaviola was
owned Lot 1301 when he ordered the harvesting of the coconuts barren of probative weight. The trial declared in his name was in 1935 in Tax Dec. No. 2839 (Exh. "14") which cancelled in part Tax Dec. No.
court ruled that the petitioner even admitted in Civil Case No. B-0600 that the private complainant’s 1942 (Exh. "16") in the name of Isabela Mejarito.
property was separate from his:
What caused the confusion (identical northern boundary of the lands of plaintiff and Elias Gaviola) was
The accused have put up a defense of ownership although from the records of Civil Case No. B-0600, that the northern boundary (Isabela Mejarito) of the land of plaintiff was not adjusted accordingly despite
Alfonso Gaviola, et al., thru their counsel admitted that from the evidence of Cleto Mejarito especially Exh. the sale. It should have been changed to Elias Gaviola to reflect the sale.
"E," Writ of Execution, it appears that the decision was already executed on December 22, 1958.
b. The southern boundary of the land of Elias Gaviola (Alfonso) is stated as Melecio Gaviola. Actually the
Further admitted that: land of Melecio Gaviola is now owned by plaintiff the land having been adjudicated to his predecessor-in-
interest Eusebio Mejarito by virtue of Civil Case No. 111 (Exhibit "A") (See also Exh. "6," Tax Dec. No. 3437,
"The southern boundary of the land of Elias Gaviola (Alfonso) is stated as Melecio Gaviola. Actually the
reverse side)
land of Melecio Gaviola is now owned by plaintiff (Cleto Mejarito), the land having been adjudicated to his
2. land of plaintiff and Hermenegildo (Segundo) Gaviola:
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a. The eastern boundary of the land of plaintiff is stated as "Hermenegildo Gaviola," father and contrary, and when it was clearly proven that he had not even planted it. The paddy had been planted by
predecessor-in-interest of defendant Segundo Gaviola; Domingo Corpus upon land which a court of competent jurisdiction decided belonged to him and had been
harvested by him and piled upon the land at the time the defendant entered the land and took and carried
b. The western boundary of the land of Hermenegildo Gaviola (Exh. "31-A") was previously declared as it away. The defendant neither planted the paddy nor reaped it. The court decided, before he took and
Melecio Gaviola. But after the case (Civil Case No. 111, Exh. "A"), it was changed to "Eusebio Mejarito," carried away the paddy, that the land belonged to Domingo Corpus. The defendant must have known that
predecessor-in-interest of plaintiff by virtue of said case. (Exh. "31-A" and "30-A." the paddy did not belong to him. In view of the litigation, he must have known to whom it did belong.30
So it is now clear that the land of plaintiff is west of the land of Hermenegildo Gaviola (now Segundo In fine, we find and so hold that the petitioner’s claim of good faith in taking the coconuts from the private
Gaviola), and that they are two distinct and separate lands. complainant’s land is a mere pretense to escape criminal liability.
Indeed, that the lands of plaintiff, of Elias Gaviola (father of defendant Alfonso), and of defendant Segundo We rule that there is factual and legal bases for the award of P20,000.00 by way of exemplary damages.
Gaviola (now, but Hermenegildo Gaviola before) are separate and distinct from each other is shown by the Under Article 223031 of the New Civil Code, exemplary damages may be awarded when the crime was
fact that they have been covered by different sets of tax declarations since as early as 1906. It should be committed with one or more aggravating circumstances. In this case, the petitioner is guilty not only of
noted that the tax declarations that cover each land do not merge with, overlap, or cancel, each other. simple theft but of qualified theft.
There appear apparent minor discrepancies but they can easily be explained by two events: the sale of a
portion of the land of Isabela Mejarito to Elias Gaviola and the decision in Civil Case No. 111. If these two IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petition is DENIED for lack of merit. Costs against the petitioner.
events are considered, these apparent discrepancies vanish into thin air.
SO ORDERED.
Finally, that these three parcels of lands are separate and distinct from each other is confirmed by the
cadastral survey where the lands of plaintiff, of Elias Gaviola and of Segundo Gaviola, are denominated as
Cadastral Lot Nos. 1301, 1311 and 1303, respectively. Not only that, their definite locations and boundaries
are even delineated in the sketch prepared by the court-appointed commissioner, which sketch is now
marked as Exhs. "H" and series, of plaintiff. Also, the report to which the sketch is attached even states
that the house of defendant Alfonso Gaviola is located on the land of Elias Gaviola; and while said report
enumerates the houses located on the land of plaintiff, neither the house of defendant Alfonso Gaviola
nor of defendant Segundo Gaviola nor of the other defendants are among those mentioned therein.28

Moreover, petitioner’s land is residential, while that of the private complainant is coconut land. There are
no coconut trees in the lot owned by petitioner, nor is there evidence that he planted coconut trees on
private complainant’s property at any time, believing that it was his own land. Petitioner could thus not
have mistaken the property of the private complainant for that of his own.

We further note that petitioner failed to adduce evidence to corroborate his claim that, prior to September
6, 1997, he had gathered coconuts from the coconut trees on the private complainant’s property three
times a year, and that the latter or his caretaker was aware thereof but failed to remonstrate.

In United States v. Villacorta,29 the Court debunked the claim of the appellant therein that he should not
be held criminally liable for theft (larceny) for honestly believing that he owned the land from which he
took the paddy. That case is on all fours with the present case, in that there was also a court ruling declaring
the private complainant therein as the owner of the land on which the paddy grew. The Court therein
ratiocinated as follows:

The attorney for the appellant in this court attempts to show that the defendant could not be guilty of
larceny, even though it be admitted that he took and carried away the paddy in question, for the reason
that he claimed to be the owner of the land. That question had been decided against him by a court of
competent jurisdiction and he made no objection to said decision. After that decision he could no longer
claim that he was the owner of the land from which he took and carried away the paddy, and moreover,
it was shown during the trial of the cause that Domingo Corpus, by his laborers, had actually planted the
paddy upon the land in question. It is difficult to understand upon what theory the defendant could justify
his claim that he was the owner of the paddy, after a final decision had been rendered against him to the
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People vs. Claudio Teehankee, Jr., G.R. Nos. 111206-08, 6 October 1995) 566. He, however, claimed that said car ceased to be in good running condition after its involvement in an
accident. Until the day of the shooting, his Lancer car had been parked in the garage of his mother’s house
The facts: in Dasmarinas Village. He has not used this car since then. Accused conceded that although the car was
not in good running condition, it could still be used.
In 1991, Jussi Olavi Leino was taking Maureen Hultman to her home at Campanilla Street, Dasmarinas
Village, Makati. Roland John Chapman went with them. When they entered the village, Maureen asked The ruling:
Leino to stop about a block away from her house, as she wanted to walk the rest of the way for she did
not want her parents to know that she was going home that late. Leino offered to walk with her while Eyewitness identification and out-of-court identification.
Chapman stayed in the car and listened to the radio.
The accused was convicted on the strength of the testimonies of 3 eyewitnesses who positively identified
While Leino and Maureen were walking, a light-colored Mitsubishi box-type Lancer car, driven by accused him as the gunman. However, he vigorously assails his out-of-court identification by these eyewitnesses.
Claudio Teehankee, Jr., came up from behind them and stopped on the middle of the road. Accused
alighted from his car, approached them, and asked: “Who are you? (Show me your) I.D.” When Leino He starts by trying to discredit the eyeball account of Leino, the lone surviving victim of the crimes at bar.
handed his I.D., the accused grabbed and pocketed the I.D., without bothering to look at it. Appellant urges: First, that Leino’s identification of him outside an unoccupied house in Forbes Park was
highly irregular; Second, that Leino saw his pictures on television and the newspapers before he identified
Chapman saw the incident. He stepped down on the sidewalk and asked accused: “Why are you bothering him; Third, that Leino’s interview at the hospital was never put in writing; Fourth, that the sketch of
us?” Accused pushed Chapman, dug into his shirt, pulled out a gun and fired at him. Chapman felt his upper appellant based on the description given by Leino to the CIS agents was suppressed by the NBI. It is
body, staggered for a moment, and asked: “Why did you shoot me?” Chapman crumpled on the sidewalk. surmised that the sketch must have been among the evidence turned over to the NBI when the latter
Leino knelt beside Chapman to assist him but accused ordered him to get up and leave Chapman alone. assumed jurisdiction over the investigation; and, lastly, that Leino could not have remembered the face of
Accused then turned his ire on Leino. He pointed gun at him and asked: “Do you want a trouble?” Leino the accused. The shooting lasted for only five (5) minutes. During that period, his gaze could not have been
said “no” and took a step backward. fixed only on the gunman’s face. His senses were also dulled by the five (5) bottles of beer he imbibed that
night.
The shooting initially shocked Maureen. When she came to her senses, she became hysterical and started
screaming for help. She repeatedly shouted: “Oh, my God, he’s got a gun. He’s gonna kill us. Will somebody It is understandable for the accused to assail his out-of-court identification by the prosecution witnesses
help us?” All the while, accused was pointing his gun to and from Leino to Maureen, warning the latter to in his first assignment of error. Eyewitness identification constitutes vital evidence and, in most cases,
shut up. Accused ordered Leino to sit down on the sidewalk. Leino obeyed and made no attempt to move decisive of the success or failure of the prosecution. Yet, while eyewitness identification is significant, it is
away. Accused stood 2-3 meters away from him. Maureen continued to be hysterical. She could not stay not as accurate and authoritative as the scientific forms of identification evidence such as the fingerprint
still. She strayed to the side of accused’s car. Accused tried but failed to grab her. Maureen circled around or DNA testing. Some authors even describe eyewitness evidence as “inherently suspect.” The causes of
accused’s car, trying to put some distance between them. The short chase lasted for a minute or two. misidentification are known, thus:
Eventually, accused caught Maureen and repeatedly enjoined her to shut up and sit down beside Leino.
Maureen finally sat beside Leino on the sidewalk. Identification testimony has at least three components. First, witnessing a crime, whether as a victim or a
bystander, involves perception of an event actually occurring. Second, the witness must memorize details
For a moment, the accused turned his back from the two. He faced them again and shot Leino. Leino was of the event. Third, the witness must be able to recall and communicate accurately. Dangers of unreliability
hit on the upper jaw, fell backwards on the sidewalk, but did not lose consciousness. Leino heard another in eyewitness testimony arise at each of these three stages, for whenever people attempt to acquire, retain,
shot and saw Maureen fall beside him. He lifted his head to see what was happening and saw accused and retrieve information accurately, they are limited by normal human fallibilities and suggestive
return to his car and drive away. Leino struggled to his knees and shouted for help. He noticed at least 3 influences.
people who saw the incident.
Out-of-court identification is conducted by the police in various ways. It is done thru show-ups where the
As a result of the incident, 3 separate criminal cases were filed against accused Claudio Teehankee, Jr. suspect alone is brought face to face with the witness for identification. It is done thru mug shots where
Initially, he was charged with: MURDER for the killing of ROLAND CHAPMAN, and two (2) FRUSTRATED photographs are shown to the witness to identify the suspect. It is also done thru line-ups where a witness
MURDER for the shooting and wounding of JUSSI LEINO and MAUREEN HULTMAN. When Hultman identifies the suspect from a group of persons lined up for the purpose. Since corruption of out-of-court
subsequently died after 97 days of confinement at the hospital and during the course of the trial, the identification contaminates the integrity of in-court identification during the trial of the case, courts have
Information for Frustrated Murder was amended to MURDER. fashioned out rules to assure its fairness and its compliance with the requirements of constitutional due
process. In resolving the admissibility of and relying on out-of-court identification of suspects, courts have
The defense: adopted the totality of circumstances test where they consider the following factors, viz: (1) the witness’
opportunity to view the criminal at the time of the crime; (2) the witness’ degree of attention at that time;
Accused relied on the defense of denial and alibi. Accused claimed that during the shooting incident, he
(3) the accuracy of any prior description given by the witness; (4) the level of certainty demonstrated by the
was not anywhere near the scene of the crime, but in his house in Pasig. Accused averred that he only
witness at the identification; (5) the length of time between the crime and the identification; and, (6) the
came to know the 3 victims in the Dasmarinas shooting when he read the newspaper reports about it.
suggestiveness of the identification procedure.
Accused admitted ownership of a box-type, silver metallic gray Mitsubishi Lancer, with plate number PDW
6

Using the totality of circumstances test, the alleged irregularities cited by the accused did not result in his The SC also gave credence to the testimony of the other two witnesses. As to the testimony of Cadenas,
misidentification nor was he denied due process. There is nothing wrong in Leino’s identification of the his initial reluctance to reveal to the authorities what he witnessed was sufficiently explained during the
accused in an unoccupied house in Forbes Park. The records reveal that this mode was resorted to by the trial – he feared for his and his family’s safety. The Court has taken judicial notice of the natural reticence
authorities for security reasons. The need for security even compelled that Leino be fetched and escorted of witnesses to get involved in the solution of crimes considering the risk to their lives and limbs. In light
from his house in Forbes Park by U.S. embassy security officials and brought to the house where he was to of these all too real risks, the court has not considered the initial reluctance of fear-gripped witnesses to
make the identification. The Leinos refused to have the identification at the NBI office as it was cramped cooperate with authorities as an authorities as an indicium of credibility. As to the testimony of Mangubat,
with people and with high security risk. Leino’s fear for his safety was not irrational. He and his companions the SC found nothing in the records to suspect that Mangubat would perjure himself.
had been shot in cold blood in one of the exclusive, supposedly safe subdivisions in the metropolis.
2. Proof beyond reasonable doubt
There is no hard and fast rule as to the place where suspects are identified by witnesses. Identification
may be done in open field. It is often done in hospitals while the crime and the criminal are still fresh in According to the the accused, the trial court erred in not holding that the prosecution failed to establish
the mind of the victim. his guilt beyond reasonable doubt. First, he claims the trial court erred in citing in its Decision his
involvement in previous shooting incidents. Second, the NBI failed to conduct an examination to compare
Accused can’t also gripe that Leino saw his pictures and heard radio and TV accounts of the shooting before the bullets fired from the gun at the scene of the crime with the bullets recovered from the body of
he personally identified him. The records show that while Leino was still in the hospital, he was shown 3 Chapman. Third, the prosecution eyewitnesses described the gunman’s car as white, but the trial court
pictures of different men by the investigators. He identified the accused as the gunman from these found it to be silver metalic gray. Fourth, the accused could not have been the gunman, for Mangubat said
pictures. He, however, categorically stated that, before the mug shot identification, he has not seen any that he overheard the victim Hultman plead to the gunman, thus: “Please, don’t shoot me and don’t kill
picture of accused or read any report relative to the shooting incident. The burden is on accused to prove me. I promise Mommy, Daddy.” The accused also contends that a maid in a house near the scene of the
that his mug shot identification was unduly suggestive. Failing proof of impermissible suggestiveness, he crime told Makati police Alberto Fernandez that she heard Maureen say: “Daddy don’t shoot. Don’t.” Fifth,
cannot complain about the admission of his out-of-court identification by Leino. the NBI towed accused’s car from Dasmarinas Village to the NBI office which proved that the same was
not in good running condition. Lastly, the result of the paraffin test conducted on appellant showed he
There is no reason to doubt the correctness of the accused’s identification by Leino. The scene of the crime was negative of nitrates.
was well-lighted by a lamp post. The accused was merely 2-3 meters away when he shot Leino. The incident
happened for a full 5 minutes. Leino had no ill-motive to falsely testify against the accusedt. His testimony The accused points to other possible suspects, viz:. ANDERS HULTMAN, since one of the eyewitnesses was
at the trial was straightforward. He was unshaken by the brutal cross-examination of the defense counsels. quoted in the newspapers as having overheard Maureen plead to the gunman: “Huwag, Daddy.”; and, (b)
He never wavered in his identification of the accused. When asked how sure he was that the accused was JOSE MONTAÑO, another resident of Dasmariñas Village, who had a white Lancer car, also bearing
responsible for the crime, he confidently replied: “I’m very sure. It could not have been somebody else.” license plate number 566.

The accused cannot likewise capitalize on the failure of the investigators to reduce to a sworn statement The accused, however, cannot hope to exculpate himself simply because the trial judge violated the rule
the information revealed by Leino during his hospital interviews. It was sufficiently established that Leino’s on res inter alios acta when he considered his involvement in previous shooting incidents. This rule has
extensive injuries, especially the injury to his tongue, limited his mobility. The day he identified appellant long been laid to rest. The harmless error rule is also followed in our jurisdiction. In dealing with evidence
in the line-up, he was still physically unable to speak. He was being fed through a tube inserted in his improperly admitted in trial, the court examines its damaging quality and its impact to the substantive
throat. There is also no rule of evidence which requires the rejection of the testimony of a witness whose rights of the litigant. If the impact is slight and insignificant, the court disregards the error as it will not
statement has not been priorly reduced to writing. overcome the weight of the properly admitted evidence against the prejudiced party.

The SC also rejected the accused’s contention that the NBI suppressed the sketch prepared by the CIS on In the case at bar, the reference by the trial judge to reports about the troublesome character of appellant
the basis of the description given by Leino. There is nothing on the record to show that said sketch was is a harmless error. The reference is not the linchpin of the inculpatory evidence appreciated by the trial
turned over by the CIS to the NBI which could warrant a presumption that the sketch was suppressed. The judge in convicting the accused. As aforestated, the accused was convicted mainly because of his
suspicion that the sketch did not resemble the accused is not evidence. It is unmitigated guesswork. identification by 3 eyewitnesses with high credibility.

The SC was also not impressed with the contention that it was incredible for Leino to have remembered The NBI may have also failed to compare the bullets fired from the fatal gun with the bullets found at the
the accused’s face when the incident happened within a span of 5 minutes. Five minutes is not a short scene of the crime. The omission, however, cannot exculpate the accused. The omitted comparison cannot
time for Leino to etch in his mind the picture of the accused. Experience shows that precisely because of nullify the evidentiary value of the positive identification of the accused.
the unusual acts of bestiality committed before their eyes, eyewitnesses, especially the victims to a crime,
can remember with a high degree of reliability the identity of criminals. The natural reaction of victims of There is also little to the contention of the accused that his Lancer car was not in running condition.
criminal violence is to strive to see the appearance of their assailants and observe the manner the crime Allegedly, this was vicariously proved when the NBI towed his car from Dasmariñas Village where it was
was committed. Most often, the face end body movements of the assailant create an impression which parked to the NBI office. Again, the argument is negated by the records which show that said car was
cannot be easily erased from their memory. In this case, there is absolutely no improper motive for Leino towed because the NBI could not get its ignition key which was then in the possession of the accused.
to impute a serious crime to the accused. The victims and the accused were unknown to each other before Clearly, the car was towed not because it was not in running condition. Even the accused’s evidence show
their chance encounter. If Leino identified the accused, it must be because the accused was the real culprit.
7

that said car could run. After its repairs, the accused’s son, Claudio Teehankee III, drove it from the repair high profile and high stake criminal trials. Then and now, we rule that the right of an accused to a fair trial
shop in Banawe, Quezon City to Dasmarinas Village, in Makati, where it was parked. is not incompatible to a free press. To be sure, responsible reporting enhances an accused’s right to a fair
trial for, as well pointed out, “a responsible press has always been regarded as the handmaiden of effective
Nor was the SC impressed by the alleged discrepancies in the eyewitnesses’ description of the color of the judicial administration, especially in the criminal field . . . The press does not simply publish information
gunman’s car. Leino described the car as light-colored; Florece said the car was somewhat white (“medyo about trials but guards against the miscarriage of justice by subjecting in the police, prosecutors, and
puti”); Mangubat declared the car was white; and Cadenas testified it was silver metallic gray. These judicial processes to extensive public scrutiny and criticism.”
alleged discrepancies amount to no more than shades of differences and are not meaningful, referring as
they do to colors white, somewhat white and silver metallic gray. Considering the speed and shocking Pervasive publicity is not per se prejudicial to the right of an accused to fair trial. The mere fact that the
nature of the incident which happened before the break of dawn, these slight discrepancies in the trial of appellant was given a day-to-day, gavel-to-gavel coverage does not by itself prove that the publicity
description of the car do not make the prosecution eyewitnesses unworthy of credence. so permeated the mind of the trial judge and impaired his impartiality. For one, it is impossible to seal the
minds of members of the bench from pre-trial and other off-court publicity of sensational criminal cases.
The accused’s attempt to pin the crimes at bar on Anders Hultman, the adoptive father of Maureen The state of the art of our communication system brings news as they happen straight to our breakfast
Hultman, deserves scant consideration. The accused cites a newspaper item where Maureen was allegedly tables and right to our bedrooms. These news form part of our everyday menu of the facts and fictions of
overheard as saying to the gunman: “Huwag, Daddy. Huwag, Daddy.” The evidence on record, however, life. For another, our idea of a fair and impartial judge is not that of a hermit who is out of touch with the
demonstrates that Anders Hultman could not have been the gunman. It was clearly established that world. We have not installed the jury system whose members are overly protected from publicity lest they
Maureen could not have uttered said statement for two (2) reasons: Maureen did not speak Tagalog, and lose their impartiality. Our judges are learned in the law and trained to disregard off-court evidence and
she addressed Anders Hultman as “Papa,” not “Daddy.” Moreover, Leino outrightly dismissed this on-camera performances of parties to a litigation. Their mere exposure to publications and publicity stunts
suspicion. While still in the hospital and when informed that the Makati police were looking into this does not per se fatally infect their impartiality.
possibility, Leino flatly stated that Anders Hultman was NOT the gunman. Leino is a reliable witness.
At best, the accused can only conjure possibility of prejudice on the part of the trial judge due to the
The accused cannot also capitalize on the paraffin test showing he was negative of nitrates. Scientific barrage of publicity that characterized the investigation and trial of the case. The SC had previously
experts concur in the view that the paraffin test has “. . . proved extremely unreliable in use. The only thing rejected this standard of possibility of prejudice and adopted the test of actual prejudice as we ruled that
that it can definitely establish is the presence or absence of nitrates or nitrites on the hand. It cannot be to warrant a finding of prejudicial publicity, there must be allegation and proof that the judges have been
established from this test alone that the source of the nitrates or nitrites was the discharge of a firearm. unduly influenced, not simply that they might be, by the barrage of publicity. In the case at bar, the records
The person may have handled one or more of a number of substances which give the same positive do not show that the trial judge developed actual bias against appellant as a consequence of the extensive
reaction for nitrates or nitrites, such as explosives, fireworks, fertilizers, pharmaceuticals, and leguminous media coverage of the pre-trial and trial of his case. The totality of circumstances of the case does not
plants such as peas, beans, and alfalfa. A person who uses tobacco may also have nitrate or nitrite deposits prove that the trial judge acquired a fixed opinion as a result of prejudicial publicity which is incapable of
on his hands since these substances are present in the products of combustion of tobacco.” In numerous change even by evidence presented during the trial. The accused has the burden to prove this actual bias
rulings, we have also recognized several factors which may bring about the absence of gunpowder nitrates and he has not discharged the burden. There is no evidence showing that the trial judge allowed the
on the hands of a gunman, viz: when the assailant washes his hands after firing the gun, wears gloves at proceedings to turn into a carnival. Nor did he consent to or condone any manifestation of unruly or
the time of the shooting, or if the direction of a strong wind is against the gunman at the time of firing. In improper behavior or conduct inside the courtroom during the trial of the case at bar.
the case at bar, NBI Forensic Chemist, Leonora Vallado, testified and confirmed that excessive perspiration
or washing of hands with the use of warm water or vinegar may also remove gunpowder nitrates on the Parenthetically, the accused should be the last person to complain against the press for prejudicial
skin. She likewise opined that the conduct of the paraffin test after more than seventy-two (72) hours from coverage of his trial. The records reveal he presented in court no less than 7 newspaper reporters and
the time of the shooting may not lead to a reliable result for, by such time, the nitrates could have already relied heavily on selected portions of their reports for his defense. The defense’s documentary evidence
been removed by washing or perspiration. In the Report on the paraffin test conducted on appellant, consists mostly of newspaper clippings relative to the investigation of the case at bar and which appeared
Forensic Chemist Elizabeth Ayonon noted that when the accused was tested for the presence of nitrates, to cast doubt on his guilt. The press cannot be fair and unfair to appellant at the same time.
more than 72 hours has already lapsed from the time of the alleged shooting.
Finally, it would not be amiss to stress that the trial judge voluntarily inhibited himself from further hearing
3. The right to an impartial trial. the case, but the SC, nothing in the conduct of the proceedings to stir any suspicion of partiality against
the trial judge, directed the trial judge to proceed with the trial to speed up the administration of justice.
The the accused blames the press for his conviction as he contends that the publicity given to his case
impaired his right to an impartial trial. He postulates there was pressure on the trial judge for high-ranking 4. The presence of treachery
government officials avidly followed the developments in the case (as no less than then Vice-President
Estrada and then DOJ Secretary Drilon attended some of the hearings and, President Aquino even visited The accused claims that treachery was not present in the killing of Hultman and Chapman, and the
Hultman while she was still confined at the hospital). He submits that the trial judge failed to protect him wounding of Leino for it was not shown that the gunman consciously and deliberately adopted particular
from prejudicial publicity and disruptive influences which attended the prosecution of the cases. means, methods and forms in the execution of the crime. The accused asserts that mere suddenness of
attack does not prove treachery.
The SC did not sustain the accused’s claim that he was denied the right to impartial trial due to prejudicial
publicity. It’s true that the print and broadcast media gave the case at bar pervasive publicity, just like all
8

The 3 Informations charged the accused with having committed the crimes with treachery and evident (3) guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Frustrated Murder, qualified by treachery, for the
premeditation. Evident premeditation was correctly ruled out by the trial court for, admittedly, the shooting of Jussi Olavi Leino, and sentenced to suffer the indeterminate penalty of 8 years of prision mayor
shooting incident was merely a casual encounter or a chance meeting on the street since the victims were as minimum, to 14 years and 8 months of reclusion temporal as maximum, and to pay the said offended
unknown to the accused and vice-versa. It, however, appreciated the presence of the qualifying party the following amounts: P30,000 as indemnity for his injuries; P118,369.84 and equivalent in
circumstance of treachery. Philippine Pesos of U.S.$55,600.00, both as actual damages; P1,000,000 as moral damages; and,
P2,000,000 as exemplary damages.
On the other hand, the prosecution failed to prove treachery in the killing of Chapman. Prosecution witness
Leino established the sequence of events leading to the shooting. He testified that for no apparent reason, (4) In all three cases, to pay each of the 3 offended parties the sum of P1,000,000, or a total of P3,000,000,
the accused suddenly alighted from his car and accosted him and Maureen Hultman who were then for attorney’s fees and expenses of litigation; and
walking along the sidewalk.
(5) To pay the costs in all 3 cases.
Appellant questioned who they were and demanded for an I.D. After Leino handed him his I.D., Chapman
appeared from behind Leino and asked what was going on. Chapman then stepped down on the sidewalk
and inquired from appellant what was wrong. There and then, the accused pushed Chapman, pulled a gun
from inside his shirt, and shot him. The gun attack was unexpected. “Why did you shoot me?” was all
Chapman could utter. Concededly, the shooting of Chapman was carried out swiftly and left him with no
chance to defend himself. Even then, there is no evidence on record to prove that the accused consciously
and deliberately adopted his mode of attack to insure the accomplishment of his criminal design without
risk to himself. The accused acted on the spur of the moment. Their meeting was by chance. They were
strangers to each other. The time between the initial encounter and the shooting was short and unbroken.
The shooting of Chapman was thus the result of a rash and impetuous impulse on the part of the accused
rather than a deliberate act of will. Mere suddenness of the attack on the victim would not, by itself,
constitute treachery. Hence, absent any qualifying circumstance, the accused should only be held liable
for Homicide for the shooting and killing of Chapman.

As to the wounding of Leino and the killing of Hultman, treachery clearly attended the commission of the
crimes. The evidence shows that after shooting Chapman in cold blood, the accused ordered Leino to sit
on the pavement. Maureen became hysterical and wandered to the side of appellant’s car. When the
accused went after her, Maureen moved around his car and tried to put some distance between them.
After a minute or two, the accused got to Maureen and ordered her to sit beside Leino on the pavement.
While seated, unarmed and begging for mercy, the two were gunned down by the accused . Clearly, the
accused purposely placed his two victims in a completely defenseless position before shooting them. There
was an appreciable lapse of time between the killing of Chapman and the shooting of Leino and Hultman
– a period which the accused used to prepare for a mode of attack which ensured the execution of the
crime without risk to himself.

Penalties:(Note: Mr. Teehankee was pardoned in 2008)

(1) guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Homicide for the shooting of Roland John Chapman. He
was sentenced to suffer an indeterminate penalty of imprisonment of 8 years and 1 day of prision mayor
as minimum to 14 years, 8 months and 1 day of reclusion temporal as maximum, and to pay the heirs of
the said deceased the following amounts: P50,000 as indemnity for the victim’s death; and, P1,000,000 as
moral damages.

(2) guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Murder, qualified by treachery, for the shooting of
Maureen Navarro Hultman. He was sentenced to suffer imprisonment of reclusion perpetua, and to pay
the heirs of the said deceased the following amounts: P50,000 as indemnity for her death; P2,350,461.83
as actual damages; P564,042.57 for loss of earning capacity of said deceased; P1,000,000 as moral
damages; and P2,000,000 as exemplary damages.
9

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. MANUEL CRISTOBAL and JOLITO Bienvenido Eugenio, who claimed to be a close acquaintance of the Cristobal brothers, volunteered to
CRISTOBAL, accused-appellants. testify for them. He offered an alibi. He declared that at seven in the morning of 8 September 1991 he,
Manuel, Jolito and a certain Gavino Limit trekked to the mountains at Antagan 1st, about twenty (20)
DECISION kilometers from the Tumauini town proper, to gather wood and stayed there for three (3) days, after which
they returned to Tumauini. Manuel corroboratedBienvenidos testimony. Jolito was not presented as a
BELLOSILLO, J.:
witness.
MANUEL CRISTOBAL and JOLITO CRISTOBAL, brothers, were found guilty by the Regional Trial Court of
In finding the Cristobal brothers guilty of robbery with rape the trial court relied heavily on the testimony
Isabela of Robbery with Multiple Rape and sentenced to reclusion perpetua, and to pay jointly and
of Luzviminda which it found worthy of belief.Thus the court a quo said
severally complaining witness Luzviminda Cleto Garcia P50,000.00 for moral damages, P6,900.00 for
actual damages, and the costs. They now seek a reversal on the theory that they were not positively x x x x The complainant Luzviminda Garcia during her testimony on Court answered the questions of the
identified by the victim and that they were somewhere else at the time of the commission of the offense; prosecution as well as of the defense and the Court in a brave and straightforward manner. She was
alibi, in other words. shedding tears, sobbing and crying during her testimony. She answered questions spontaneously.The
Court likewise observed that when she described the manner by which she was raped, she was so honest
Following is the evidence for the prosecution adduced through complaining witness Luzviminda C. Garcia
and truthful in narrating even the minutest details of the incident.
and her sister Evena Cleto: On 8 September 1991, at eight oclock in the evening, Luzviminda was sewing
clothes in the receiving room of her house situated in Bayabo East, Tumauini, Isabela. Her front door, The trial court disbelieved the testimonies of the defense witnesses. It found Bienvenido to be a prepared,
which was illuminated by an electric bulb, was closed but unlocked. She was with her sister Evena and rehearsed and perjured witness and noted that he volunteered to testify only after the prosecution rested
brother-in-law Gary Garcia. Luzvimindas husband was at that time in Pangasinan. Her three (3) children its case despite several opportunities to do so; PO3 Lugos report was inaccurate, inconsistent and
were at their mezzanine floor preparing for bed. As she was feeling tired, Luzviminda requested Evena to confusing; and, SPO1 Manuel Jr. contradicted himself on the witness stand on material points.
continue with the sewing. When she was about to join her children at the mezzanine, six (6) armed men
barged in through the front door. She readily recognized the brothers Manuel Cristobal and Jolito Cristobal Assailing the court a quo for not acquitting them, accused-appellants submit that they were not positively
as she was familiar with them although she did not know their names then.She used to see Manuel at the identified by Luzviminda as among those who robbed and raped her. Accused-appellants also argue that
market place while his brother Jolito worked in her farm in the past for three (3) days. Jolito was also selling the court below erred in finding that Bienvenido was a prepared, rehearsed and perjured witness because
unbranded medicines and flat iron. he was able to answer immediately the date of the incident in the instant case.

As soon as the Cristobal brothers were in control of the situation, Manuel ordered Evena and Gary to lie Accused-appellants claim that they were not positively identified by Luzviminda as the culprits as evident
flat on the floor face down. The other man, who posted himself near Luzviminda and whom the latter from her sworn statement executed before the investigating police officer on 10 September 1991 thus
described as elderly, ransacked the house while the rest of the intruders stood guard. Among the items
they took were pieces of jewelry, a cassette recorder, and ladies and mens shoes with a total value 13. Q. Showing to you this person in the name of Jolito Cristobal. What can you say about this?
of P6,900.00. Then Manuel, Jolito and the old man took turns in raping Luzviminda who could not offer
A. He is not one of those who raped me, but he is positively identified by my brother-in-law Gary Garcia to
any resistance as the three (3) malefactors were all armed. After satisfying their lust, Jolito tied Luzviminda
be one of those who were outside our house, sir. And I am also positive that his elder brother by the name
and her companions with shoe laces and warned them not to report the incident to the authorities.
of Manny Cristobal was one of those who raped me, sir.
The following day Luzviminda, accompanied by the barangay captain and a councilman, went to the
Accused-appellants also point to the pertinent narration in Luzvimindas supplementary narration dated
Municipal Hall of Tumauini and reported the outrage committed against her and her family. She was
12 September 1991
investigated by the police and her report was reflected in the police blotter. On 10 September 1991 she
executed a sworn statement regarding her unfortunate experience and submitted herself to medical 5. Q. And do you know the persons who robbed and sexually abused you?
examination.
A. I came to know to (sic) this police station to be the persons of Jolito Cristobal and his brother Manny
On the other hand, the defense presented PO3 Arnold Lugo who testified that he was the one who entered Cristobal, both residents of Brgy. Maligaya, Tumauini, Isabela, sir.
the incident in the police blotter on 9 September 1991, specifically that an unidentified male suspect
armed with M-16 rifle and a handgun wearing a bonet, ransacked their residence at about eight oclock Accused-appellants then connect their prior arguments with the entry in the police blotter showing doubt
p.m. and they took assorted clothings, canned goods and jewelries afterwhich they left. The entry was as to the identification of the suspects, which fact was corroborated by SPO1 Manuel, Jr.
purportedly based on complaining witness report.
Accused-appellants fail to convince. Their asseveration that the court below erred in its factual findings,
Another policeman, SPO1 Antonio Manuel Jr., narrated that Luzviminda was not able to identify the particularly on the credibility of the witnesses, must fail. Findings of fact and assessment of credibility of
culprits when she reported the incident so that he had to inquire about them from her neighbors. He also witnesses are matters best left to the trial court because of its unique position of having observed that
questioned complainant in her house on 10 September 1991. There Luzviminda described the suspects elusive and incommunicable evidence of the witnesses deportment on the stand while testifying, which
and told him that she would recognize them if she saw them again. opportunity is denied to the appellate courts.[1]doctrinally, findings of fact of trial courts are accorded the
10

highest respect and weight. They are normally sustained unless material facts and circumstances have of deadly weapons. Dwelling and aid of armed men aggravated the crime. Applying Art. 63, par. (1), of the
been overlooked, misunderstood or misapplied.[2] We find none in the case before us and thus, the facts Revised Penal Code,[6] the proper imposable penalty would have been death. At the time of the
as found by the court a quo, must be sustained. commission of the crime, however, the imposition of death was proscribed by the 1987 Constitution and
was reimposed only effective 31 December 1993. Thus, the penalty of reclusion perpetua was properly
There is no merit in accused-appellants contention that they were not positively identified by decreed by the trial court.
Luzviminda. While Luzviminda might have failed to categorically specify the names of her robber-ravisher
in her sworn statements executed before the police officers, she was however familiar with their faces WHEREFORE, the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Isabela[7] finding MANUEL CRISTOBAL and JOLITO
that she could point to them in court. But assuming that there was some variance in her sworn statements CRISTOBAL GUILTY of ROBBERY WITH RAPE and sentencing them to suffer the penalty of reclusion
and her testimony in court, such inconsistencies, if any between her testimony in open court and her sworn perpetua, to pay jointly and severally to Luzviminda Cleto Garcia P50,000.00 for moral damages, P6,900.00
statements given to investigators do not necessarily discredit the witness since ex-parte affidavits are for actual damages and the costs, is AFFIRMED. The amount of P50,000.00 as civil indemnity is likewise
almost always incomplete. Sworn statements are generally considered to be inferior to the testimony awarded to her in line with prevailing jurisprudence.[8]
given in open court.[3]
SO ORDERED.
Accused-appellants endeavored to discredit Luzviminda by showing that this was not the first time that
complaining witness filed a case for rape. They narrated that she had priorly filed a charge for rape but the
same was dismissed when the accused therein opted to settle the case amicably. We find this insinuation
not to diminish in any way the weight accorded to the credibility of Luzviminda. In criminal cases, except
those involving quasi-offenses or those allowed by law to be settled through mutual concessions, an offer
of compromise is an implied admission of guilt.[4] Consequently, the compromise did not weaken but
buttressed instead Luzvimindas claim that she was raped. Thus accused-appellants, in attempting to infuse
doubt on complaining witness credibility, unwittingly strengthened the belief that complaining witness
was telling the truth.

In the face however of Luzvimindas sworn statement where she forthrightly declared that Jolito was not
among her rapists, we cannot subscribe to the trial courts finding that he was positively identified by her
as one of her rapists despite her testimony in open court that he likewise sexually abused her.Nonetheless
this finding would not disturb our conclusion that the Cristobal brothers are guilty of raping and robbing
Luzviminda as the element of conspiracy was indubitably established.

The concerted acts of the malefactors showed unity of purpose. When they barged into the house of
complaining witness, they positioned themselves as to deny their victims any avenue for escape. They
were intent in robbing Luzviminda. Although it may be argued that when they entered the house of
Luzviminda their initial purpose was only to rob, the rest of the unwelcome visitors obviously manifested
their consent to Manuel raping Luzviminda as they all stood guard behind him. They did not do anything
to deter him from raping her; on the contrary, they showed their eargerness to follow suit in the dastardly
sexual misconduct. Hence, conspiracy having been clearly established, the act of one was the act of all.

We agree with the observation of the court below that Bienvenido Eugenio was a prepared, rehearsed and
perjured witness for the defense. His testimony on the alibi of accused-appellants does not at all deserve
consideration. The alibi failed to meet the requisites for a valid defense. It was not enough that they were
somewhere else when the crime transpire. They should have established in addition that they were so far
away that it was physically impossible for them to be present at the crime scene or its immediate vicinity
at or about the time of its commission.[5] Although the place where they claimed to be at the time of the
commission of the crime was twenty (20) kilometers away from Tumauini town proper, the possibility of
being physically present at the crime scene or its immediate vicinity existed.

Pursuant to Art. 294, par. (2), of the Revised Penal Code, which was the applicable law at the time of the
crime was committed, when the robbery accompanied by rape is committed with the use of a deadly
weapon or by two (2) or more persons, the penalty is reclusion perpetua to death. The crime of robbery
with rape in the instant case was shown to have been committed by two (2) or more persons with the use
11

PEOPLE VS CARMEN without any mitigating circumstance to offset the same, the Court hereby sentences the above-named
accused separately to suffer the penalty of [r]eclusion [p]erpetua, to pay separately the heirs of the victim
Facts: The trial court rendered a decision and the accused-appellants were all found guiltybeyond the sum of P50,000.00 as moral damages, the sum of P50,000.00 as exemplary damages, and to indemnify
reasonable doubt of the crime of Murder after having performed a cultic healing pray-over which resulted the said heirs [in] the sum of P15,000.00 as actual damages, and to pay the costs.[2]
to the death of Randy Luntayao. They were sentenced to suffer the penalty of RECLUSION PERPETUA.
The Information, dated March 2, 1996, charged appellant as follows:
Issue: WON accused-appellants can be held liable for reckless imprudence resulting in homicide,
considering that the information charges them with murder. That on or about February 28, 1996, in the City of Zamboanga, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of
this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, armed with a piece of wood and knife, conspiring and
Held: Yes. Conviction modified to reckless imprudence resulting in homicide. Killing a person w/ treachery confederating together, mutually aiding and assisting with one another, by means of treachery and evident
is murder even if there is no intent to kill. When death occurs, it’s presumed to be the natural consequence premeditation and with intent to kill, did then and there without any warning, assault, attack and stab with
of physical injuries inflicted. In murder qualified by treachery, it’s required only that there is treachery in the use of said weapons that they were armed with, at the person of HERNAN SAGARIO y CUESTA, thereby
the attack, & this is true even if the offender has no intent to kill the person assaulted inflicting mortal wounds on the different parts of the latters body which directly caused his death, to the
damage and prejudice of the heirs of said victim.
One who commits an intentional felony is responsible for all the consequences which may naturally and
logically result therefrom, whether foreseen or intended or not. That the commission of the above-stated offense has been attended by the following aggravating
circumstances, to wit:
Intent is presumed from the commission of an unlawful act. The presumption of criminal intent may arise
from the proof of the criminal act. Hence, they are liable for all the direct and natural consequences of 1. Abuse of superior strength; and
their unlawful act, even if the ultimate result had not been intended.
2. Dwelling.[3]
The strange procedure resulted in the death of the boy. Thus, accused-appellants had no criminal intent
to kill the boy. Their liability arises from their reckless imprudence because they ought that to know their With the assistance of counsel,[4] appellant pleaded not guilty when arraigned on June 7, 1996.[5] After due
actions would not bring about the cure. They are, therefore, guilty of reckless imprudence resulting in trial, the RTC rendered the assailed Decision.
homicide and not of murder.
The Facts

Version of the Prosecution


[G.R. No. 139179. April 3, 2002]
The prosecutions version of the facts is summarized by the Office of the Solicitor General as follows:[6]
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, appellee, vs. WILFREDO TOLENTINO y ESPERAT and JONATHAN FABROS y
CASTRO, accused. On February 28, 1996 around 7:30 in the evening, appellant and his cousins, Sheila Guilayan and Merwin
Ledesma, were at their house in Luyahan, Pasonanca, Zamboanga City when their neighbor Wilfredo
JONATHAN FABROS y CASTRO, appellant. Tolentino called them. When asked what was it all about, Wilfredo simply motioned to them to come to
his house located just across the road. Once they were inside the house, Wilfredo immediately revealed
DECISION his plan to kill Hernan Sagario, Sheilas stepfather. Wilfredo explained that it was the only way to free
Sheilas mother - appellants aunt - of the sufferings being caused by Hernan. Wilfredo then instructed
PANGANIBAN, J.:
Merwin to go back to the house and get the bolo of Hernan. Merwin obliged, got the bolo, and gave it to
An appeal in a criminal case opens the entire records to review. The appellate court may pass upon every Wilfredo. Thereafter, they were told by Wilfredo to go home and wait for Hernan.
circumstance favorable to the accused. In the present case, the prosecution failed to prove the existence
Around 8:30 in the evening, Hernan arrived. He went directly to the kitchen and fixed the bag of rice he
of conspiracy beyond reasonable doubt. Neither was it able to show that appellant was an accomplice or
was carrying. Meanwhile, appellant, together with Sheila and Merwin, just stayed quiet in the living
accessory. Hence, he must be acquitted on reasonable ground.
room. Moments later, Wilfredo with a 2x2 piece of wood in his hand entered the house. He then followed
The Case Hernan towards the kitchen. When about an armslength away from Hernan, Wilfredo, without saying a
word, immediately walloped Hernan on the right side of the neck sending the latter unconscious and falling
Jonathan Fabros y Castro appeals the May 27, 1999 Decision[1] of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of face down to the ground. Wilfredo immediately instructed appellant and Merwin to help him bring Hernan
Zamboanga City (Branch 17) in Criminal Case No. 13698, finding him guilty of murder and sentencing him out of the house. Lifting Hernan out of the house, Wilfredo held him by the neck while both appellant and
to reclusion perpetua. The dispositive portion of the Decision reads as follows: Merwin grasped his feet. They then carried Hernan towards the creek about seven meters away from the
house.
WHEREFORE, finding the accused Wilfredo Tolentino and Jonathan Fabros guilty beyond reasonable doubt
of the crime of murder, and taking into consideration the aggravating circumstance of dwelling (morada)
12

Upon reaching the creekside, the three stopped and moved closer to the water. At this juncture, Wilfredo received by the police identifying him as the assailant. He was brought to the Sta. Maria Police Station and
successively stabbed Hernan on different parts of the body causing the latters instant death. After thereat he was told by the police that if he will not admit, they will show him the witness, which the police
throwing the victims lifeless body in the creek, the three immediately left. later did by showing to him his co-accused Tolentino. On seeing Tolentino, he declared that he (Tolentino)
was the one who killed the victim.
The post-mortem examination on the victims cadaver disclosed that the cause of his death was cardio-
respiratory arrest due to shock and hemorrhage secondary to [a] stab wound penetrating the chest. However, on 14 July 2000, long after the trial courts decision had become final and executory on his part,
(Citations omitted) Wilfredo Tolentino, apparently conscience-stricken, executed an affidavit admitting sole responsibility for
the death of Hernan Sagario and retracted his testimony implicating accused-appellant Jonathan
Version of the Defense Fabros. His affidavit is herein reproduced as follows:
Appellant, on the other hand, presented the following version of the facts: [7] I, WILFREDO TOLENTINO y ESPERAT, 65 years old, widower, Filipino, a convicted prisoner with the San
Ramon Prison and Penal Farm in Zamboanga City, after having been duly sworn to in accordance with law
Accused Jonathan Fabros and Wilfredo Tolentino both denied killing the victim. Instead, they pointed to
hereby depose and state:
each other as the one who killed Hernan Sagario. Fabros pointed to Tolentino as the assailant and the
latter also fingered the former as the killer of Sagario. That I was convicted for the crime of Murder in Criminal Case No. 13698 entitled The People of the
Philippines, Plaintiff, versus, Wilfredo Tolentino y Esperat and Jonathan Fabros y Castro, accused, which
Relying on his lone testimony and corroborating the testimony of prosecution witness Sheila Guilayan,
Decision was promulgated on May 30, 1999 and ha[s] become final;
accused Fabros narrated that he is a resident of Luyuhan, Pasonanca, particularly in the house of his auntie
Amparo Guilayan (the common-law wife of Hernan Sagario), together with his cousins Merwin Ledesma That of the four years I have been in prison, I have contemplated on the consequences of my acts and have
and Sheila Guilayan. been conscience stricken causing me sleepless nights and deep pity [for] my co-accused Jonathan Fabros
whom I have wrongfully imputed to be the killer of the victim Hernan Sagario y Cuesta. As he appealed the
On 28 February 1996, at around 7:00 p.m., he returned home to Luyahan after his work at Astoria Hotel
Decision, [maybe] I still have the chance to rectify the wrong I have done to him and tell the Honorable
as a waiter. Sheila was at home when he arrived. Shortly thereafter, their neighbor, accused Tolentino,
Court what actually happened [o]n the night of February 28, 1996, as hereunder narrated;
came over and called for Sheila. Sh[ei]la stood up and went to the house of Tolentino, leaving behind
Fabros and Merwin Ledesma. After a while, he and Ledesma heard Sheila crying and the two went to the That I had known Hernan Sagario earlier in 1994 when he was still a security guard and he attempted to
house of Tolentino. At the house of Tolentino, Fabros and Ledesma asked Sheila why she cried. [She] shoot me with his service firearm and although we had amicably settled the matter between us, when he
disclosed Tolentinos plan to kill her stepfather Hernan Sagario. When asked for his motive to kill Hernan came to be my neighbor, I would remember that incident and my old grudge against him would be
Sagario, Tolentino merely reasoned that he just wanted to help their auntie Amparo get rid of her rekindled;
problems. When they expressed apprehension [about] being implicated and tried to prevent Tolentino
from pursuing his plan, the latter told them not to worry; for he will take care. That earlier that night of February 28, 1996, I came home quite drunk [after] my drinking spree with my
relatives across the river and one of the topics we discussed was about the incident when Hernan Sagario
When Tolentino saw their uncle Hernan coming towards the house, he ordered them to go home and they attempted to shoot me. As I recalled that incident, my old grudge against him resurfaced and I resolved
obeyed. As he arrived, Hernan ordered Fabros to boil water.Afterwards, Hernan went out of the house to right then and there to take my revenge on Hernan. So when he came home and he was in the kitchen, I
buy Ovaltine. When Hernan returned, Tolentino approached him and they talked for about two took hold of a piece of wood and hit him with it and when he fell down unconscious, I dragged his body
minutes. Afterwards, Tolentino went to his house while their uncle Hernan told him (Fabros) to check if outside of the house, ordering Jonathan Fabros who was then in the kitchen to help me carry the body of
the water was already boiling. Jonathan went to the kitchen while their uncle placed the rice he brought Hernan outside or else he would also become my victim.Jonathan unwillingly assisted me carry the body
in a container. At that instance, Jonathan heard the sound pok, and saw Tolentino holding a piece of wood of Hernan outside and upon my direction, we dragged the body of Hernan towards the river where to
(2 x 2). Then, he saw his uncle f[a]ll down slowly, his chest hitting the corner edge of a table. Tolentino finish him off, I stabbed [him] in the chest and pushed him down into the water to hide his body. For his
approached his uncle and kicked him. Then he ordered Fabros to come near him and carry Hernan by his part, Jonathan left me when the body reached the river;
feet. Afraid that Tolentino will hit him with the piece of wood, Fabros held his uncle by the feet while
Tolentino pulled Hernan by the shirt and he just followed Tolentino. Tolentino brought Hernan near the That after [the] killing, I threatened Jonathan Fabros, Neneng (the daughter of Hernans live-in-partner)
river. When Jonathan noticed that his uncle regained consciousness, he ran away towards a banana and Weng-weng, a cousin of Neneng and Jonathan[,] never to report the incident to any one or else they
plantation and from there he saw Tolentino [stab] Sagario on the chest. After stabbing the victim, could become my next victim;
Tolentino pushed and waded him into the water. Scared, Jonathan ran home. About twenty minutes later,
Tolentino arrived and with thumbs up sign, he said, Okey na!. Jonathan also observed that there was blood That during the investigation of the killing, I pointed to Jonathan as the killer of Hernan, thinking that I
on the shoulder of Tolentino. The latter then called the three (3) and warned them that if they will tell would not be implicated. Even when I was also charged for the killing, I was confident that I would be
other people, he will kill them. Out of fear, they just followed whatever Tolentino told them. acquitted if I would point to Jonathan as the killer. During the trial of the case, I bribed Jonathan and even
gave P20,000.00 to a middle man to effect the pay off but Jonathan returned the money to me saying he
By reason of fear of Tolentinos threat, Jonathan told the police that he did not know what happened. On could not admit what he did not commit;
01 March 1996, however, he was arrested for the death of Hernan Sagario on account of an information
13

That my conscience ha[d] been greatly troubled by denying Jonathan his future by [my] own evil acts and Indeed, the Supreme Court is clothed with ample authority to review matters, even those not raised on
by this affidavit hopes to correct the wrongs I had done to Jonathan Fabros; appeal, if it finds that their consideration is necessary in arriving at a just disposition of the case. It is a
matter of justice that the two other appellants be exonerated of the charges. This we do because an appeal
That I am executing this affidavit [to] attest to the truth of the foregoing narration of facts and to appeal in a criminal action opens the whole case for review and this includes the review of the penalty and
to the Court authorities to rectify the wrongs I had done to Jonathan Fabros and I am willing to testify in indemnity. Every circumstance in favor of the accused shall be considered.[13]
court o[n] these statements narrated.
No Conspiracy
Ruling of the Trial Court
Even the Office of the Solicitor General admits that appellant did not directly kill the victim. It, however,
The trial court held that the prosecutions evidence positively identified Wilfredo Tolentino as the person urges us to convict him on the basis of conspiracy.
who had hit the victim with a piece of wood and later stabbed him with a bolo. It also ruled that the killing
was qualified by treachery and attended by the aggravating circumstance of dwelling. In theory, conspiracy exists when two or more persons come to an agreement concerning the commission
of a felony and decide to commit it.[14] To prove conspiracy, the prosecution must establish the following
The court a quo observed that overt and positive acts of appellant manifested his approval of the killing three requisites: (1) two or more persons came to an agreement, (2) the agreement concerned the
and the concurrence of his acts with those of the other accused.[8] Thus, the RTC concluded that Fabros commission of a crime, and (3) the execution of the felony was decided upon.[15] Once conspiracy is
was a co-conspirator and should be held equally responsible for the murder. established, the act of one becomes the act of all.[16]
Hence, this appeal.[9] Well-settled is the rule that the existence of conspiracy cannot be presumed.[17] Quite the contrary, the
evidence for it must be shown beyond reasonable doubt.[18] As this Court has repeatedly stated, criminal
The Issue
conspiracy must be founded on facts, not on mere surmises or conjectures.[19] Prior agreement or assent
In his Brief, appellant assigns the following alleged errors for our consideration: is usually inferred from the acts of the accused showing concerted action, common design and objective,
actual cooperation, and concurrence of sentiments or community of interests.[20] Mere presence at the
I scene of the crime or even knowledge of the plan or acquiescence thereto are not sufficient grounds to
hold a person liable as a conspirator.[21] Therefore,the task in every case is to determine whether the
The Court a quo gravely erred in convicting herein Accused-appellant Jonathan Fabros of the crime charged particular acts established by the requisite quantum of proof reasonably yield that inference.[22]
notwithstanding the categorical statement of Prosecution Witness Sheila Guilayan that it was Accused
Wilfredo Tolentino who actually killed the victim, Hernan Sagario. In the case before us, we agree that the culpability of Tolentino was clearly established, but we are also
convinced that the evidence fails to show the culpability of appellant beyond reasonable
II doubt.[23] Because, unquestionably, the latter did not personally inflict any of the fatal flows, he can be
held liable as a principal, only if conspiracy is proven.[24] To recall, Sheila Guilayan, the prosecution
The Court a quo gravely erred in convicting accused-appellant notwithstanding Wilfredo Tolentinos
eyewitness, narrated the circumstances surrounding the killing of Hernan Sagario as follows:
categorical admission of guilt [of] the crime charged.[10]
Q On February 28, this year, 1996, at around 7:30 oclock in the evening, can you still remember where
The errors boil down to the sufficiency of the prosecution evidence.
were you?
This Courts Ruling
A Yes, I could still remember, I was in our house.
The appeal is meritorious; appellant should be acquitted.
Q You were in your house, are you referring to your house in Pasonanca, Luyahan?
Main Issue:
A Yes.
Sufficiency of Prosecution Evidence
Q Can you also remember who were with you in that evening of February 28, 1996 in your house at
The RTC held that the assistance of appellant in bringing the body of the victim from the house to the river Pasonanca, Luyahan?
bank where the latter was allegedly stabbed to death positively showed that the former had conspired in
A Yes, I can still remember, my companions were Jonathan Fabros and Melwin Ledesma.
the commission of the crime.[11] In its abbreviated nine-page Brief, the Office of the Solicitor General agrees
that conspiracy has been duly proven. On the other hand, appellant argues that his fleeting participation xxxxxxxxx
in helping carry the victims body to the river bank did not indicate unity of purpose or design. We agree
with him. Q And you said while you were in the sala sitting down, writing, there was an incident that transpired, will
you please tell us what transpired?
An appeal in a criminal action opens the whole case to review. This implies that the Court may pass upon
every circumstance favorable to the accused. In People v. Manambit,[12] the Court explained thus: ATTY. JIMENEZ:
14

That will ask for narration, what transpired? A Well, I just cried until my two cousins heard me and they, the two, also went to the house of Tolentino.

COURT: Q While your two cousins were already in the house of Tolentino, what happened next?

Be more specific on that. A My cousins asked me why I was crying.

PROSECUTOR ORILLO: Q And then?

Q What happened? A They asked Tolentino why I was crying.

A I was called by Tolentino and he requested me to go to their house. Q What did you do next?

Q You are referring to Wilfredo Tolentino? A I just cried and kept on telling him not to do it because we will be implicated and also my mother [was]
not [t]here.
ATTY. JIMENEZ:
Q And how about Tolentino, what did he do?
Leading, Your Honor.
A Well, he again told me just not to tell it to anybody because if I [was] going to tell it to anybody, he will
COURT: also kill us.
Sustained. Q How about your two cousins, what did they do?
PROSECUTOR ORILLO: A My cousins also told him not to do it because they said they [were] the only persons [t]here and for sure
we will be implicated.
Q What did you do after you were called by this Tolentino?
Q And thereafter, what happened next?
A So I went with him to their house.
A Tolentino said he will just take care.
Q Where is his house?
Q So what happened next after that?
A Just beside our house or near our house.
A And then Tolentino asked Melwin Ledesma to get the bolo of my stepfather in our house.
COURT:
Q And what did your cousin Melwin Ledesma do after he was ordered by Tolentino to get the bolo?
Q Where was Tolentino when he called you to go with him?
A Then Melwin Ledesma went to the house and got the bolo and brought the same to the house of
A He was by the door of our house although he was still outside but he was at the door of our house when
Tolentino.
he called me.
Q And after bringing the bolo to the house of Tolentino, what happened next?
COURT:
A Then when my step-father was on his way to our house, Tolentino told us to go home.[25]
Continue.
Q What happened next after you said your step-father went out to buy ovaltine?
PROSECUTOR ORILLO:
A Then several minutes thereafter my stepfather again arrived in our house then he got inside the house
Q And you said you went with him to his house, now what happened there in his house?
and he went directly to the kitchen.
A There in their house he told me just to keep quiet because he [was] going to kill my step-father.
Q And what did your step-father do?
Q And what did you do next after he told you about that?
A After that he transferred the rice he brought which was placed on a plastic cellophane to another plastic
A After he told me that I cried and I told him not to do that because we will be implicated. container.

Q What else did you do aside from crying and telling him not to do it because we will be implicated, what Q And what else happened?
else did you do?
15

A And then after that Tolentino entered our house and went directly to the kitchen and there he hit my PROSECUTOR ORILLO:
step-father.
Q When you saw Tolentino hit your step-father, where was your step-father facing?
Q And what instrument did Tolentino use in hitting your step-father?
A He was facing forward while Tolentino came from behind him.
A A piece of wood.
Q And what happened next after your step-father was hit by that piece of wood used by Tolentino?
Q Will you please describe this piece of wood?
A After he was hit he fell [face] down x x x, he fell down first on the table and after that to the ground. From
A A round piece of wood. the table he continued to fall to the ground.

Q How about the length of this piece of wood? Q And while your step-father was already on the ground, what if any did Tolentino do?

A (Witness extended her both hands to demonstrate the length which when measured gave us twenty A Then when my step-father was already at the cemented pavement Tolentino stepped on his head several
inches in length). times.

Q You said it was a round piece of wood, can you more or less tell us the diameter of this piece of wood? Q And then what happened next?

A (Witness again made a circle to demonstrate the diameter which [was] three and a half inches x x x). A After that I cried but he told me to keep quiet because if I [was] not going to keep quiet he will also kill
us.
PROSECUTOR ORILLO:
Q After that, what happened?
Q And where was your step-father hit by that piece of wood used by Tolentino?
A And then he asked my cousins to help him to bring the body of my step-father outside of the house.
A He was hit on the right side of his neck x x x extending to his right jaw.
Q And then?
Q Will you please tell this Honorable Court your particular position when you saw Tolentino hit with the
piece of wood your step-father? A Then they brought my step-father outside of the house and Tolentino held him on the collar of his shirt
and my cousins held him on his feet.
A I was in a sitting position in the sala but you know in our house even if you are seated in the sala you can
see the kitchen from there. Q And while already outside the house, towards what direction did they bring your step-father?

Q Before you saw that, where did Tolentino come from? ATTY. JIMENEZ:

ATTY. JIMENEZ: Witness is incompetent, we object, Your Honor.

Witness is incompetent, Your Honor. COURT:

PROSECUTOR ORILLO: Sustained.

If she knows, Your Honor. PROSECUTOR ORILLO:

ATTY. JIMENEZ: Q What else happened after you saw your cousins Jonathan Fabros and Tolentino carrying your step-
father?
She was seated in the sala, how can [she] know?
ATTY. FABIAN:
COURT:
Objection, Your Honor, there was no mention of any Jonathan Fabros in her testimony.
According to her she went home and she was in the sala. If she went to the sala, probably she will know. If
she knows she may answer. COURT:

A I did not know where he came from but I just saw him getting inside our house and [going] directly to Cousin only.
the kitchen.
ATTY. FABIAN:
16

Yes, Your Honor, cousin only, no mention of Jonathan Fabros. A Well, since it was clear from our house although I stayed inside our house and since the walling of our
house, the portion of this is made of screen, I saw Tolentino when they were carrying my step-father in
COURT: the act of stabbing my step-father (witness demonstrated as if she was holding something and thrust[ing
it] forward).
I do not know if it was cousin or cousins.
Q What else did you see?
ATTY. JIMENEZ:
A And then after that, I only saw Tolentino [place] the body of my step-father on the water and there I did
I heard cousins, Your Honor.
not see my cousin anymore.
COURT:
Q And then what transpired next?
Cousins, with S. She may answer. Yes, according to her it was only her cousins who were with her.
A Then a few minutes thereafter my cousin returned to the house.
ATTY. FABIAN:
Q And what did you do when your cousin returned to the house?
I heard the name Jonathan Fabros being mentioned by the prosecution, Your Honor.
A And then when he arrived home I just cried and I told him, because his nickname is Nonong, so I said:
COURT: Nonong, we will be really implicated and he said nothing and instead he just went to his previous position
and sat down.
That is why I told the prosecutor to change it to cousins.
Q How about the other cousin of yours Melwin Ledesma, where was he?
ATTY. FABIAN:
A He was also beside me and he was embracing me from behind.
Yes, Your Honor.
Q What happened next?
A It was only Jonathan and Tolentino who carried him.
A Then another few minutes after, Tolentino arrived in our house.
Q So what happened next after you saw them carrying your step-father?
Q And when he arrived at your house, what did he do?
A They brought my step-father to the creek.
A And then there inside our house he flashed a thumbs up and he said it is already okey.
Q How far is this sapa or creek from your house?
Q What else did he do?
A Maybe from here (witness again by the use of the witness stand as reference point, pointed to the fourth
bench from the front,) about 6.5 meters, because from the witness stand to the main door is measured A Then he approached me and told me not to report [t]his incident because if I [was] going to report [it]
7.5 meters, so if it is from here, it is only 6.5 meters. he [was] going to kill me.

ATTY. JIMENEZ: Q And that particular time when he arrived at your house, what if any did you notice from his person, this
Tolentino?
That is about 7 to 8 meters.
ATTY. JIMENEZ:
COURT:
Leading, Your Honor.
That is about 7 meters already from the witness stand to the fourth bench, more or less 7 meters.
COURT:
PROSECUTOR ORILLO:
Sustained.
Q This sapa or creek that you are referring to, please describe to this Honorable Court this creek which
according to you is only 7 meters more or less away from your house? PROSECUTOR ORILLO:

A This is a wide creek. What if any have you noticed from Tolentino?

Q And what else did you see? COURT:


17

Will you please be more specific with your question. relation between the acts done by the principal and those attributed to the person charged as
accomplice.[42]
PROSECUTOR ORILLO:
To be deemed an accomplice, one needs to have had both knowledge of and participation in the criminal
At the time when Tolentino arrived at your house and told you okey na, with thumbs up, that particular act.[43] In other words, the principal and the accomplice must have acted in conjunction and directed their
time, what if any have you noticed on his person? efforts to the same end.[44] Thus, it is essential that both were united in their criminal design.[45]
ATTY. JIMENEZ: In the case before us, appellant did not concur in or lend support to the nefarious intent of
Tolentino.[46] The mere fact that the former had prior knowledge of the latters criminal design did not
It is [a] very general question, Your Honor.
automatically make him an accomplice.[47] This circumstance, by itself, did not show his concurrence in the
COURT: principals criminal intent.[48]

Anything she noticed, she may answer. That appellant helped Tolentino carry the victim from the house to the creek did not necessarily
demonstrate concurrence of wills or unity of purpose or action.[49]Quite the contrary, the formers attempt
A I noticed that his shortpants was wet and there [were] bloodstains on his shirt.[26] to dissuade the latter from killing Sagario was attested to by the prosecution witness.[50] With the nominal
role appellant played in the drama that had been thrust upon him, we cannot declare that he was an
The above testimony shows that Tolentino attacked Hernan Sagario. The assault was carried out without accomplice in the crime charged.[51]
the participation of appellant,[27] who did not personally hit or stab the victim, but only subsequently
helped carry the latter from the house to the nearby creek.[28] Nothing in the testimony conveyed a Not an Accessory Either
coordinated action, concerted purpose or community of design to commit the criminal act. [29] It must be
emphasized that Tolentinos plan to kill the victim was concocted in the absence of appellant.[30]The latters Appellant cannot be convicted as an accessory either. Article 19 of the Revised Penal Code defines an
participation, as shown by the foregoing testimony, was made when the decision to kill was already a fait accessory as one who had knowledge of the commission of the crime and did not participate in its
accompli.[31] commission as principal or accomplice, yet took part subsequent to its commission by any of three
modes: (1) profiting oneself or assisting the offender to profit by the effects of the crime; (2) concealing or
Further, conspiracy cannot be inferred from the overt acts of appellant.[32] He did nothing to assist destroying the body of the crime, or the effects or instruments thereof, in order to prevent its discovery;
Tolentino in the actual commission of the murder.[33] Neither did the former bear any weapon, much less and (3) harboring, concealing, or assisting in the escape of the principals of the crime, provided the
use one to inflict injury on the victim.[34] In fact, appellant, showing clearly his lack of support for the accessory acts with abuse of his public functions or when the offender is guilty of treason, parricide,
criminal intent of Tolentino, even tried to prevent the latter from hacking the victim, according to the murder, or an attempt to take the life of the Chief Executive, or is known to be habitually guilty of some
eyewitness.[35] other crime. To convict an accused as an accessory, the following elements must be proven: (1) knowledge
of the commission of the crime and (2) subsequent participation in it by any of the three above-cited
Indeed, the trial court based its finding of conspiracy on mere presumptions, not on solid facts indubitably modes.[52]
indicating a common design to commit murder.[36] Such suppositions do not constitute proof beyond
reasonable doubt.[37] Under paragraph 2 of said codal provision, the concealment or the destruction of the body of the crime or
of the effects or the instruments thereof must have been done in order to prevent the discovery of the
Because of the lack of a united purpose, appellant cannot be considered a principal by indispensable crime.[53] That, precisely, is wanting in the present case.[54]
cooperation.[38] Absent a conspiracy, his responsibility, as well as that of his co-accused, is individual -- not
collective -- and each is to be punished only for his own separate acts.[39] In his testimony,[55] appellant stated that because he was afraid his co-accused would hurt him if he
refused, he agreed to assist the latter in carrying the victim towards the river. The fact that appellant left
Not an Accomplice thereafter likewise indicated his innocence of the charge.[56] Verily, he adequately explained his conduct
prior to the stabbing incident as one born of fear for his own life.[57] It is not incredible for an eyewitness
Neither can appellant be convicted as an accomplice. Article 18 of the Revised Penal Code defines
to a crime, especially if unarmed, to desist from assisting the victim if to do so would put the formers life
accomplices as those persons who, not being included in Article 17,[40] cooperate in the execution of the
in peril.[58]
offense by previous or simultaneous acts. To be convicted as an accomplice, it is necessary that the accused
be aware of the criminal intent of the principal and then cooperate knowingly or intentionally by supplying Thus, in People v. Verzola,[59] we explained as follows:
material or moral aid for the efficacious execution of the crime.[41]
x x x. It must be noted that Josefina testified that she helped her co-appellant bring the body of the
To consider a person an accomplice in the commission of the offense, the following must concur: (1) deceased down the stairs because of fear. Even if she assisted her co-appellant without duress, simply
community of design -- knowing the criminal design of the principal by direct participation, one concurs assisting Verzola in bringing the body down the house to the foot of the stairs and leaving said body for
therein; (b) cooperation in the execution of the offense by previous or simultaneous acts, with the anyone to see, cannot be classified as an attempt to conceal or destroy the body of the crime, the effects
intention of supplying material and moral aid in the execution of the crime in an efficacious way; and (c) a or instruments thereof, must be done to prevent the discovery of the crime.[60]
18

The presumption of innocence in favor of appellant has not been overcome by proof beyond reasonable RCPI VS CA
doubt.[61] Thus, he must be acquitted.[62]
143 SCRA 657 – Civil Law – Torts and Damages – Human Relations – Article 19 and 20 of the Civil Code –
WHEREFORE, the appeal is GRANTED and the assailed Decision SET ASIDE. Appellant is ACQUITTED on Negligence
reasonable doubt. He is ordered RELEASED from custody immediately, unless legally held for another
cause. In this regard, the director of the Bureau of Corrections is directed to report to this Court his Loreto Dionela received a telegram via the Radio Communications of the Philippines, Inc. (RCPI).
compliance with this Decision within five (5) days from receipt hereof. However, at the end of the telegram were the following:

SO ORDERED. SA IYO WALANG PAKINABANG DUMATING KA DIYAN WALA KANG PADALA DITO KAHIT BULBUL MO

Merhcan v. Mendoza The said portion of the telegram was not intended for Loreto. Loreto sued RCPI for damages based on
G.R. No. L-24471, August 30, 1968 Article 19 and 20 of the Civil Code which provides:
Fernando, J.
ART. 19.- 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.
FACTS:
Respondents Arsenio Mendoza, Leonarda Ilaya and Zenaida Mendoza boarded a bus owned and ART. 20.-Every person who, contrary to law, wilfully or negligently causes damage to another, shall
operated by Philippine Rabbit Bus Lines driven by Silverio Marchan. While travelling on its way to Manila, indemnify the latter for the same.
it fell into a ditch causing the passengers inside the bus to be thrown out to the ground resulting in their
multiple injuries. Thereafter, Marchan was convicted for serious, less serious and slight physical injuries In its defense, RCPI averred that there was no intention to malign Loreto and that the attached message
through reckless imprudence. was an insider joke between RCPI employees which was not meant to be attached. RCPI also disclaimed
liability as it insisted it should be held liable for the libelous acts of its employees.
As such, respondents filed to recover damages from herein petitioners. Petitioners, on the other hand,
contends there is can be no implied contract of carriage between them and the passengers, hence, there Loreto however averred that the said message was read by his employees and it affected greatly his
can be no basis for the recovery of damages from breach of contract. business reputation. The trial court ruled in favor of Loreto. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court.

ISSUE: Whether or not the Court of Appeals erred in holding that the liability of RCPI is predicated under
ISSUE:
Article 19 and 20 of the Civil Code.
Whether or not there is a contract of carriage between the bus company and the passengers and
consequently, whether or not Article 1759 is applicable in the present case. HELD: No. The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the appellate court. The cause of action of
private respondent is based on Articles 19 and 20 of the new Civil Code as well as respondent’s breach of
HELD: contract thru negligence of its own employees. RCPI is not being sued for its subsidiary liability.
YES, there is a contract of carriage between the parties and Article 1759 is applicable in the case at bar.
Respondents were waiting for a passenger bus and the moment they boarded the bus being driven by RCPI was negligent as it failed to take the necessary or precautionary steps to avoid the occurrence of
Marchan, they were treated as passengers thereto, for they paid their corresponding fees. The riding the humiliating incident now complained of. The company had not imposed any safeguard against such
public is not expected to inquire from time to time before hey board the passenger bus whether or not eventualities and this void in its operating procedure does not speak well of its concern for their
the driver who is at the steering wheel of said bus was authorized to drive said vehicle or that said driver clientele’s interests. Negligence here is very patent. This negligence is imputable to appellant and not to
is acting within the scope of his authority and observing the existing rules and regulations required of its employees. RCPI should be held liable for the acts of its employees. As a corporation, RCPI acts and
him by the management. conducts its business through its employees. It cannot now disclaim liability for the acts of its
employees. To hold that the RCPI is not liable directly for the acts of its employees in the pursuit of its
Common carriers cannot escape liability “for the death of or injuries to passengers through the business is to deprive the general public availing of the services of RCPI of an effective and adequate
negligence and willful acts of the former’s employees, although such employees may have acted beyond remedy.
the scope of their authority or in violation of orders”. Clearly, the applicability of Article 1759 is
indisputable.
19

ELMAR O. PEREZ, Petitioner,


vs.
COURT OF APPEALS, Fifth Division, TRISTAN A. CATINDIG and LILY GOMEZ-CATINDIG, Respondents.

FACTS:

Private respondent Tristan A. Catindig married Lily Gomez Catindig twice on May 16, 1968. The marriage
produced four children. Several years later, the couple encountered marital problems that they decided
to obtain a divorce from the Dominican Republic. Thus, on April 27, 1984, Tristan and Lily executed a
Special Power of Attorney addressed to the Judge of the First Civil Court of San Cristobal, Dominican
Republic, appointing an attorney-in-fact to institute a divorce action under its laws.

On July 14, 1984, Tristan married petitioner Elmar O. Perez in the State of Virginia in the United States and
both lived as husband and wife until October 2001. Their union produced one offspring.

During their cohabitation, petitioner learned that the divorce decree issued by the court in the Dominican
Republic which "dissolved" the marriage between Tristan and Lily was not recognized in the Philippines
and that her marriage to Tristan was deemed void under Philippine law. On August 13, 2001, Tristan filed
a petition for the declaration of nullity of his marriage to Lily with the RTC of Quezon City.

ISSUE:

Whether or not Perez has a legal interest in the matter of litigation required of a would-be intervenor in
Tristan’s petition for declaration of nullity of his marriage with his wife?

RULING:

No, Perez has no legal interest. When petitioner and Tristan married on July 14, 1984, Tristan was still
lawfully married to Lily. The divorce decree that Tristan and Lily obtained from the Dominican Republic
never dissolved the marriage bond between them. It is basic that laws relating to family rights and duties,
or to the status, condition and legal capacity of persons are binding upon citizens of the Philippines, even
though living abroad. Regardless of where a citizen of the Philippines might be, he or she will be governed
by Philippine laws with respect to his or her family rights and duties, or to his or her status, condition and
legal capacity. Hence, if a Filipino regardless of whether he or she was married here or abroad initiates a
petition abroad to obtain an absolute divorce from spouse and eventually becomes successful in getting
an absolute divorce decree, the Philippines will not recognize such absolute divorce. Petitioner’s claim that
she is the wife of Tristan even if their marriage was celebrated abroad lacks merit. Thus, petitioner never
acquired the legal interest as a wife upon which her motion for intervention is based.
20

[G.R. No. 127004. March 11, 1999] After series of hearings, the Arbitrators rendered the decision (Exh. "H" & "4") which is the subject matter
of these present causes of action, both initiated separately by the herein contending parties, substantial
NATIONAL STEEL CORPORATION, petitioner, vs. THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF LANAO DEL NORTE, portion of which directs NSC to pay EWEI, as follows:
BRANCH 2, ILIGAN CITY and E. WILLKOM ENTERPRISES, INC., respondents.
(a) P458,381.00 representing EWEI's last billing No. 16 with interest thereon at the rate of 1-1/4% per
DECISION month from January 1, 1985 to actual date of payment;
PURISIMA, J.: (b) P1,335,514.20 representing price escalation adjustment under PD No. 1594, with interest thereon at
the rate of 1-1/4 % per month from January 1, 1985 to actual date of payment;
Before the Court is a Petition for Certiorari with Prayer for Preliminary Injunction & Temporary Restraining
Order under Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Court assailing the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Lanao (c) P50,000 as and for exemplary damages;
del Norte, Branch 2, Iligan City, on the following consolidated cases :
(d) P350,000 as and for attorney's fees.; and
(a) Special Proceeding Case No. 2206 entitled National Steel Corporation vs E. Willkom Enterprise Inc to
Vacate Arbitrators Award; and; (e) P35,000.00 as and for cost of arbitration."[1]

(b) Civil Case No. 2198 entitled to E. Willkom Enterprises Inc. vs National Steel Corporation for Sum of The Regional Trial Court of Lanao del Norte Branch 2, Iligan City through Judge Maximo B. Ratunil, rendered
Money with application for Confirmation of Arbitrators Award. judgment as follows:

The facts as found below are, as follows: (1) In Civil Case No. 11-2198, declaring the award of the Board of Arbitrators, dated April 21, 1992 to be
duly AFFIRMED and CONFIRMED "en toto" ; that an entry of judgment be entered therewith pursuant to
"xxx On Nov. 18, 1992, petitioner-defendant Edward Wilkom Enterprises Inc. (EWEI for brevity) together Republic Act No. 876 (the Arbitration Law); and costs against respondent National Steel Corporation.
with one Ramiro Construction and respondent-petitioner National Steel Corporation (NSC for short)
executed a contract whereby the former jointly undertook the Contract for Site Development (Exhs. "3" & (2) In Special Proceeding No. 11-2206, ordering the petition to vacate the aforesaid award be DISMISSED.
"D") for the latter's Integrated Iron and Steel Mills Complex to be established at Iligan City.
SO ORDERED.[2] "
Sometime in the year 1983, the services of Ramiro Construction was terminated and on March 7, 1983,
petitioner-defendant EWEI took over Ramiro's contractual obligation. Due to this and to other causes With the denial on October 18, 1996 of its Motion for Reconsideration, the National Steel Corporation
deemed sufficient by EWEI, extensions of time for the termination of the project, initially agreed to be (NSC) has come to this court via the present petition.
finished on July 17, 1983, were granted by NSC.
After deliberating on the petition as well as the comment and reply thereon, the court gave due course to
Differences later arose, Plaintiff-defendant EWEI filed Civil Case No. 1615 before the Regional Trial Court the petition and considered the case ripe for decision.
of Lanao del Norte, Branch 06, (Exhs. "A" and "1") praying essentially for the payments of P458,381.001
The pivot of inquiry here is whether or not the lower court acted with grave abuse of discretion in not
with interest from the time of delay; the price adjustment as provided by PD 1594; and exemplary damages
vacating the arbitrator's award.
in the amount ofP50,000.00 and attorney's fees.
A stipulation to refer all future disputes or to submit an ongoing dispute to an arbitrator is valid. Republic
Defendant-petitioner NSC filed an answer with counterclaim to plaintiff's complaints on May 18, 1990.
Act 876, otherwise known as the Arbitration Law, was enacted by Congress since there was a growing need
On August 21, 1990, the Honorable Court through Presiding Judge Valario M. Salazar upon joint motion of for a law regulating arbitration in general.
both parties had issued an order (Exhs. "C" and "3") dismissing the said complaint and counterclaim x x x
The parties in the present case, upon entering into a Contract for Site Development, mutually agreed that
in view of the desire of both parties to implement Sec. 19 of the contract, providing for a resolution of any
any dispute arising from the said contract shall be submitted for arbitration. Explicit is Paragraph 19 of
conflict by arbitration x x x . ( underscoring supplied).
subject contract, which reads:
In accordance with the aforesaid order, and pursuant to Sec. 19 of the Contract for Site Development (id)
"Paragraph 19. ARBITRATION. All disputes questions or differences which may at any time arise between
the herein parties constituted an Arbitration Board composed of the following:
the parties hereto in connection with or relating to this Agreement or the subject matter hereof, including
(a) Engr. Pafnucio M. Mejia as Chairman, who was nominated by the two arbitrators earlier nominated by questions of interpretation or construction, shall be referred to an Arbitration Board composed of three
EWEI and NSC with an Oath of Office (Exh. "E"); (3) arbitrators, one to be appointed by each party, and the third, to be appointed by the two (2)
arbitrators. The appointment of arbitrators and procedure for arbitration shall be governed by the
(b) Engr. Eutaquio 0. Lagapa, Jr., member, who was nominated by EWEI with an oath office (Exh. "F") provisions of the Arbitration Law (Republic Act No. 876). The Board shall apply Philippine Law in
adjudicating the dispute. The decision of a majority of the members of the Arbitration Board shall be valid,
(c) Engr. Gil A. Aberilia, a member who was nominated by NSC, with an Oath of Office (Exh. "G").
21

binding, final and conclusive upon the parties, and from which there will be no appeal, subject to the up. Petitioner was never deprived of the right to present evidence nor was there any showing that the
provisions on vacating, modifying, or correcting an award under the said Republic Act No. 876.[3] Board showed signs of any bias in favor of EWEI. As correctly found by the trial court:

Thereunder, if a dispute should arise from the contract, the Arbitration Board shall assume jurisdiction and "Thirdly, this Court cannot find its way to support NSC's contention that there was evident partiality in the
conduct hearings. After the Board comes up with a decision, the parties may immediately implement the assailed Award of the Arbitrator in favor of the respondent because the conclusion of the Board, which
same by treating it as an amicable settlement. However, if one of the parties refuses to comply or is the Court found to be well-founded, is fully supported by substantial evidence, as follows:
dissatisfied with the decision, he may file a Petition to Vacate the Arbitrator's decision before the trial
court. On the other hand, the winning party may ask the trial court's confirmation to have such decision "xxx The testimonies of witnesses from both parties were heard to clarify facts and to threash (sic) out the
enforced. dispute in the hearings. Upon motion by NSC counsel, the hearing of testimony from witnesses was
terminated on 22 January 1992. To end the testimonies in the hearing both litigant parties upon query by
It should be stressed that voluntary arbitrators, by the nature of their functions, act in a quasi-judicial Arbitrator-Chairman freely declared that there has been no partiality in the manner the Arbitrators
capacity.[4] As a rule, findings of facts by quasi-judicial bodies, which have acquired expertise because their conducted the hearing, that there has been no instance, where Arbitrators refused to postpone requested
jurisdiction is confined to specific matters, are accorded not only respect but even finality if they are or to hear/accept evidence pertinent and material to the dispute. xxx (underscoring supplied)
supported by substantial evidence,[5] even if not overwhelming or preponderant.[6] As the petitioner has
availed of Rule 65, the Court will not review the facts found nor even of the law as interpreted or applied Parentethically, and in the light of the record above-mentioned, this Court hereby holds that the Board of
by the arbitrator unless the supposed errors of facts or of law are so patent and gross and prejudicial as to Arbitrators did not commit any 'evident partiality' imputed by petitioner NSC. Above all, this Court must
amount to a grave abuse of discretion or anexcess de pouvoir on the part of the arbitrators.[7] sustain the said decision for it is a well settled rule that the actual findings of an administrative body should
be affirmed if there is substantial evidence to support them and the conclusions stated in the decision are
Thus, in a Petition to Vacate Arbitrator's Decision before the trial court, regularity in the performance of not clearly against the law and jurisprudence similar to the instant case. Henceforth, every reasonable
official functions is presumed and the complaining party has the burden of proving the existence of any of intendment will be indulged to give effect such proceedings and in favor of the regulatory and integrity of
the grounds for vacating the award, as provided for by Sections 24 of the Arbitration Law, to wit: the arbitrators act. (Corpus Juris, Vol. 5, p. 20)"[8]

"Sec. 24 GROUNDS FOR VACATING THE AWARD - In any one of the following cases, the court must make Indeed, the allegation of evident partiality is not well-taken because the petitioner failed to substantiate
an order vacating the award upon the petition of any party to the controversy when such party proves the same.
affirmatively that in the arbitration proceedings:
Anent the issue of mistaken appreciation of facts and law of the case, the petitioner theorizes that the
(a) The award was procured by corruption, fraud or other undue means; awards made by the Board were unsubstantiated and the same were a plain misapplication of the law and
even contrary to jurisprudence. To have a clearer understanding of the petition, this Court will try to
(b) That there was evident partiality or corruption in the arbitrators of any of them; or discuss individually the awards made by the Board, and determine if there was grave abuse of discretion
on the part of the trial court when it adopted such awards in toto.
(c) That the arbitrators were guilty of misconduct in refusing to postpone the hearing upon sufficient cause
shown, or in refusing to hear evidence pertinent and material to the controversy; that one or more of the I. P458,381.00 representing EWEI's last billing No. 16 with interest thereon at the rate of 1 1/4% per month from January 1, 1985 to actual date of payment;

arbitrators was disqualified to act as such under section nine hereof, and wilfully refrained from disclosing
such disqualification or of any other misbehavior by which the rights of any party have been materially Petitioner seeks to bar payment of the said amount to EWEI. Since the latter failed to complete the works
prejudiced; or as agreed upon, NSC had the right to withhold such amount.The same will be used to cover the cost
differential paid to another contractor who finished the work allegedly left uncompleted by EWEI. Said
(d) That the arbitrators exceeded their powers, or so imperfectly executed them, that a mutual, final and work cost NSC P1,225,000, and should be made chargeable to EWEI's receivables on Final Billing No. 16
definite award upon the subject matter submitted to them was not made. xxx" issued to NSC.
The grounds relied upon by the petitioner were the following (a) That there was evident partiality in the The query here therefore is whether there was failure on the part of EWEI to complete the work agreed
assailed decision of the Arbitrators in favor of the respondent; and (b) That there was mistaken upon. This will determine whether Final Billing No. 16 can be made chargeable to the cost differential paid
appreciation of the facts and application of the law by the Arbitrators. These were the very same grounds by NSC to another contractor.
alleged by NSC before the trial court in their Petition to Vacate the Arbitration Award and which petitioner
is reiterating in this petition under scrutiny. After a series of hearings, the Board of Arbitrators concluded that the work was completed by EWEI. As
correctly stated:
Petitioner's allegation that there was evident partiality is untenable. It is anemic of evidentiary support.
"To authenticate the extent of unfinished work, quantity, unit cost differential and amount, NSC was
In the case of Adamson vs. Court of Appeals, 232 SCRA 602, in upholding the decision of the Board of required to submit copies of payment vouchers and/or job awards extended to the other contractor
Arbitrators, this Court ruled that the fact that a party was disadvantaged by the decision of the Arbitration engaged to complete the works. The best efforts by NSC despite the multiplicity of
Committee does not prove evident partiality. Proofs other than mere inference are needed to establish accounting/auditing/engineering records required in a corporate complex failed to produce documentary
evident partiality.Here, petitioner merely averred evident partiality without any proof to back it proofs from their Iligan or Makati office despite repeated requests. NSC failed to substantiate such allusion
22

of completion by another contractor three unfinished items of works, actual quantities accomplished and xxx xxx
unit cost differential paid chargeable against EWEI.
The applicable unit prices above fixed are based on the assumption that the disposal areas for cleared,
xxx xxx xxx grubbed materials, debris, excess filling materials and other matters that are to be disposed of or are within
the boundary limits of the site, as designated in Annex A hereof. In the event that disposal areas fixed and
The latest evaluation on record of the items of work completed by EWEI under the contract is drawn from designated in Annex A are diverted and transferred to such other areas as would be outside the limits of
the NSC report (Exhibit "11-d") dated 12 November 1985 submitted with the EWEI Billing No. 16-Final in the site as would require additional costs to the contractor, then Owner shall be liable for such additional
the course of processing claim on items of work accomplished. There is no such report or mention of hauling costs of P1.45/km/m3." (Annex "A", Contract for Site Development, page 55 of Rollo)
unfinished work of 90,000 MT of dumped riprap, 100,000 cu. m. of site grading and 300,000 cu. m. of
spreading common excavated materials in the EWEI contract alluded to by the NSC as unfinished work The phrase "prices above fixed" means that the contract price of the work shall be that agreed upon by
otherwise EWEI Billing No. 16-Final would not have passed processing for payment unless there is really the parties at the time of the execution of the contract, which is the law between them provided it is not
no such unfinished work NSC evaluation report with no adverse findings of unfinished work consider the contrary to law, morals, good customs, public order, or public policy. (Article 1306, New Civil Code). It
contract as completed. cannot be inferred therefrom, however, that the parties are prohibited from imposing future increases or
price escalation. It is a cardinal rule in the interpretation of contracts that "if the terms of a contract are
To affirm the work items, quantity, unit cost differential and amount of unfinished work left behind by clear and leave no doubt upon the intention of the contracting parties, the literal meaning of its
EWEI, NSC in serving notice of contract termination to EWEI should have instead specifically cited these stipulations shall control."[11]
obligations in detail for EWEI to perform/comply within 30 days, such failure to perform/comply should
have constituted as an event in default that would have justified termination of contract of NSC with But price escalation is expressly allowed under Presidential Decree 1594, which law allows price escalation
EWEI. If at all, this unfinished work may be additional/extra work awarded in 1984 to another contractor in all contracts involving government projects including contracts entered into by government entities and
at prices higher than the unit price tendered by EWEI in 1982 and/or the discrepancy between actual instrumentalities and Government Owned or Controlled Corporations (GOCCs). It is a basic rule in
quantities of work accomplished per plans versus estimated quantities of work covered by separate contracts that the law is deemed written into the contract between the parties. And when there is no
contract as expansion of the original project." prohibitory clause on price escalation, the Court will allow payment therefor. Thus, petitioner cannot rely
on the case of Llama Development Corporation vs. Court of Appeals and National Steel Corporation, GR
xxx xxx xxx 88093, Resolution, Third Division, 20 Sept 1989. It is not applicable here since in that case, the
contract explicitly provided that the contract price stipulated was fixed, inclusive of all costs and not
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, THE SO-CALLED UNFINISHED WORKS IN THE CONTRACT BY EWEI ALLUDED
subject to escalation, (emphasis supplied). This, in effect, waived the provisions of PD 1594. The case
TO BY NSC IS NOT CONSIDERED AN OBLIGATION TO PERFORM/COMPLY THUS ABSOLVING EWEI OF ANY
under scrutiny is different as the disputed contract does not contain a similar provision.
FAILURE TO PERFORM/COMPLY AND THEREFORE CANNOT BE AVAILED OF AS A RIGHT OR REMEDY BY NSC
TO RECOVER UNIT DIFFERENTIAL COST FROM EWEI FOR THE SAME UNSUBSTANTIATED WORK DONE BY In a vain attempt to evade said law's application, they would like the Court to believe that it is an acquired
ANOTHER CONTRACTOR." (ANNEX "C" ARBITRATION, page 86-88 of Rollo.) asset corporation and not a government owned or controlled corporation so that they are not within the
coverage of PD 1594. Whether NSC is an asset-acquired corporation or a government owned or controlled
Furthermore, under the contract sued upon, it is clear that should the Owner feel that the work agreed
corporation is of no moment. It is not determinative of the pivot of inquiry. It bears emphasizing that
upon was not completed by the contractor, it is incumbent upon the OWNER to send to CONTRACTOR a
during the hearings conducted by the Board of Arbitrators, there was presented documentary evidence to
letter within seven (7) days after completion of the inspection to specify the objections thereto [9] NSC
show that NSC, despite its being allegedly an asset acquired corporation, allowed price escalation to
failed to comply with such requirement, and therefore it would be unfair to refuse payment to EWEI,
another contractor, Geo Transport and Construction, Inc. (GTCI). As said in the decision of the Board of
considering that the latter had faithfully submitted Final Billing No.16 believing that its work had been
Arbitrators:
completed because NSC did not call its attention to any objectionable aspect of their project.
"On the other hand, there was documentary evidence presented that NSC granted Geo Transport and
But, what cannot be upheld is the Board's imposition of a 1-1/4% interest per month from January 1, 1985
Construction, Inc. (GTCI), the other favored contractor working side by side with EWEI on the site
to actual date of payment. There is nothing in the said contract to justify or authorize such an award. The
development project during the same period the GTCE was granted upon request and paid by NSC an
trial court should have therefore disregarded the same and instead, applied the legal rate of 6% per
actual sum of P6.9 million as price adjustment compensation even without the benefit of escalation
annum, from Jan. 1, 1985 until this decision becomes final and executory. This is so because the legal rate
provision in the contract but allowed in accordance with PD NO. 1594 enforceable among government
of interest on monetary obligations not arising from loans or forebearance of credits or goods is 6%[10] per
controlled or owned corporation. The statement is embodied in an affidavit (Exhibit "111-h") submitted
annum in the absence of any stipulation to the contrary.
by affiant Jose M. Mesina, Asst. to the President and Legal Counsel of GTCI, submitted to the Arbitrators
(II) Price escalation with the interest rate of 1-1/4% per month from 1 January 1985 to actual date of payment. upon solicitation of EWEI, copy to NSC, on 3 October 1991. NSC did not assail the affidavit upon receipt of
such document as evidence until the hearing of 19 December 1991 when the affidavit was branded by NSC
Petitioner contends that EWEI is not entitled to price escalation absent any stipulation to that effect in the counsel as incorrect and hearsay. Within 7 days reglamentary period after receipt of affidavit in 3 October
contract under which, the contract price is fixed, citing Paragraph 2 thereof, which stipulates: 1991, the NSC had the recourse to contest the affidavit even preferably charge the affiant for slander if
NSC could disprove the statements as untrue."[12]
2. CONTRACT PRICE -
23

If Petitioner seeks to refute such evidence, it should have done so before the Board of Arbitrators, during
the hearings. To raise the issue now is futile.

However, the same line of reasoning with respect to the first award should be used in disregarding the
interest rate of 1-1/4%. The legal rate of 6% per annum should be similarly applied to the price escalation
to be computed from Jan. 1, 1985 until this decision becomes final and executory.
(III) The award of P50,000 as exemplary damages and P350,000 as attorney's fees;

The exemplary damages and attorneys fees awarded by the Board of Arbitrators should be deleted in light
of the circumstances surrounding the case.

The requirements for an award of exemplary damages, are: (1) they may be imposed by way of example
in addition to compensatory damages, and only after the claimants right to them has been established; (2)
that they cannot be recovered as a matter of right, their determination depending upon the amount of
compensatory damages that may be awarded to the claimant; (3) the act must be accompanied by bad
faith or done in a wanton, fraudulent, oppressive or malevolent manner.[13]

EWEI cannot claim that NSC acted in bad faith or in a wanton manner when it refused payment of the Final
Billing No. 16. The belief that the work was never completed by EWEI and that it (NSC) had the right to
make it chargeable to the cost differential paid by the latter to another contractor was neither wanton nor
done in evident bad faith. The payment of legal rate of interest will suffice to compensate EWEI of
whatever prejudice it suffered by reason of the delay caused by NSC.

As regards the award of attorney's fees, award for attorney's fees without justification is a "conclusion
without a premise, its basis being improperly left to speculation and conjencture.[14] The "fixed counsel's
fee" of P350,000 should be disallowed. The trial court acted with grave abuse of discretion when it
adopted the same in toto.

WHEREFORE, the awards made by the Board of Arbitrators which the trial court adopted in its decision of
July 31,1996, are modified, thus:

(1) The award of P474,780.23 for Billing No. 16-Final and P1,335,514.20 for price adjustment shall be paid
with legal interest of six (6 %) percent per annum, from January 1, 1985 until this decision shall have
become final and executory;

(2) The award of P50,000 for exemplary damages and attorney's fees of P350,000 are deleted; and

(3) The cost of arbitration of P35,000 to supplement arbitration agreement has to be paid.

No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.
24

G.R. No. L-5164 January 27, 1953 requested exemplary damages has not been specified it is now claimed that the case is beyond the
jurisdiction of the Municipal Court of Manila. The denial of the lower court to order of the specification of
CONRADO V. SINGSON, CAROLINA CRISOSTOMO, and FLORENTINO DE LIMA, petitioner-appellant, said damages in order to give the Municipal Court jurisdiction over the case is now assigned as error.
vs.
CRISANTO ARAGON and MIGUEL L. LORZA, respondent-appellees. The pertinent provision of the new Civil Code relative to exemplary damages are as follows:

BAUTISTA ANGELO, J.: ART. 2229. Exemplary or corrective damages are imposed, by way of example or correction of the public
good, in addition to moral, temperate, liquidated or compensatory damages.
This is a petition for certiorari filed in the Court of First Instance of Manila which seeks to set aside the
order of respondent Judge denying petitioner's motion to dismiss the complaint for damages filed in the ART. 2233. Exemplary damages cannot be recovered as a matter of right; the court will decide whether or
Municipal Court, Branch IV, Manila, and prohibit him for further proceedings with the case on the ground not they should be adjudicated.
that the same is beyond its jurisdiction.
ART. 2234. While the amount of the exemplary damages need not be proven, the plaintiff must show that
On January 24, 1951, Miguel L. Lorza filed in the complaint in the Municipal Court of Manila against he is entitled to moral, temperate or compensatory damages before the court may consider the question
Conrado V. Singson, Carolina Crisostomo and Florentino de Lima, petitioners herein, to recover the sum of of whether or not exemplary damages should be awarded. In case liquidated damages have been agreed
P1,321.80 as actual damages, and P500 as attorney's fees, and praying at the same time that he be upon, although no proof of loss is necessary in order that such liquidated damages may be recovered,
awarded such exemplary damages as the court may deem proper, plus the costs of the action. The nevertheless, before the court may consider the question of granting exemplary damages, the plaintiff
complaint was amended following a motion for bills of particulars filed by petitioners by itemizing the must show that he would be entitled to moral, temperate or compensatory damages were it not for the
claim for actual damages in the amount of P1,321.80. As no specification has been made with regards to stipulation for liquidated damages.
the exemplary damages prayed for, petitioner's moved for such specification, but the same was denied on
February 21, 1951, whereupon petitioners filed on the same date a motion to dismiss contending that the From the above legal provisions it appears that exemplary damages may be imposed by way of example
court has no jurisdiction of the case because it involves a prayer for an unspecified amount of exemplary or correction only in addition, among others, to compensatory damages, but they could not be recovered
damages which is beyond its limited jurisdiction. In a separate motion, petitioners also prayed that as a matter of right, their determination depending upon the discretion of the court. It further appears
plaintiff's counsel define his authority to appear by clarifying if plaintiffs is actually represented by the law that the amount of exemplary damages need not be proven, because its determination depends upon the
firm of "Peralta & Agrava", he is merely utilizing said firm name to bolster up the claim of P500 as attorney's amount of compensatory damages that may be awarded to the claimant. If the amount of exemplary
fees mentioned in the complaint. The court denied both motions and so petitioners sued out the present damages need not be proven, it need not also be alleged, and the reason is obvious because it is merely
petition for certiorari. incidental or dependent upon what the court may award as compensatory damages. Unless and until this
premises is determined and established, what may be claimed as exemplary damages would amount to a
The parties having submitted the case on the agreed statement of facts, the court rendered judgment mere surmise or speculation. It follows as a necessary consequence that the amount of exemplary
dismissing the petition, holding that "the plaintiff may waived totally or partially his claim for exemplary damages need not be pleaded in the complaint because the same cannot be predetermined by the court
damages, and in the case under consideration it must be taken for granted that the respondent Miguel L. if in the cause of discretion the same is warranted by the evidence, and this is just what appellee has done.
Lorza, as plaintiff in the Municipal Court, is waiving recovery of exemplary damages over and above the
amount which, if added to his claim for compensatory damages and attorney's fees, would bring the total The fact, however, that the amount of exemplary damages prayed for in the complaint has not been
to more than two thousand pesos," which is the limit of jurisdiction of the municipal court. From the specified does not necessarily mean that the case is beyond the jurisdiction of the Municipal Court of
decision petitioners have appealed. Manila before which the case was filed by appellee before the Municipal Court which he is presumed to
know is of limited jurisdiction, it must be understood that he has done so with full knowledge that the
The first error assigned by the appellants refers to the attitude of the lower court in ignoring their request totality of his claim should not exceed the sum of P2,000. This is the limit of the Municipal Courts'
to have counsel of appellee clarify his stand as to his appearance which they believe to be important in jurisdiction. And the law having placed this matter within discretion of the court, it must likewise be
view of the amount of P500 which appelle is claiming in the complaint as attorney's fees to enable understood that the court should act having due regards to its limited jurisdiction. In other words, if the
appellants to determine if such claim is reasonable. We do not find any anomaly in this attitude of the court should decide to award exemplary damages because it is warranted by the evidence, it can only do
lower court it appearing from the record that during one of the hearings of the case before the Municipal so by awarding the plaintiff such amount as, in addition to the actual or compensatory damages, would
Court of Manila counsel for appelle made a verbal manifestation to the effect that he is the one of the not exceed the limit of its jurisdiction. As the lower court has correctly said, the plaintiff may waived totally
assistant attorneys of the law firm of "Peralta & Agrava" to whom the present case has been assigned and or partially his claim for exemplary damages, and when he filed his case before the municipal court he is
as such he has full authority to appear and represent said law firm which is the attorney of record of the presumed to have waived recovery of such amount as, if added to actual damages, would exceed the
appellee, and in the absence of any showing that this manifestation is not true, the same stands and amount of P2,000. We find correct the interpretation which the lower court has placed on the law on the
substantially satisfies the requirement of appellants for clarification. matter.

The main purpose of the present action is to recover certain actual or compensatory damages plus certain Finding no error in the decision appealed from, the same is hereby affirmed, with cost.
amount of attorney's fees, although in the prayer a request was made that the court assess the exemplary
damages to which plaintiff may be entitled as an additional relief, and because the amount of the
25

PHILIPPINE HAWK CORPORATION V. LEE interest from the date of this decision; plus attorney's fees in the sum of P50,000.00, and the costs of suit.
(Record on Appeal, p. 35.)
G.R. No. 166869 February 16, 2010
The defendants appealed to the defunct Court of Appeals which in a decision dated May 22, 1979,
Facts: Respondent filed a case for Damages based on quasi delict arising from vehicular accident between affirmed in toto that of the trial court. (Rollo, p. 48.) However, upon a motion for reconsideration filed by
motorcycle and bus of Phil Hawk. Husband died, respondent sustained injuries. Before answer, an the defendants-appellants, the Court of Appeals, in a resolution dated June 19, 1981, modified its
amended complaint was filed, adding additional damages and reliefs. RTC ruled in favour of respondent. judgment thus:
The Court of Appeals added to the relief granted by the lower court. Phil Hawk filed Rule 45 Petition before
the Supreme Court, saying that respondent did not appeal to the ruling of the RTC and it was error on part WHEREFORE, the decision rendered in this case is hereby modified insofar as the judgment ordering the
of CA to grant damages. defendants to pay, jointly and severally, the sum of P 1,650,000.00 to plaintiffs with legal interest from
July 5, 1973, is concerned. In lieu thereof, defendants are hereby ordered to pay plaintiffs, jointly and
Issue: whether or not the award of damages was proper. severally, the sum of Four Hundred Fifty Thousand Pesos (P450,000.00) as unearned net earnings of
Roberto R. Luna, with legal interest thereon from the date of the filing of the complaint until the whole
Ruling: yes. There is no error in awarding additional reliefs. The petitioner is liable for damages because
amount shall have been totally paid.
as provided for under the Civil Code, whenever an employee’s negligence causes damage or injury to
another, there arises a presumption that the employer failed to exercise the due diligence of a good father The rest of the other dispositions in the judgment a quo stand. (Rollo, pp. 33-34.)
of the family in the selection or supervision of its employees. To avoid liability for a quasi-delict committed
by his employee, an employer must overcome the presumption by presenting convincing proof that he Both parties filed separate petitions for review of the appellate court's decision.
exercised the care and diligence of a good father of a family in the selection and supervision of his
employee. The findings of the trial court and Court of Appeals were upheld that petitioner is liable because In G.R. No. 57362, the petition for review of Jose and Luis dela Rosa was denied for lack of merit on October
the diligence of a good father of a family requirement in the selection and supervision of its bus driver is 5, 1981. Subsequently, they informed that the decision sought to be reviewed was not yet final because
not properly exercised. the Lunas had a pending motion for reconsideration. For prematurity, this Court set aside all previous
resolutions. On February 16, 1983, acting upon the motion and manifestation of the petitioners, they were
required to file an amended petition within thirty days from notice. On June 20, 1983, this Court resolved:
"For failure of the petitioners to file an amended petition as required, this case is hereby DISMISSED and
G.R. No. L-62988 February 28, 1985 the dismissal is final."
FELINA RODRIGUEZ-LUNA, JOSE R. LUNA and ROBERTO R. LUNA, JR., petitioners, The instant case — G.R. No. 62988 — is the separate appeal of the Lunas. Their petition contains the
vs. following prayer:
THE HON. INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT, JOSE E. DELA ROSA and LUIS DELA ROSA, respondents.
1. That the petition be given due course;
Ezequiel S. Consulta for petitioners.
2. That after notice and hearing, judgment be rendered, setting aside or modifying the RESOLUTION of
David M. Castro for respondents. respondent Court of Appeals dated June 19, 1981, attached as Annex "A" to the petition, only insofar as it
reduced the unearned net earnings to P450,000.00, s• as to affirm the trial court's finding as to the
unearned net earnings of the deceased in the amount of P1,650,000.00;
ABAD SANTOS, J.:
3. Ordering that the award of attorney's fees shall also be with interest, at the legal rate. (Rollo, p. 27.)
This is a petition to review a decision of the defunct Court of Appeals. The petitioners are the heirs of
On June 27, 1983, the petition was given due course. (Rollo, pp. 122-123.)
Roberto R. Luna who was killed in a vehicular collision. The collision took place on January 18, 1970, at the
go-kart practice area in Greenhills, San Juan, Metro Manila. Those involved were the go-kart driven by the In the light of the foregoing, the resolution stated:
deceased, a business executive, and a Toyota car driven by Luis dela Rosa, a minor of 13 years who had no
driver's license. It thus appears that the questions in esse are with respect to the award for unearned net earnings —
should the award be P450,000.00 only or should it be P1,650,000.00 as originally adjudged; and whether
In a suit for damages brought by the heirs of Roberto R. Luna against Luis dela Rosa and his father Jose the award for attorney's fees shall also be with interest at the legal rate.
dela Rosa, the Court of First Instance of Manila in Civil Case No. 81078, rendered the following judgment:
The Court takes notice that the wrongful death occurred as early as January 18, 1970, and that until now
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered sentencing the defendants Luis dela Rosa and Jose dela Rosa the process of litigation is not yet over. In the meantime the value of the Philippine peso has been seriously
to pay, jointly and severally, to the plaintiffs the sum of P1,650,000.00 as unearned net earnings of Roberto eroded so that the heirs of the deceased may ultimately have a greatly depreciated judgment. In the
Luna, P12,000.00 as compensatory damages, and P50,000.00 for the loss of his companionship, with legal interest of justice, the private respondents are hereby ordered to PAY to the petitioners within thirty (30)
26

days from notice the following amounts adjudged against them: P450,000.00 for unearned net earnings N-1 to N-3, O, O-1, P, Q and R) and was the president and general manager of Rodlum Inc.; general manager
of the deceased; (P12,000.00 as compensatory damages; P50,000.00 for the loss of his companionship of Esso Greenhills Service Center; Assistant manager of Jose Rodriguez Lanuza Sons; director of Steadfast
with legal interest from July 3, 1973; and P50,000.00 as attorney's fees. Investment Corporation; chairman and treasurer of Greenhills Industrial Corporation; vice-president of
Oasis, Inc.; director of Nation Savings Association; director of Arlun Taxi; and treasurer of National
Still to be resolved shall be the following: whether the award for unearned net earnings shall be increased Association of Retired Civil Employees.
to P1,650,000.00; and whether the award for attorney's fees shall also be with interest at the legal rate.
The costs will be adjudged as a matter of course. (Rollo, p. 123.) ... . His income tax returns show an increase in his income in the short period of three years. It is reasonable
to expect that it would still go higher for the next fifteen years and reach a minimum of P75,000.00 a year.
The private respondents failed to pay the amounts and when required to explain they said that they had The potential increase in the earning capacity of a deceased person is recognized by the Supreme Court.
no cash money. Accordingly, this Court directed the trial court to issue a writ of execution but the attempt ... the court believes that the expected gross earnings of Roberto Luna should be fixed in the sum of
of the special sheriff to enter the private respondent's premises so that he could make an inventory of P75,000.00 a year for the period of his life expectancy of 30 years, but deducting his personal expenses
personal properties was thwarted by guards and this Court had to direct the Chief of the Philippine which, because of his business and social standing the court in the amount of P20,000.00 a year, in
Constabulary to assist in enforcing the writ of execution. The execution yielded only a nominal amount. In accordance with the rulings of the Supreme Court. (Record on Appeal, pp. 32-34.)
the meantime, Luis dela Rosa is now of age, married with two children, and living in Madrid, Spain with an
uncle but only casually employed. It is said: "His compensation is hardly enough to support his family. He Acting on a motion for reconsideration filed by the dela Rosas, the Court of Appeals took into account the
has no assets of his own as yet." (Rollo, p. 208.) fact "that the deceased Roberto R. Luna had been engaged in car racing as a sport, having participated in
tournaments both here and abroad;" it said that Luna's habit and manner of life should be "one of the
1. On the amount of the award. factors affecting the value of mortality table in actions for damages;" and, consequently, concluded that
Luna could not have lived beyond 43 years. The result was that the 30-year life expectancy of Luna was
The award of P1,650,000.00 was based on two factors, namely: (a) that the deceased Roberto R. Luna
reduced to 10 years only.
could have lived for 30 more years; and (b) that his annual net income was P55,000.00, computed at
P75,000.00 annual gross income less P20,000.00 annual personal expenses. Further on the motion for reconsideration, the Court of Appeals ruled in respect of Luna's annual personal
expenses:
This is what the trial court said on Luna's life expectancy:
... . Considering the escalating price of automobile gas which is a key expenditure in Roberto R. Luna's
According to the American Experience Table of Mortality, at age 33 the life expectancy of Roberto Luna
social standing, We should increase that amount to P30,000.00 as the would be personal expenses of the
was 33.4 years, and under the Commissioner Standard Ordinary, used by our domestic insurance
deceased per annum. (Rollo, p. 33.)
companies since 1968 for policies above P5,000.00 his life expectancy was 38.51 years. Dr. Vicente Campa,
medical director of San Miguel Corporation, testified that he was the regular physician of Roberto Luna The Court of Appeals then determined the amount of the award thus: P75,000.00 annual gross income
since his marriage to Felina Rodriguez in 1957. He said that except for a slight anemia which he had ten less P30,000.00 annual personal expenses leaves P45,000.00 multiplied by 10 years of life expectancy and
years earlier, Roberto Luna was of good health. Allowing for this condition, he could reasonably expect to the product is P450,000.00.
have a life expectancy of 30 years. (Record on Appeal, p. 33.)
The petitioners contend that the Court of Appeals erred when by its resolution of June 19, 1981, it reduced
The Court of Appeals in sustaining the trial court's conclusion said: Luna's life expectancy from 30 to 10 Years and increased his annual personal expenses from P20,000.00 to
P30,000.00. We sustain the petitioners.
We have not been persuaded to disturb the conclusion that the deceased had a life expectancy of thirty
years. At the time of Luna's death, he was only thirty-three years old and in the best of health. With his The Court of Appeals, in reducing Luna's life expectancy from 30 to 10 years said that his habit and manner
almost perfect physical condition and his sound mind, the expectation that he could have lived for another of life should be taken into account, i.e. that he had been engaged in car racing as a sport both here and
thirty years is reasonable, considering that with his educational attainment, his social and financial abroad - a dangerous and risky activity tending to shorten his life expectancy. That Luna had engaged in
standing, he had the means of staying fit and preserving his health and well-being. That he could have lived car racing is not based on any evidence on record. That Luna was engaged in go-kart racing is the correct
at least until the age of sixty-three years is an assessment which is more on the conservative side in view statement but then go-kart racing cannot be categorized as a dangerous sport for go-karts are extremely
of the testimony of Dr. Vicente Campa that the general life expectancy nowadays had gone up to seventy low slung, low powered vehicles, only slightly larger than foot-pedalled four wheeled conveyances. It was
years. (Rollo, p. 45.) error on the part of the Court of Appeals to have disturbed the determination of the trial court which it
had previously affirmed.
The Court of Appeals likewise sustained the trial court in respect of Luna's annual income and expense.
This is what the trial court said: Similarly, it was error for the Court of Appeals to reduce the net annual income of the deceased by
increasing his annual personal expenses but without at the same time increasing his annual gross income.
Roberto Luna was 33 years old when he died, and was survived by his wife Felina Rodriguez-Luna, and two
It stands to reason that if his annual personal expenses should increase because of the "escalating price of
children, Roberto Jr., 13 years, and Jose, 12 years. His wife was 35 years old at the time. He declared a
gas which is a key expenditure in Roberto R. Luna's social standing" [a statement which lacks complete
gross income of P16,900.00 for 1967 (Exhibit I), P29,700,000 for 1968 (Exhibit H) and P45,117.69 for 1969
(Exhibit G). He had investments in various corporations amounting to P136,116.00 (Exhibits K, M, M-1, N,
27

basis], it would not be unreasonable to suppose that his income would also increase considering the
manifold sources thereof.

In short, the Court of Appeals erred in modifying its original decision.

2. Attorney's fees — with or without interest at the legal rate.

The trial court awarded attorney's fees to the petitioners in the sum of P50,000.00. This award was
affirmed by the Court of Appeals in its decision of May 22, 1979. The resolution of June 19, 1981,
reaffirmed the award. The two decisions as well as the resolution do not provide for interest at the legal
rate to be tacked to the award.

The petitioners now pray that the award of attorney's fees be with interest at the legal rate from the date
of the filing of the complaint. There is merit in this prayer. The attorney's fees were awarded in the concept
of damages in a quasi-delict case and under the circumstances interest as part thereof may be adjudicated
at the discretion of the court. (See Art. 2211, Civil Code.) As with the other damages awarded, the interest
should accrue only from the date of the trial court's decision.

The private respondents invoke Elcano vs. Hill, L-24803, May 26,1977; 77 SCRA 98, where it was held that
Article 2180 of the Civil Code applied to Atty. Marvin Hill notwithstanding the emancipation by marriage
of Reginald Hill, his son but since Reginald had attained age, as a matter of equity, the liability of Atty. Hill
had become merely subsidiary to that of his son. It is now said that Luis dela Rosa, is now married and of
legal age and that as a matter of equity the liability of his father should be subsidiary only.

We are unwilling to apply equity instead of strict law in this case because to do so will not serve the ends
of justice. Luis dela Rosa is abroad and beyond the reach of Philippine courts. Moreover, he does not have
any property either in the Philippines or elsewhere. In fact his earnings are insufficient to support his
family.

WHEREFORE, the resolution of the Court of Appeals dated June 19, 1981, is hereby set aside; its decision
dated May 22, 1979, is reinstated with the sole modification that the award for attorney's fees shall earn
interest at the legal rate from July 5, 1973, the date of the trial court's decision. Costs against the private
respondents.

SO ORDERED.
28

[G.R. No. 131915. September 3, 2003] for his part, then hacked the hapless Alejandro with his bolo. Melchor somehow managed to sneak out
without being noticed and ran for dear life to the house of Thomas Rios. When Melchor was already inside
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, appellee, vs. EDDIE LACHICA (at-large), ARIEL ROLLON, and ERROL ROLLON, the house, he heard someone shout, Patay na ina! (Kill him!). Melchor heard another gunshot. He peeped
accused, through a hole and saw the dead body of his brother, Alejandro, being run over by the tricycle driven by
Errol. Melchor could only watch in horror and grief. He could not do anything more for his brother.
ERROL ROLLON, appellant.
The malefactors then left the crime scene. Melchor stepped outside and rushed towards his brother, who
DECISION
was soaked in his own blood. He cried out for help and a handful of people came. Melchor proceeded to
CALLEJO, SR., J.: the police station to report the incident but was waylaid by an unidentified person who chased him. He
doubled back and took a shortcut home.
Before the Court is the appeal of appellant Errol Rollon from the Decision[1] of the Regional Trial Court of
Romblon, Branch 81, convicting him of murder and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of reclusion Police authorities arrived at the scene of the crime and investigated the incident. They learned that Errol
perpetua; and ordering him to pay to the heirs of the victim P50,000. and Ariel were among the malefactors. The next morning, SPO4 Ramon Rutor, Chief of Police, PNP San
Fernando, Romblon, arrived at the Sibuyan District Hospital in Cajidiocan, Romblon, where Errol and Ariel
The Evidence of the Prosecution[2] were treated for their injuries. Ariel surrendered to SPO4 Rutor a bolo which was allegedly used by
Alejandro to attack him and his brother.
In the evening of September 24, 1995, some residents of Sitio Sapang Palay, Barangay Pili, San Fernando,
Romblon, attended the wake of Palmeta Rollon. Among those paying their last respects were Ariel Rollon, Dr. Leticia V. Chan, the Municipal Health Officer of San Fernando, Romblon, conducted an autopsy on the
Edgar Perez, Alejandro Rogero and his older brother Melchor Rogero. Ariel and Edgar were already tipsy, cadaver of the victim. She prepared and signed a Postmortem Examination Report, as follows:
having had a drinking spree in celebration of the birthday of Ariels son. After a while, Ariel and Edgar
decided to go home. On their way, they saw Kagawad Jose Rafol, who was then fixing a rundown water Findings
pipe. For no apparent reason, Edgar boxed Jose. When the latter tried to retaliate, Ariel, who was close
1. [G]unshot wound of entry cm. in diameter located at the forehead just above the left eyebrow directed
behind, moved in to aid his friend. At that juncture, Kagawad Thomas Rios who was on his way to the
posteriorwards.
wake, intervened and pacified the protagonists. However, Joses son, Dixon, arrived and punched Edgar
who fell to the ground. Ariel fled to call for reinforcements. After an hour and a half, Ariel, on board a 2. [B]lood coming out from the left ear.
tricycle driven by his brother Errol Rollon, and armed with a bolo, returned to the wake. With them were
Eddie Lachica and Salvador Romano, who were each armed with guns. They were followed closely on foot 3. [C]ontused upper and lower left eyelids.
by Ariel and Errols father Felipe Rollon, their youngest brother, Filjun Rollon, and Francisco Rabino.
4. [G]unshot wound of entrance, circular, cm. in diameter with contusion collar and located at the
After the tricycle pulled over the roadside, Errol immediately alighted and boxed Jose. A fisticuffs ensued. midaxillary area around 6 inches from the armpit directed towards the right side.
Joses other son, Dicky, arrived, pacified Errol and his father and brought the latter home.
5. [S]uperficial somewhat elongated gunshot wound also cm. in diameter with contusion collar on one side
Errol broke a bottle of gin on the pavement. Eddie followed suit, firing his gun into the air. Errol and his and located at the outer aspect of the midportion of the left forearm.
companions pursued Jose and Dicky to their house and pelted it. When an occupant of the house screamed
for help, Errol and his group retreated and went back to where the wake was being held. When Ariel 6. [S]omewhat oval gunshot wound of entry cm. in diameter located at the left iliac area directed obliquely
saw Kapitan Tito Royo, he attempted to hack the latter with his bolo, but the bolo hit the wooden pole downwards, posteriorwards towards the midline.
which Filjun used to strike Tito. Tito managed to evade the blow, and dove under the table. He then fled
7. [C]ircular gunshot wound of entry cm. in diameter with uniform contusion collar located at the
to his house, which was about 50 meters away. A commotion ensued.
midanterior aspect of the right thigh directed posteriorwards.
In the meantime, Felipe and his sons Errol and Ariel, with Eddie Lachica, Salvador Romano, Danilo Perez
8. [H]orizontal gaping incised wound 4 inches long located at the upper outer aspect of the right arm.
and Francisco Rabino, all boarded the tricycle and went after Tito. As they reached the gate of Titos house,
they chanced upon Alejandro and Melchor. The two were on their way home from the wake and were just 9. [A]nother same wound 3 inches long below it.
waiting for their younger brother Isidro who got separated from them during the commotion. Errol
alighted from the tricycle and greeted Alejandro and Melchor, waving his left hand. Alejandro likewise 10. [A]nother same wound 2.5 inches long below no. 9.
waved his hand saying, Pre, waya kita (Friend, there is nothing between us). Errol curtly retorted, Waya
ka diyan (You have nothing here). Errol blocked Alejandro and Melchors way. Ariel vented his ire on 11. [S]uperficial gaping wound 2.5 inches long cutting the margin of the left ear extending behind
Alejandro and hacked the latter on his left arm. Alejandro retaliated and boxed Ariel, who fell to the wounding the scalp.
ground. Errol then joined the fray, but was held at bay by Alejandro. Eddie suddenly shot Alejandro, who
12. [F]our superficial linear incisions below it measuring 1.5", 1.7", 1" and 3" long.
fell prostrate to the ground. In the meantime, Melchor could not help his brother because Francisco had
his gun aimed at the latter. Errol then shot Alejandro two more times on the head and on his body. Ariel,
29

13. [T]en inches long superficial linear incised wound extending from the midback below the nuchal area to rescue Edgar but when he reached the place where he left his friend, the latter was nowhere to be
to the upper posterior portion of the right arm. found.

14. [S]uperficial linear incised wound 1.5 inches long at the right shoulder above no. 13. Meanwhile, somewhere in the feeder road, at about 10:00 p.m., Felipe, with his two sons Errol and Filjun,
were on their way to the wake on board a tricycle. They came upon Eddie Lachica who was also on his way
15. [S]uperficial linear incised wound 4.5 inches long at the right arm above no. 13. to the wake. They invited Eddie to ride with them and Eddie acceded.[5]
16. [P]artially amputated left thumb. Errol parked the tricycle at the roadside near the place where the wake was being held. As Errol alighted
from the tricycle, Jose suddenly boxed him. A fistfight between the two ensued. Joses other son, Dicky,
17. [A]brasion 6 inches long 3 inches wide located at the anterolateral aspect of the l
intervened and pulled his father away from the fight.
eft leg.
In the meantime, Ariel, who was looking for his friend Edgar, caught sight of their tricycle and decided to
18. [A]brasion - - right knee. return to the wake. On his way, Tito accosted Ariel and berated the latter for creating trouble in the
community. Ariel, who was already hot under the collar, struck Tito with the pole he was carrying but failed
19. [A]nother wide abrasion at the postero-lateral aspect of the right arm, elbow and forearm. to hit Tito. The latter retreated and sought help from Alejandro and Melchor Rogero who were then
playing tong-its (a card game) at the wake. Thereafter, Tito, Alejandro and Melchor left and proceeded to
20. [A]brasion-buttock. Titos house.

Cause of death: Internal hemorrhage sec. to gunshot wounds of the head, chest and abdomen.[3] Subsequently, Felipe ordered his sons, including Eddie, to board the tricycle and leave for home. As they
boarded the tricycle, Thomas, armed with a long bolo, arrived and attacked Felipe and his companions.
Melchor and Thomas executed their respective sworn statements on the incident.
Eddie drew his gun and fired a warning shot in the air. This scared Thomas who hurriedly backed off.
After the requisite preliminary investigation, an Information was filed against Ariel and Errol Rollon, and
As they made their way through the feeder road en route to home, Eddie, Felipe and the latters sons
Eddie Lachica. The accusatory portion of the Information reads:
noticed Alejandro armed with a bolo, standing in the middle of the road in front of Titos house. Alejandros
UNDERSIGNED accuses EDDIE LACHICA, ARIEL ROLLON and ERROL ROLLON of the heinous crime of Murder shirt was wrapped around his head. As the tricycle steadily approached Alejandro, Errol slackened its speed
as penalized under Republic Act No. 7659, committed as follows: and repeatedly blew its horn for Alejandro to get out of the way. Alejandro refused to move. Errol alighted
from the tricycle and talked to Alejandro. While Errol was asking Alejandro to let them pass, Renoso, son
That on or about the 24th day of September 1995, at around 10:30 oclock in the evening, [S]itio Sapang of Tito, told Alejandro to hack Errol, Lab-a na (Hack now).
Palay, [B]arangay Pili, [M]unicipality of San Fernando, [P]rovince of Romblon, Philippines, and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the said accused, with intent to kill, conspiring, confederating and Alejandro then hacked Errol but the latter eluded the blow. Errols upper left arm was hit. He shouted for
mutually helping one another, did then and there, by means of treachery, taking advantage of their help. Eddie responded, left the tricycle and immediately rushed to Errols aid. Eddie placed himself between
superior strength and with cruelty, by deliberately and inhumanly augmenting the suffering of the victim, Alejandro and Errol to prevent them from hurting each other. However, Alejandro refused to be pacified
or outraging or scoffing at his person or corpse, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault, strike and attacked Eddie. The latter fired his gun, hitting Alejandro. Undaunted, Alejandro continued to attack
with a bolo and shoot with firearms, one ALEJANDRO ROGERO, inflicting upon the latter multiple mortal Eddie. The latter slipped backwards and fired three more successive shots at Alejandro. Eddie then came
injuries in different parts of his body which were the direct and immediate cause of his death. closer to the victim, who lay prostrate on the ground, picked up the latters bolo and repeatedly hacked
Alejandro.
Contrary to law.[4]
Errol then proceeded to the Sibuyan District Hospital in Cajidiocan, Romblon, for the treatment of his
When arraigned, Errol and Ariel assisted by counsel, pleaded not guilty to the charge. Eddie Lachica injury. As Alejandros cadaver blocked the road, Ariel and his father Felipe lifted the wheel of the sidecar
remained at large. Trial on the merits thereafter ensued. so that the tricycle could pass over the body of the victim. But before Ariel could board the tricycle,
somebody from Titos compound fired a shotgun at him. Ariel was hit and cried for help. Errol forthwith
The Evidence of the Accused boarded Ariel on the tricycle and drove towards the hospital. Dr. Fermin Fatalla attended to Errol and Ariel.
Eddie left the crime scene, leaving behind the bolo he used to hack Alejandro. Errol and Ariel were confined
Ariel denied the charge. He testified that he and Edgar were at the wake but decided to go home at around
in the hospital for five days.
9:00 p.m. Edgar accidentally ran intoKagawad Jose Rafol who was coming from the opposite direction.
Jose confronted and accused Edgar of boxing him. Edgar denied the charge. Ariel joined in and asked Edgar The morning after the incident, SPO4 Ramon Rutor arrived in the hospital. Ariel surrendered the bolo to
to apologize, but the latter refused, insisting that he did not punch Jose. Suddenly, Joses son, Dixon came him, claiming that it was the weapon used by the victim to attack him and Errol.
rushing in at the scene and boxed Edgar. Ariel wanted to help his friend, but Thomas arrived and ran after
him. Fortunately, he was too fast for Thomas. Ariel then armed himself with a wooden pole and returned
30

After due proceedings, the trial court rendered judgment finding Ariel and Errol guilty beyond reasonable have overlooked, misunderstood or misappreciated, and which, if properly considered, would alter the
doubt of the crime charged. The trial court disbelieved the appellants denials and assertion that Eddie result of the case.
Lachica alone killed the victim.
The rationale for this doctrine, as explained in People vs. Cayabyab[8] is that the trial judge is able to detect
Both accused interposed their appeal from the decision of the trial court. In their brief, the appellants that sometimes thin line between fact and prevarication that will determine the guilt and innocence of the
alleged the following: accused. That line may not be discernible from a mere reading of the impersonal record by the reviewing
court. The record will not reveal those tell-tale signs that will affirm the truth or expose the contrivance,
ASSIGNMENT OF ERRORS like the angry flush of an insistent assertion; or the sudden pallor of a discovered lie; or the tremulous
mutter of a reluctant answer; or the forthright tone of a ready reply. The record will not show if the eyes
FIRST ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR: The lower court [erred] in failing to closely and objectively appreciate the
have darted in evasion, or looked down in confession, or gazed steadily with a serenity that has nothing to
evidence of plea of self-defense interposed by the defense in connection with the death of Alejandro
distort or conceal. The record will not show if tears were shed in anger, or in shame, or in remembered
Rogero.
pain, or in feigned innocence. Only the judge trying the case can see all these and on the basis of his
SECOND ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR: The lower court gravely erred in giving credence to the testimonies of observations arrive at an informed and reasoned verdict.[9]
the witnesses for the prosecution which are tainted with inconsistencies and are contrary to human
The denial of the appellant of the crime charged cannot prevail over the positive declarations of the
experience and human conduct.
prosecution witnesses that he and his cohorts killed the victim. Like the defense of alibi, a denial is
THIRD ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR: The lower court [erred] in failing to give full faith and credit to the inherently weak and crumbles in the light of positive declarations of truthful witnesses who testified on
testimonies of the witnesses for the defense.[6] affirmative matters that the appellant was at the scene of the incident and was one of the victims
assailants.[10] Moreover, denial, being a negative defense, must be substantiated by clear and convincing
On September 2, 1998, Ariel Rollon died due to cardio-respiratory arrest while detained at the Romblon evidence. Otherwise, it would merit no weight in law and cannot be given greater evidentiary value over
Provincial Jail. On January 27, 1999, we resolved to dismiss the case. Hence, only the appeal of appellant the testimony of credible witnesses who testified on affirmative matters.[11] The denial offered by the
Errol Rollon is left for our determination.[7] appellant is not only inherently weak, it lacked a strong corroboration. Indeed, even if the defense of denial
is supported by the testimony of friends of the appellant, it deserves the barest consideration.[12]
The appellant asserts that the trial court erred in not finding that Eddie Lachica alone killed the victim and
that he did not inflict any injury on the victim at all. He also contends that Melchors testimony is incredible In this case, Melchor and Thomas witnessed at close range the macabre and gory killing of the victim by
and runs counter with the common experience and observation of mankind. The appellant argues that the appellant and his cohorts. Melchor, the victims brother, testified, thus:
under the said circumstances, it was unnatural for Melchor not to lift a finger to save the life of his sibling
Alejandro. Melchors natural reaction should have been to help his brother or seek the aid of the nearest PROS. SY continuing:
neighbor to help stop the assault on his brother.
Q Where were you when your brother Alejandro Rogero was killed by the accused?
The appellant likewise insists that Kagawad Thomas Rios is a biased witness, being the brother of Carmen
A I was in that place.[13]
Rios, Ariels estranged wife, whom Ariel left for another woman in Manila. Additionally, he averred that
Thomas and the rest of the kagawads of Barangay Pili had an axe to grind against him because sometime Q Who was your companion or companions by the gate of barangay captain Royo?
in the past, he blew the whistle on them for payroll padding.
A My younger sibling.
Finally, the appellant asserts that the prosecution failed to prove that he had any ill motive to kill Alejandro.
Q Who is that younger sibling who was with you?
The appeal is barren of merit.
A Alejandro Rogero.
The threshold issue is whether or not the trial court erred in giving credence and probative weight to the
testimonies of the prosecution witnesses while disbelieving that of the appellant. Q Now, why were you and your brother Alejandro standing by that gate?

Well-settled is the rule that the findings of facts and assessment of credibility of witnesses is a matter best A We were waiting for our another (sic) younger sibling so we would go home together.
left to the trial court because of its unique position of having observed that elusive and incommunicable
evidence of the witnesses deportment on the stand while testifying, which opportunity is denied to the Q Why, where was your other sibling?
appellate courts. Only the trial judge can observe the furtive glance, blush of conscious shame, hesitation,
A I did not know where he was hiding.
flippant or sneering tone, calmness, sigh, or the scant or full realization of an oath all of which are useful
aids for an accurate determination of a witness honesty and sincerity. The trial courts findings are accorded Q Why should your brother hide?
finality, unless there appears in the record some fact or circumstance of weight which the lower court may
A Because there was a trouble which happened at the wake.[14]
31

... A Bolo.

Q Now, you said that at 10:30 in the evening you and Alejandro were standing by the gate of Kapitan Royo, Q And who was hacked by Ariel?
while doing that what happened?
A My younger brother Alejandro.
A They, Errol Rollon riding at the tricycle arrived.
Q And where was your brother hit?
Q Alright, who were riding on that tricycle?
A Here (witness is demonstrating by slicing with his right hand his upper left arm).
A Ariel Rollon, Errol Rollon, Eddie Lachica, Felipe Rollon, Salvador Romano, Danilo Perez, Francisco
Rabino.[15] Q After that, what happened next?

... A My brother fought back.

Q Now, when the tricycle arrived with those persons in it, what happened? Q And what did your brother do?

A Errol alighted and waived his hand to my younger brother (witness demonstrating by raising his left hand A He boxed Errol and Ariel.
and waived).[16]
Q And what happened to Ariel?
...
A Ariel was thrown back.
Q And what did your younger brother do?
Q How about Errol?
A He also waived.
A He fell down.
Q Did you hear any exchange from them if there was any?
Q So after that, what did your brother do?
A Yes, sir.
A He was standing watching them before he was shot.
Q What did you hear?
Q Who shot him?
A I heard from my younger brother Pre, waya kita meaning Pare, there is nothing between us.
A Eddie Lachica.
Q How about Errol, did Errol reply to that?
Q How far was Eddie Lachica when he shot your brother Alejandro?
A Yes, sir.
A From here to that wall. (Witness is pointing to the opposite wall from the witness stand measured at 5.3
Q What did he say? meters).

A Errol said: Waya ka diyan, meaning You have nothing there. Q And what happened to your brother when he was shot by Eddie Lachica?

Q So when you and your brother heard that, what did you do? A He turned around twice then fell down.

A We left. Q How about you, what did you do while your brother was fighting back Errol and Ariel?

Q And what happened? A I was standing because I was afraid.

A Ariel chased us. ...

Q And what did he do? Q So after Eddie Lachica shot your brother, what else happened?

A He said: Ikay pa? meaning You also? and simultaneously hacked. A Errol stood up and shot again my younger brother.

Q Now, what was that Ariel was holding? Q How many times?
32

A Twice. Q And what did you see?

COURT: A I saw they ran over the body of my younger brother with the tricycle.

Q Who shot him twice? Q How many times did they run over with the tricycle the body of your brother?

A Errol.[17] A I saw it twice.

... Q So what did you do after that?

Q And how about Ariel, what did Ariel do? A No more (sic), I just cried.

A He hacked and hacked my younger brother. Q And what else did you do?

Q When Errol shot your younger brother, what was the position of your younger brother? A That is all. I cried because I pitied my younger brother.[19]

A Lying on his back. Melchors testimony was corroborated by Kagawad Thomas Rios, to wit:

Q When Ariel hacked and hacked your brother, what was the position of your younger brother? PROS. SY

A He was lying on his side.[18] Q So after that, what have you observed?

... A They met in front of the gate of the house of [the] Kapitan, the brothers Melchor and Alejandro Rogero.

Q At that point when your brother was being hacked and hacked by Ariel, where were you? Q And so, when they met the brothers Melchor and Alejandro in front of the gate of the house of the
Kapitan, what happened?
A I was at the front of the house of Tomas.
A Alejandro waived his right hand to Errol.
Q After that, what did you do?
Q Did Errol respond to that way?
A I ran away going to the house of Manong Thomas. I knocked.
A Errol also waived his hand while Alejandro said, Errol, Pare wala kita, meaning Pare, theres nothing
Q And was the house opened for you? between us. Errol answered waiving his hand, you have nothing to do with it.
A Yes, sir. Q After that, what happened?

Q By whom? A Ariel shouted, Ikaw pa! meaning, You also! and simultaneously hacked Alejandro.
A His daughter Thelma Relox (sic). Q Where was Alejandro with reference to Ariel when Ariel hacked Alejandro?

Q And so, what did you do? A Ariel was [at] the back of Alejandro.
A I was standing inside when I heard Patay na ina! meaning Kill him! Q And where was Alejandro hit when he was hacked by Ariel?
Q Who said that? A Left shoulder.
A I do not know because I was already inside. Q So, what happened after that?
Q And what else did you hear while you were inside? A When Alejandro was hacked by Ariel, Alejandro fought back, then Ariel and Errol ganged up on
Alejandro.
A I heard another shot.
Q Where was Melchor at that time, the brother?
Q After that, what else happened?
A They were there together.
A I peeped through the hole and I looked outside.
33

Q How about Melchor, what was he doing when his brother Alejandro was hacked and being ganged up A- Yes, sir. (Witness pointing to the accused Errol Rollon who was sitting on the bench and when asked
by Ariel and Errol? about his name, answered Errol Rollon).[23]

A He just stood as if in shock. More importantly, the autopsy conducted by Dr. Leticia V. Chan on September 25, 1995, corroborated the
testimony of the witnesses, that the appellant and his group shot and hacked the victim. The physical
Q How about you, what did you do? evidence shows that the victim sustained a total of no less than 20 wounds 5 gunshot wounds and 11
incised wounds on different parts of his body, a partially amputated thumb and several abrasions. In
A I did not do anything because I might be hit also.
contrast, the appellant did not suffer any major injuries, except for the minor cut on his left arm which was
Q So, what happened to Alejandro? inflicted by his late brother Ariel when the appellants group ganged up on the victim to finish him off. It is
difficult to believe that Alejandro could, all by his lonesome, initiate the attack on the appellant and his six
A When he boxed Errol, Errol fell down. cohorts who were each armed with bolos and handguns. Even if Alejandro was, as claimed by the
appellant, armed with a bolo, he was at the mercy of the appellant and his six cohorts. The claim, therefore,
Q And after that, what happened next? of the appellant that Alejandro single-handedly attacked them is weak and flimsy.

A When Errol fell down, Eddie Lachica shot Alejandro. Physical evidence is evidence of the highest order. It speaks more eloquently than a hundred
witnesses.[24] In the case at bar, the physical evidence, consistent with the testimonies of the prosecution
Q Where was Alejandro hit?
witnesses, established the appellants culpability beyond reasonable doubt.
A I do not know where he was hit but Alejandro fell.
Melchor cannot be faulted for not helping his brother even as the latter was shot and boloed to death.
Q After Alejandro fell, what happened? This is so because Francisco Rabino pointed his gun at Melchor, thus immobilizing the latter. As testified
to by Melchor:
A When Errol stood up, he also pulled out a gun which is short and shot Alejandro who was on the ground
twice. Q When Eddie Lachica shot your brother, where were you?

Q After that, what else have you observed? A I was near the house of Tomas Relox (sic).

A Errol rode on the tricycle and ran over Alejandro, pinned down Alejandro with the tricycle.[20] Q So, why did you go there?

The two witnesses pointed to and identified the appellant as one of the assailants: A Because I moved backward because something was aimed at me.

PROS. SY: Q What was that that was (sic) aimed at you?

Q How about Errol Rollon, do you know him? A Gun.

A Yes, sir. Q And who was aiming that gun at you?

Q If he is in the courtroom, will you please point to him? A Francisco Rabino.[25]

A (Witness is pointing to a man who when asked his name answered Errol Rollon).[21] Melchor cannot be blamed for opting to stay put. He would be risking his own life if he tried to help his
brother. Case law has it that no standard form of behavioral response could be expected from anyone,
Thomas Rios testified as follows: when confronted with a strange, startling or frightful occurrence.[26] Melchor was apparently terrified by
what he saw, and fear has been known to render people immobile and helpless particularly, such as here,
PROS. SY : in life and death situations.[27] This is a normal reaction in such a situation. Any person faced with such an
overwhelming opposition would sufficiently be cowed by fear or at least compelled to act in a manner
Q- How about Errol Rollon, do you know him?
aimed at self-preservation. It is a fact of life that different people react differently to the same types of
A- Yes, sir.[22] situations.[28]

... The relationship of a witness to the victim, far from rendering his testimony biased, would even render it
more credible as it would be unnatural for a relative who is interested in vindicating the crime to accuse
Q- If Errol Rollon is in the courtroom, will you be able to point him? somebody other than the real culprit.[29] The appellant did not adduce any evidence to show that Melchor
34

had ulterior motives in testifying falsely against him or mendaciously implicating him, if indeed he was not Under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Republic Act No. 7659, murder is punishable
involved in the killing. by reclusion perpetua to death. With no generic or special aggravating circumstances and one generic
mitigating circumstance of voluntary surrender, the penalty imposable on the appellant, in accordance
Unavailing is the appellants imputation of ill-motives against Kagawad Thomas Rios. Kagawad Thomas with Article 63(3) of the Revised Penal Code, should be the minimum period, which is reclusion perpetua.
testimony cannot be discredited on these bases alone, as indeed, the appellant failed to prove that these
alleged ill-motives reached such an intensity as to cause the good kagawad to falsely attribute a crime so Civil Liabilities of the Appellant
serious as murder to the appellant.
Conformably to recent jurisprudence, we sustain the amount of P50,000 for civil indemnity. Article 2206
Unavailing, too, is the appellants argument that he deserves an acquittal simply because the prosecution of the Civil Code provides that when death occurs as a result of a crime, the heirs of the deceased a re
failed to prove any motive for him to commit the crime. It must be stressed that motive is a state of ones entitled to be indemnified without need of any proof thereof.[40]
mind which others cannot discern. It is not an element of the crime, and as such does not have to be
proved.[30] In fact, lack of motive for committing a crime does not preclude conviction. It is judicial We cannot award moral damages in the absence of proof of mental or physical suffering on the part of the
knowledge that persons have been killed or assaulted for no reason at all.[31] More importantly, the lack of heirs of the victim.[41]
motive on the part of the appellant is of no consequence, in view of his positive identification by the
As to actual damages, while Melchor Rogero testified that they incurred burial and other expenses
witnesses, because motive assumes significance only where there is no showing of who the perpetrator of
resulting from the death of Alejandro, no competent evidence was presented to prove his claim. Under
the crime was.[32] Verily
Article 2199 of the Civil Code, a party is entitled to compensation only for such pecuniary loss suffered by
Positive identification where categorical and consistent and without any showing of ill motive on the part him as he has duly proved. Only substantiated and proven expenses, or those that appear to have been
of the eyewitness testifying on the matter prevails over a denial which, if not substantiated by clear and genuinely incurred in connection with the death, wake or burial of the victim will be recognized in
convincing evidence is negative and self-serving evidence undeserving of weight in law. They cannot be court.[42] However, under Article 2224 of the same Code, temperate damages may be recovered when the
given greater evidentiary value over the testimony of credible witnesses who testify on affirmative court finds that some pecuniary loss has been suffered but its amount cannot, from the nature of the case,
matters.[33] be proved with certainty. In the present case, the heirs of Alejandro clearly incurred funeral and burial
expenses. Hence, we find that the amount of P7,500[43] by way of temperate damages is justified.
Settled is the rule that where there is no evidence and nothing to indicate that the principal witnesses for
the prosecution were actuated by improper motive, the presumption is that they were not so actuated In the same vein, loss of earning capacity cannot be awarded to the victims heirs in the absence of
and their testimonies are entitled to full faith and credit.[34] Moreover, the weight of the testimony of competent proof thereof. While Melchor testified on the victims income, the same could not serve as a
witnesses is not impaired nor in anyway affected by their relationship to the victim when there is no basis for lost earnings. Indemnification for loss of earning capacity partakes of the nature of actual
showing of improper motive on their part.[35] damages which must be duly proven; and a self-serving statement, being unreliable, is not enough. For
lost income to be recovered, there must be an unbiased proof of the deceaseds average, not just gross,
The Crime Committed by the Appellant income.[44]

We agree with the trial court that the appellant is guilty of murder under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Additionally, given the attendance of the qualifying circumstance of abuse of superior strength, the award
Code, as amended by Republic Act No. 7659, qualified by abuse of superior strength as alleged in the of exemplary damages in the amount ofP25,000 to the heirs of the victim [45] in accordance with Article
Information. To take advantage of superior strength is to purposely use excessive force, out of proportion 2230 of the Civil Code, is in order.[46]
to the means of defense available to the person attacked.[36] In the case at bar, there was a clear and gross
disparity of strength between the unarmed victim and the four armed assailants three of whom were WHEREFORE, the appealed decision of the Regional Trial Court of Romblon, Branch 81, finding appellant
armed with firearms. The victim gave no provocation and was in fact already backing off when he was Errol Rollon guilty beyond reasonable doubt of murder is hereby AFFIRMED. The civil aspect of the case is
attacked. MODIFIED to read: The appellant is hereby ORDERED to pay the heirs of the victim Alejandro Rogero the
amounts of P50,000 as civil indemnity; P7,500 as temperate damages; and P25,000 as exemplary
The Proper Penalty for the Crime damages. Costs against the appellant.

The appellants use of a firearm to consummate the crime cannot, however, be considered as a special SO ORDERED.
aggravating circumstance because there was no such allegation in the Information that the appellant had
no license to possess the firearm, as mandated by Section 9, Rule 110 of the Rules of Criminal
Procedure.[37] The lack of a license to possess firearms is an essential element of the crime of violation of
P.D. No. 1866, as amended by Republic Act No. 8294, whether as an independent crime or as an
aggravating circumstance in murder or homicide.[38] Hence, such circumstance cannot aggravate the crime
of murder and the penalty therefor; otherwise, the appellant would be deprived of his right to be informed
of the nature of the charge against him. Although the crime was committed before the effectivity of the
said Rule, the same should be applied retroactively as it would be favorable to the appellant.[39]
35

[G.R. No. 163351. June 21, 2005] photograph[4] of the accident, the passenger bus and the Honda motorcycle were at the outer part of the
southbound lane, which was the lane the bus was traversing at the time of the accident. Due to the
ANTONIO V. NUEVA ESPAA, petitioner, vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent. positions of the colliding vehicles, he concluded that it was the motorcycle that rammed into the bus.
DECISION SPO3 Arinaza of the Philippine National Police testified that he was on his way to Dumaguete City on board
the bus driven by petitioner. At the time of the accident, he was seated behind petitioner-driver and felt
CORONA, J.:
the Honda motorcycle smash into the bus.
At about 11:15 a.m. on May 15, 1998, petitioner Antonio E. Nueva Espaa was driving a passenger bus
Taburasa, for his part, claimed he was the driver of the Suzuki motorcycle So tried to overtake when they
owned by Vallacar Transit, Inc. He was then traversing the national highway of Calag-Calag, Ayungon,
were both nearing the curve on the highway of Calag-Calag. He claimed the collision occurred because the
Negros Oriental and was southbound going to Dumaguete City. While negotiating a curve, the passenger
Honda motorcycle overshot its lane in its attempt to overtake him. He corroborated the declaration of
bus collided with a northbound Honda motorcycle. As a result, Reynard So, the driver of the motorcycle,
SPO3 Arinaza that Sos motorcycle hit the left front fender of the bus.
and Nilo Castro, the person riding in tandem with him, were killed. An information for reckless imprudence
resulting in double homicide[1] was filed against petitioner who was also accused of failing to extend aid or When petitioner (the accused) was called to the witness stand, he denied the accusations against him. He
assistance to the victims. testified that the Honda motorcycle swerved out of its lane and veered towards the bus, resulting in the
collision. After the incident, he allegedly went down the bus to aid the victims and even helped carry them
During the trial of the case, the prosecution presented Julito Dayuday and Florencio Banico as
into the vehicle that brought them to a nearby hospital. He thereafter went to a police station to report
eyewitnesses to the collision. The father of So and the mother of Castro were also called to the witness
the incident.
stand to substantiate their respective claims for damages.
The trial court gave no credence to the defense witnesses and convicted petitioner of the crime charged.
Julito Dayuday, a resident of Calag-Calag, Ayungon, Negros Oriental, testified that he was waiting for a ride
The dispositive part of the decision read:
to Dumaguete City when the collision between the bus and the Honda motorcycle occurred. He saw the
bus coming from the north going to Dumaguete City and, in the opposite direction, a pedicab being WHEREFORE, premises considered, this court finds accused, ANTONIO VILLANUEVA NUEVA ESPAA, guilty
followed by a Suzuki motorcycle and a Honda motorcycle on which So and Castro were riding. Upon beyond reasonable doubt for the crime of RECKLESS IMPRUDENCE RESULTING TO DOUBLE HOMICIDE, and
approaching the curve on the highway, the bus swerved from its lane and struck the Honda motorcycle. aggravated by his failure to help the victim, as provided for Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code, and
The motorcycle snagged onto the left front fender of the bus and was dragged about 24 meters to the appreciating in his favor the benefits of the Indeterminate Sentence Law, is hereby imposed the
right of the southbound lane. So had been thrown to the ground by the time the bus finally stopped. indeterminate penalty of SIX (6) MONTHS of arresto mayor as minimum to SIX (6) YEARS AND ONE (1) DAY
Dayuday testified that he saw the accused get off the bus with the conductor and the passengers but, of prision correcional as maximum, and to pay the following damages:
instead of assisting the victims, he casually walked away from the scene of the accident.
TO THE HEIRS OF THE VICTIM REYNARD SO
Florencio Banico, on the other hand, was a passenger of the bus driven by petitioner. He corroborated the
testimony of Dayuday that the bus hit the motorcycle while it was negotiating a curve on the highway of 1) P2,997,000.00 indemnity for loss of earning capacity of victim
Calag-Calag. He also stated in court that the accused left the scene of the accident while the victims lay
dying on the road. He heard Castro shouting for help while So was unconscious. He testified that nobody 2) 14,200.00 for expenses of the wake
helped the victims.
3) 20,000.00 for funeral parlor
The father of So testified that his son was 30 years old at the time of his death and he was engaged in the
4) 12,000.00 for the tomb
buying and selling of copra. He was likewise a sugar cane planter and maintained a sari-sari store. Sos
father claimed that his son was earning P30,000 a month from his copra business and sari-sari store, 5) 53,000.00 for cost of burial site
and P50,000 a month from selling sugar cane. He added that his family spent P87,200[2] for the wake and
funeral. He also demanded payment of attorneys fees of P30,000. 6) 30,000.00 for attorneys fees

The mother of Castro, on the other hand, testified that her son was 26 years old when he died. He worked 7) 200,000.00 for moral damages
as welder in Manila and earned P8,000 a month. She allegedly spent P30,000 for her sons wake and burial.
8) 100,000.00 for exemplary damages
For the defense, SPO2 Dolger Germundo, SPO3 Hilbert Arinaza, Roche Taburasa and the petitioner himself
were called to the witness stand. P3,429,200.00 TOTAL AMOUNT

SPO2 Germundo, a policeman, testified that he found the southbound bus in its proper lane when he which total amount shall bear interest at the rate of TWELVE (12%) percent per annum from the date of
arrived at the site after the collision. He did not see any tire or skid marks which meant that the point of this decision until the same is paid.
impact was at the center of the road, as stated by the prosecution witnesses. In his sketch[3] and
36

TO THE HEIRS OF VICTIM NILO CASTRO x = 36 x P48,000.00

1) P1,728,000.00 indemnity for loss of earning capacity x = P1,728,000.00

2) 20,000.00 for funeral expenses which the trial court correctly computed.

3) 200,000.00 for moral damages The other items of damages awarded are correct.[6]

4) 50,000.00 for exemplary damages The appellate court likewise provided for the subsidiary liability of petitioners employer under Article
103[7] of the Revised Penal Code. The dispositive portion of the decision read:
P1,998,000.00 TOTAL AMOUNT
WHEREFORE, the Decision appealed from is AFFIRMED, subject to MODIFICATION as to the penalty
which total amount shall bear interest at the rate of TWELVE (12%) percent per annum counted from the imposed; the indemnity for loss of earning capacity of the victim Reynard So; the reckoning date of the
date of this decision until the same is fully paid. start of the 12% interest imposed; and the subsidiary civil liability of the accused appellants employer, all
as herein-above indicated. Costs against appellant.
Cost against accused.
SO ORDERED.[8]
So ordered.[5]
In this appeal before us, petitioner insists that he should not be made liable for the mishap as it was actually
Via a petition for review, petitioner appealed the judgment of the court a quo to the Court of Appeals. On
the Honda motorcycle that rammed into the bus he was driving. He seeks the reversal of his conviction for
November 2, 2003, the appellate court modified the assailed judgment:
reckless imprudence resulting in double homicide. The issues raised by him can be summarized as follows:
Consequently, the penalty imposed by the trial court is erroneous. The appellant should suffer the
1. the ruling of the Court of Appeals is untenable and contrary to law because the evidence of the
indeterminate penalty of SIX (6) YEARS of prision correcional, as minimum, to EIGHT (8) years of prision
prosecution is incompatible with the physical evidence on record;
mayor, as maximum.
2. the award of damages in the (total) amount of more than P18 Million is untenable and contrary to
As to the civil liability, particularly the indemnity for the loss of the earning capacity of the victims, the
jurisprudence and law.[9]
formula last enunciated by the Supreme Court is:
On the first issue, the Court does not ordinarily pass upon the findings of fact of the trial court, specially if
Net earning capacity (x) = life expectancy x gross-living
they have been affirmed on appeal by the appellate court.[10] The trial court was able to observe the
expenses annual (50% of witnesses and their demeanor on the stand and was in a position to scrutinize and discern whether they
were telling the truth.[11] Without any clear showing that the trial court and the appellate court overlooked,
gross annual misunderstood or misapplied some facts or circumstances of weight and substance, the rule should not
be disturbed. In the case at bar, we see no reason to deviate from the rule. The Court is in full agreement
income) with the trial court and with the Court of Appeals regarding petitioners liability for the crime charged
against him.
Thusly, since the victim Reynard So was earning P80,000 a month at the time of his death when he was
thirty (30) years old, his lost earning capacity should be computed as follows: On the second issue, however, we deem it necessary to modify the award of damages given by the lower
courts.
x = 2 (80 ― 30) x [P960,000.00 ― P480,000.00)
When death occurs due to a crime, the following damages may be recovered: (1) a civil indemnity ex
3
delicto for the death of the victim; (2) actual or compensatory damages; (3) moral damages; (4) exemplary
x = 33.4 x P480,000.00 damages; (5) attorneys fees and expenses of litigation, and (6) interest, in proper cases.

x = x P16,032,000.00 CIVIL INDEMNITY ex delicto

With respect to the victim Nilo Castro, he was earning P8,000.00 a month when he died at the age of Both the trial court and the Court of Appeals failed to award civil indemnity ex delicto to the heirs of the
twenty-six (26). His lost earnings were: victims. The award for civil indemnity is mandatory and is granted to the heirs of the victim without need
of proof other than the commission of the crime.[12] Hence, based on recent jurisprudence[13], the award
x = 2 (80 ― 26) [P96,000.00 ― P48,000.00] of civil indemnity ex delicto of P50,000 each for the heirs of both So and Castro is in order.

3 ACTUAL DAMAGES: INDEMNITY FOR LOSS OF EARNING


37

CAPACITY AND OTHER COMPENSATORY DAMAGES ATTORNEYS FEES

With respect to indemnification for loss of earning capacity, the Court, in the case of People vs. We affirm the award of P30, 000 for attorneys fees made by the trial court and the appellate court. Under
Mallari,[14] enunciated: Article 2208 of the Civil Code, attorneys fees and expenses of litigation may be recovered when exemplary
damages have been awarded, as in this case.
The rule is that documentary evidence should be presented to substantiate a claim for loss of earning
capacity. By way of exception, damages therefore may be awarded despite the absence of documentary SUMMARY
evidence if there is testimony that the victim was either (1) self-employed, earning less than the minimum
wage under current labor laws, and judicial notice is taken of the fact that in the victim's line of work, no To summarize, the heirs of the deceased Reynard So are entitled to the following:
documentary evidence is available; or (2) employed as a daily-wage worker earning less than the minimum
P 50,000 civil indemnity ex delicto
wage under current labor laws.[15]
73,000 actual damages
In this case, neither of the two exceptions applied. The earnings of So and Castro were both above the
minimum wage set by labor laws in their respective workplaces at the time of their death.[16] This being 25,000 temperate damages[26]
the case, the general rule of requiring documentary evidence of their earning capacities finds application.
Unfortunately for their heirs, no such proof was presented at all. It was therefore erroneous for both the 50,000 moral damages
trial court and the Court of Appeals to award compensatory damages for loss of earning capacity on the
basis alone of the oral testimonies of Sos father and Castros mother. 25,000 exemplary damages

The lack of documentary evidence notwithstanding, since loss was actually established in this case, 30,000 attorneys fees
temperate damages in the amount of P25,000 each may be awarded to the heirs of So and Castro,
P 253,000 TOTAL
respectively. Under Article 2224 of the Civil Code, temperate or moderate damages (which are more than
nominal but less than compensatory damages) may be recovered when the court finds that some The heirs of Nilo Castro are also entitled to the following:
pecuniary loss was suffered but its amount cannot be proved with certainty.[17]
P 50,000 civil indemnity ex delicto
With respect to other compensatory damages,[18] the Court in People v. Agudez[19] declared that
competent evidence must likewise be presented to support the claim for such damages. In the case at bar, 50,000 temperate damages[27]
the father of So claimed that he spent P87,200[20] for the wake and burial of his son but all he was able to
support with receipts were the payment to the funeral parlor of P20,000 and the cost of the burial site 50,000 moral damages
of P53,000.[21]
25,000 exemplary damages
Regarding the claim for reimbursement of the actual expense allegedly incurred by the mother of Castro,
30,000 attorneys fees
the Court opts to award her temperate damages, in lieu of actual or compensatory damages, because she
failed to submit any evidence in support thereof. Again, temperate damages should instead be given since P 205,000 TOTAL
it was to be expected that she spent for the burial and funeral services although the amount thereof was
not determined with certitude.[22] SUBSIDIARY LIABILITY

MORAL DAMAGES We adopt the pronouncement of the Court of Appeals regarding the subsidiary liability of petitioners
employer, Vallacar Transit Inc., under Article 103 of the Revised Penal Code. An employer may be
The award for moral damages by the court a quo, as affirmed by the Court of Appeals, should be adjusted subsidiarily liable for the employees civil liability in the criminal action if it can be shown that: (1) the
for being excessive. While courts have a wide latitude in ascertaining the proper award for moral damages, employer is engaged in any kind of industry; (2) the employee committed the offense in the discharge of
the award should not be to such an extent that it inflicts injustice on the accused. The award of P200,000 his duties and (3) the accused is insolvent.[28] However, subject to prevailing jurisprudence,[29] the
as moral damages each for the heirs of So and Castro, respectively, should accordingly be reduced subsidiary liability may be enforced only upon a motion for subsidiary writ of execution against Vallacar
to P50,000.[23] Transit, Inc. and upon proof that petitioner is insolvent.
EXEMPLARY DAMAGES IMPRISONMENT
Under Article 2230 of the Civil Code, exemplary damages may also be imposed when the crime was Lastly, we are also constrained to amend the penalty imposed by the Court of Appeals. The imposable
committed with one or more aggravating circumstances. Here, petitioner failed to render aid or assistance penalty, under Article 365 (2) of the Revised Penal Code for homicide resulting from reckless imprudence
to his victims after the collision.[24] Based on the prevailing jurisprudence, the award for exemplary
damages for homicide is P25,000.[25]
38

in the use of the motor vehicle is prision correcional in its medium and maximum period, which ranges
from 2 years, 4 months and 1 day to 6 years.

Under Article 64 of the same law, the penalty shall be divided into three equal portions, each of which
shall form one period. The offense having been attended by one aggravating circumstance premised on
the failure of petitioner to aid his victims, the penalty shall be increased but it cannot exceed the penalty
provided by law in its maximum period.[30] Applying the provisions of the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the
petitioner is thus entitled to a minimum term to be taken from the penalty next lower in degree, which
is arresto mayor in any of its periods, to prision correcional maximum. Accordingly, petitioner should
suffer the penalty of 2 years, 4 months and 1 day of arresto mayor, as minimum, to 6 years of prision
correcional, as maximum.

WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATIONS as to the award of damages
and the penalty imposed, as already discussed. The total amount of damages shall bear interest at the rate
of 12% per annum from the finality of this decision.

Costs against petitioner.

SO ORDERED.
39

[G.R. No. 120141. April 21, 1999] On August 23, 1993, accused Lorna Guevarra visited Rizalina Belbes in her house in Sto. Domingo, Albay,
and offered her an opportunity to work in Malaysia for a salary of nine thousand pesos (P9,000.00) for the
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. LORNA B. GUEVARRA, JOSIE BEA and PEDRO BEA, first three months and an increase of at least three thousand pesos (P3,000.00) thereafter.Guevarra also
JR., accused-appellants. approached Wilfredo Belbes, the brother of Rizalina, to convince him to work abroad. Guevarra assured
them that she had the capability of sending workers abroad and that her connection was on a direct hiring
DECISION
basis.[6] Guevarra made several visits until Rizalina and Wilfredo agreed to meet accused spouses Josie and
PARDO, J.: Pedro Bea, Jr. in Bonga, Bacaycay, Albay. The spouses Bea continued to persuade Rizalina and Wilfredo to
accept the job offers.[7]
The case before the Court is an appeal from a decision[1] of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 6, Legaspi City,
convicting accused Lorna B. Guevarra, Josie Bea and Pedro Bea, Jr., of illegal recruitment by a syndicate in Likewise, on August 23, 1993, accused Guevarra went to the house of Ermelita Balbin Bocato, promising
large scale, and sentencing all three accused to life imprisonment and to pay a fine of one hundred overseas employment, high salary, and free board and lodging. Guevarra also introduced Ermelita to
thousand (P100,000.00) each, and to indemnify each of the complainants, namely, Wilfredo Belbes, accused spouses Bea. All three accused kept persuading Ermelita to pay thirty thousand pesos
Ermelita Bocato, Rizalina Belbes, Alan Banico and Arnel Basaysay,[2] jointly and severally, the amount of (P30,000.00) as placement fee for the opportunity to work abroad. After much coaxing, Ermelita finally
thirty thousand pesos (P30,000.00) for the placement fees collected, and twenty thousand pesos agreed and gave five thousand pesos (P5,000.00) as initial payment, in the presence of Rizalina Belbes,
(P20,000.00) as moral damages, and costs. who also gave her initial payment of four thousand pesos (P4,000.00).[8]8

On January 17, 1994, Assistant Provincial Prosecutor Ignacio N. Almodovar, Jr. of Albay charged Lorna B. On September 16, 1993, Ermelita paid her balance of twenty-five thousand pesos (P25,000.00) at a
Guevarra, Josie Bea and Pedro Bea, Jr. with illegal recruitment committed by a syndicate in large scale, as canteen near the Physicians Tower at United Nations Avenue, Manila. She also saw Rizalina Belbes pay her
follows: balance of twenty-six thousand pesos (P26,000.00) and the further sum of thirty thousand pesos
(P30,000.00) for Wilfredo Belbes. The accused spouses Bea received these payments.[9]
"That sometime in August and September, 1993, at Barangay San Andres, Sto. Domingo, Albay and within
the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the 3 (three) above-named accused conspiring, confederating and Accused Guevarra also enticed Gloria Banico to let her son Alan Banico work in Malaysia, where an
mutually helping one another for a common purpose did then and there, without any license or authority employer offered free board and lodging with a starting salary of nine thousand pesos (P9,000.00) to be
to do so, recruit WILFREDO BELBES Y BALLARES, ERMELITA BALBIN BOCATO, RIZALINA BELBES Y BALLARES, increased to twelve thousand pesos (P12,000.00) after three months.[10] She also introduced Gloria to the
ALAN BANICO Y BELBES and ARNEL A. BAGAYSAY, all of Brgy. San Andres, Sto. Domingo, Albay for a job accused spouses Bea, who continued convincing her to send her son to Malaysia to work. After some time,
placement in Malaysia and received from the five victims P30,000.00 each as processing fee; that on Gloria finally agreed and paid the placement fee of thirty thousand pesos (P30,000.00) to Josie and Pedro
September 25, 1993, the five recruits flew to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, expecting as per instruction of the Bea, Jr.[11]
accused, that somebody will fetch them at the airport and will bring them to their employer; that nobody
Accused Guevarra also offered overseas employment to Arnel Basaysay, as a worker in a glove factory in
fetched them as they did not have any employer in Malaysia which forced them to go back to the
Malaysia with a starting salary of nine thousand pesos (P9,000.00), to be increased after three
Philippines, to their damage and prejudice.
months. Accused Guevarra kept going to the house of Arnel, accompanied by Josie Bea. Guevarra
CONTRARY TO LAW.[3] managed to convince the father of Arnel to agree to the offer and to pay the placement fee for his son.[12]

Upon arraignment on February 14, 1994,[4] all three accused entered a plea of not guilty. After due trial, All the complainants trusted Lorna Guevarra, as they all resided in the same barrio.[13] Complainants
on February 15, 1995, the court a quo rendered a decision, the dispositive portion of which reads as believed that the proposed overseas employment was legitimate, so they did not ask too many questions
follows: on the authority of the three accused. The complainants also trusted Pedro Bea, Jr. and Josie Bea, who
gave assurances that complainants were not being fooled.[14]
WHEREFORE, premises considered, decision is hereby rendered finding the accused Lorna Guevarra, Pedro
Bea, Jr. and Josie Bea GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of ILLEGAL RECRUITMENT qualified On September 24, 1993, Rizalina and Wilfredo Belbes, Ermelita Bocato and Arnel Basaysay received their
into large scale recruitment and by a syndicate and hereby sentences each of the said accused to suffer passports and PAL plane tickets.
the penalty of LIFE IMPRISONMENT and to pay a FINE of One Hundred Thousand (P100,000.00) Pesos each,
On September 25, 1993, the three accused were at the airport to brief the complainants about the
and to indemnify each of the complainants, jointly and severally P30,000.00 for the placement fees they
trip. Accused Josie Bea assured the complainants that their prospective employer will meet them at the
have collected, and the further sum of P20,000.00 for each of the complainants as moral damages and to
Kuala Lumpur airport.[15] At this time, Josie Bea handed over the passport and plane ticket of Alan
pay the costs.
Banico.[16]
"SO ORDERED.[5]
The complainants left the Manila airport at 3:30 in the afternoon. Upon arrival in Kuala Lumpur three hours
Hence, this appeal. later, the complainants waited in the airport for someone to meet them.

The facts, as established by evidence of the prosecution, are as follows:


40

After waiting until nighttime without anybody fetching them at the airport, the complainants remembered Pedro Bea, Jr. denied involvement in any recruitment activity and alleged that he was driving on the
the address of Resurrecion Bea and Dionisio Bea, brothers-in-law of Josie Bea. Complainants took a taxi Legaspi-Tabaco route from July 1993 to October 1993.[31]
and proceeded to such address.[17] They found Resurrecion Bea, who did not know anything about
employment for the complainants. The complainants agreed to contribute one hundred dollars ($100) Pedro testified that on September 15, 1993, he did not find his wife Josie at home and learned that she
each for their lodging expenses while waiting for the promised employment.[18] went to Manila. When Josie came back on September 17, 1993, she told Pedro that she took care of some
papers because she wanted to go back to her former job as seamstress in a tailor shop.[32]
After several days and realizing that there was no work for them in Malaysia, Rizalina Belbes, Wilfredo
Belbes and Ermelita Bocato returned to the Philippines on September 30, 1993.[19] Alan Banico and Arnel In this appeal, the three accused-appellants alleged that they neither recruited nor received any payment
Basaysay followed suit on October 2, 1993.[20] from any of the complainants. They denied even knowing the complainants before the filing of the
case. They also maintained that the lower court erred in finding the existence of conspiracy, and qualifying
The complainants claimed that their lives were endangered because they were stranded in a foreign the illegal recruitment to one committed by a syndicate or in large scale.
country without a place to stay or any means of subsistence. They also suffered embarrassment and
humiliation.[21] The complainants confronted the three accused, who promised to refund the money.Later, The appeal lacks merit.
however, the accused challenged complainants to file a case.[22]
Under the Labor Code, recruitment and placement refer to any act of canvassing, enlisting, contracting,
Accused Lorna Guevarra, on the other hand, insisted that she was merely a housewife with three children, transporting, utilizing, hiring or procuring workers, and includes referrals, contract services, promising or
not a recruiter. She testified that sometime before August 23, 1993, Ermelita Bocato and Rizalina Belbes advertising for employment, locally or abroad, whether for profit or not: Provided, [t]hat any person or
went to her house in order to ask how her brothers, Resurreccion and Dionisio Bea, and niece Maricel entity which, in any manner, offers or promises for a fee employment to two or more persons shall be
Bermillo, who were working in Malaysia, were able to go abroad. Guevarra told Ermelita and Rizalina that deemed engaged in recruitment and placement.[33]
her brothers were assisted by an agency and that they should go to Manila to look for that agency. Since
Recruitment for overseas employment is not in itself necessarily immoral or unlawful. It is the lack of the
that time, Guevarra did not see Ermelita Bocato. Rizalina Belbes, however, insisted that she be
necessary license or permit, or the engagement of prohibited activities enumerated in the Labor Code that
accompanied to the house of Josie Bea, who financed the overseas trip.
render such recruitment activities unlawful or criminal.[34] Illegal recruitment is qualified into large scale
On August 23, 1993, Guevarra escorted Rizalina to the house of Josie Bea. Guevarra later learned that recruitment when three or more persons are victimized. If such recruitment is carried out by a group of
Rizalina and Ermelita returned to the house of Josie Bea several times.[23] three (3) or more persons conspiring and/or confederating with one another in carrying out any unlawful
or illegal transaction, enterprise or scheme, it becomes one committed by a syndicate. Illegal recruitment
Guevarra denied recruiting the complainants or collecting any amount from them.[24] She claimed that she committed by a syndicate or in large scale amounts to an offense involving economic sabotage, punishable
did not know Ermelita Bocato, Arnel Basaysay or Alan Banico before August 1993, although she admitted by life imprisonment and a fine of one hundred thousand pesos (P100,000.00).[35]
knowing Rizalina Belbes, a businesswoman in her barangay, and Gloria Banico, a worker at the barangay
health center.[25] In this case, Lorna Guevarra and Josie Bea were neither licensed nor authorized by the Department of
Labor and Employment and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration to recruit workers for
Accused Josie Bea likewise denied having recruited any of the complainants to work abroad, saying that overseas employment.[36] Pedro Bea Jr. had no such authority or license.
she was engaged in the manufacture of abaca slippers while her husband, Pedro Bea, Jr., was a jeepney
driver.[26] Complainants in this case comprise five persons, or more than the minimum number of persons required
by law to constitute illegal recruitment in large scale.
Josie testified that on August 23, 1993, accused Lorna Guevarra, accompanied by Ermelita Bocato and
Rizalina Belbes, visited her. Josie did not know why Ermelita and Rizalina were with Guevarra.[27] Four days The question now is whether or not appellants engaged in recruitment activities.
later, Rizalina and Ermelita returned and asked her how her brother-in-law Resureccion Bea was able to
Complainant Rizalina Belbes testified as follows:
go to Malaysia. She told them that it was through a travel agency. When they asked to be accompanied
there, Josie refused because she had just delivered a child a few days earlier, and needed to rest.[28] Q Do you remember having met this Lorna B. Guevarra prior to your departure from Kuala Lumpur?
On September 15, 1993, Rizalina Belbes and Ermelita Bocato returned and insisted that Josie Bea A From what I remember she first came to our house on August 23, 1993.
accompany them. Due to their persistence, Josie finally agreed. They left for Manila that afternoon and
arrived in the morning of the next day. Josie brought them to a certain George Serrano of Travel Orient xxx xxx xxx
Agency in San Juan, Manila. There, Ermelita and Rizalina bought plane tickets for Malaysia. Josie went
home that same day.[29] She started convincing me to work in Malaysia because she said she has job placements abroad.

Josie testified further that on October 9, 1993, Rizalina Belbes came back to the Philippines from Malaysia Q Relying on the alleged promise of a very lucrative job at Kuala Lumpur by Lorna Guevarra who initially
and visited her. Rizalina mentioned that she found a buyer of abaca products in Malaysia and showed Josie saw you on August 23, what else happened?
some pictures and calling cards.[30]
41

A For several times that she came to our house, she accompanied me to the house of her brother Pedro Q After you were convinced by these three accused and finally decided to go to Malaysia for a very
Bea and his wife Josie Bea. attractive job or employment, did you ask them what will be your obligation to them for this favor they
were affording to you?
xxx xxx xxx
A The accused told me that I should give them thirty thousand pesos (P30,000.00) for this job
When we arrived there Lorna Guevarra informed the two of them saying that these are the persons whom opportunity.[40]
I convinced to work abroad, and in fact, the three of them started convincing us more and asked us on
what country we would like to work.[37] Alan Banico also testified in the following manner, to wit:

Wilfredo Belbes corroborated his sisters testimony in the following manner, to wit: Q Do you know Lorna Guevarra?

Q What convinced you to work abroad? A Yes sir.

A I was convinced to work abroad because Lorna Guevarra told me that she has the capability of sending xxx xxx xxx
workers abroad; and that her connection was on direct hiring basis; that for the first three months period
I will be receiving P9,000.00 pesos and that after three months period I will be receiving P12,000.00 She went to our house and told me about her business of sending workers in Malaysia, sir.
pesos. So being apoor man I accepted the offer because I wanted to give my family more benefits.[38]
Q When she talked that matter with you, what else did she tell you?
xxx xxx xxx
A She told me to go with those whom they were going to send to work in Malaysia. She also told me that
Q It was your sister Sally Belbes who allegedly paid the P30,000.00 is that correct? we were going to have a very good job in Malaysia; that I would be receiving a high salary.

A Yes sir. xxx xxx xxx

Q Were you aware to whom did your sister pay that amount? Q After you have talked with your mother about this matter, did you again see this Lorna Guevarra
subsequent to that meeting of yours?
A To Josie Bea and Pedro Bea, Jr. sir.
A Yes sir because she had been coming back to our house and trying to convince me to go abroad.
Q Were you around when the amount was paid?
Q This Lorna Guevarra in her going to your house, was there any other person who helped her convince
A Yes sir.[39] you?

Ermelita Bocato, for her part, testified as follows: A She went to our house with Josie Bea, sir.

Q In connection with your complaint, do you remember when for the first time have you met Lorna xxx xxx xxx
Guevarra?
Lorna Guevarra said that Josie Bea is the one sending workers abroad.
A I already knew her because she is my barrio mate and she came to me for the first time regarding this
job opportunity at Kuala Lumpur on August 23, 1993 and told me they have connections in Malaysia and Q It was not Lorna Guevarra?
her hiring is direct employment and it is a very good opportunity in Malaysia.
A Including her, sir.
xxx xxx xxx
xxx xxx xxx
A During the first time that she came to me and told me the job opportunity I was not convinced yet
Q Did you acceed to their proposal to join the other persons whom they have recruited to go to Malaysia?
because I was then having seven children and the youngest who was only seven months old because of
this I did not want to leave them but because of her explanation (Lorna Guevarra) that they were hiring A Yes, I acceeded to their promised job.[41]
employees direct employees board and lodging free I was convinced to go to Malaysia.
Arnel Basaysay testified as follows:
xxx xxx xxx
Q How were you able to go to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on September 25, 1993?
A I was taken by Lorna Guevarra to the house of Josie Bea and Pedro Bea, Jr. in Bonga, Bacaycay, Albay.
A I was recruited.
xxx xxx xxx
42

Q By whom? The credibility of witnesses is best left to the judgment of the trial judge whose findings are generally not
disturbed on appeal, absent any showing that substantial errors were committed or that determinative
A Lorna Guevarra, Josie Bea and Pedro Bea, Jr. facts were overlooked which, if appreciated, would call for a different conclusion.[45] The trial court has the
advantage, not available to appellate courts, of observing the deportment of witnesses and their manner
xxx xxx xxx
of testifying during the trial. Thus, appellate courts accord high respect to the findings and conclusions of
Q will you kindly tell us how these three (3) people were able to recruit you? lower courts.[46]

A Lorna Guevarra came to our house sir. Moreover, there is no showing that any of the complainants had ill-motives to testify falsely against
accused-appellants and to impute such serious charges. Accused-appellants have not disputed the fact
xxx xxx xxx that they have had no previous quarrel with any of the complainants. The rule is established that it is
against human nature and experience for strangers to conspire and accuse another stranger of a most
She was convincing me to go abroad sir. serious crime just to mollify their hurt feelings.[47]

xxx xxx xxx Aside from exacting hard-earned money from the complainants, the accused-appellants even permitted
the complainants to go to another country without a place to stay or any means of subsistence. No
Q what else did Lorna Guevarra tell you?
explanation was given to the complainants as to why the alleged employer failed to appear at the
A She told me for the first three (3) months our salary would be P9,000.00 and after three (3) months it will airport. In fact, instead of sympathizing with the complainants because of their misfortune, the accused-
be increased. appellants even challenged complainants to file a case in court.

xxx xxx xxx The accused-appellants have conspired to recruit complainants without the necessary permit or license
and victimized more than three persons in the case at bar. Thus, they are guilty of illegal recruitment by a
Q Is Lorna Guevarra alone in her succeeding return trips to your house at San Andres, Sto. Domingo, Albay? syndicate in large scale and must suffer the consequences thereof.

A She was with Josie Bea sir. IN VIEW WHEREOF, the Court hereby AFFIRMS the appealed decision in toto. With costs.

xxx xxx xxx SO ORDERED.

Q Did you know as to how much did they demand for the favor they are extending to you?

A P30,000.00 sir.[42]

As can be seen from the testimonies of the witnesses, the accused-appellants committed acts of
recruitment such as promises of profitable employment to complainants and acceptance of placement
fees. Such acts fall squarely within the definition of recruitment and placement under the Labor
Code. With the certification from the Department of Labor and Employment stating that appellants were
not authorized to recruit workers for overseas employment, it is clear that the offense committed against
the five complainants is illegal recruitment in large scale.[43]

The accused-appellants asserted that the offense should not have been qualified into illegal recruitment
by a syndicate since there was no proof that they acted in conspiracy with one another. However, the acts
of accused-appellants showed unity of purpose. Guevarra would visit each of the complainants in their
houses for several times, convincing them to
work abroad, and giving them the impression that she had the capability of sending them abroad. She
would accompany them to the house of the spouses Bea, who, in turn, would collect the placement fees
and process the passports and plane tickets. All these acts of the appellants established a common criminal
design mutually deliberated upon and accomplished through coordinated moves.

As against the evidence built by the prosecution, the accused-appellants merely raised the defense of
denial. However, denials, if unsubstantiated by clear and convincing evidence, are deemed negative and
self-serving evidence unworthy of credence. They have no evidentiary value when ranged against the
testimonies of credible witnesses on affirmative matters.[44]
43

[G.R. Nos. 137370-71. September 29, 2003] Forthwith, the trial court issued a warrant for the arrest of the appellant and his co-accused. On January
20, 1998, upon learning of the issuance of the warrant for his arrest, accused PO2 Armando Lozano turned
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. SPO1 ARMANDO LOZANO @ AMID, (acquitted) DAVE himself to the authorities and filed an Urgent Motion[5] praying that he be detained at the PNP Jail in Camp
SAMSON, (acquitted) EUTIQUIANO PACAA, JR., @ TOKING PACAA, (acquitted) and RAUL OCO @ BOY Sotero Cabahug, Gorordo Avenue, Cebu City. He feared that he might be a victim of reprisal and vengeance
USHER, accused, in Bagong Buhay Rehabilitation Center (BBRC) since many of the persons he has arrested as a police officer
were detained in the facility. On January 21, 1998, appellant Raul Oco surrendered to the authorities and
RAUL OCO @ BOY USHER, appellant.
filed an Urgent Motion[6] praying similar relief sought by accused Lozano. Police Senior Inspector Pablo
DECISION Gayacan Labra II returned to the court the unserved warrants.[7]

PUNO, J.: In the afternoon of January 21, 1998, Judge Martin A. Ocampo issued an Order[8] acting favorably on the
request of the appellant and his co-accused to be detained at Camp Sotero Cabahug instead of at the BBRC.
This is an Automatic Review of the Decision[1] of the Regional Trial Court of Cebu City, Branch 7, in Criminal
Cases Nos. CBU- 46172-73 finding appellant Raul Boy Usher Oco guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the Accused Dave Samson was arrested that same day,[9] while accused Eutiquiano Pacaa voluntarily
crimes of murder and frustrated murder, and imposing the supreme penalty of death. The antecedent surrendered to the police authorities on January 26, 1998.[10]
facts are as follows:
On January 29, 1998, Judge Martin issued an Omnibus Order[11] directing the detention of all accused at
On January 19, 1998, the appellant, together with Armando Amid Lozano, Dave Samson and the BBRC for the duration of the trial. That same day, the appellant and his co-accused were arraigned in
Eutiquiano[2] Toking Pacaa, Jr. were charged with murder and frustrated murder in the Regional Trial Court both cases. Assisted by their respective counsels, all of them entered a plea of not guilty to both
of Cebu City, Branch 7. The Information for murder reads as follows: charges.[12] The cases were tried jointly pursuant to Rule 119, sec. 14 of the Rules on Criminal Procedure.

That on or about the 24th day of November, 1997 at about 9:30 oclock in the evening, in the City of Cebu, During the trial, the prosecution presented twelve (12) witnesses while the defense presented thirty-one
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the said accused, riding on two (31) witnesses.
motorcycles, conniving and confederating together and mutually helping one another, together with Peter
Surviving victim Herminigildo Damuag testified that at around 9:30 p.m. of November 24, 1997, he was
Doe, John Doe and Jane Doe, whose cases will be separately considered as soon as procedural
driving his motorcycle (referred to as the first motorcycle in the Records) along V. Rama Avenue, Cebu City
requirements are complied with, armed with unlicensed firearms, did then and there willfully, unlawfully
with the late Alden Abiabi riding with him at the back. When they reached the vicinity of Pica Lumber, a
and feloniously, with intent to kill, and with treachery and evident premeditation and abuse of superior
white Tamaraw FX AUV overtook their motorcycle (first motorcycle) and blocked their path, forcing him
strength, attack, assault and use personal violence upon oneAlden Abiabi by shooting him with the use
to slow down.[13] Another motorcycle (second motorcycle), with two (2) riders on it, appeared behind the
of said unlicensed firearms, hitting him on the different parts of his body, thereby inflicting upon the latter
first motorcycle. From a distance of about two (2) to three (3) meters, one of the riders of the second
mortal wounds which were the direct and immediate cause of his death thereafter.
motorcycle suddenly fired two (2) shots in close succession. Damuag attempted to look at the tires of his
CONTRARY TO LAW. [3] motorcycle, thinking that they have exploded. Suddenly, Abiabi pushed him with his body. Abiabi fell from
the first motorcycle and slumped on the pavement face down. The Tamaraw FX AUV sped away.[14]
The Information for the frustrated murder case reads:
As Damuag was trying to control his motorcycle, he noticed another motorcycle (third motorcycle) passed
That on or about the 24th day of November, 1997, at about 9:30 oclock in the evening, in the City of Cebu, by from behind him. His motorcycle zigzagged towards the gutter. Damuag was thrown off and hit the
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the said accused, riding on two ground. He stood up and realized that he was hit at the right side of his body. He then heard a burst of
motorcycles, conniving and confederating together and mutually helping one another, together with Peter gunfire from behind.[15]
Doe, John Doe and Jane Doe, whose cases will be separately considered as soon as procedural
requirements are complied with, armed with unlicensed firearms, with deliberate intent, with intent to Damuag saw the third motorcycle at about two (2) to three (3) meters. It was on a stop. Appellant was at
kill, with treachery and evident premeditation and grave abuse of superior strength, did then and there the back of the third motorcycle, holding a short firearm in his right hand. Appellant fired his gun at him
suddenly attack, assault and use, personal violence upon the person of one Herminigildo Damuag by but missed. Although wounded, Damuag was able to run. However, the third motorcycle chased
shooting him with the use of said unlicensed firearms, hitting him on the different vital parts of his body, him. Upon reaching the vicinity of Five Brothers restaurant, Damuag stopped because he could not pass
thereby inflicting upon said Herminigildo Damuag serious physical injuries, which injuries under ordinary anymore. From a distance of about four (4) to five (5) meters, the appellant again fired two (2) more shots
circumstances would cause the death of the victim, thus performing all the acts of execution which would at Damuag.[16] The third motorcycle sped away towards B. Rodriguez Street.[17] Damuag was initially rushed
have produced the crime of Murder as a consequence, but which nevertheless did not produce it by reason to the Southern Islands Hospital. About three (3) hours later, his wife brought him to the Sacred Heart
of causes independent of the will of the herein accused, that is, by the timely and able medical assistance Hospital. He survived the attack due to the timely medical attention given to him at the latter hospital.[18]
rendered to said Herminigildo Damuag which prevented his death.
The attending physician, Dr. Dale Pasco, testified that when Damuag was brought to the hospital, the
CONTRARY TO LAW. [4] latter was bleeding profusely from the four (4) gunshot wounds at his back, two (2), at the side of his chest,
44

and one (1), at the abdominal area. Damuag was immediately operated on. The doctor opined that without For his part, Magno Ybanez, Jr. claimed that several minutes before the shooting incident, he saw the
the surgery, Damuag would have died due to the gunshot wounds he sustained.[19] appellant and the three (3) accused (Dave Samson, Lorenzo Amid Lozano, and Eutiquiano Toking
Pacaa) beside two (2) motorcycles parked along the sidewalk near the cemetery. At that time, the three
Damuag was confined at the Sacred Heart Hospital from November 25, 1997 to December 10, (3) accused were not yet wearing their helmets. At 9:00 p.m., Ybanez, Jr. was walking along V. Rama
1997.[20] Subsequently, he was moved to CIG hospital.His hospitalization bills allegedly amounted Avenue, in front of Pica Lumber, when a motorcycle went past him. Although the two (2) riders were
to P160,000.00.[21] He likewise spent five thousand pesos (P 5,000.00) for medicines after having been wearing their helmets, Ybanez, Jr. claimed that accused Samson was driving the second motorcycle, with
discharged from the hospital. Prior to the shooting incident, he was earning P 150.00 a day as a driver of accused Lozano as his passenger. Lozano allegedly shot twice at Abiabi, the passenger of the first
Marilou Aznar. The incident made him feel fearful for his life.[22] motorcycle. Shortly thereafter, the third motorcycle, driven by Pacaa, appeared at the scene and its
passenger, the appellant, fired at Abiabi and Damuag. Pacaa was then wearing his helmet whilethe
Alden Abiabi did not survive the ambush. He sustained eight (8) gunshot wounds on the different parts of
appellant only had a towel tied around his forehead.[37]
his body. Dr. Jesus P. Cerna testified that a bullet was deeply embedded in Abiabis thoracic vertebrae and
had not been retrieved despite diligent efforts to extract the same. Necropsy Report No. N-97-191 Virginia Gamboa claimed that she also saw the three (3) accused and the appellant a couple of hours or
revealed that he died due to shock, secondary to multiple gunshot wounds, face, body and so before the shooting incident along V. Rama Avenue. [38] Samson was wearing a black jacket and
extremities.[23] At the time of his death, Abiabi was working as a legal researcher at Clear, Inc., with a a puruntong short pants, Lozano was wearing a white sando and maong pants, while Pacaa was in short
monthly income of P 8,000.00.[24] Mrs. Amelia Abiabi testified that she spent a total of P 250,000.00 for pants and maong jacket. The appellant was in a sleeveless undershirt, with a towel tied around his
funeral services; P 50,000.00 of which was spent for the coffin alone.[25] forehead.[39] The accused were not yet wearing their helmets. She recognized the three (3) accused and
the appellant because she was only about five (5) to six (6) meters away from them and there was a bright
Damuag testified that he did not recognize the driver and the passenger of the second motorcycle and the
light coming from the VECO post. She got curious why the accused and the appellant were there but she
driver of the third motorcycle because they were wearing their helmets.[26] He, however, recognized the
shrugged the thought off and went home.[40]
appellant as one of the triggermen because the appellant was not wearing helmet at the time of the
shooting incident. Instead, he had a towel tied around his forehead. The appellant was wearing a After dinner, Gamboa went out and proceeded towards Pica Lumber. She waited at a nearby store for her
sleeveless undershirt (sando) and maongshort pants. [27] husband to come home from work. She then saw the accused and the appellant near the cemetery. They
drove their motorcycles toward Lucio Drive and came back towards Nadelas compound.Gamboa claimed
Ronald Barellano, a sixteen-year (16) old candle and flower vendor, corroborated Damuags identification
she recognized the three (3) accused although they wore their helmets because the front covers of the
of the appellant as the second gunman. He testified that on the night of the shooting incident, he was in
helmets were transparent. Samson was driving the motorcycle, with Lozano riding behind him. The
the company of eight other (8) children,[28] including another eyewitness, 14-year old Salem
motorcycle driven by Pacaa, with the appellant as passenger, was right behind Samson and Lozanos
Tenebroso. They were buying barbeque in a store across the cemetery when a blue colored motorcycle
motorcycle. They were following the motorcycle of Damuag and Abiabi that was cruising at normal speed
(first motorcycle) driven by Herminigildo Damuag, with Alden Abiabi as a backrider, passed by
along V. Rama Avenue.[41]
them. Suddenly, a white Tamaraw FX blocked the first motorcycle, causing it to reduce its speed. Then, a
black-colored motorcycle (second motorcycle) passed from behind the first motorcycle, and its backrider Suddenly, a white Tamaraw FX AUV cut-off Damuags motorcycle. Without much ado, Lozano, then riding
fired two shots at Abiabi. Abiabi fell from the motorcycle while Damuag continued driving in a zigzag another motorcycle, shot Abiabi twice. The latter fell on the ground. Damuags motorcycle zigzagged and
manner. Damuag eventually fell to the ground five (5) meters away from Abiabi.[29] hit the ground. Lozano and Samson fled on board their motorcycle. The motorcycle of Pacaa and the
appellant stopped near Abiabi who was then sprawled on the ground face down. The appellant fired
Moments later, another motorcycle (third motorcycle) arrived at the scene. The motorcycle stopped and
several shots at Abiabi. Thereafter, the appellant fired at Damuag while the latter was trying to stand
its backrider stepped his right foot on the ground. Without alighting from the third motorcycle, the
up. Damuag was hit. He tried to run, but Pacaa and the appellant chased him on board their
backrider, whom Barellano recognized as the appellant, fired three (3) successive shots at Abiabi who was
motorcycle. The appellant again shot Damuag until he fell on the ground. The appellant and Pacana sped
still sprawled on the ground face down.[30] Damuag tried to get near Abiabi but the appellant also fired at
towards the direction where the other two (2) accused had earlier fled.[42]
him. Damuag ran away, but the third motorcycle was able to catch up with him near the Five Brothers
Restaurant. Appellant again shot Damuag twice. The third motorcycle then sped away.[31] Gamboa personally knew the three (3) accused and the appellant even before the shooting
incident. Lozano is known as a policeman in their locality.The appellant, also known as Boy Usher in their
Barellano claimed that when the first shooting occurred, he and his companions walked towards the fallen
place, was a barkada of her late husband, Rene Gamboa, while Pacaa is the brother-in-law of her brother-
Abiabi and stayed at a distance of around four (4) to five (5) meters. Thus, he had a good look at the face
in-law. She also knew Samson since 1992 as she had seen him in the cockpit when she went there to fetch
of the appellant when he arrived aboard the third motorcycle and shot Abiabi and
her husband.[43]
Damuag.[32] Furthermore, the place was illuminated by a lamp post.[33] He recalled that the appellant had
a towel wrapped around his forehead.[34] He knew the appellant even prior to the shooting incident. He The prosecution theorized that the shooting incident was drug-related. The late Abiabi was a known anti-
used to accompany his friend, Salem Tenebroso, whenever the latter would go to the residence of the drug advocate while the appellant was a suspected drug lord. The other accused, on the other hand,
appellant to feed the latters roosters. Barellano, however, failed to recognize the three (3) other riders of allegedly had connections with the drugs trade.[44]
the motorcycles because they were wearing helmets.[35] After the shooting incident, people milled at the
crime scene. Barellano recognized barangay tanods Nato Maraveles and Zaldy Regodo in the crowd.[36] The appellant and his co-accused denied any participation in the shooting incident.
45

The appellant testified that at the time of the shooting incident, he was inside a chapel in Sambagan. they were all wearing helmets. However, they were told by the investigator to state that the appellant was
He claimed that on November 24, 1997, he playedmahjong from 3:00 p.m.- 9:00 p.m.[45] At around 9:00 the one who killed Abiabi.[65]
p.m., he proceeded home to have supper and thereafter, went out to look for his five- year old son.[46]Not
able to find his son, the appellant proceeded to Sambagan to meet Boy Misa and inform the latter that he For her part, Patsy Bolls, a reporter of Sunstar Super Balita Daily, testified that on December 7, 1997, she
could not lend him some money. On his way to Sambagan, he passed by a sari-sari store in A. Lopez St. interviewed Damuag at the Sacred Heart Hospital where the latter was confined.[66] During the course of
and bought a bottle of Red Bull. The appellant also passed by the Our Lady of Lourdes Chapel. He noticed the interview, Damuag told her that he did not see who shot him and Abiabi.[67] The contents of the
that the door was slightly opened so he went in to look at the clothes of the Virgin[47] for he intended to interview were printed on the December 8, 1997 issue of the SunStar Super Balita.[68] Bolls further testified
change the Virgins clothes for the forthcoming fiesta celebration. that the interview was witnessed by another reporter, Garry Cabotaje of Sunstar Daily, and photographer
Alex Badayos.[69] Damuags wife, a lady whom she surmised as Damuags neighbor, other patients, and the
Upon entering the chapel, the appellant saw a group of women who informed him that the scheduled policemen guarding Damuag were also inside the room during the interview.[70]
meeting that night in the chapel in connection with the forthcoming fiesta celebration was postponed. He
recognized one of them as the wife of his co-accused Toking Pacaa. Appellant was seated at the cement PO1 Arlan, Jr. corroborated Bolls testimony. He told the court that he was inside Damuags room during his
floor for a few minutes when he heard an unusual burst. However, he did not bother to investigate the interview. PO1 Arlan, Jr. claims that he heard Damuag telling the reporter that he did not recognize any of
origin or nature of the unusual burst. He asked some people inside the chapel if they had seen Boy Misa his assailants. His curiosity was aroused by Damuags answer. So after Bolls interview, he asked Damuag if
but none of them did. He went out of the chapel, proceeded to a store across the chapel, and inquired the latter really did not recognize who shot him and Abiabi. Damuag confirmed that he did not recognize
from a group of persons milling around the store the whereabouts of Misa. Appellant was told that Misa any of the assailants.[71]
was there earlier but had left however, and they did not notice where he went.[48]
Teresita Bunal[72] and Eduardo Nabua[73] testified that prosecution witness Virgilia Gamboa was not
The appellant proceeded home and went to bed. His son and daughter soon arrived and slept with him. A present during the shooting incident. Rosalia Ybanez Nadela[74] and Christy Labistre,[75] on the other hand,
few minutes later, his wife, along with his sister-in-law and some neighbors, awakened him and told him contradicted Magno Ybanezs claim that he was within the vicinity of the incident and saw the tragic event.
that his kumpadre and good friend, Alden Abiabi, was shot at V. Rama St. He was shocked upon learning
After the trial, the trial court found the appellant guilty of murder and frustrated murder. The trial court
the information because the victim had no known enemy.[49]
disregarded Salem Tenebrosos Affidavit of Recantation and gave full credence to his previous Affidavit
The appellant changed his shirt and went towards Sambagan to inquire about the incident. On his way to identifying the appellant as one of the gunmen. Further, the court doubted the credibility of eyewitnesses
Sambagan, he saw a group of women who told him that his good friend Alden was shot. He met another Gamboa and Ybanez, Jr. who claimed to have seen not only the face of the appellant but of his three (3)
group who relayed the same information when he arrived in Sambagan. The appellant proceeded to A. co-accused as well. Thus, the appellants co-accused were acquitted. The dispositive portion of the trial
Lopez and stayed at the barbeque stand until past 2:00 a.m.[50] courts Judgment, dated December 16, 1998, provides:

The appellant was thus surprised when he learned that he was implicated in the shooting of Alden. He and WHEREFORE, this Court hereby makes the following dispositions:
Abiabi were good neighbors and friends and he had no motive to kill the victim. He denied that he was a
1). In Crim. Case No. CBU-46172: the Court finds accused Raul Oco alias Boy Usher Guilty beyond
drug lord.[51] He also said that he was not in good terms with his three co-accused, hence, there was no
reasonable doubt as principal in the crime of Murder defined and penalized by Article 248 of the Revised
basis for the alleged conspiracy. The appellant also charged Magno Ybaez with bias as he was one of the
Penal Code in relation to Article 7659 and hereby sentences him to Death. Said accused is further ordered
suspects in the killing of the latters older brother.[52] Lolita Mosqueda,[53] Ernesto Herhuela[54] and Herminia
to indemnify the heirs of the deceased Alden Abiabi in the sum of One Million Pesos (P1,000,000.00);
Ferraren[55] were presented to corroborate appellants defense of alibi.
2). In Crim. Case No. CBU-46173: the Court finds accused Raul Oco alias Boy Usher Guilty beyond
Accused Armando Lozano, on the other hand, claimed that on November 24, 1997, he was training fighting
reasonable doubt as principal in the crime of Frustrated Murder defined and penalized by Article 248 in
cocks in the cockpit arena from 9:00 p.m. until 1:00 a.m. of the next day. Accused Lozanos companions,
relation to Article 50 of the Revised Penal Code and hereby sentences him to suffer the penalty of Reclusion
Vic Lozano,[56] Prospero Lozano, [57] Ritchie Ho,[58] Ramon Tabares[59] and Bendicto Orge,[60]corroborated his
Perpetua and to indemnify the victim Herminigildo Damuag in the sum of Five Hundred Thousand Pesos
alibi. Accused Dave Samson asserted that he was in Larena, Siquijor on the night of November 24, 1997. His
(P500,000.00);
alibi was corroborated by Felizardo Balmadres.[61] Accused Eutiquio Toking Pacaa alleged that he was
sleeping at his house at the time of the incident.[62] 3). In Crim. Case Nos. CBU-46172 for Murder and CBU-46173 for Frustrated Murder on the ground of
reasonable doubt- accused SPO2 Armando Lozano alias Amid Lozano, Dave Samson, and Eutiquiano Pacaa
The defense also presented Salem Tenebroso, Jr., Patsy Bolls, and PO1 Bienvenido Arlan, Jr. to prove that
alias Toking Pacaa are ACQUITTED-because there is no moral certainty in the unprejudiced mind of this
none of the alleged eyewitnesses recognized any of the perpetrators of the crime. Tenebroso, 14-year old,
Court that said three (3) other accused had participated in the commission of the crimes with which they
is one of Barellanos companion on the eve of November 24, 1997. Previously, he issued an Affidavit
were charged (Rule 133, Rules of Court).
wherein he identified the appellant as one of the malefactors in the shooting incident. [63] Thereafter, he
executed an Affidavit of Recantation,[64] claiming that he did not recognize any of the perpetrators because Costs de officio.
all of them were wearing helmets. Tenebroso testified in court that shortly after the incident, he and Junnie
Quigao were brought to the CIG Office at Camp Sotero Cabahug and were interviewed by a policeman. SO ORDERED.
The two of them told the police officer that they could not recognize the persons who shot Abiabi because
46

The case is now with this Court for review. Q: You mean before he was shot by Raul Oco you saw somebody else shooting Abiabi while he was riding
at the back of the motorcycle?
The appellant insists that he has no motive to kill Abiabi, a known anti-drug advocate, because he is not a
drug lord as the prosecution depicted him to be during trial.[76] In fact, Mrs. Abiabi admitted during trial WITNESS:
that she has a debt of gratitude to the appellant as the latter lent her some money in the
past.[77]Furthermore, Damuag is his close friend and he has no reason to injure.[78] A: I saw when he was shot.

The appellant also assails that his identification as one of the assailants of Abiabi and Damuag is Q: You actually saw Abiabi being shot while he was still riding on a motorcycle?
incredulous because it is against human experience for an assassin to kill without covering his face to
A: Yes, Your Honor.
prevent his identification. He claims that the fact that his co-accused used helmets to hide their identities
would make it more logical for him to use also a helmet while shooting at Abiabi and Damuag in plain view Q: And you saw him fell down with (sic) the motorcycle as a result of the shooting?
of many witnesses.[79] The appellant insists on his alibi that he was inside a chapel in Sambagan, Cebu City,
while the shooting incident was in progress. A: Yes, Your Honor.

We affirm the judgment of conviction. Q: Who shot him?

Motive is not an essential element of a crime, and hence, need not be proved for purposes of A: I do not know the person, Your Honor.
conviction.[80] Standing alone, the failure of the prosecution to adduce proof of the appellants motive to
kill Abiabi and injure Damuag would not exculpate him, especially since he was positively identified by at Q: Where was he located, the person who first shot Abiabi?
least two credible witnesses as one of the assailants.
A: The person was backriding on a motorcycle.
To be sure, the fact that the appellants companions wore helmets does not make his identification by the
Q: There were two (2) persons on that motorcycle?
eyewitnesses incredulous. We agree with the Solicitor Generals observation that criminals carry out their
criminal designs differently. Some cover their faces, but others boldly perform their criminal acts in full A: Yes, Your Honor.
view of the public. The records show that appellant belongs to the latter category.
Q: You said you saw Raul Oco in (sic) that crime scene. When did you first see Raul Oco? When he was still
Ronald Barellano gave a detailed account of the incident, and emphatically claimed that he saw the riding on a motorcycle?
appellant when he shot Abiabi, viz:
A: I saw Raul Oco at the time he shot (Abiabi).
ATTY. SENO:
Q: You did not see him riding a motorcycle before the shooting?
Q: In other words, Master Barellano, when you turned your eyes towards where Abiabi was, the first two
(2) shots which you heard were already fired? A: No, Your Honor.

WITNESS: Q: You never saw him riding a motorcycle before the shooting started or before you saw him shooting
Abiabi?
A: Yes, sir.
A: While Raul Oco was riding a motorcycle I did not see his face. I saw his face at the time he shot Abiabi.
Q: And what you saw when you turned your eyes towards where the two (2) shots, the first two (2) shots
were fired, was Abiabi who fell on the ground? Q: You saw his face at the time he shot Abiabi?

A: Yes, sir. A: Yes, Your Honor.

Q: In other words, you did not witness the actual firing of the first two (2) shots. Is that correct? Q: Did you see Raul Oco while he was still riding a motorcycle before the shooting or before he shot Abiabi?

WITNESS: A: Yes, Your Honor.

A: I saw when he was shot twice. Q: Did you see his face while he was seated in the motorcycle?

COURT TO WITNESS: A: No, Your Honor, I did not see his face.

Q: How did you know that it was Raul Oco if you did not see his face?
47

A: When the motorcycle stopped and he stepped his right foot on the ground and shot I saw his face. Q: Did he fire another shot at you afterwards?

Q: So, that was the only time that the person you saw riding that motorcycle before was Raul Oco? A: At the time I ran away he fired another shot, Your Honor.

A: Yes, Your Honor. Q: And that second shot hit you?

Q: Because the person you saw riding in (sic) the motorcycle have (sic) the same clothes as Raul Oco when A: No, Your Honor.
he was shooting Abiabi?
Q: So, you glanced back and saw the accused Raul Oco in between the first and the second shot. Is that
A: Yes, Your Honor. correct?

Q: And you saw that person riding the motorcycle wearing that towel around his head that you described A: When I stood up after I was slumped I saw Raul Oco, Your Honor.
before?
Q: I thought you said you glanced back after you were hit by the first shot. You did not. So when you were
A: Yes, Your Honor. [81] hit by the first shot, did you glance back immediately at Raul Oco?

Barellanos testimony on how the appellant shot Damuag is equally clear. His testimony reads as follows: A: I saw Raul Oco, Your Honor.

COURT: Q: After you were hit?

So let us ask him again A: Yes, Your Honor.[82]

Q: Do you mean that Raul Oco, when you saw him shooting Abiabi, was still on the top of the motorcycle? The appellants identity as one of the assailants became even more apparent after a series of clarificatory
questions propounded by Judge Ocampo on Damuag, to wit:
A: Yes, Your Honor.
COURT:
ATTY. SENO:
Q: Alright lets ask him again for the last time. Were you hit by the first shot?
Q: So, after that person who fired the three (3) successive shots space(d) at less than a second from each
other completely fired the three (3) shots, he sat back straight on the motorcycle and sped away? Is that WITNESS:
not correct?
A: At the time when my motorcycle was in a zigzag manner I was already hit, Your Honor.
A: No, sir.
Q: Did you see who fired that shot at you that hit you?
Q: What did he do?
A: No, Your Honor.
A: He still shot Damuag.
Q: You did not. So after you were hit you immediately glanced back and saw Raul Oco?
Damuags testimony identifying Raul Oco as his gunman was unequivocal, direct and leaves no room for
doubt. He related in open court how he was able to identify the appellant that tragic night, thus: A: When my motorcycle was in a zigzag manner I slumped to the gutter then stood up and I saw Raul Oco.

COURT TO WITNESS: Q: You saw him after you were hit by the first shot?

Q: Alright that first shot that hit you, did you glance back already and saw Raul Oco immediately after you A: Yes, Your Honor.
were hit?
Q: So that is very clear- he saw Raul Oco when he glanced back after he was hit by the first shot. So what
WITNESS: happened? Did he shoot you again?

A: I saw him and I face (sic) him. A: Yes, Your Honor.

Q: You saw him immediately after the first shot was fired that hit you? Q: You saw him shooting at you?

A: Yes, Your Honor. A: Yes, Your Honor?


48

Q: You actually saw Raul Oco shooting at you the second shot he fired? We stress the rule that findings of the trial court on the credibility of witnesses must be respected and not
disturbed on appeal, unless there is a compelling reason to revise them. The trial court is in the best
A: Yes, Your Honor. position to calibrate the credibility of the eyewitnesses, having seen and heard them testify in court as
they recount events that took place that fateful evening.[85]
Q: But that second shot did not hit you?
We see no reason to deviate from this rule.
A: Yes, Your Honor, I was not hit.
It is to be noted that Damuag is not just an ordinary eyewitness. He is a survivor of that tragic incident. His
Q: And then you ran away?
identification of his attacker deserves full credit. It is the natural reaction of victims of criminal violence to
A: Yes, I ran away, Your Honor. strive to see the looks and faces of their assailants and observe the manner in which the crime was
committed. Most often, the face of the assailant and the body movements create lasting impression that
Q: And you suffered three (3) other gunshot wounds. Is that correct? cannot be easily erased from their memory.[86] The Court finds Damuags testimony credible as it is replete
with details and corroborated on material points by Ronald Barellano, also a credible witness. These two
A: Yes, Your Honor. eyewitnesses had no ulterior motive to be untruthful in their identification of appellant as one of the
culprits. Where there is nothing to indicate that a witness was actuated by improper motive, his positive
Q: Did you see actually Raul Oco fire those three (3) other shots at you?
identification and categorical declarations on the witness stand under solemn oath deserve full faith and
A: Yes, Your Honor. credence.[87]

Q: So you actually saw him shooting at you those three (3) shots? The failure of Damuag to reveal the identity of his assailants shortly after the shooting incident does not
taint his credibility. He was in critical condition when rushed to the Sacred Heart Hospital. Dr. Dale Pasco
A: Yes, Your Honor.[83] opined that Damuag would have died due to the wounds he sustained if he were not immediately operated
on. He was placed in the intensive care unit (ICU) until November 30, 1997 and stayed at the hospital until
Despite the cross-examination by the defense counsel, Damuag was unmoved. He firmly asserted that December 10, 1997 without adequate security.
notwithstanding the wounds he sustained from the first shot, he glanced back and saw appellant Oco fire
his gun at him. In her testimony, Patsy Bolls revealed that on December 7, 1997, she was sent by her editor to verify
Congressman Cuencos complaint that there were no policemen guarding Damuag at the Sacred Heart
ATTY. BRAGAT: Hospital. She interviewed some people and was able to verify the complaint, thus:

Q: After the shot that did not hit you, your instinct was to run away with all immediacy because you feared Q: Why did you go to that hospital?
for your life. Correct? Having been wounded earlier?
A: Because earlier Congressman Cuenco called the police informing us that nobody, no policeman was
A: Yes, sir. guarding Damuag in his room and we were assigned by our Editor-in-Chief, Atty. Seares to see and for us
to confirm how true the information of Cong. Cuenco (is).
Q: And you are telling the Honorable Court that while running away for fear of (sic) your life you still turned
your back to see what was at your back so that you could see Oco firing those three (3) shots hitting you? Q: Were you able to interview the police officers?

A: I did not run fast because I was already hit. A: Yes sir, I asked them how true (is) the allegation that earlier on the day there were no policemen
assigned there to guard Damuag.
COURT:
Q: And what was the answer of the police officers?
That does not answer the question.
A: They said it was true because the duty in the hospital was from 8:00 to 4:00; 4:00 to 12:00; 12:00 to
WITNESS:
8:00. So those policemen- when we went there those policemen were assigned on the 4:00 to 12:00
Yes, sir, I saw Raul Oco. shifting. So it was true that there were no policemen assigned during the 8:00 to 4:00 shifting.

COURT TO WITNESS: Q: Were there other matters that you interviewed the police about?

Q: So inspite of the three (3) hits you still looked at? (sic) A: Actually, I did not interview the policemen, it was them who divulged the information that earlier a
certain Junjun, brother of Abiabi went to see and almost he made a scene in the room and almost according
A: Yes, Your Honor.[84] to the policemen almost choke him but I didntit was alleged that was their statement and it was confirmed
49

by Damuag and his wife that it was true because this certain Junjun was really angry with Damuag thinking minutes.[91] Given this distance, it is not impossible for appellant to be at the scene when the crime was
that Damuag was part of the crime. [88] committed.

PO1 Bienvenido Arlan, Jr. also admitted before the court that there was no one guarding Damuag in the That the other accused were acquitted does not necessarily mean that the appellant likewise deserves an
morning of December 7, 1997. He also testified that Damuags life was in danger, viz: acquittal. Accused Lozano, Pacaa and Samson were acquitted based on reasonable doubt as to their
identity. This does not negate the trial courts findings on the existence of the acts constituting the crimes
COURT TO WITNESS alleged in the Informations. In any event, appellants conviction does not only result from the trial courts
finding of conspiracy but from his own act of shooting Abiabi and Damuag.
Q: How did you come to know that the person you are going to guard is one of the victims in the shooting
incident? We come now to the proper designation of the crimes committed by the accused and the corresponding
penalties for these crimes.
A: Your Honor, when we were ordered by Sinugbuhan to guard Damuag, we were also informed that
Damuag was one of the victims and his life is (sic) in danger. We agree with the trial court that treachery attended the killing of Abiabi and the wounding of Damuag.
There is treachery when the offender commits any of the crimes against the person, employing means,
Q: Did you know or come to know why nobody was guarding Damuag prior to your shift?
methods or forms in the execution thereof which tend directly and specially to insure its execution,
A: I do (sic) not know, Your Honor. without risk to himself arising from the defense which the offended party might take.[92] For treachery to
exist, two conditions must be found: (1) that at the time of the attack, the victim was not in a position to
Q: But those police officers in that shift failed to appear? defend himself; and (2) the offender consciously adopted the particular means, method or form of attack
employed by him.[93] In the case at bar, the motorcycle driven by Damuag (first motorcycle) was suddenly
A: Yes, Your Honor. blocked by a white Tamaraw FX. Without any warning, the backrider of the second motorcycle, coming
from behind, suddenly fired successive shots at Damuag and Abiabi. While Abiabi was helplessly laid at the
(PROS. GALANIDA)
pavement face down due to the wounds he sustained, appellant mercilessly shot at him. On the other
Q: Did you come to know who were those tasked to guard Damuag before your shift at 4:00 oclock of hand, Damuag, already wounded, tried to escape but appellant pursued him and shot at him three more
December 7? times. The unexpected and sudden attack on the victims, rendering them unable and unprepared to
defend themselves, such suddenness having been meant to ensure the safety of the gunman as well as
A: Yes, mam, it was PO3 Teves and PO1 Baquerquer. the success of the attack clearly constitutes alevosia.[94]

Q: They were not there in their post? Correct? The trial court also found that the offenses were committed with abuse of superior strength. The
malefactors not only outnumbered the victims; at least two of them were armed. More, the circumstances
A: Yes, mam. clearly show that the assailants deliberately took advantage of their combined strength in order to
consummate the crime. Nevertheless, the aggravating circumstance of abuse of superior strength is
Q: Did you come to know what happened to them?
absorbed by treachery.[95]
A: No, mam.
We also agree with the trial court that the generic aggravating circumstance of use of motor vehicle is
Q: You did not hear that they were sanctioned or what? present. The appellant and his companions used motor bicycles in going to the place of the crime, in
carrying away the effects thereof, and in facilitating their escape.
A: They were sanctioned, mam. Teves is now in the Detachment of Cebu City Mobile Group and
Baquerquer is now in Sta. Catalina, Negros Oriental. [89] We do not agree with the trial court, however, in its appreciation of the aggravating circumstance of
nighttime. This circumstance is considered aggravating only when it facilitated the commission of the
Given the circumstances, it is but natural for Damuag not to disclose the identity of his assailants. It would crime, or was especially sought or taken advantage of by the accused for the purpose of impunity.The
be unfair to expect Damuag, a surviving witness to a tragic incident, to further expose himself to the danger essence of this aggravating circumstance is the obscuridad afforded by, and not merely the chronological
possibly accompanying his revelation of the appellants identity. onset of, nighttime.[96] Although the offense was committed at night, nocturnity does not become a
modifying factor when the place is adequately lighted, and thus could no longer insure the offenders
As against his positive identification by the prosecution witnesses, the appellants alibi is worthless. For immunity from identification or capture.[97] In this case at bar, a lamp post illuminated the scene of the
alibi to prosper, the requirements of time and distance must be strictly met. It is not enough to prove that crime.
the accused was somewhere else when the crime was committed; he must also demonstrate by clear and
convincing evidence that it was physically impossible for him to be at the scene of the crime during its Likewise, we find that the offenses were not committed by a band. A crime is deemed to have been
commission.[90] Ferraren, who allegedly saw the appellant at the chapel at the time of the shooting incident committed by a band or en cuadrilla when more than three armed malefactors take part in its
testified that the distance between the chapel and the crime scene can be negotiated on foot within five commission.[98] The four armed persons contemplated in this circumstance must all be principals by direct
participation who acted together in the execution of the acts constituting the crime. The Code does not
50

define or require any particular arms or weapons; any weapon which by reason of its intrinsic nature or PO2 Lozano and communicated his desire to surrender. PO2 Lozano called City Director, Police
the purpose for which it was made or used by the accused, is capable of inflicting serious or fatal injuries Superintendent Alejandro Carpio Lapinid and voluntarily surrendered himself at around 7:00 p.m. of
upon the victim of the crime may be considered as arms for purposes of the law on cuadrilla. In the case January 20, 1998. As per their agreement, the appellant was fetched by SPO2 Perfecto Silvederio Codiera
at bar, the prosecution alleged that the accused and his three other co-conspirators used unlicensed at around 12:15 a.m. of January 21, 1998, and was directly brought to the PNP Jail at Camp Sotero Cabahug,
firearms in the perpetration of the offenses. However, the evidence on record shows that only two of them Gorordo Ave., Cebu City. Police Senior Inspector Pablo Gayacan Labra II issued a compliance report
carried firearms. En cuadrilla, as an aggravating circumstance, cannot therefore be appreciated. attaching thereto the unserved warrants, and explaining the attendant circumstances, viz:

There was also no evidence presented to show that the offenses were committed with the aid of armed The COMPLIANCE/RETURN OF WARRANT OF ARREST
men. Aid of armed men or persons affording immunity requires that the armed men are accomplices who
take part in minor capacity, directly or indirectly.[99] We note that all four accused were charged as That on the 20th day of January 1998 this office received the original copy of the Warrant of Arrest against
principal. The remaining suspects --- John Doe, Jane Doe and Peter Doe--- were never identified and Police Officer 2 Armando LOZANO, Raul OCO @ Boy Usher, Dave SAMSON and Eutiquio PACAA, Jr., all
charged. Neither was proof adduced as to the nature of their participation. residents of A. Lopez St., Lobangon, Cebu City for Violation of Murder and Frustrated Murder issued and
signed by that Honorable Court dated 19 January 1998.
There was also a paucity of proof to show that evident premeditation attended the commission of the
crimes. For this circumstance to be appreciated, there must be proof, as clear as that of the killing, of the However, at about 7:00 oclock in the evening of January 20, 1998, Police Officer 2 Armando LOZANO
following elements: (1) the time when the offender determined to commit the crime; (2) an act indicating voluntarily surrendered to City Director, Police Superintendent Alejandro Carpio LAPINID while at around
that he clung to his determination; and (3) sufficient lapse of time between determination and execution 12:15 oclock in the morning of January 21, 1998, Raul OCO @ Boy Usher was fetched by Senior Police
to allow himself time to reflect upon the consequences of his act.[100] Evident premeditation must be based Officer 2 Perfecto Silvederio Codiera and immediately brought to this office.[104]
on external facts which are evident, not merely suspected, which indicate deliberate planning. There must
Moreover, one of the reasons cited by Judge Ocampo in acting favorably to the request of the appellant
be direct evidence showing a plan or preparation to kill, or proof that the accused meditated and reflected
and accused Lozano to be detained at the PNP Jail at Camp Sotero Cabahug, Gorordo Avenue, Cebu City
upon his decision to kill the victim.[101] No such evidence was presented to prove the presence of this
instead of the Bagong Buhay Rehabilitation Center (BBRC) was their voluntary surrender, viz:
circumstance.
In the meantime and until further orders of this Court- since this case is now under the jurisdiction of
In the same vein, no evidence was adduced to prove that the firearms used in the shooting incident were
Branch 7 presided by undersigned judge- and since the said accused had voluntarily surrendered to the
unlicensed, hence, this circumstance cannot be appreciated.
authorities anyway- they may continue to be detained at the PNP Jail where they have been brought after
The presence of treachery qualified the killing of Abiabi to Murder punishable by reclusion perpetua to their surrender- since their transfer to the BBRC forthwith would obviously expose them to the harm or
death under Art. 248 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Rep. Act. No. 7659, viz: danger that they are precisely adverting to and explained by them in their aforesaid Urgent
Motions. [105] (emphasis supplied)
ART. 248. Murder.- Any person who, not falling within the provisions of Article 246 shall kill another, shall
be guilty of murder and shall be punished by reclusion perpetua to death if committed with any of the Finally, the appellants testimony as to the circumstances of his voluntary surrender was never rebutted.
following attendant circumstances: He testified as follows:

1. With treachery, taking advantage of superior strength, with aid of armed men, or employing means to Q: When did you see him (accused Dave Samson) again from that last time you said 1993 when you saw
weaken the defense or of means or persons to insure or afford impunity. (emphasis supplied) him last?

The presence of the aggravating circumstance of the use of motor vehicle would have raised the penalty A: At the time I surrendered at Gorordo.
to death, pursuant to Art. 63 of the Revised Penal Code, if not for the presence of the mitigating
Q: When you said you surrendered, you surrendered to whom?
circumstance of voluntary surrender which the trial court failed to appreciate.
.
For voluntary surrender to be appreciated, the following requisites should be present: (1) the offender has
not been actually arrested; (2) the offender surrendered himself to a person in authority or the latters A: At first, I approached Atty. Bragat and I also approached Dodong Lozano and Dodong Lozano called up
agent; and (3) the surrender was voluntary.[102] Further, the surrender must be spontaneous in such a thru telephone at the camp.
manner that it shows the interest of the accused to surrender unconditionally to the authorities, either
because he acknowledged his guilt or because he wishes to save them the trouble and expenses Q: And did you in effect voluntarily surrender at the camp?
necessarily incurred in search and capture.[103] All these requisites have been complied with in the case at
bar. A: Yes, sir.

The records reveal that the warrant for the appellants arrest was issued on January 19, 1998. Immediately Q: Do you recall when was that?
upon learning its issuance, and without having been served on him, the appellant contacted his co-accused
A: On January 21, 1998.
51

Q: You said you surrendered voluntarily at the camp on January 21, 1998. Was that voluntary surrender in We reduce the amount due the victim Herminigildo Damuag. Damuag cannot recover actual damages for
relation to these two cases for which you now stand trial? aside from his bare allegations that he spentP160,000.00 for hospitalization and P5,000.00 for medicinal
needs, there is nothing on the record to substantiate his claim. In lieu of this, we award the amount
A: Yes, sir.[106] of P25,000.00 as temperate damages since it cannot be denied that he has suffered some pecuniary loss
because of the incident.
Like any other common criminal, the appellant could have opted to go on hiding. But he chose to surrender
himself to the authorities and face the allegations leveled against him. True, he did not admit his complicity IN VIEW WHEREOF, the joint decision on review is hereby AFFIRMED with the following MODIFICATIONS.
to the crimes charged against him but he nonetheless spared the government of time and expense. For
this, he should be credited with the mitigating circumstance of voluntary surrender. This offsets the (1) In Crim. Case No. CBU-46172, appellant RAUL OCO @ BOY USHER is found GUILTY beyond reasonable
aggravating circumstance of the use of motor vehicle, and pursuant to Art. 63(4) of the Revised Penal Code, doubt of MURDER under Art. 248 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Rep. Act No. 7659, and is
the appellant should be meted the lesser of the two penalties, i.e., reclusion perpetua. sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua. He is ORDERED to pay the heirs of Alden Abiabi the
amount of P50,000.00 as actual damages, P50,000.00 as civil indemnity, and P25,000.00 as temperate
For the serious wounding of Damuag, the appellant committed frustrated murder, the same having been damages.
committed with intent to kill and with treachery, as afore explained. A crime is at its frustrated stage when
the offender performs all the acts of execution which would produce the felony as a consequence but (2) In Crim. Case No. CBU-46173, appellant RAUL OCO @ BOY USHER is found GUILTY beyond reasonable
which, nevertheless, do not produce it by reason of causes independent of the will of the perpetrator. The doubt of FRUSTRATED MURDER and is sentenced to suffer an indeterminate penalty of six (6) years and
means and method employed by the appellant clearly show intent to kill. Indeed, Damuag could have died one (1) day of prision mayor as minimum, to fourteen (14) years and eight (8) months of reclusion
as a result of the gunshot wounds he sustained if it were not for the timely operation performed on him. temporal as maximum. He is ORDERED to indemnify Herminigildo Damuag the amount of P25,000.00 as
Under Art. 50 of the Revised Penal Code, the penalty next lower in degree than that prescribed by law for temperate damages.
the consummated felony shall be imposed upon the principal in a frustrated felony. Applying the same
offsetting of the aggravating circumstance of the use of motor vehicle and of the mitigating circumstance Costs de officio.
of voluntary surrender, the penalty should have been reclusion temporal in its medium period. However,
SO ORDERED.
under the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the court shall sentence the accused to an indeterminate sentence
the maximum of which shall be that which, in view of the attending circumstances, could be properly
imposed under the rules of the said Code, and the minimum of which shall be within the range of the
penalty lower to that prescribed by the Code for the offense.[107] Considering all the circumstances, the
indeterminate penalty of six (6) years and one (1) day of prision mayor as minimum, and fourteen (14)
years and eight (8) months of reclusion temporal as maximum would be proper.

We come to the award of damages. The trial court ordered the appellant to indemnify the heirs of Abiabi
and the victim Herminigildo Damuag the amount of P1,000,000.00 and P500,000.00, respectively, without
specifying what these amounts represent.

In line with the recent jurisprudence, we modify the amount due the heirs of Abiabi as follows:
(a) P50,000.00 as actual damages representing the duly receipted expense for the purchase of the coffin,
(b) P50,000.00 as civil indemnity, and (c) P25,000.00 as temperate damages.

Except for the cost of the coffin, the remainder of P250,000.00, which Mrs. Abiabi claimed to have spent
for funeral and burial services, is unsubstantiated and therefore, cannot be awarded.

Furthermore, although Mrs. Abiabi testified that her husband earned P8,000.00 monthly as a legal
researcher of Clear, Inc., we cannot award indemnity for loss of earning capacity in the absence of
documentary evidence.[108] There are only two exceptions to the general rule requiring documentary
evidence for claims for damages for loss of earning capacity: (1) if the deceased is self-employed earning
less than the minimum wage under current labor laws, and judicial notice may be taken of the fact that in
the victims line of work no documentary evidence is available; or (2) if the deceased is employed as a daily
wage worker earning less than the minimum wage under current labor laws.[109] Clearly, this case does not
fall under the exceptions.
52

[G.R. No. 141217. September 26, 2003] Fracture, skill bones: middle and posterior fossae, linear, right.

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, appellee, vs. EUSEBIO DUBAN y DOMINGO @ JUN, appellant. Intracranial hemorrhage: Epidural, right parietal area; Subdural and subarachnoid right cerebral
hemisphere, extensive.
DECISION
Visceral organs, congested.
CARPIO-MORALES, J.:
Stomach, contains a small amount of brownish fluid.[4] (Underscoring supplied)
From the decision[1] of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 18, Manila finding appellant Eusebio Duban y
Domingo guilty beyond reasonable doubt of murder for the killing of Dionisio Barboza (the victim) and Upon the other hand, appellant detailed his self-defense as follows:
sentencing him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua, he comes to this Court on appeal.
At about 12:00 noon of October 9, 1997, after alighting from a jeepney at the de la Fuente jeepney station,
In an information[2] dated October 28, 1997, appellant was indicted as follows: as he was walking on his way home, a jeepney driver whose name he no longer remembers, asked him to
drink liquor with him. He declined the invitation as he had not yet eaten. The drunk companion of the
That on or about October 9, 1997 at 11:00 am, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused did then driver (the victim) whom he met for the first time got a glass of gin, however, and echoed the offer, but
and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, with intent to kill and with treachery and evident he just the same declined it, prompting the victim to throw the contents of the glass at his face.
premeditation, attack, assault and use personal violence upon DIONISIO BARBOZA by then and there
striking him with a stone at the back of his head, thereby causing traumatic head injury which cause (sic) Appellant thus shouted invectives at the victim who then took a bolo from the jeepney which he tried to
his death thereafter. hit him with, but which he (appellant) was able to evade.

Contrary to law. [ATTY. OSORIO:]

Upon arraignment[3] on November 18, 1997, appellant, assisted by counsel de oficio, entered a plea of not Q: So what did you do when that somebody tried to hit you but missed it (sic)?
guilty. Thereafter, trial on the merits ensued.
A: They were inside the jeepney at the time drinking and they alighted from the jeep.
On October 9, 1997, at 11:00 a.m., appellant admittedly hurled at the victim a stone estimated to weigh
one kilo, hitting the victim at the right rear portion of his head and ear, causing him to fall on the ground COURT
unconscious. The victim died hours later after he was brought to the Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center.
Q: How about you what did you do?
Appellant claimed self-defense, however. The prosecution claimed otherwise, alleging that it was plain
A: I also got off from the jeep and I evaded the blows of the bolo aimed at me.[5]
murder.
Continuing, appellant claimed that as the victim ran after him, he ran around the jeepney because there
From the evidence of the prosecution, the following version is established. While prosecution witness
was an obstruction. Appellant thus took a stone placed under the tire of the jeep and with his right hand
Dionisio Poquiz, a jeepney driver, was outside his house at Ramon Magsaysay Boulevard, Sta. Mesa,
he threw it at the victim while the latter was approaching him at a distance of about 3 meters. The stone
Manila, the victim, a coconut vendor, passed by, pushing a cart loaded with coconuts. Poquiz bought
hit the victim on the [r]ight side of his head,[6] thus causing him to fall down. Appellant thereafter ran away
coconut juice and repaired to the rear seat of his parked jeepney where he sat. As Poquiz was drinking the
and went home.
coconut juice, appellant approached the victim who was standing and waiting for a customer beside his
cart. When appellant, a jeepney barker, was about a meter away from the victim, he suddenly hurled the Brushing aside appellants claim of self-defense, the trial court found him guilty beyond reasonable doubt
stone which hit the right rear portion of his head and ear. Appellant then speedily left, foiling Poquizs of murder by Decision of November 15, 1999, the dispositive portion of which is quoted verbatim:
attempt to apprehend him.
WHEREFORE, the Court finds the accused, Eusebio Duban y Domingo, guilty beyond reasonable doubt of
The postmortem examination conducted on the victim by Dr. Ravell Ronald R. Baluyot of the National the crime of murder under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code and hereby sentences him to suffer the
Bureau of Investigation Medico-Legal Division showed the following findings: penalty of reclusion perpetua with all the accessory penalties provided by law and to pay the costs.
Cyanosis, lips and nailbeds. On the civil liability of the accused, the Court further sentences him to pay the legal heirs of the victim,
Dionisio Barboza, moral and nominal damages in the respective sums of P200,000.00 and P70,000.00, and
Blood, oozing from right ear.
an additional sum of P50,000.00, for the loss of the victims life with interest thereon at the legal rate of
Lacerated wound, stellate 2.6 x 1.5 cms., scalp, post-auricular area, right. 6% per annum from today until fully paid.

Scalp Hematoma, right, extensive. SO ORDERED.

Hence, the present appeal anchored on the following assigned errors:[7]


53

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN CONVICTING ACCUSED-APPELLANT WHEN HIS GUILT HAS NOT BEEN PROVEN The essence of treachery is that the attack is deliberate and without warning, done in a swift and
BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT. unexpected manner of execution, affording the hapless and unsuspecting victim no chance to resist or
escape.[19] In the case at bar, the victim was standing and selling coconut,[20] totally oblivious of any
ASSUMING ARGUENDO THAT ACCUSED-APPELLANT IS GUILTY, THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN CONVICTING impending harm when appellant suddenly threw the stone from behind him.
HIM WITH THE CRIME OF MURDER WHEN THE QUALIFYING CIRCUMSTANCE OF TREACHERY HAS NOT BEEN
PROVEN BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT. (Underscoring supplied) There is no doubt then that appellant is guilty of murder, penalized under Article 248 of the Revised Penal
Code, as amended by Republic Act No. 7569.There being neither mitigating nor aggravating circumstance,
Appellant contends that the testimony of eyewitness Poquiz, even if he was not shown to have been the lesser penalty of reclusion perpetua was correctly imposed by the trial court, pursuant to Article 63(2)
actuated by any improper motive, is full of improbabilities, hence, it cannot prevail over his (appellants) of the Revised Penal Code.[21]
testimony.[8]
As to the civil aspect of the case, in line with prevailing jurisprudence, the award of indemnity to the heirs
Appellant cites Poquizs testimony that he (appellant) was one arms length away from the victim as was of the victim in the amount of P50,000.00 is affirmed, it being awarded without need of proof other than
Poquiz from the victim. If that were the case, appellant argues, there would have been no need for him to the fact that a crime was committed resulting in the death of the victim and that the accused was
throw the stone at the victim[9] and Poquiz could have easily apprehended him (appellant). responsible therefor.[22]
Whether Poquiz estimated the correct distance from where he was in relation to where appellant and the As for the award by the trial court of moral damages to the legal heirs of the victim in the amount
victim were is immaterial, however, appellant having himself admitted throwing the stone at the victim. of P200,000.00, not only is the amount exorbitant, there is also no evidence to show that the legal heirs
of the victim suffered any mental anguish or serious anxiety arising from the victims death.
Admittedly, Poquiz was not prompted by ill motive to falsely testify against appellant, hence, his testimony
should be entitled to full faith and credit.[10] The award of P70,000.00 for nominal damages must be deleted for lack of factual and legal basis.
Additionally, by appellants account, he, who is right-handed,[11] threw the stone at the victim who was This Court notes that while Rolly Barboza, the victims brother, testified that the victims family incurred
about 3 meters away, while the latter was facing and approaching him with a bolo. But the victim was medical and funeral expenses in the amount ofP65,000.00, he, in support thereof, presented a list[23] of
admittedly hit at the right rear portion of the head,[12] a fact confirmed by the above-stated result of the expenses. Only substantiated and proven expenses, however, or those that appear to have been genuinely
postmortem examination of the victim. As thus observed by the trial court, appellants version cannot be incurred in connection with the death, wake or burial of the victim will be recognized in court. [24] A list of
believed. For, it is highly improbable that the victim could be hit at the right rear portion of his head if he expenses is not considered a competent proof and cannot replace the official receipts necessary to justify
and appellant were facing each other and appellant threw the stone with his right hand,[13] or that the the award of actual damages. [25] Neither can the funeral contract[26] submitted in evidence by the
victim could be hit at the same right rear portion of his head if he were chasing appellant. prosecution be sufficient, it not being proof that what was stipulated therein was eventually paid.[27]
Neither can appellants claim that the victim was very drunk and armed with a bolo be believed. The result Nonetheless, where no sufficient proof of actual damages is presented in the trial court (or when the actual
of the postmortem examination of the victim gave no indication that he was drunk. As for the claim that damages proven is less than P25,000.00), the amount of P25,000.00 as temperate damages may be
the victim was armed with a bolo, why appellant did not take the bolo, if indeed he had, after the victim awarded, it being reasonable to presume that when death occurs, the family of the victim necessarily
fell down on being hit, is contrary to human experience. For an innocent man under similar circumstances incurs expenses for the wake and funeral.[28]
would naturally take it with him to prove his claim of self-defense. Such course of action is fatal to such
claim of appellant.[14] And so is his running away from the scene of the incident, for a truly innocent person Under Article 2206 of the Civil Code, the heirs of the victim are entitled to indemnity for loss of earning
would normally report the matter to the police.[15] But appellant did not. Instead, he immediately fled. capacity. Ordinarily, documentary evidence is necessary for the purpose. By way of exception, testimonial
evidence may suffice if the victim was either (1) self-employed, earning less than the minimum wage under
And while appellant claimed during direct examination that he told his side of the incident when he was current labor laws, and judicial notice may be taken of the fact that in the victims line of work, no
arrested two weeks later,[16] the police progress report[17] accomplished on his arrest shows that he, after documentary evidence is available; or (2) employed as a daily-wage worker earning less than the minimum
being apprised of his constitutional rights and of the charge against him, opted to remain silent. wage under current labor laws.[29] In the case at bar, however, while the victims brother testified that the
victim earned P300.00, he did not indicate whether the same referred to the victims hourly, daily, monthly
Persons who act in legitimate defense of their persons or rights invariably surrender themselves to the
or annual income.[30]
authorities and describe fully and in all candor all that has happened with a view to justify their acts.[18] But
appellant did not. Indemnification for loss of earning capacity partakes of the nature of actual damages which must be duly
proven[31] by competent proof and the best obtainable evidence thereof.[32]
In fine, appellants version of the incident and his actuations soon after do not speak of his innocence.
Exemplary damages must be awarded too in accordance with Article 2230 of the Civil Code, the qualifying
The trial court did not err thus in not crediting appellants claim of self-defense. Neither did it err in
circumstance of treachery being present.[33]
appreciating the presence of treachery in the killing.
Finally, the award by the trial court of interest on damages at the legal rate of 6% per annum is in
accordance with Article 2211 of the Civil Code which states that in crimes and quasi-delicts, interest as
54

part of damages may, in proper cases, be adjudicated in the discretion of the court, and none has been
shown that there has been abuse in the exercise thereof.[34]

WHEREFORE, the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 18, finding appellant EUSEBIO
DUBAN y DOMINGO guilty beyond reasonable doubt of Murder and sentencing him to suffer the penalty
of reclusion perpetua is hereby AFFIRMED. The civil aspect of the case is MODIFIED to read as
follows: Appellant is hereby ORDERED to pay the heirs of Dionisio Barboza the amounts of P50,000.00 as
civil indemnity for his death,P25,000.00 as temperate damages, and P25,000.00 as exemplary damages,
with legal interest to be paid at SIX PERCENT (6%) on the amount due computed from the promulgation
of the decision of the trial court on November 15, 1999.

SO ORDERED.
55

G.R. No. 103225 September 15, 1994 their daughter, GENOVEVA LOPEZ y OBRA, was in the kitchen, brushing her teeth. Suddenly, three (3) men
barged into the front door of Dr. Lopez' house. Iluminada and Genoveva recognized two (2) of them as
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, their neighbors TITO BALANAG (a.k.a. Andres) and FEDERICO BALANAG (a.k.a. Pedring). The third man,
vs. whom the Lopezes had seen for the first time, was later identified as SERAFIN DACANAY, a "compadre" of
FEDERICO BALANAG alias "Pedring," accused-appellant, Federico.
TITO BALAWAG alias "Andres," (at large) and ROBERTO BALANAG alias "Berto," (at large) accused. Serafin immediately announced a "hold-up." He poked a gun at the head of Iluminada, held her arm and
then led her towards Genoveva's room on the second floor of the house. Serafin demanded money and
The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.
other valuables from Iluminada. She then summoned Genoveva to give her the keys to the cabinet. Her
Agaton D. Yaranon, Jr. for accused-appellant. daughter followed.

Upon seeing Genoveva upstairs, Serafin also poked the gun at her head. Genoveva thus obediently
proceeded towards the cabinet, near the door of her room, and she was about to open the cabinet when
PUNO, J.: her father, Dr. Lopez, rushed upstairs. As Dr. Lopez was ascending the stairs, Serafin yelled at him saying:
"Okinam nga lakay sica ti ngangidarum quen Berto Balanag (Vulva of your mother, you are (sic) the one
Accused-appellant Federico Balanag and father and son Roberto and Tito Balanag were charged with (who) filed a case against Berto Balanag." 4 He shot Dr. Lopez who fell down the stairs which had no railings.
Robbery with Homicide. 1 The Information against them, dated March 14, 1986, reads: Downstairs, the victim was met by accused Tito Balanag who stabbed him (the victim) with a dagger.
Serafin then went downstairs and, likewise, stabbed the victim. Seeing the helpless condition of her father,
That on or about the 24th day of November, 1985, in the Municipality of Aringay, Province of La Union,
Genoveva screamed. She and her mother also rushed downstairs. Iluminada thought of asking for help
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, conspiring and
from their neighbors. Thus, she ran past her husband and proceeded outside their house thru the
confederating with one Serafin Dacanay y Ordonio who is now deceased, and helping one another, and
backdoor. Genoveva, on the other hand, went to her father's aid as Serafin continued assaulting her father.
being then armed with handguns and bladed and/or sharp-pointed weapons, did then and there wilfully,
During the commotion, Tito and Federico fled, taking with them Genoveva's shoulder bag containing a
unlawfully, and feloniously with intent to gain and by means of force, violence and intimidation, and taking
diamond ring and earrings worth three thousand pesos (P3,000.00); fifty dollars
advantage of nighttime, enter the dwelling of one Dr. Guillermo Lopez y Ferrer and once inside, take, steal,
(US $50.00) cash; two hundred pesos (P200.00) cash; and a mini-stereo cassette, valued at P2,000.00.
and carry away a shoulder bag containing a diamond ring and earrings worth P3,000.00, a United States
fifty dollar bill (US $50.00), Philippine currency in the amount of Two Hundred Pesos (P200.00), as well as Iluminada had barely stepped out of the house when she was blocked by "Berto" (Roberto) Balanag, Tito's
a mini-stereo cassette valued at Two Thousand Pesos (2,000.00) belonging to Genoveva L. Obra, a father, who aimed his gun at her. Iluminada quickly retreated to the house and closed the backdoor. She
daughter of the aforenamed Dr. Guillermo Lopez y Ferrer, and with intent to kill, by reason or on occasion stood behind the door and locked it as Berto tried to force his way in.
of the afore-described robbery, treacherously and taking advantage of their superior strength shoot with
the said handguns and stab with the said bladed and/or sharp-pointed weapons the aforenamed Dr. In the meantime, Genoveva and Serafin grappled for the bolo of the latter. Irked, he lunged at her, but she
Guillermo Lopez y Ferrer, thereby inflicting upon the latter mortal wounds which were the direct and bravely parried the thrust with her arm. Her left forefinger was cut in the process. Serafin also fired at her
immediate cause of his death thereafter, to the damage and prejudice of the heirs of the said Dr. Guillermo but missed. By stroke of luck, Genoveva managed to get a bolo and attacked Serafin in self defense. Serafin
Lopez y Ferrer. died. So did the wounded Dr. Lopez. Several neighbors of the Lopezes who heard the commotion arrived
at the scene. One of them, a certain Jose Dulay, reported the incident to the authorities.
That in the commission of the offense, the following aggravating circumstances were present: (1) the
above-named accused took advantage of nighttime, to facilitate the commission of the offense, (2) the That evening, police authorities, namely: Station Commander P/Sgt. Alejandro Basallo, Pfc. Benjamin
offense was committed in the dwelling of the offended parties (3) the killing of the victim Dr. Guillermo Rulloda, Pat. Simeon Madarang, and Pat. Wilson Argame inspected the locus criminis. They found the
Lopez y Ferrer was committed with an unlicensed firearm. bloodied bodies of Dr. Guillermo Lopez and Serafin Dacanay, sprawled on the floor. They also recovered
the following: a Ruby Magnum, Cal. 22, with serial no. 05522; two (2) bolos soiled with blood; a double
CONTRARY TO LAW. bladed dagger; six (6) empty shells; and one live ammunition found inside the gun's chamber.

Tito and Federico were arraigned on April 17, 1986. They pleaded not guilty 2 and underwent trial. Roberto Dr. Armando Avena, Medical Officer of the Rural Health Unit of Doña Gregoria Memorial District Hospital
Balanag, on the other hand, has remained at large. Before the prosecution could finish cross-examining in Aringay, La Union, conducted the postmortem examination on the victim's body. Based on his
Tito Balanag, he absconded.3 He was thus tried in absentia. examination, Dr. Lopez sustained abrasion wound, two (2) stab wounds, and multiple gunshot wounds (on
the right breast upper outer quadrant, right zygomatic area and right upper lip). 5 Dr. Avena also treated
The essential facts came mainly from the testimonies of eyewitnesses Iluminada Lopez and Genoveva
Genoveva Lopez Obra who sustained lacerated wound on the 3rd left forefinger. 6
Lopez y Obra.
According to the widow, Iluminada, her dentist husband used to earn P10,000.00 monthly. At the time of
On November 24, 1985, at about 7:30 P.M., GUILLERMO LOPEZ, SR., a dentist, was talking to his wife,
her husband's death, they had three (3) children in college. She suffered mental anguish and could hardly
ILUMINADA LOPEZ, in the living room of their house, situated in Sitio Salapac, Aringay, La Union, while
56

sleep or eat upon her husband's death. During the two weeks wake for her deceased husband, she spent, THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSSED, FEDERICO BALANAG, OF THE COMPLEX CRIME
more or less, P25,000.00. OF ROBBERY WITH HOMICIDE AND/OR IN NOT EXONERATING HIM OF THE OFFENSE.

Federico Balanag interposed the defense of alibi. In the morning of November 24, 1985, he was allegedly We affirm the judgment of conviction.
in a farm in Salapac, Aringay, La Union, together with his brother Renato and mother-in-law, Florencia
Hidalgo. At about 5:00 P.M., after a day's work of threshing palay, they proceeded towards Federico's Prefatorily, the defense assails the validity of the Criminal Complaint, dated November 27, 1985, 10 and the
house. They arrived home at 5:30 P.M., and dined together thirty minutes later. Thereafter, Federico slept amended Criminal Complaint, dated December 2, 1985, 11 filed by investigating officer P/Sgt. Alejandro
in the room with his youngest son Ronald. His wife, Teresita and the rest of the family went to bed at 8:00 Basallo, on the ground that the owner of the stolen items Genoveva Lopez y Obra, was not identified. She
P.M. was merely referred to as the "offended party." Accused-appellant avers that a valid complaint for robbery,
must specify the owner of the stolen property, considering that the phrase "personal property belonging
According to Teresita, her husband was sound asleep when she woke up at around 11:00 P.M. to urinate. to another," as an essential element of the crime of robbery, should be clearly established. 12 He claims,
She then nursed her eight-month old baby and stayed awake until midnight. At around 2:00 A.M. the further that he could be convicted of the crime of robbery with homicide since the victim of the robbery,
following day, the policemen came and took her husband with them. She learned later that Dr. Lopez had Genoveva Lopez y Obra, did not file any complaint for robbery, and the person killed, Dr. Guillermo Lopez,
been killed. She and her daughter Gina visited Federico in Jail. On their way to the municipal building, they was not robbed of his personal belongings. The argument lacks merit.
passed by the house of the victim. There were several persons in the vicinity but she did not inquire what
happened. We need not delve lengthily on the cited defect in the Criminal Complaint and Amended Criminal
Complaint since the said error was corrected in the Information, dated March 14, 1986. 13 Said information
At the police station, Teresita noticed that her husband had bruises. He then told her he was manhandled alleged that the stolen items belong to Genoveva Lopez y Obra, daughter of Dr. Guillermo Lopez.
by Station Commander Alejandro Basallo.
We have also ruled that in this kind of a complex crime, the victim of the robbery need not necessarily be
Gina Balanag corroborated the testimonies of her parents pertaining to the whereabouts of her father, the victim of homicide. 14 Thus, in People vs. Disimban, 15 we affirmed the conviction of the accused for
the accused-appellant. She averred that on November 24, 1985, she went to school at about 6:30 A.M. robbery with homicide although the robbery victim was different from the homicide victim. There is robo
She returned home from school at 4:30 P.M. She saw her father an hour later. Her father slept at 7:30 P.M. con homicido even if the victim killed was an innocent
after dinner. bystander. 16 Or that death supervened by mere accident, provided that the homicide was produced by
reason or on the occasion of robbery, inasmuch as it is only the result obtained, without reference or
She claimed further that, at about 6:30 A.M., the morning following the incident, she was on her way to distinction as to the circumstances, causes, modes or persons intervening in the commission of the crime,
school. As she was nearing the house of Dr. Lopez, Genoveva and the latter's sister who was then carrying that has to be taken into consideration. 17 In the recent case of People vs. Pamintuan, 18 the accused
a wooden stick ("malo"), were waiting for her (Gina) and her companions ("Agharang da amin"). She prisoners were held liable for robbery with homicide although the items robbed, i.e., five (5) shotguns and
decided to skip school. three (3) guns, Ruby Cal. 22, belong to the armory of the Provincial Jail of San Fernando, Pampanga, and
not the personal properties of the homicide victims, the provincial jail guards.
The Balanags described their dwelling as a one room house that it would not be possible for them to leave
without being seen or noticed by the other members of the family. Prior to the robbery and killing, the We now come to the more important issues of whether the guilt of accused-appellant was established
Balanags were in good terms with the Lopezes. Federico denied he was in the company of his cousin Tito beyond reasonable doubt. We rule in the affirmative.
Balanag and Serafin Dacanay that fateful evening of November 24, 1985. He admitted, however, that
Serafin was the godfather of one of his children. At least two credible witnesses, Iluminada and Genoveva, positively identified accused-appellant Federico
Balanag as among those who barged into their house that tragic evening. Genoveva even saw accused-
After trial, the court a quo found Federico Balanag and his co-accused Tito Balanag guilty of Robbery with appellant when he fled from the scene, taking with him a mini-stereo cassette. These eyewitnesses could
Homicide. 7 They were meted the penalty of reclusion perpetua. The court a quo also ordered accused- not have been mistaken as they knew Federico and Tito even before the incident. The records reveal that
appellant and Tito Balanag, to indemnify, solidarily, the heirs of the deceased Dr. Guillermo Lopez, the the Lopezes and the Balanags were neighbors since birth. 19
following amounts:
It was also not improbable for the eyewitnesses to recognized the faces of the culprits. According to
a) P50,000.00 — for the death of Guillermo Lopez; Genoveva, the accused were not wearing masks, albeit Serafin was wearing a hat. At that time, too, the
b) P48,110.00 — as actual damages; place of incident was well lighted as 50 watts electric bulbs, installed along the porch, in the living room
c) P20,000.00 — as moral damages; and and the kitchen, were on. 20
d) P172,000.00 — for loss of earning capacity.
The credibility of these eyewitnesses is further enhanced by the fact that Iluminada and Genoveva had no
Both accused appealed. 8 However, Tito Balanag, who has remained at large, did not file the required ill feelings against Federico prior to the incident. Accused-appellant himself confirmed this lack of ill
Appellant's Brief. His appeal was considered abandoned for failure to prosecute his appeal and, more motive. 21 Thus, we see no reason to depart from the well established rule that when there is no evidence
importantly, for his refusal to submit himself to the jurisdiction of the authorities. 9 to show that the prosecution witnesses were actuated by improper motive, their identification of the
Accused-appellant Federico Balanag now contends:
57

accused should be given full faith and Robbery with Homicide is punishable with reclusion perpetua, notwithstanding the aggravating
credit. 22 circumstances attending the commission of the crime, 29 since at the time of the commission of the
offense, Congress had yet to restore the imposition of death penalty.
Nonetheless, accused-appellant stresses that nobody testified on his participation to the killing. He points
out that, since there was no proof of conspiracy, he could not be held responsible for the death of Dr. In connection with the civil liability of accused-appellant, the award of P48,110.00, for actual or
Lopez. We hold otherwise. compensatory damages, is not fully supported by evidence. The records show that the total amount
incurred for burial/funeral expenses was P19,482.00, not P23,110.00. 30
Conspiracy need not be proved by direct evidence of prior agreement to commit the crime. It could be
inferred from the conduct of the accused before, during or after the commission of the crime, showing Anent Mrs. Lopez' additional claim of P25,000.00 for the expenses incurred during the two weeks wake
that the accused had acted in unison with each other, evincing a common purpose or design. 23 The for the victim, we find the said claim reasonable considering the social standing of the Lopezes in the
circumstances in field show the existence of conspiracy among accused-appellant and his cohorts. community. The Lopezes are prominent in their place, not to mention they belong to a big family. (Mr. and
Federico, Serafin and Tito simultaneously barged thru the front door of Dr. Lopez' residence. To further Mrs. Lopez sired 13 children, most of whom are professionals and gainfully employed). The total award for
secure the area, Roberto Balanag stood on guard at the back portion of the house. Serafin then led actual damages should then be P44,482.00, and not P48,110.00.
Iluminada upstairs, while Tito and Federico stayed downstairs. Their plan was almost perfect and would
have been successful if Dr. Lopez did not attempt to rescue his wife and daughter from Serafin. Dr. Lopez' With respect to the claim for loss of earning capacity of the victim, we note that the victim was already 69
unexpected resistance, albeit futile in the hands of the armed robbers, aborted the well-planned robbery. years old at the time he was killed on November 24, 1985. His income as a dentist was P10,000.00 per
Thus, Tito and Federico hastily got Genoveva's shoulder bag and the mini-stereo cassette. They fled month, or P120,000.00 per annum. After deducting therefrom the necessary and incidental expenses
together, leaving behind Serafin who was still grappling with Genoveva. Without a doubt, accused- which the victim would have incurred if he were alive, the court a quo, declared that the victim's annual
appellant acted in unison and cooperated with his companions in committing the robbery. net income would be P24,000.00. The trial court multiplied his net annual income by his life expectancy of
seven (7) years and two (2) months, 31hence, P172,000.00 was awarded for loss of the earning capacity of
It is settled that when homicide is committed as a consequence or on the occasion of the robbery, all those the victim.
who took part as principals in the robbery will also be liable as principals of the special crime of robbery
with homicide, although they did not actually take part in the homicide. The exception to the rule is when In computing the loss of the earning capacity of the victim, several factors are considered besides the
it is clearly shown that they endeavored to prevent the unlawful killing. 24 In this case, there is no evidence mathematical computation of annual income times life expectancy. Allowances are made for
that accused-appellant tried to prevent the killing of Dr. Lopez. His claim of innocence is believe by the fact circumstances which could reduce the computed life expectancy of the victim, e.g., nature of work of the
that, after Dr. Lopez was shot and stabbed by his cohorts, he carried away the mini-stereo cassette of the victim, 32 his lifestyle, age, and state of health prior to his death. 33 In addition, we have to consider the
Lopezes. Accused-appellant was, therefore, correctly found guilty of the special complex crime of robbery rate of loss sustained by the heirs of the victim. 34In this case, albeit there was no evidence on the state of
with homicide. health of the victim, considering his advanced age, we find it reasonable and fair to assume that he would
not be able work and earn, as a dentist, until he reaches the final moment of his life. 35 Thus, we reduce
Accused-appellant's defense of alibi cannot succeed because of circumstances pointing to its contrived the award for loss of the earning capacity of the deceased to P144,000.00, which is the approximate
nature and his positive identification by the prosecution witnesses. 25 The records show that accused- amount he would have earned until his 75th birthday. 36
appellant's house was about 120 meters from the house of the Dr, Lopez, thus, it was not physically
impossible for him to be at the scene of the crime and to commit the crime. 26 WHEREFORE, premises considered, we AFFIRM WITH MODIFICATION the assailed Decision, dated
September 5, 1991, of the Regional Trial Court (Branch XXXIII) of Bauang, La Union, in Criminal Case No. A-
The testimonies given by accused-appellant's wife and daughter vis-a-vis that of eyewitnesses Iluminada 1540. Accordingly, the indeminification granted in favor of the heirs of DR. GUILLERMO LOPEZ, are
and Genoveva, do not inspire belief. For one, Gina lied when she testified she attended school on modified as follows:
November 24, 1985. When confronted that it was a Sunday, she got confused and said she went to school
on November 22, 1985 or January 22, 1985. Gina also denied knowing Dr. Lopez, only to admit later that a) P50,000.00, for the death of Dr. Lopez;
she knew him as he was their neighbor. 27 She also claimed that Genoveva and her sister waited for them
b) P20,000.00, for moral damages;
after the incident, prompting her not to proceed to school. On cross-examination, however, Gina admitted
that she was not sure if they were really waiting for them. c) P44,482.00, for actual expenses; and
The testimony of Teresita appears to be more consistent in contrast to her daughter's story. However, the d) P144,000.00, for loss of the earning capacity.
trial court gave greater credence on the prosecution witnesses' testimonies. It is settled that when the
issue of credibility of witnesses is involved, appellate courts will generally not disturb the findings of the No costs.
trial court considering that the latter is in a better position to decide the question, having heard the
witnesses themselves and observed their deportment and manner of testifying during the trial, unless SO ORDERED.
certain facts of value have been plainly overlooked which if considered, might affect the result of the
case. 28
58

[G.R. No. 162767. February 28, 2005] On 06 January 2005, accused-appellant, thru counsel, filed the aforementioned motion for new trial with
prayer to suspend the period for filing appellant's brief and to use the property bond as her bailbond during
PEOPLE vs. ZARATE the pendency of this appeal. Accused-appellant stated that while the appeal is pending, a supervening
event transpired wherein the missing child, Jason Demogena, was found and was returned to the private
SECOND DIVISION
complainant Merly Demogena. Thus, thru counsel, she filed a motion to take deposition of complainant
Gentlemen: Merly Demogena and one Nita Mamaril in the trial court which was subsequently granted. The taking of
said depositions was scheduled on 13 December 2004. Accused-appellant claimed that the depositions of
Quoted hereunder, for your information, is a resolution of this Court dated FEB 28 2005. Merly Demogena and Nita Mamaril, if duly taken, will prove her innocence of the crime charged.

G.R. No. 162767 (People of the Philippines vs. Mae Zarate.) We deny the motion and dismiss the appeal.

RESOLUTION Records disclose that accused-appellant failed to appear at the promulgation of judgment (as disclosed by
the judge's explanation dated 30 November 2004). The trial court, despite accused-appellant's absence,
Pending before the Court is a Motion for New Trial, with prayer to suspend period for filing the brief and promulgated the judgment of conviction. She remains at large even while her counsel continues to file
to use the property bond as her bailbond during the pendency of this appeal, filed by Mae Zarate, the various pleadings before the RTC, i.e., the notice of appeal[8] and motion to take the depositions[9] of Merly
accused-appellant in Criminal Case No. 01-101627. Demogena and Nita Mamaril, and the motion for new trial with this Court, with prayer to suspend period
for filing brief and to use her property bond as her bailbond during the pendency of this appeal.
Appellant was charged[1] in Criminal Case No. 01-101627 before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon
City, Branch 89, with the crime of Failure to Return a Minor, for allegedly failing to restore minor Jason Section 6, par. 5, Rule 120 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure provides:
Demogena to her mother Merly Demogena.
If the judgment is for conviction and the failure of the accused to appear was without justifiable cause, he
On 30 October 2003, the RTC of Quezon City, Branch 89, rendered a decision[2] convicting the accused- shall lose the remedies available in these Rules against the judgment and the court shall order his arrest.
appellant, the dispositive portion of which reads: Within fifteen (15) days from promulgation of judgment, however, the accused may surrender and file a
motion for leave of court to avail of these remedies. He shall state the reasons for his absence at the
WHEREFORE, premises considered, accused Mae Zarate is found GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the
scheduled promulgation and if he proves that his absence was for a justifiable cause, he shall be allowed
crime of Failure to Return a Minor under Article 270 of the Revised Penal Code and is hereby sentenced to
to avail of said remedies within fifteen (15) days from notice. (Emphasis supplied)
suffer an imprisonment of TWENTY (20) YEARS AND ONE (1) DAY TO FORTY (40) YEARS OF RECLUSION
PERPETUA. Corollary to this rule is the second paragraph of Section 8 of Rule 124 of the 2000 Revised Rules of Criminal
Procedure which says:
Likewise, Mae Zarate is ordered to pay spouses Demogena the sum of ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS
(P 100,000.00) PESOS as and by way of moral damages. The Court of Appeals may also, upon motion of the appellee or on its own motion, dismiss the appeal if
the appellant escapes from prison or confinement, or jumps bail or flees to a foreign country during the
Accordingly, said accused is ordered immediately committed to the Correctional Institute for Women and
pendency of the appeal.
the Property Bond posted for her provisional liberty is canceled.
Section 1 of Rule 125 of the 2000 Rules of Criminal Procedure extends the scope of the applicability of the
On 19 November 2003, accused-appellant, thru counsel, filed a notice of appeal[3] of the decision of the
above-cited rules:
trial court, thereby giving notice that she is appealing the case to the Court of Appeals.
Unless otherwise provided by the Constitution or the law, the procedure in the Supreme Court in original
On 31 March 2004, the Court of Appeals transmitted[4] the records of the case to this Court, considering
as well as in appealed cases shall be the same as in the Court of Appeals.
that the penalty imposed was reclusion perpetua.[5]
The rationale for Section 8, Rule 124, is that once an accused escapes from imprisonment, or jumps bail or
On 08 November 2004, this Court resolved[6] to accept the appeal and required the Presiding Judge of the
flees to a foreign country, he loses his standing in court and unless he surrenders or submits to the
said RTC to inform us of the whereabouts of accused-appellant within ten (10) days from notice and the
jurisdiction of the court, he is deemed to have waived any right to seek relief from the court. [10]This
Chief of the Judicial Records Office to send notices to file brief.
doctrine applies not only to the accused who jumps bail during the appeal, but also to one who does so
On 20 December 2004, the Presiding Judge of said court submitted her explanation[7] dated 30 November during the trial.[11] As illuminated by Justice Florenz D. Regalado:
2004, stating, among other things, that accused-appellant failed to appear during the promulgation of
. . . When, as in this case, the accused escaped after his arraignment and during the trial, but the trial
judgment despite due notice, thus, the property bail was confiscated and forfeited by the Court and a
in absentia proceeded resulting in the promulgation of a judgment against him and his counsel appealed,
warrant of arrest was issued. To date, she has no information as to the whereabouts of the accused.
since he nonetheless remained at large his appeal must be dismissed by analogy with the aforesaid
provision of this Rule (Rule 124, §8 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure).[12] (Emphasis supplied)
59

The accused cannot be accorded the right to appeal unless they voluntarily submit to the jurisdiction of
the court or are otherwise arrested within 15 days from notice of the judgment against them. [13] While at
large, they cannot seek relief from the court, as they are deemed to have waived the appeal.[14]

Taking our cue 'from the above-cited laws and jurisprudence, as accused-appellant remains at large and
refused to surrender, she is denied any right to seek relief from this Court, including her right to appeal
which is deemed to have been abandoned. Consequently, the judgment against her has become final and
executory.[15] By fleeing, the herein accused exhibited contempt of the authority of the court and placed
herself in a position to speculate on her chances for a reversal. In the process, she kept herself out of the
reach of justice, but hoped to render the judgment nugatory at her option. [16] Such conduct is intolerable
and does not invite leniency on the part of the appellate court.[17]

Considering the foregoing, the appeal is accordingly DISMISSED and accused's Motion for New Trial dated
05 June 2005 and accompanying prayer to suspend the period for filing appellant's brief and to use the
property bond as her bailbond during the pendency of this appeal are correspondingly DENIED.

SO ORDERED.
60

PEOPLE v. ARNEL MATARO

G.R. No. 130378. March 8, 2001

Accused-appellants were found guilty for the crime of murder, and both were sentenced to suffer the
penalty of reclusion perpetua and to pay the heirs of the victim.

HELD:

The accused appellants invoke the “equipoise” rule because their guilt had not been established beyond
reasonable doubt. The SC said that it has enumerated the requisites for credible identification in the case
of

People v. Teehankee, Jr., 249 SCRA 54 (1995) as follows:

1) the witness’ opportunity to view the criminal at the time of the crime;

2) witness’ degree of attention at that time;

3) the accuracy of any prior description given by the witness;

4) the level of certainty demonstrated by the witness at the identification;

5) the length of time between the crime and the identification; and

6) the suggestiveness of the identification procedure. 18

The Court held that in their view, these requirements were met. In the instant case, there is no question
that both witnesses had the opportunity to view the incident as it unfolded before them with a degree of
attention that allowed them to take in the important details and recall them clearly. Moreover, as
repeatedly stressed, appellate court should accord to the factual findings of trial courts and their
evaluation great weight and respect concerning the credibility of witnesses. The conditions of visibility
being favorable and these witnesses not appearing to be biased, the conclusion of trial courts regarding
the identity of the malefactors should normally be accepted.

The SC also held that the trial court did not err in qualifying the killing as murder. There was treachery in
this case since, as testified to by prosecution witness Fernandez, the victim had already dismissed the
appellants after they talked to him. The victim was deliberately allowed to enjoy a false sense of security.
They shot the victim when the latter had his hands raised. The SC therefore affirmed the ruling of the lower
court, but made modifications with the costs to be paid by the accused.
61

[G.R. No. 152134. June 4, 2004] The trial court found that the negligent acts of the drivers of both the jeepney and the Ceres Liner Bus
combined in directly causing the death of Jury Tabusares. It therefore held both drivers solidarily liable for
ENDREO MAGBANUA, VALLACAR TRANSIT, INC., and its Present Corporate Official RICARDO damages. The court ruled:
YANSON, petitioners, vs.JOSE TABUSARES, JR., EVA T. LAFIGUERA, NONA C. TABUSARES, JUN C.
TABUSARES, FE C. TABUSARES and JAX C. TABUSARES, respondents. WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing considerations, judgment is hereby rendered ordering and
condemning the defendants Endreo A. Magbanua, Vallacar Transit, Inc., thru and represented by its
DECISION corporate official Ricardo Yanson, Felipe T. Palacios and Salvador Algara, Sr. to pay jointly and severally to
the plantiffs, as follows:
PUNO, J.:
1. The sum of P50,000.00 as indemnity for the death of Jury Tabusares;
The case at bar arose from the complaint for damages filed by spouses Jose Tabusares, Sr. and Rebecca
Tabusares against petitioners, Endreo A. Magbanua, Vallacar Transit, Inc., and/or its corporate officials for 2. The amount of P699,336.00 as indemnity for the loss of the earning capacity of the late Jury Tabusares;
the tragic death of their son, Jury Tabusares, in a vehicular mishap involving a Ceres Liner Bus owned and
operated by petitioners. The case was docketed as Civil Case No. 4654 before the Regional Trial Court of 3. The amount of P27,600.00 as reimbursement for actual expenses in connection with the death and
Negros Occidental, Branch 48,Bacolod City. burial of the said deceased;

The facts, as found by the trial court, are as follows: 4. The amount of P10,000.00 as moral damages; and

At about 4:30 oclock in the afternoon of October 25, 1986, a Ceres Liner Bus No. 154 with Plate No. GVG 5. The sum of P10,000.00 as reasonable attorneys fees.
469, driven by Endreo Magbanua and owned and operated by Vallacar Transit, Inc., and an Amante Type
Jeepney bearing Plate No. FBN 996, driven by Felipe Palacios and owned by Salvador Algara, Sr. figured in The cross-claim of defendant Salvador Algara, Sr. against the defendants Endreo A. Magbanua and Vallacar
a vehicular accident along the national road at Hda. Mabuhay, Gil Montilla, Sipalay, Negros Occidental. The Transit, Inc., represented by its corporate official Ricardo Yanson, is hereby allowed and defendants Endreo
Ceres Liner Bus bumped the rear portion of the Amante Type Jeepney while both vehicles were running A. Magbanua and Vallacar Transit, Inc., represented by it (sic) corporate official Ricardo Yanson are hereby
downhill on the same direction towards the town of Sipalay from the North. Due to the impact, several ordered to indemnify Salvador Algara, Sr. in such amount as he may be required to pay as damages to the
passengers of the Amante Type Jeepney were thrown out and ran over by the Ceres Liner Bus and died as herein plaintiffs.
a result of the injuries they sustained. (O)ne of those killed was Jury Tabusares, 27 years of age, single, an
The counterclaims of the defendants against the plaintiffs are hereby dismissed for lack or merit.
employee of the Maricalum Copper Mines as Oiler 2B and was then receiving P1,256.00 monthly salary
plus P510.00 cost of living allowance (COLA) or a total monthly income of P1,766.00. Jury Tabusares was SO ORDERED.[2]
the son of the plantiffs Jose Tabusares, Sr. and Rebecca Tabusares. Immediately before the bumping
accident, the Ceres Liner Buss driver, Endreo Magbanua, was trying to overtake the Amante Type Jeepney Petitioners appealed to the Court of Appeals. They prayed that the decision of the trial court be reversed
ahead of him and he said that he did not apply his brakes because he cannot overtake if he will slow insofar as their liabilities are concerned.[3]
down. The Amante Type Jeepney was overloaded with 35 passengers and some of them clinging on its
sides and some were riding on the roof. While the Ceres Liner (B)us was about one and a half (1) meters During the pendency of the appeal, Jose Tabusares, Sr. and his wife, Rebecca, passed away. On May 18,
from the Amante Type Jeepney, the bus driver saw that the jeepney went zigzagging on the middle of the 1999, the Court of Appeals approved the substitution of the late spouses by their heirs, namely: Jose
road and since he could not control the bus anymore it bumped the rear portion of the jeep. Tabusares, Jr., Eva T. Lafiguera, Nona C. Tabusares, Jun C. Tabusares, Fe C. Tabusares and Jax C.
Tabusares.[4]
After a careful perusal of the circumstances of the case, the (c)ourt finds that the Amante Type Jeepney,
as testified to by its own driver, Felipe Palacios, was not a passenger jeepney but a private vehicle which On March 13, 2001, the Court of Appeals rendered its decision. It affirmed the factual findings of the trial
is used by its owner Salvador Algara, Sr., who is an ambulant peddler in his peddling business. But, although court, but modified the award of damages, reducing the amount of lost earning to P374,392.00. It made
not for passengers, it was carrying 35 passengers at the time of the bumping accident on October 25, the following computation:
1986 as testified to by Traffic Investigator Pfc. Praxedes Campillanos of the Sipalay Police Command,
In the case at bar, the victim Jury Tabusares was twenty- seven (27) years old at the time of death. With
Sipalay, Negros Occidental. This jeep had a seating capacity of only 16 passengers but it was made to
65 years as the given life expectancy in the Philippines, the victim was expected to live for another thirty-
accommodate passengers on its roof and some were clinging on its side. This act is not only gross
eight (38) years. In respect of income, the victim was receiving the amount of P1,766.00 as total monthly
negligence but it was violative of the traffic rules and regulations. On the other hand, the (c)ourt also finds
income or a gross yearly income of P21,192.00. Multiplied by 38, the number of years the victim is
that the driver of the Ceres Liner Bus was driving his vehicle negligently and recklessly because Endreo
expected to continue living, the amount arrived at is P748,784.00 using the formula 2/3 x [80-27] x
Magbanua testified and admitted that while driving the bus downhill and following the Amante type
21,192.00. From the said figure must be deducted the reasonable amount of P374,392.00 or 50% thereof
Jeepney ahead of him, he did not apply his brakes because he was trying to overtake when he bumped the
representing the living and other necessary expenses of the deceased had he continued to live. Hence, the
jeep on its rear portion. This act was negligent and reckless because Endreo Magbanua could have avoided
lost earnings of the deceased should be P374,392.00.[5]
the bumping of the jeepney had he applied his brakes considering that he has the last clear chance to
prevent a collision by slowing down and reducing speed.[1]
62

Petitioners filed a partial motion for reconsideration of the decision of the Court of Appeals, praying for a Aside from the loss sustained by the heirs of the deceased, another factor considered in determining the
reduction of the amount of damages for loss of earning capacity. The Court of Appeals denied the award of loss of earning capacity is the life expectancy of the deceased which takes into account his work,
motion.[6] Hence, this petition. lifestyle, age and state of health prior to the accident.[13]

Petitioners, while accepting the factual findings of the trial court and the appellate court, now assail the Thus, the formula for the computation of unearned income is:
latters computation of the award of damages for loss of earning capacity. They contend that there are
varying computations used in the decisions of this Court. In People vs. Lopez,[7] the Court applied the Net life gross living
following formula:
Earning = expectancy x annual less expenses
2/3 x (80-27) x P21,192.00 50%
Capacity income
However, the following formula was employed in People vs. Muyco, et al.:[8]
Life expectancy is determined in accordance with the formula:
2/3 x (80 27) x P21,192.00 80%
2/3 x [80 age of deceased]
The difference lies in the computation of the net income of the victim. In the Lopez case, net income was
The bone of contention in this case is the amount of living expenses that should be deducted from the
derived by deducting 50% of the gross annual income, while in the Muyco case, the amount deducted was
deceaseds gross annual income - whether 50% or 80%.
80% of the gross annual income. The Court of Appeals followed the computation in People vs. Lopez as it
was the prevailing case law at the time of the decision appealed from was promulgated and unmistakably A survey of more recent jurisprudence shows that the Court consistently pegged the amount at 50% of the
more favorable to the heirs of the deceased xxx.[9] Petitioners argue that the instant case was decided by gross annual income.[14] We held in Smith Bell Dodwell Shipping Agency Corp. vs. Borja[15] that when there
the Court of Appeals one year and six months after the promulgation of People vs. Muyco, therefore, the is no showing that the living expenses constituted a smaller percentage of the gross income, we fix the
Court should apply the computation in the latter case.[10] living expenses at half of the gross income, thus:
On the other hand, the respondents, in their comment, cite other cases decided after the Muyco case In other words, only net earnings, not gross earnings, are to be considered; that is, the total of the earnings
where the Court applied the formula in the Lopezcase. They submit that the computation in People vs. less expenses necessary in the creation of such earnings or income, less living and other incidental
Lopez should be applied in this case.[11] expenses. When there is no showing that the living expenses constituted a smaller percentage of the
gross income, we fix the living expenses at half of the gross income. To hold that one would have used
The petition is devoid of merit.
only a small part of the income, with the larger part going to the support of ones children, would be
Article 2205 of the New Civil Code allows the recovery of damages for loss or impairment of earning conjectural and unreasonable. (emphasis supplied)
capacity in cases of temporary or permanent personal injury. Such damages covers the loss sustained by
There is no evidence in the case at bar whether the living expenses of the victim, Jury Tabusares,
the dependents or heirs of the deceased, consisting of the support they would have received from him
constituted a bigger or smaller percentage of his gross income. In such case, it is fair to assume that it is
had he not died because of the negligent act of another. The loss is not equivalent to the entire earnings
50% of his gross annual income. Hence, we find that the Court of Appeals did not err in its computation of
of the deceased, but only that portion that he would have used to support his dependents or heirs. Hence,
the award of loss of unearned income to petitioner.
we deduct from his gross earnings the necessary expenses supposed to be used by the deceased for his
own needs. The Court explained in Villa Rey Transit, Inc. vs. Court of Appeals[12] that: IN VIEW WHEREOF, the petition is DENIED. The assailed decision of the Court of Appeals is AFFIRMED.
(the award of damages for loss of earning capacity is) concerned with the determination of the losses or SO ORDERED.
damages sustained by the private respondents, as dependents and intestate heirs of the deceased, and
that said damages consist, not of the full amount of his earnings, but of the support they received or would
have received from him had he not died in consequence of the negligence of petitioners agent. In fixing
the amount of that support, we must reckon with the necessary expenses of his own living, which should
be deducted from his earnings. Thus, it has been consistently held that earning capacity, as an element of
damages to ones estate for his death by wrongful act is necessarily his net earning capacity or his capacity
to acquire money, less the necessary expense for his own living. Stated otherwise, the amount recoverable
is not loss of the entire earning, but rather the loss of that portion of the earnings which the beneficiary
would have received. In other words, only net earnings, not gross earning are to be considered that is, the
total of the earnings less expenses necessary in the creation of such earnings or income and less living and
other incidental expenses.
63

People vs. Narvaez, 121 SCRA 389 (1983)  Lack of sufficient provocation on part of person defending himself. Here, there was no
provocation at all since he was asleep
FACTS: Mamerto Narvaez has been convicted of murder (qualified by treachery) of David Fleischer and
Flaviano Rubia. On August 22, 1968, Narvaez shot Fleischer and Rubia during Since not all requisites present, defendant is credited with the special mitigating circumstance of
the time the two were constructing a fence that would prevent Narvaez from getting into his house and incomplete defense, pursuant to Art. 13(6) RPC. These mitigating circumstances are: voluntary surrender
rice mill. The defendant was taking a nap when he heard sounds of construction and and passion and obfuscation (read p. 405 explanation) Crime is homicide (2 counts) not murder because
found fence being made. He addressed the group and asked them to stop destroying his house and asking treachery is not applicable on account of provocation by the deceased. Also, assault was not deliberately
if they could talk things over. Fleischer responded with "No, gadamit, proceed, go chosen with view to kill since slayer acted instantaneously. There was also no direct evidence of planning
ahead." Defendant lost his "equilibrium," and shot Fleisher with his shotgun. He also shot Rubia who was or preparation to kill. Art. 249 RPC: Penalty for homicide is reclusion temporal. However, due to mitigating
running towards the jeep where the deceased's gun was placed. Prior to the circumstances and incomplete defense, it can be lowered three degrees (Art. 64) to arrestomayor.
shooting, Fleischer and Co. (the company of Fleischer's family) was involved in a legal battle with the
defendant and other land settlers of Cotabato over certain pieces of property. At the time 3. WON he should be liable for subsidiary imprisonment since he is unable to pay the civil indemnity due
of the shooting, the civil case was still pending for annulment (settlers wanted granting of property to to the offended party.
Fleisher and Co. to be annulled). At time of the shooting, defendant had leased his
property from Fleisher (though case pending and ownership uncertain) to avoid trouble. On June 25, No. He is not liable to be subsidiarily imprisoned for nonpayment of civil indemnity. RA 5465 made the
defendant received letter terminating contract because he allegedly didn't pay rent. provisions of Art. 39 applicable to fines only and not to reparation of damage caused, indemnification of
He was given 6 months to remove his house from the land. Shooting was barely 2 months after letter. consequential damages and costs of proceedings. Although it was enacted only after its conviction,
Defendant claims he killed in defense of his person and property. CFI ruled that considering that RA 5465 is favorable to the accused who is not a habitual delinquent, it may be given
Narvaez was guilty. Aggravating circumstances of evident premeditation offset by the mitigating retroactive effect pursuant to Art. 22 of the RPC.
circumstance of voluntary surrender. For both murders, CFI sentenced him to reclusion perpetua, to
indemnify the heirs, and to pay for moral damages. Judgment: Defendant guilty of homicide but w/ mitigating circumstances and extenuating circumstance of
incomplete self defense. Penalty is 4 months arresto mayor and to indemnify
ISSUES: each group of heirs 4,000 w/o subsidiary imprisonment and w/o award for moral damages. Appellant has
1. Whether or not CFI erred in convicting defendant-appellant despite the fact that he acted in defense of already been detained 14 years so his immediate release is ordered.
his person.
Gutierrez, dissenting. Defense of property can only be invoked when coupled with form of attack on person
No. The courts concurred that the fencing and chiselling of the walls of the house of the defendant was defending property. In the case at bar, this was not so. Appellant should then be sentenced to prision
indeed a form of aggression on the part of the victim. However, this mayor. However, since he has served more than that, he should be released.
aggression was not done on the person of the victim but rather on his rights to property. On the first issue,
the courts did not err. However, in consideration of the violation of property rights, the courts referred to
Art. 30 of the civil code recognizing the right of owners to close and fence their land.

Although is not in dispute, the victim was not in the position to subscribe to the article because his
ownership of the land being awarded by the government was still pending, therefore putting ownership
into question. It is accepted that the victim was the original aggressor.

2. WON the court erred in convicting defendant-appellant although he acted in defence of his rights.

Yes. However, the argument of the justifying circumstance of self-defense is applicable only if the 3
requirements are fulfilled. Art. 11(1) RPC enumerates these requisites:

 Unlawful aggression. In the case at bar, there was unlawful aggression towards appellant's
property rights. Fleisher had given Narvaez 6 months and he should have left him in peace
before time was up, instead of chiseling Narvaez's house and putting up fence. Art. 536 of the
Civil Code also provides that possession may not be acquired through force or intimidation;
while Art. 539 provides that every possessor has the right to be respected in his possession

 Reasonable necessity of means employed to prevent or repel attack. In the case, killing was
disproportionate to the attack.
64

G.R. No. L-29630 July 2, 1981 a quarterly volume of business amounting to P110,000,000.00; that it has several big companies among
its clients; and that it has a reputation for honesty, reliability and trustworthiness, and has enjoyed
PHILIPPINE COMMERCIAL & INDUSTRIAL BANK, plaintiff-appellant, domestic and international prominence and goodwill." 8 On that point, the lower court ruled: "The plaintiff
vs. has also miserably failed to prove any damage caused to it by the supposed libelous placard subject matter
PHILNABANK EMPLOYEES' ASSOCIATION, ROMEO G. ROY, DALUYONG GABRIEL, BAYANI A. BAUTISTA, of this action. Plaintiff has admitted that its twenty-seven branches at the time of the filing of the complaint
DOMINGO VILLANUEVA, ALEJANDRO RICARDO, JESUS MANAHAN, MANUEL JACINTO, ERNESTO BATAC, (May 6, 1967) increased to twenty-nine branches in August of 1967. The defendants have shown that the
LEONIDO CASPE PATRICIA GRANADOS and PANTALEON BERNARDO, defendants-appellees. number further increased to thirty-three branches as of September, 1967. Plaintiff's networth likewise
increased from P46,000,000.00 in March, 1967 to P53,000,000.00 in August, 1967. Although plaintiff's
witness Jovino Valenzuela testified that. after the display of the questioned placard, the deposits of the
FERNANDO, C.J.: plaintiff bank decreased, no record was presented to sustain this claim, which is even inconsistent with
the admission of the same witness that the Bank's networth increased since that time and has continued
There is a unique aspect to this action for libel against the Philippine National Bank Employees' to increase up to the time he testified. The same thing is true with the testimony of plaintiff's witness
Association. 1 It was filed by plaintiff Philippine Commercial and Industrial Bank as a result of placards and Edmundo Ledesma to the effect that due to the placard in question his confidence in the plaintiff was
signboards along the Philippine National Bank building in Escolta, Manila, containing the following: "PCIB shaken, thereby causing him to deposit P50,000.00 with other banks instead of with the PCIB. He
BAD ACCOUNTS TRANSFERRED TO PNB-NIDC?" Plaintiff considered the above "defamatory and libelous admmitted moreover that, as an exporter, it was safer to be opening accounts in several banks instead of
per se for at the very least [it] amounts to an "act tending to cause dishonor, discredit, or contempt of a in only one." 9
juridical person." 2 The allegation of its being libelous was denied by defendants on the ground that such
placards "containing the alleged writing were displayed during the strike on April 3 and April 4,1967 as a As noted earlier, the decision must be affirmed.
fair, legal labor strategy denouncing the lack of business foresight, incompetence, mismanagement,
1. The brief presented by the San Juan, Africa, Gonzales and San Agustin Law Offices is noted for its
arbitrary and despotic acts of the Management to heed the legal and legitimate demands of the
exhaustive and scholarly discussion of the law on libel relying on both the Philippine and American
defendants, as a striking union, and against whom a strike was declared against the management of the
authorities. If the matter were viewed solely from what appeared in the placard, there is an element of
Philippine National Bank" 3 and that moreover, "defendants, during the strike on April 3 to April 4, 1967,
plausibility in the assertion that while it was aimed at the Philippine National Bank, the way it was worded
against the management of the Philippine National Bank, were only moved by good intention and
could reflect on a stranger to the controversy, plaintiff Philippine Commercial and Industrial Bank. It is
justifiable motives and did not intend to injure any party not connected with the strike;" 4constituting part
understandable if there were an affront to the sensibilities of its officials, They were right to guard its
"of their legal and fair labor strategy to enforce their demands" and to bolster their imputation of
reputation earned after many years of laudable and creditable performance in the field of banking. It is,
incompetence and arbitrariness of the Philippine National Bank management. 5 The lower court sustained
however, precisely because of its well-deserved reputation that what could at first glance be for the most
such a defense and dismissed the complaint. Hence this appeal.
fastidious hurtful to its prestige could, if viewed with calmness and objectivity, be considered, as it was
The decision of the then Judge Conrado Vasquez was to dismiss the complaint. He could not discern any characterized in the appealed decision, as lacking in "libelous imputation. "
libelous imputation in the alleged offending words. Such a ruling finds additional support in the
2. There is, as already indicated, another reinforcement to such a mode of appraising the matter. There
sympathetic approach followed by courts to inaccuracies and imprecision in language in the use of placards
was a labor controversy resulting in a strike, fortunately lasting only for one day. The labor union made
as part of peaceful picketing in labor controversies.
use of its constitutional right to picket. From the time of Mortera v. Court of Industrial Relations, a 1947
The facts as found by the lower court, admitted by plaintiff-appellant as correct, follow: "On April 3, 1967, decision, 10 this Court has been committed to the view that peaceful picketing is part of the freedom of
defendant Philnabank Employees' Association (PEMA), a labor organization composed of the rank and file speech guarantee of the Constitution. The latest case in point where such a principle was reaffirmed
employees of the Philippine National Bank, declared a strike. During the said strike, which lasted up to the expressly is Associated Labor Union v. Gomez, 11 a 1980 decision. There is no mention of the other placards
following day, members of the (PEMA) paraded and displayed placards in front of the PNB building at but it is not unlikely that to bolster its claim, mention was likewise made and in bold letters at that of such
Escolta, Manila, one of which contained the following words: "PCIB BAD ACCOUNTS TRANSFERRED TO alleged failing of its management. That was the aim and intent as found by the lower court. That could not
PNB-NIDC?" It is an admitted fact that PCIB stands for plaintiff Philippine Commercial and Industrial Bank, very well be disputed by plaintiff-appellant. Unfortunately, the offending imputation, but in the form of a
while PNB refers to Philippine National Bank, and NIDC stands for National Investment Development question, was included. It was due to a former official of plaintiff-appellant's bank who was thereafter
Corporation, a subsidiary of the PNB." 6 To prove its claim for the recovery of damages both actual and named as President of the Philippine National Bank. Should there be an automatic attitude of
exemplary, as well as for attorney's fees, plaintiff-appellant, as noted in the appealed decision, contended condemnation for such incident? If the realistic observation of Justice Frankfurter in Milk Wagon Drivers
"that the writing on the placard in question is a baseless and malicious aspersion that the plaintiff was a Union of Chicago v. Meadowmoor Dairies 12 be heeded that labor disputes give rise to strong emotional
party to a fraud, in that it was able to recoup on bad debts or other uncollected accounts by fraudulent, response, then the decision reached by the lower court becomes even more acceptable. It is a fact of
questionable and immoral transfer thereof to the PNB or NIDC. 7 Malice was likewise at- tributed to industrial life, both in the Philippines as in the United States, that in the continuing confrontation between
defendant labor union and its officers. Then the decision went on to state: "Plaintiff presented evidence labor and management, it is far from likely that the language employed would be both courteous and
to show that it is the largest 100% Filipino commercial bank in the Philippines; that at the time of the filing polite. Such being the case. there is no affront either to reason or to the law in the complaint for libel being
of the complaint, it had twenty-seven (27) branches all over the country and with foreign correspondent dismissed. In pricing reliance on the constitutional right of freedom of expression, 13 this Court once again
banks throughout the world; that the assets of the plaintiff amounted to P333,417,445.05 and it handles makes manifest its adherence to the principle first announced by Justice Malcolm as ponente in the leading
65

case of United States v. Bustos. 14 In no uncertain terms, it made clear that the judiciary, in deciding suits
for libel, must ascertain whether or not the alleged offending words may be embraced by the guarantees
of free speech and free press. It cannot he too often said that Bustos was promulgated as far back as March
8, 1918. A doctrine analogous in character was enunciated by the United States Supreme Court only thirty-
six years later in New York Times Co. v. Sullivan. 15

WHEREFORE, the appealed decision is affirmed. No costs.


66

G.R. No. 90983 September 27, 1991 SO ORDERED. 2

LAW FIRM OF RAYMUNDO A. ARMOVIT, petitioner However, upon the turnover of the money to the private respondent, Mrs. Brenda Bengson (wife of
vs. Romualdo Bengzon delivered to Atty. Armovit the sum of P300,000.00 only. Armovit protested and
COURT OF APPEALS, JUDGE GENARO C. GINES, Presiding Judge of Branch XXVI, Regional Trial Court, First demanded the amount of P552,000.0 twenty percent of P2,760,000.00), for which Mrs. Bengzon made
Judicial Region, San Fernando, La Union, and BENGSON COMMERCIAL BUILDING, INC.,respondents. assurances that he will be paid the balance.

Raymundo A. Armovit and Rafael R. Armovit for petitioner. On November 4, 1988, however, Atty. Armovit received a order emanating from the trial court in the tenor
as follows:
Pacifico C. Yadao for private respondent.
During the hearing on the petition to record attorney's charge lien on October 11, 1988, Attys. Armovit
and Aglipay withdrew their petition to record attorney's charging lien, which was duly approve petition to
recordby the Court, after which the Court directed the parties to comp faithfully with their respective
SARMIENTO, J.:p
obligations.
Before the Court is Atty. Raymundo Armovit's claim for attorney's fees against the private respondent.
In compliance with the Order of this Court, the plaintiff submitted a pleading denominated as compliance
It appears that Atty. Armovit was engaged as counsel for the private respondent in a complaint to have an alleging that petition (Atty. Armovit) has already received from the plaintiff the sum P300,000.00,
extrajudicial foreclosure of certain properties by the Government Service Insurance System declared null Philippine Currency, as and by way of attorney's fees With the receipt by the petitioner from the plaintiff
and void; that the parties allegedly agreed that the private respondent shall pay P15,000.00 as initial of this amount, the latter has faithfully complied with its obligation.
compensation and twenty percent in contingent fees; that after trial, the defunct Court of First Instance
WHEREFORE, the Order of this Court dated October 11, 1988 approving the withdrawal of the petition to
rendered judgment annulling foreclosure and ordering the Government Service Insurance System to
record attorney's charging lien, on motion of the petitioner, is now final.
restructure the private respondent's loan; that thereafter, the System appealed; the on appeal, the Court
of Appeals affirmed the decision of lower court; and that the Appellate Court's judgment has since attained SO ORDERED. 3
finality.
Reconsideration having been denied, Atty. Armovit went the Court of Appeals on a petition for certiorari
It also appears that when Atty. Armovit sought execution with the court a quo, he was informed by and prohibition.
Romualdo Bengson president of the respondent corporation, that the firm has retained the services of
Atty. Pacifico Yadao. He was also informed that the company would pay him the agreed compensation and On August 25, 1989, the Court of Appeals 4 rendered judgment dismissing the petition. Reconsideration
that Atty. Yadao's fees were covered by a separate agreement. The private respondent, however, later having been likewise denied by the Appellate Court, Atty. Armovit instituted the instant appeal.
ignored his billings and over the phone, directed him allegedly not to take part in the execution
proceedings. Forthwith, he sought the entry of an attorney's lien in the records of the case. The lower Shortly thereafter, we required the private respondent comment.
court allegedly refused to make the entry and on the contrary issued an order ordering the Philippine
The private respondent did not materially traverse Atty. Armorvit's chronicle of events but added: that the
National Bank to "release to the custody of Mr. Romualdo F. Bengzon and/or Atty Pacifico Yadao" 1 the
private respondent hired the petitioner after the Government Service Insurance System had answered and
sum of P2,760,000.00 (ordered by the Court of Appeals as rentals payable by the Government Service
that it was Atty. Benjam Bernardino who prepared the complaint; that for his appearances, Atty. Armovit
Insurance System).
was paid a total of P108,000.00, not to mention "beach resort accommodations"; 5 that Atty. Armovit did
Atty. Armovit then moved, apparently for the hearing of hi motion to recognize attorney's lien, and not inform the private respondent that the court had rendered judgment which they would have appealed;
thereafter, the trial court. issued an order in the tenor as follows: that they lost an appeal on account of Atty. Armovit's indiscretion; that the forthwith engaged the services
of another lawyer, Atty. Yadao; and that it was the latter who prepared the brief in the Court Appeals (on
When this case was called for hearing on the petition to record attorney's charging lien, Attys. Armovit and GSIS's appeal).
Aglipay appeared for the petitioners.
The private respondent also alleged that it opposed Atty. Armovit's effort to record his attorney's lien on
Atty. Armovit informed the Court that they are withdrawing the petition considering that they are in the grounds of allege nullity of the retainer agreement, Atty. Armovit's negligence and because of excessive
process of amicably settling their differences with the plaintiff, which manifestation was confirmed by fees demanded.
Atty. Yadao as well as the plaintiffs, Romualdo Bengson and Brenda Bengson, who are present today.
The private respondent also insisted that the retainer agreement was signed by only one of seven
In view of this development, the petition to record attorney charging lien, the same being in order and not directors, and it could no bind the corporation. Atty. Armovit, in any event, had also been allegedly more
contrary to law, moral and public policy, as prayed for by Attys. Armovit and Aglipay, it hereby withdrawn. than sufficiently compensated.
The parties, therefore are hereby directed to co ply faithfully with their respective obligations.
67

The private respondent alleged that Atty. Armovit had bee paid P300,000.00 — an amount approved by The Court does not therefore see how the private respondent can hold Atty. Armovit to have been in
the court, and an amount he accepted and for which he is allegedly estoppel from claiming a higher estoppel.
amount. The order of the court has the effect of res judicata, the private respondent claimed, as well as a
compromise agreement which is immediately executory. The fact that Atty. Armovit did not, after all, accept the sum of P300,000.00 as final compensation is indeed
indicated by the behavior of the private respondent, through Mrs. Romualdo Bengson, when she assured
The disposition of the Court of Appeals was that since the receipt evidencing payment to Atty. Armovit of Atty. Armovit that the balance was forthcoming. 11 According to Mrs. Bengson, she wished the rest of the
the sum P300,000.00 "was without any qualification as 'advance' 'partial' or 'incomplete'," 6 the intention Bengsons to witness the final payment and when the occasion was present, wished for a postponement
of the parties was that was full payment. The Appellate Court also noted Atty. Armorvit's withdrawal of on account of "All Saints Day."12
his motion to record attorney's lien and figured that Atty. Armovit was satisfied with the payment
P300,000,00. The parties never therefore amended their original agreement, and what appears to the Court is a clear
effort on the part of a client, with the apparent approval of the trial court, to renege on a valid agreement
The only issue is whether or not Atty. Armovit is entitled to the sum of P252,000.00 more, in addition to with its lawyer.
the sum P300,000.00 already paid him by the private respondent.There is no question that the parties had
agreed on a compensation as follows: The Court believes that the trial court, in accepting the private respondent's "compliance" as a final
payment of Atty. Armovit's fees, was guilty of a grave abuse of discretion. The private respondent had
a) P15,000.00 by way of acceptance and study fee, payable within five (5) days from date; nothing with which to comply, and the parties, as manifested by Atty. Armovit, were "in the process
[merely] of amicably settling their differences." 13
b) 20% contingent fee computed on the value to be recovered b favorable judgment in the cases; and
It is apparent furthermore that the trial judge himself was out to deny Atty. Armovit the agreed
c) the execution and signing of a final retainer agreement complete with all necessary details. 7 compensation. In his order of October 4, 1988, he commanded:
(While the parties' agreement speaks of "a final retain agreement" 8 to be executed later, it does not The PNB is hereby ordered and directed to release to the custody of Mr. Romualdo F. Bengson and /or
appear that the parties did enter into a "final" agreement thereafter.) Atty. Pacifico Yadao, counsel for the plaintiff, the sum of Two Million Seven Hundred Sixty Thousand Pesos
(P2,760,000.00), Philippine Currency for the satisfaction of the rentals of the Bengson Building against the
The private respondent's version however is that while it may be true that the agreed compensation was
GSIS. 14
twenty percent of all recoveries, the parties later agreed on a compromise sum approved allegedly by the
trial court, per its Order of October 11, 1988. in spite of the fact that Atty. Armovit had remained the private respondent's counsel of record. It is
fundamental that unless a lawyer has been validly discharged, his authority to act for his client continues
The Court is inclined to believe that Atty. Armovit never agreed on the compromise sum of P300,000.00.
and should be recognized by the court. 15
It is true that he did agree to withdraw his motion to annotate attorney's lien, but because the parties
were "in the process of amicably settling their differences" 9 and not because Atty. Armovit had agreed to The fact that the receipt evidencing payment by the private respondent of the amount of P300,000.00
accept a lower amount as full payment. There is nothing, on top of that, Atty. Armovit's manifestation that "was without any qualification as 'advance' or 'partial' or 'incomplete'," 16 as the Court of Appeals noted
would suggest that he was accepting the sum of P300,00.00 as agreed final payment, other than the fact and the Court of Appeals took to mean "full payment", will not weaken Atty. Armovit's demand for the
that an agreement was supposedly certain. We quote: balance. There is nothing in the receipt that will suggest that will suggest that it was full payment either,
and the fact that Atty. Armovit accepted it does not mean that he was satisfied that it was final payment.
ATTY. ARMOVIT:
The fact of the matter is that the private respondent had assured him that the balance was forthcoming.
Your Honor, we would like to manifest in Court that we served notice to the counsel of the plaintiff,
The private respondent can not justifiably downplay Atty. Armovit as negligent (for failing to appeal) or his
Bengson Commercial Building, a copy of the petition to record attorney's charging lien, and together with
demand for fees excessive (that he had been paid enough). Atty. Armovit, after all, succeeded in obtaining
the president of the corporation, Mr. Romualdo Bengson, and his wife, Mrs. Brenda Bengson, we have
a favorable decision for his client, an although his prayer for various damages were denied, he secceeded
discussed the problem and we all agreed upon is an earnest one at this time, this representation is
in obtaining a substantial award (P1,900,00.00 in unpaid rentals) for his client. On appeal, the Court of
withdrawing his petition to record charging lien.
Appeals sustained his theory. It should be noted that the private respondent had in fact stood to lose
ATTY. YADAO: substantial properties on foreclosure — Atty. Armovit not only restored to the private respondent its
foreclosured properties, he succeeded in having the private respondent's loans restructed and the
No objection, Your Honor, because we have to agree with Atty. Armovit. I am in full accord with this. 10 Government Service Insurance System pay rentals. No client can ask a better result from a lawyer.

There is nothing there that would indicate Atty. Armovit's willingness to accept, in fact, a lower figure in Obviously, the private respondent's effort to downgrade Atty. Armovit's performance is a wild, if not
consideration of his withdrawal of his request to enter attorney's lien. What the Court takes his statement cheap, shot of a client out to evade its obligations to its lawyer. The fact that Atty. Armovit may have been
to mean is that he was withdrawing his request on the certainty that the private respondent would pay paid substantially (in initial fees) while the case was dragging is no justification for denying him the full
him the money, presumably, under more becoming circumstances.
68

amount under their agreement. It has been held that initial fees and fees paid in the progress of litigation
are independent of the contingent fees.17

That the retainer agreement was never approved by the board of the corporation is also a poor excuse
because the fact of the matter is that the private respondent did deliver to Atty. Armovit the sum of
P300,000.00 in partial payment, and the private respondent can not now deny him the balance bay alleging
lack of authority of the Bengson spouses.

Contingent fees are valid in this jurisdiction. 18 It is true that attorney's fees must at all times be
reasonable; 19however, we do not find Atty. Armovit's claim for "twenty percent of all recoveries" to be
unreasonable. In the case of Aro v. Nañawa, 20 decided in 1969, this Court awarded the agreed fees amid
the efforts of the client to deny him fees by terminating his services. In parallel vein, we are upholding
Atty. Armovit's claim for P252,000.00 more — pursuant to the contingent fee agreement — amid the
private respondent's own endeavours to evade its obligations.

Several times, we have come down hard on erring practitioners. We will not however be slow either, in
coming to the rescue of aggrieved brother-lawyers in protecting the integrity of the bar from unscrupulous
litigants.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is GRANTED. The private respondent is ORDERED to pay
the petitioner the sum of P252,000.00. Costs against the private respondent.

IT IS SO ORDERED.
69

[G.R. No. 159482. August 30, 2005] Reconsideration of the Dismissal Order and In Lieu Thereof to Submit Amended Complaint, which was
attached thereto. In his Amended Complaint, he emphasized that his dismissal (constructive and actual)
NICASIO P. RODRIGUEZ JR., ANTONIO P. EREETA, JUANITO A. MAGNO, VICTOR C. PINEDA, BITUIN V. was done in a very oppressive manner. His prayer for reinstatement was deleted.
SALCEDO, CESAR R. SAN DIEGO, VICTOR V. TANTOCO and AMADOR C. DE LA MERCED, petitioners, vs.
ANTONIO L. AGUILAR SR., respondent. In an Order dated January 4, 2002, public respondent Judge admitted the Amended Complaint reasoning
that amendment was a matter of right before defendants filed a responsive pleading, the motion to dismiss
DECISION not being a responsive pleading. Petitioners were ordered to file their Answer within fifteen (15) days from
receipt thereof.
PANGANIBAN, J.:
On January 30, 2002, without filing a Motion for Reconsideration of the above Order, petitioners again
Claims for moral and exemplary damages arising from employer-employee relations fall within the original
filed a Motion to Dismiss, this time of the Amended Complaint, on the ground of lack of jurisdiction over
and exclusive jurisdiction of the National Labor Relations Commission, not the regular courts. Hence, in
the persons of the petitioners and over the subject matter of the claim.
the present case, the trial court should not have entertained the Complaint filed by respondent for
damages arising from the alleged oppressive manner of his dismissal by petitioners. In an Order dated February 8, 2002, public respondent Judge ruled that petitioners filing of the above
Motion to Dismiss was tantamount to a voluntary appearance through a pleading that vested the court
The Case
with jurisdiction over their persons. Petitioners were given an additional ten (10) days within which to
Before the Court is a Petition for Review[1] under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, seeking to reverse and set submit an Answer, otherwise, said defendants (herein petitioners), may be declared in default.
aside the March 31, 2003 Decision[2] of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-GR SP No. 74278 and its August 5,
Petitioners then filed a Motion for Reconsideration dated February 15, 2002, reiterating their prayer for
2003 Resolution[3] denying petitioners Motion for Reconsideration. The assailed CA Decision disposed as
the dismissal of the Amended Complaint. This was denied in the Order dated March 1, 2002.
follows:
On April 4, 2002, respondent filed a Motion to Declare Defendants As in Default and For Judgment On the
WHEREFORE, for lack of merit, the petition is DISMISSED.[4]
Pleadings grounded on petitioners failure to file their Answer within the additional ten (10)-day period
The Facts granted by the court. Citing Ortigas & Co. Ltd. v. Velasco (254 SCRA 234), public respondent noted that
defendants were heedless and unyielding to the Orders of the Court particularly its directive to file an
The antecedents were summarized by the CA as follows: Answer to the Amended Complaint and that the defendants continually ignored and refused to submit to
the Orders of the Court, and inasmuch as no responsive pleading has been filed by them within the period
Petitioners are members of the Board of Directors of Philippine Postal Savings Bank, Inc. (PPSBI) at fixed by the Court in its Order dated June 7, 2002 which granted respondents motion and declared
Liwasang Bonifacio, Manila; private respondent Antonio L. Aguilar was employed as Vice President of its defendants-petitioners in default.
Finance and Administrative Group from February 14, 2000 to January 31, 2001, and thereafter as
Compliance Officer until September 26, 2001 when his services were terminated. On the 15th day from receipt thereof on June 19, 2002, petitioners filed on July 1, 2002 an ordinary Motion
for Reconsideration on the above Order, (not a Motion to Set Aside the Order of Default under Rule 9 Sec.
On October 25, 2001, private respondent filed a complaint against petitioners with the Regional Trial 3(b), Rules of Civil Procedure) which was denied in an Order dated July 19, 2002.
Court, Branch 49, City of Manila alleging that he was illegally dismissed by the petitioners in an oppressive
way; that the cause of his dismissal was his principled act of exposing anomalies in the bank; that On the same date of July 19, 2002, public respondent issued the assailed decision (Judgment by Default)
considering the seriousness of the violations of internal control and bank policies, there is a need to in favor of the private respondent ratiocinating as follows:
prohibit petitioners from performing their functions as members of the Board in their own personal
capacity. He prayed for the award of damages, the issuance of a temporary restraining order enjoining the The Court shall not delve into the legality of Mr. Aguilars demotion and, later on, dismissal by the PPSB
petitioners from dismissing him or in the alternative, to immediately reinstate him, and the prohibition of Board of Directors for to do so would intrude into the jurisdiction of the Labor Arbiters of the National
the petitioners from performing their personal and official acts in the bank. Labor Relations Commission. Rather, this Court shall concern itself with the manner in which the said
demotion and dismissal were carried out and the consequent effects thereof, which, as jurisprudence
On October 29, 2001, public respondent Judge motu proprio dismissed the complaint for lack of teaches us, are well within this Courts jurisdiction to inquire into.
jurisdiction stating that jurisdiction over the case lies with the Labor Arbiter of the National Labor Relations
Commission. From the foregoing, confluence of events, which stand unrebutted the defendants having been declared
in default, there can be no question that Mr. Aguilars demotion and dismissal from service was pursued in
Unaware of the dismissal[,] petitioners, on November 9, 2001, filed a Motion to Dismiss private a highly abusive, oppressive and clearly anti-social manner.
respondents complaint on the ground of the RTCs lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter of the
complaint. On August 7, 2002, petitioners filed an Omnibus Motion contending that the Order of Default did not
deprive them of their right to notice, which public respondent violated when private respondents evidence
On November 12, 2001, private respondent filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the Order dated 29 was received without notifying them; that the presentation of evidence ex parte was premature
October 2001. However, on November 26, 2001, he filed an Ex-Parte Motion to Withdraw Motion For considering that they were still entitled to question the propriety of the Order of Default and that, in fact,
70

they filed a motion for reconsideration of the Order of default. Petitioners reiterated that the Amended receiving evidence. If so, the appellate court said, it would be reasonable to conclude that petitioners did
Complaint was filed out of time considering that the Order of Dismissal dated 29 October 2001 had already not have any demandable right to be given notice of the ex parte reception of respondents evidence.
became final. On August 16, 2002, the public respondent issued the assailed Order denying the Omnibus
Motion.[5] Hence, this Petition.[8]

Petitioners filed before the CA a Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65, challenging the July 19, 2002 Issues
Decision and the August 16, 2002 Order of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), alleging that it had gravely
Petitioners raise the following issues for our consideration:
abused its discretion in the following ways:
I.
1. Holding that Mr. Aguilars ex parte withdrawal of his Motion for Reconsideration of the Order of
Dismissal did not cause it to become final and executory. The Honorable Court of Appeals erred in sustaining the finding of the trial court that Mr. Aguilars ex
parte withdrawal of his Motion for Reconsideration of the Order of dismissal of the original Complaint did
2. Taking cognizance of the Amended Complaint because [private respondent] had deleted his prayers for
not cause said Order to become final and executory.
the other reliefs that fall within the jurisdiction of the labor court.
II.
3. Declaring [petitioners] in default and in allowing the presentation of and receiving [private respondents]
evidence ex parte in violation of the Rules.[6] The Honorable Court of Appeals erred in sustaining the trial court that it could allow the amendment of
the original Complaint purely as a matter of right before a responsive pleading is filed, despite prevailing
Petitioners prayed that the lower courts judgment by default, as well as said courts all other orders and
jurisprudence to the contrary.
findings after its Order of dismissal of the original Complaint[,] be reversed and set aside, and that the case
in question be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction and for having been decided in violation of the Rules.[7] III.
Ruling of the Court of Appeals The Honorable Court of Appeals erred in sustaining that the trial court could take cognizance of Mr.
Aguilars Amended Complaint because it had deleted the prayers for other reliefs that fall within the
Agreeing with the RTC, the CA held that the withdrawal of the Motion for Reconsideration filed by
jurisdiction of the National Labor Relations Commission.
respondent had not resulted in the finality of the Dismissal Order dated October 29, 2001, since he had
simultaneously amended his Complaint. This he had every right to do, said the CA, because no responsive IV.
pleading had yet been filed by petitioners. It opined that the Amended Complaint superseded his original
Complaint and mooted the issue raised in his Motion for Reconsideration. It further said that the rules on The Honorable Court of Appeals erred in sustaining the trial court that it could receive Mr. Aguilars
the amendment of pleadings may be liberally construed to avoid a multiplicity of suits; and to ensure that evidence ex parte without notice to petitioners despite pertinent rules and jurisprudence to the
the real controversies between the parties would be presented, their rights determined, and the case contrary.[9]
decided on the merits without unnecessary delay.
In brief, the issues are as follows: (1) What are the effects of the withdrawal of the Motion for
The CA likewise ruled that the RTC had jurisdiction over the case, because of the civil nature of the cause Reconsideration of the RTCs dismissal of the Complaint? (2) Did the RTC have jurisdiction over the
of action; that is, the alleged oppressive manner of respondents dismissal that had resulted in damages. Amended Complaint?

Lastly, the CA found no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the RTC in declaring petitioners in default, The Courts Ruling
then afterwards receiving ex parte the evidence presented by respondent, and rendering a judgment of
default. The appellate court stressed that as early as the January 4, 2002 Order, the RTC had directed The Petition is meritorious.
petitioners to answer the Amended Complaint. The trial court reiterated the directive in the February 8,
First Issue:
2002 Order, with a warning that if they failed to answer within ten days, they would be declared in default.
Withdrawal of the Motion for Reconsideration
The two Orders, which petitioners had not challenged either by a motion for reconsideration or by a
petition for certiorari, thus attained finality. According to the CA, their prayer for the dismissal of the It is settled that an amendment of a complaint may be allowed even if an order for its dismissal has been
Amended Complaint was reiterated in both their Omnibus Motion filed after the denial on January 30, issued, as long as the motion to amend is filed before the dismissal order becomes final.[10] The reason for
2002, of their Motion to Dismiss the Amended Complaint, as well as in their subsequent Motions for allowing the amendment on this condition is that, upon finality of the dismissal, the court loses jurisdiction
Reconsideration. These amounted to multiple motions for reconsideration, which are proscribed under and control over the complaint. Thus, it can no longer make any disposition on the complaint in a manner
Section 5 of Rule 37 of the Rules of Civil Procedure. inconsistent with the dismissal.[11]After the order of dismissal without prejudice becomes final, and
therefore falls outside the courts power to modify, a party who wishes to reinstate the case has no remedy
As to the ex parte reception of respondents evidence, the CA pointed out that under Section 3 of Rule 9,
other than to file a new complaint.[12]
the court may proceed to render judgment based entirely on the plaintiffs Complaint without need of
71

The instant case deals with a Motion for Reconsideration[13] of the trial courts Order dismissing the case Under Article 217(a) of the Labor Code, as amended by Republic Act No. 6715 which took effect on March
for lack of jurisdiction. The Motion was filed on November 13, 2001, within the 15-day reglementary period 21, 1989, labor arbiters shall have original and exclusive jurisdiction to hear and decide: [c]laims for actual,
for appeal,[14] and later withdrawn and substituted with a Motion to Admit Amended Complaint. moral, exemplary and other forms of damages arising from the employer-employee relations x x x.
Petitioners contention is that the withdrawal of the Motion for Reconsideration would have a retroactive
effect, such that it would be as if no motion had been filed at all; and, hence, the Motion for Admission of Clearly, in the case before us, respondents claim for damages against petitioners arose from a prior
the Amended Complaint -- filed beyond the 15-day reglementary period, after the dismissal had become employer-employee relationship. The averments in the Complaint indisputably show that his claim for
final -- should no longer be entertained, much less admitted. damages was anchored on and was a consequence of the termination of his employment with PPSBI.

The trial court accepted the Amended Complaint and held that the dismissal Order had not attained Indeed, the trial court initially made this observation when it dismissed motu proprio respondents
finality, because the 15-day reglementary period under the Rules had tolled upon the filing of the Motion Complaint.[19] It ruled that the manner in which the dismissal was implemented was anti-social, oppressive
for Reconsideration; and would begin to run again only after the party concerned would have received the and in disregard of procedural due process x x x is but an incident part and parcel of the main issue which
courts Resolution on the Motion.[15] As it had not yet ruled on the Motion for Reconsideration when is the alleged illegal dismissal of [respondent]. The trial court likewise opined that the plea of respondent
respondent filed his Amended Complaint, the trial court opined that the Amended Complaint may be for reinstatement made his case one of illegal dismissal per se.
deemed to have been filed within the prescribed time.
Later, however, it reversed its dismissal Order after he subsequently amended his Complaint by deleting
We rule otherwise. The trial court erroneously admitted the Amended Complaint. Upon the withdrawal his prayer for reinstatement and by stressing that his claim for damages had resulted from the alleged
by respondent of his Motion for Reconsideration, it was as if no motion had been filed. Hence, the Order oppressive manner of his dismissal.
of the trial court under question became final and executory 15 days from notice by the party concerned.
The trial court should have dismissed the Amended Complaint. With regard to claims for damages under
In the same manner that the withdrawal of an appeal has the effect of rendering the appealed paragraph 4 of Article 217, quoted above, jurisprudence has applied the reasonable connection rule: if
decision[16] final and executory, the withdrawal of the Motion for Reconsideration in the present case had there is a reasonable causal connection between the claim asserted and the employer-employee relations,
the effect of rendering the dismissal Order final and executory. By then, there was no more complaint that then the case falls within the jurisdiction of the labor arbiter.[20] We do not agree with the trial court that
could be amended, even for the first time as a matter of right. the case became a civil dispute simply because respondent had not asked for reinstatement in his
Amended Complaint. An employee need not seek reinstatement in order to have a complaint heard by the
Notably, respondent does not refute petitioners argument that his Motion for Admission of his Amended labor arbiter.[21]
Complaint was filed after the lapse of the 15-day reglementary period to reconsider or set aside the
dismissal. What he insists upon is his contention that the Order of dismissal did not become final and A comparison of the original[22] and the Amended Complaint[23] reveals that the allegations and the prayers
executory, because the Motion for Reconsideration had not yet been resolved at the time he filed his in both are almost identical, except that the prayer for reinstatement and the claim for salary increases
Amended Complaint. and allowances are no longer included in the Amended Complaint. These are telltale signs that the claim
of respondent for damages is intertwined with his separation from his employment, allegedly without a
By way of analogy, petitioners cite Olympia International v. Court of Appeals,[17] in which the plaintiffs two just cause. Consequently, his claim has a reasonable causal connection with his employer-employee
civil actions were dismissed by the trial court on a joint Motion to Dismiss filed by the plaintiff and the relations with the bank.
defendant:
The Court is aware that the Civil Code provisions on human relations and damages may be used as bases
It is equally important to note that the right to file a new action in this case has long prescribed, for while for justifying his claim. But, the fact remains: the present action primarily involves an employer-employee
the commencement of a civil action stops the running of the statute of prescription or limitations, its relationship. The damages he incurred are mere consequences of the alleged injury brought about by his
dismissal or voluntary abandonment by the plaintiff leaves the parties in exactly the same position as perceived illegal dismissal. The civil ramifications of his actual claim cannot alter the reality that it is
though no action had been commenced at all. The commencement of an action, by reason of its dismissal primordially a labor matter cognizable by the labor tribunals.
or abandonment, takes no time out of the period of prescription.[18]
Under Article 217 (a) of the Labor Code, the labor arbiter has the jurisdiction to award to a dismissed
In like manner, while the filing of the Motion for Reconsideration interrupted the running of the 15-day employee not only the reliefs provided by the Labor Code, but also moral and other forms of damages
reglementary period, its withdrawal left respondent in exactly the same position as though no motion had governed by the Civil Code.[24] Although a dismissal from employment may be a violation not only of the
been filed at all. The withdrawal of the Motion for Reconsideration effectively erased the tolling of the Labor but also of the Civil Code,[25] an illegally dismissed employee has only a single cause of action.
reglementary period to amend the Complaint.
Moral damages are recoverable when, for example, the dismissal was effected without an authorized
Second Issue: cause and/or due process -- for which relief is granted by the Labor Code -- and also when the dismissal
(1) was attended by bad faith or fraud; (2) constituted an act oppressive to labor; or (3) was done in a
Jurisdiction manner contrary to morals, good customs or public policy. For any of these, the obtainable relief is
determined by the Civil Code.[26]
72

This Court expounded on this matter in the earlier case Primero v. Intermediate Appellate Court,[27] which splitting the cause of action and possible conflicting findings and conclusions by two tribunals on one and
we quote: the same claim.

It is clear that the question of the legality of the act of dismissal is intimately related to the issue of the Presently, as amended by RA 6715, the jurisdiction of the NLRC under Article 217 of the Labor Code is
legality of the manner by which that act of dismissal was performed.But while the Labor Code treats of the comprehensive enough to include claims for all forms of damages arising from the employer-employee
nature of, and the remedy available as regards the first the employees separation from employment it relations.
does not at all deal with the second the manner of that separation which is governed exclusively by the
Civil Code. In addressing the first issue, the Labor Arbiter applies the Labor Code; in addressing the second, WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED, and the assailed Decision REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Amended
the Civil Code. And this appears to be the plain and patent intendment of the law. For apart from the reliefs Complaint in Civil Case No. 01102147, filed with the Regional Trial Court (Branch 49) of the City of Manila,
expressly set out in the Labor Code flowing from illegal dismissal from employment, no is hereby DISMISSED. No pronouncement as to costs.
other damages may be awarded to an illegally dismissed employee other than those specified by the Civil
SO ORDERED.
Code. Hence, the fact that the issue of whether or not moral or other damages were suffered by an
employee and in the affirmative, the amount that should properly be awarded to him in the circumstances
is determined under the provisions of the Civil Code and not the Labor Code, obviously was not meant to
create a cause of action independent of that for illegal dismissal and thus place the matter beyond the
Labor Arbiters jurisdiction.

Hence, for a single cause of action, the dismissed employee cannot be allowed to sue in two forums: one,
before the labor arbiter for reinstatement and recovery of back wages or for separation pay, upon the
theory that the dismissal was illegal; and two, before a court of justice for recovery of moral and other
damages, upon the theory that the manner of dismissal was unduly injurious or tortious. Suing in the
manner described is known as splitting a cause of action, a practice engendering a multiplicity of actions.
It is considered procedurally unsound and obnoxious to the orderly administration of justice.

Splitting a cause of action was precisely what private respondent did in filing the Amended Complaint. He
split his cause of action, then made one of the split parts the subject of his Amended Complaint before a
court of justice.

Precisely, such duplicity prodded the lawmakers to amend the Labor Code by restoring to the labor arbiters
the jurisdiction over claims for damages of this nature. From 1979 to 1980, jurisdiction over employment-
predicated actions for damages vacillated from labor tribunals to regular courts, and back to labor
tribunals.

On May 1, 1979, Presidential Decree No. 1367 amended the then existing Article 217[28] of the Labor Code
to the effect that [r]egional Directors shall not indorse and Labor Arbiters shall not entertain claims for
moral or other forms of damages.[29] But this limitation of jurisdiction did not last long, because on May 1,
1980, PD 1691[30] nullified PD 1367 and restored Article 217 of the Labor Code almost to its original form.
PD 1691 once again vested in the labor arbiters and the NLRC the jurisdiction over all money claims of
workers and all other claims arising from employer-employee relations, including moral and exemplary
damages.[31] In Ebon v. De Guzman,[32] this Court explained:

The lawmaker in divesting the Labor Arbiters and the NLRC of jurisdiction to award moral and other forms
of damages in labor cases could have assumed that the Labor Arbiters position-paper procedure of
ascertaining the facts in dispute might not be an adequate tool for arriving at a just and accurate
assessment of damages, as distinguished from backwages and separation pay, and that the trial
procedure in the Court of First Instance [now Regional Trial Court] would be a more effective means of
determining such damages. x x x

Evidently, the lawmaking authority had second thoughts about depriving the Labor Arbiters and the NLRC
of the jurisdiction to award damages in labor cases because that set up would mean duplicity of suits,
73

On March 7, 2002, De Jesus ordered petitioner to turn over BMNC to Ms. Gloria Centino starting March 12
AGUILAR VS BURGER MACHINE up to the end of March.[10] No reason was stated in the directive, neither was a new assignment given to
petitioner, thus he wrote a letter to respondent Caesar B. Rodriguez, seeking an explanation for the actions
Assailed in this petition is the December 20, 2005 Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. of De Jesus, to wit:
87910 which declared that petitioner Lorenzo Ma. D.G. Aguilar was not constructively dismissed; and
which set aside the May 27, 2003[2] Decision of the Labor Arbiter as well as the May 25, 2004 Considering that my accomplishments and contribution to the company have been acknowledged by my
Resolution[3] of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) both holding that petitioner was superiors, and my colleagues as well, it is a puzzle to me why Sir [De Jesus] in a series of dialogues I have
constructively dismissed. had with him since September 2001 conveyed, reiterated, and insisted that I resign under your strict and
unbending personal instructions. This turn of events have caused me and my whole family: many sleepless
The facts show that respondent Burger Machine Holdings Corporation (Burger Machine) is a domestic night, anxiety, stress, and tremendous pressure. Today, tragedy struck my whole family when my wife lost
corporation engaged in the business of food service. Respondents Caesar B. Rodriguez, Fe Esperanza S. our fourth child, a baby daughter, five-months on the way to maternity. I have, however, continued to give
Rodriguez, and Melchor V. De Jesus, Jr., (De Jesus) are Burger Machines Chairperson, President, and Vice- my best and undivided service and commitment to my job and to the company, in spite of the constant
President, respectively. fear that at anytime, I may have to leave my job against my will.[11]
On September 26, 2000, Burger Machine hired petitioner as a Strategic Business Unit Manager After the turn over of BMNC, petitioner went on an approved leave of absence. On April 23, 2002, he was
Trainee. On March 26, 2001 he was regularized and assigned as Profit Center Manager of the Burger appointed as Profit Center Manager of Tatyana Foods Corporation (TFC), a new project of Burger Machine
Machine North Corporation (BMNC) and the overseer of the Central Luzon Food Corporation (CLFC) and to be established in La Union, Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte, Cagayan and Isabela.[12] Petitioner accepted the
the Eastern Luzon Food Corporation (ELFC). He was likewise tasked to spearhead the expansion of their appointment and started scouting for the area in connection with the business plan.
outlets inBaguio City.
On May 14, 2002, De Jesus informed petitioner that he would instead be transferred to the National
Capital Region (NCR) to oversee the operations of the Peoples Dimsum (PD). On May 17, 2002, petitioner
figured in an accident while on his way to De Jesus office in Metro Manila.He was thus hospitalized and
On June 26, 2001, petitioner was commended for his valuable assistance and guidance to the trainee
was constrained to go on leave. He requested for cash advance and financial assistance from the company
managers of CLFC and ELFC.[4] This was followed by another commendation on July 6, 2001 for his guidance
for his medical expenses but was denied.
to the trainee-manager of CLFC in achieving the following: (a) highest NIBT as of May; (b) 2nd Best ROI; (c)
3rd Highest ADS; (d) 3rd Highest Sales Growth as of May; (e) JanuaryMay Bad Debts of .5% of Net Sales; and On July 5, 2002, petitioner reported for work. On July 16, 2002, De Jesus issued a memorandum directing
(f) Fastest Expanding Profit Center.[5] him to report at the Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA) office of Burger Machine on July 17, 2002 and
onwards from 9:00 a.m. up to 6:00 p.m.[13]

On July 17, 2002, petitioner filed a complaint for constructive dismissal contending that the totality of
On October 9, 2001, however, Burger Machine released the results of the audit of BMNCs operation
respondents conduct constitutes harassment aimed to pressure him to resign from his job. Respondents,
showing that petitioner had not complied with the companys purchasing system policy manual and that
on the other hand, alleged that the transfer of the BMNC operations to Centino was due to petitioners
he made several purchases, the amounts of which were beyond his authority to approve. [6] In reply
repeated failure to achieve the passing rate for quality food service control; that despite of this gross
thereto, petitioner attributed the lapses in the approval of purchases to the lack of information on the
inefficiency, he was given a new assignment; that the delay in assigning him to a new Profit Center was
standard operating procedures of the company.
due to his irregular attendance; that he was not able to assume his responsibility as Profit Center Manager
of TFC because of his failure to go back to work and his unreasonable demands; and that petitioners
continued absence prompted them to assign him at the EDSA office starting July 17, 2002.[14]
On October 17, 2001, De Jesus directed petitioner to cease from overseeing the CLFC and ELFC and to
concentrate on BMNC to resolve faster all critical problems such as shortages, low ADS, low promo In its decision dated May 27, 2003, the Labor Arbiter ruled that petitioner was constructively dismissed
compliance, etc.[7] On November 19, 2001, De Jesus ordered him to reduce his gross sales shortages to 1% and that respondent corporate officials of Burger Machine are solidarily liable with the latter for
or less by the end of November 2001.[8] Petitioner was able to reduce this shortage to as low as 0.86% for petitioners monetary awards. The dispositive portion thereof, reads:
the month of November.[9]
CONFORMABLY WITH THE FOREGOING, judgment is hereby rendered finding complainant to have been
illegally dismissed albeit constructively. Consequently, he should be reinstated immediately as Profit
[Center] Manager and paid by respondent[s] in solidum, his backwages, which as of May 16, 2003 has
At the end of the year 2001, petitioner did not receive his 14th month pay bonus of P35,000.00 while the already accumulated in the sum of P350,000.00.
amount of P15,291.00 representing the alleged unauthorized expenses was deducted from his salary.
In addition respondents, are solidarily ordered to pay complainant,

a) His 14th month pay for 2002;


74

b) P500,000.00 as moral damages[;] Memorandum did not inform petitioner of his next assignment thereby placing him in a floating
status. Burger Machine belatedly claimed in its position paper that petitioner was relieved of his position
c) P350,000.00 as exemplary damages; and because of gross inefficiency. If this is the case, the action of respondents was thus punitive in nature. With
more reason therefore that the ground for the turn over should be stated in the Memorandum to apprise
d) 10% of the money awards for and as attorneys fees.
him of the cause of such punitive action. This omission of the company is a trespass not only of petitioners
SO ORDERED.[15] due process rights but also of the basic respect and professional courtesy due him as an employee.

The foregoing decision was affirmed by the NLRC in its resolution dated May 25, 2004. Respondents filed Second, petitioner repeatedly claimed[20] that respondent De Jesus was insisting on his resignation, yet the
a motion for reconsideration but was denied on September 17, 2004. On petition to the Court of Appeals, latter never denied said allegation in his November 26, 2002 affidavit.[21] This only lends credence to the
the latter reversed the finding of the NLRC and held that there was no constructive dismissal because claim of petitioner that the constant pressure of De Jesus for him to quit his job rendered his employment
petitioners transfer to PD was without change in rank and salary and was not shown to be humiliating and with Burger Machine unbearable.
prejudicial to petitioner. The decretal portion thereof, states:
Third, Burger Machine made an unauthorized[22] deduction on petitioners salary representing the alleged
WHEREFORE, upon the premises, the petition is GRANTED and the Decision dated May 27, 2003 of the expenses incurred without authority. The burden of proving that no such deduction was made lies with
Labor Arbiter, the [Resolution] dated May 25, 2004, and the Resolution dated September 17, 2004 of the Burger Machine not only because it has custody of the records that might establish the same, but also
NLRC are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Private respondents Complaint for constructive dismissal is because as an employer, it is placed in a position of a debtor who has the onus of establishing payment of
DISMISSED. the employees salary in full and without deduction.[23] Hence, its bare denials cannot overcome the
contention of petitioner that such deductions were made.
SO ORDERED.[16]
Fourth, petitioner was subsequently appointed as Profit Center Manager of the TFC but Burger
Hence, the instant petition. Machine recalled said appointment, again, without stating the reason therefor, and worse without serving
him any formal memorandum withdrawing the appointment.
The issue for resolution is whether petitioner was constructively dismissed.
Fifth, he was offered an assignment in the NCR, specifically as Profit Center Manager of the PD but not
The Court rules in the affirmative. actually appointed as such. Burger Machine averred that petitioner was ordered to report at the EDSA
office in connection with his PD assignment. However, no such directive was contained in the July 16, 2002
Constructive dismissal exists as an involuntary resignation on the part of the employee due to the harsh,
Memorandum of De Jesus, thus:
hostile and unfavorable conditions set by the employer. In other words, it is an act amounting to dismissal
but made to appear as if it were not. In fact, the employee who is constructively dismissed may be allowed
to keep on coming to work. Constructive dismissal is therefore a dismissal in disguise. It is brought about
where there is clear discrimination, insensibility or disdain by an employer and this becomes unbearable Effective today, 17 July 2002, and onwards, you are officially expected to report to the undersigned in
to the employee. The law recognizes and resolves this situation in favor of employees in order to protect EDSA office at 9:00 a.m. up to 6:00 p.m. As has been the Company policy, you shall be required to log in
their rights and interests from the coercive acts of the employer. Whereas valid termination by the and log out in the required Managers records in order to get paid. All approval of leaves and official
employee under Art. 285 of the Labor Code contemplates such act to be voluntary, an employee who is business must be with the required days/time of approval by the undersigned, not to mention, the need
forced to relinquish the position held through the employers unfair or unreasonable acts is deemed to for supporting documents to justify the requests. Lastly, you shall be required to submit yourself to a
have been illegally terminated or discharged, as such the termination is implied to be involuntary.[17] medical examination by the Company Physician to attest your fitness for work.[24]

In constructive dismissal cases, the employer has the burden of proving that its conduct and action or the The foregoing Memorandum is actually a transfer of petitioner to the EDSA office of Burger Machine which
transfer of an employee are for valid and legitimate grounds such as genuine business we find to be oppressive inasmuch as petitioner and his family are residents of Baguio City. The transfer
necessity. Particularly, for a transfer not to be considered a constructive dismissal, the employer must be would mean that petitioner would be away from his family or that he would bring his entire family
able to show that such transfer is not unreasonable, inconvenient, or prejudicial to the employee. Failure to Manila entailing expenses.[25] While the Court recognizes the prerogative of an employer to transfer an
of the employer to overcome this burden of proof, the employees transfer shall no doubt be tantamount employee,[26] we cannot apply the same in the instant case considering that Burger Machine advanced no
to constructive dismissal.[18] justification or necessity for said transfer.

In the instant case, Burger Machine failed to discharge this burden. The labor tribunals below correctly If the underlying reason for the posting of petitioner at the EDSA office of Burger Machine was his series
found that the combination of the harsh actions of respondents rendered the employment condition of of request for leave of absences, then the proper recourse is to make him explain for said absences and to
petitioner hostile and unbearable for the following reasons: First, in the March 7, 2002 Memorandum of impose the proper penalty if necessary. It appears, however, that all said requests for leave have valid
De Jesus, no reason was stated why petitioner was directed to turn over BMNC to Centino. While the due bases, otherwise, they would not have been approved by Burger Machine. This only shows that the
process required by law is applied to dismissal cases, the same is also applicable to the instant controversy transfer of petitioner at the EDSA office was to pressure him and to ultimately ease him out of the
because it affects the status and right of petitioner to security of tenure.[19] Note that the same company.
75

The test of constructive dismissal is whether a reasonable person in the employees position would have
felt compelled to give up his position under the circumstances. Based on the factual considerations in the
instant case, we hold that the hostile and unreasonable working conditions of petitioner justified the
finding of the Labor Arbiter and the NLRC that petitioner was constructively dismissed. Petitioners
performance may not have been exceptional as he ranked 14th in the quality food service control survey
for the 1st quarter of 2002.[27] But he was certainly not grossly inefficient as Burger Machine pictured him
to be. In fact, he received several citations and was able to comply with the directive to reduce his
shortages for the month of November 2001. From all indications, there is really no ground to dismiss
petitioner for gross inefficiency. And, as Burger Machine saw it, the only way to get rid of the latter was to
constructively dismiss him.

The Labor Arbiter and the NLRCs findings that petitioner was constructively dismissed are binding on this
Court[28] especially so that the contrary conclusion of the Court of Appeals was based on the
misapprehension of the factual antecedents of this case. The appellate court focused only on the transfer
of petitioner to the PD in the NCR without taking into consideration the entire factual milieu of the
controversy. Had the Court of Appeals done so, it would have arrived at the same conclusion as the labor
tribunals below.

Anent the solidary liability for the constructive dismissal of petitioner, the same cannot attach with respect
to respondents Caesar B. Rodriguez and Fe Esperanza B. Rodriguez, Chairperson and President of Burger
Machine, respectively, considering that no substantial evidence was presented to prove their participation
in the acts of respondent De Jesus. It was only the latter who pressured petitioner to relinquish his position
and was the one responsible for the issuance of the oppressive Memorandum transferring petitioner to
the EDSA office. Liability must likewise be imputed to Burger Machine. The failure to exercise proper
diligence in the supervision of its employees, is ultimately its responsibility.[29]

Petitioner was properly awarded moral and exemplary damages. Moral damages may be recovered only
where the dismissal of the employee was tainted by bad faith or fraud, or where it constituted an act
oppressive to labor, and done in a manner contrary to morals, good customs, or public policy while
exemplary damages are recoverable only if the dismissal was done in a wanton, oppressive, or malevolent
manner. These damages, however, are not intended to enrich petitioner and should therefore be reduced
to P50,000.00 each.[30]

The award of 14th month pay must be deleted. Since the payment thereof is not required by law,
substantial evidence showing that Burger Machine has the customary practice to give the same to its
employees, is necessary. This, petitioner failed to satisfy.

The award of attorneys fees is sustained based on Article 111 of the Labor Code, Section 8, Rule VIII, Book
III of its Implementing Rules, and paragraph 7, Article 2208 of the Civil Code. In actions for recovery of
wages or where an employee was forced to litigate and thus incurred expenses to protect his rights and
interests, a maximum of ten percent (10%) of the total monetary award by way of attorneys fees is
justifiable.

WHEREFORE, the December 20, 2005 Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 87910
is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. TheMay 27, 2003 Decision of the Labor Arbiter finding that petitioner was
constructively dismissed, is REINSTATED with the followingMODIFICATIONS: (a) Respondents Caesar B.
Rodriguez and Fe Esperanza B. Rodriguez are absolved from personal liability; (b) the award of 14th month
pay is deleted; and (c) the awards of moral and exemplary damages are reduced to P50,000.00 each.

SO ORDERED.
76

[G. R. No. 138258. January 18, 2002] On Appeal to the Regional Trial Court of Dumaguete City, docketed as Civil Case No. 12014, the challenged
verdict was reversed in a Decision dated October 21, 1997, the decretal portion reads:
EDDIE HERRERA, ERNESTO T. TIJING, and CONRADO BOLLOS, petitioners, vs. TEODORA BOLLOS and RICO
GO,respondents. WHEREFORE, as prayed for by plaintiffs-appellants, judgment is hereby rendered restoring Lot No. 20, GSS-
615 to the plaintiffs and ejecting the defendants from the said parcel of land. Defendants-appellees are
DECISION condemned to solidarily pay plaintiffs-appellants the following:
PARDO, J.: Actual Damages P50,000.00;

The Case Moral Damages P25,000.00


The case is a petition for review on certiorari of the decision of the Court ofAppeals[1]
affirming that of the Attorneys Fees - P 5,000.00
Regional Trial Court, Branch 44, DumagueteCity, which reversed the ruling of the municipal trial court that
it has jurisdiction over the case of forcible entry. Reasonable rental/month from the date of this judgment of P2,000.00 and to pay the costs.

The Facts SO ORDERED.

The facts, as found by the Court of Appeals, are as follows: GIVEN this 21st day of October, 1997, in the City of Dumaguete, Philippines.

Ab initio, on August 5, 1993, Teodora Bollos commenced before the Municipal Circuit Trial Court of (SGD.) ALVIN L. TAN
Bayawan-Basay Civil Case No. 993, for forcible entry, solely against Eddie Herrera alleging that the latter,
sometime in the second week of 1993, through stealth and strategy and taking advantage of the absence Judge
of Teodora, entered and occupied her Sugarland known as Lot No. 20, GSS-615, located at Camandagan,
(p. 13, RTC Decision; p. 27, Rollo)[2]
Maninyon, Bayawan, Negros Oriental. Teodora claims to have inherited said parcel, being the only heir,
from her deceased father, Alfonso Bollos, who died on December 10, 1992. On March 12, 1998, petitioners filed with the Court of Appeals a petition for review assailing the ruling of
the regional trial court.[3]
Defendant, Eddie Herrera, denied the allegations against him maintaining that he entered and occupied
not Lot No. 20, as claimed by Teodora, but Lot No. 21, GSS-615, which is owned by Conrado Bollos, a On December 18, 1998, the Court of Appeals promulgated a decision, the dispositive portion of which
brother of Teodoras father, Alfonso. Further, Herrera said that his occupation of the property was not reads:
through stealth or strategy but by virtue of a contract of lease executed between Conrado Bollos, as lessor,
and Ernesto Tijing, as lessee. Herrera is Tijings overseer on the land. IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the appealed decision is hereby affirmed, except that the award of actual
and moral damages therein contained are deleted. No pronouncement as to costs.
As a consequence, the complaint was twice amended, first, on March 23, 1994 to include Ernesto T. Tijing
as a party-defendant and much later on October 4, 1995, this time to implead Conrado Bollos as an SO ORDERED.[4]
additional defendant.
On February 1, 1999, petitioners filed with the Court of Appeals a motion for reconsideration of the above-
After due proceedings, the first level court rendered its judgment dispositively ruling: cited decision.[5]

ACCORDINGLY, in the light of the foregoing considerations for plaintiffs failure to make-out a forcible entry On March 8, 1999, the Court of Appeals denied the motion.[6]
case because of lack of jurisdiction the above-entitled case is hereby DISMISSED. Plaintiffs remedy should
be reivendicatory (sic) action before the proper forum. Hence, this appeal.[7]

SO ORDERED. The Issues

Given this 30th day of June, 1997, at Bayawan, Negros Oriental, Philippines. The issues raised are:

(SGD.) RUDY T. ENRIQUEZ (a) Is the municipal trial court vested with jurisdiction over a second amended complaint impleading a new
defendant filed beyond one year from dispossession alleging a case of forcible entry in the original action?
Circuit Judge
(b) May the regional trial court award moral and exemplary damages against defendants in an appeal from
(p. 11, MCTC Decision; p. 69, Rollo) a dismissal of the case for forcible entry by the lower court? [8]

The Courts Ruling


77

We deny the petition. IN VIEW WHEREOF, the Court DENIES the petition. However, the Court SETS ASIDE the decisions of the
Court of Appeals[18] and the Regional Trial Court.[19] The Court remands the case to the municipal trial court
Resolving the first issue, we emphasize the basic rule that jurisdiction of the court over the subject matter for further proceedings.
of the action is determined by the allegations of the complaint at the time of its filing, irrespective
of whether or not the plaintiff is entitled to recover upon all or some of the claims asserted therein.[9]What No costs.
determines the jurisdiction of the court is the nature of the action pleaded as appearing from the
allegations in the complaint. The averments therein and the character of the relief sought are the ones to SO ORDERED.
be consulted.[10]

In the case at bar, plaintiffs complaint, both original and amended, contains sufficient allegations
constituting an action for forcible entry, as clearly alleged in paragraphs 4 and 5 of the complaint, to wit:

4. That plaintiffs and even their predecessor-in-interest Alfonso Bollos were in peaceful, adverse,
continuous possession of the property and in concepto de dueno until the commission of the act or acts of
dispossession or deprivation by the defendant hereinafter mentioned.

5. That sometime in the second week of June, 1993, defendant pursuant to an avaricious intent of
enriching himself at the expense of the plaintiffs, through stealth and strategy, and taking advantage of
the absence of the latter, entered and occupied the property in question and without any legal justification
therefore, fertilized the sugar cane rations growing thereon and planted the vacant portions with sugar
cane.[11]

Thus, we find that the complaint alleged prior physical possession de facto which the defendants disturbed
by force, intimidation, threat, strategy or stealth, against the will or without the consent of the plaintiffs,
sufficient to constitute a cause of action for forcible entry.

In fact, defendants admitted the truth of the foregoing facts in their answer and first amended answer.
The thrust of their defense was that they had occupied Lot No. 21, not Lot No. 20, which is the land in
question.

On the second issue, the concept of damages in an action for forcible entry and detainer cases is well
defined in several cases.[12] These damages mean rents or the reasonable compensation for the use and
occupation of the premises, or fair rental value of the property.[13] Temperate, actual, moral and exemplary
are neither rents nor reasonable compensation for the use and occupation of the premises, nor fair rental
value, and are not recoverable in such cases.[14]

In the case at bar, the municipal trial court dismissed the case for lack of jurisdiction, and the regional trial
court reversed the dismissal but rendered judgment ejecting the defendants from the parcel of land
involved, and condemning them to pay damages and attorneys fees. This is not correct. In case of reversal,
the case shall be remanded to the municipal trial court for further proceedings.[15] The regional trial court
in reversing an appealed case dismissing the action cannot decree the eviction of the defendants and
award damages. A court cannot take judicial notice of a factual matter in controversy. The court may take
judicial notice of matters of public knowledge, or which are capable of unquestionable demonstration, or
ought to be known to judges because of their judicial functions.[16] Before taking such judicial notice, the
court must allow the parties to be heard thereon.[17] Hence, there can be no judicial notice on the rental
value of the premises in question without supporting evidence.

The Judgment
78

[G.R. No. 134239. May 26, 2005] It appears that in the early morning of February 1, 1990, appellants Edilberto de Mesa and Gonzalo Daleon,
with the aid of several persons and without the knowledge of the Villafuertes, caused the closure of the
REYNALDO VILLAFUERTE and PERLITA T. VILLAFUERTE, petitioners, vs. HON. COURT OF APPEALS, latters gasoline station by constructing fences around it.
EDILBERTO DE MESA and GONZALO DALEON, respondents.
The following day February 2, 1990 the Villafuertes countered with a complaint for damages with
DECISION preliminary mandatory injunction against both Edilberto de Mesa and Gonzalo Daleon. Docketed in the
court below as Civil Case No. 90-11, the complaint seeks vindication for the alleged malicious and unlawful
CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:
fencing of the plaintiffs business premises (Records, pp. 1-6).
This is a petition for review on certiorari of the Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 41871
Invoking their status as owners of the withheld premises, the defendants admitted in their respective
which affirmed, with modification, the decision[2] of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 55, Lucena City, in
answers having caused the fencing of the plaintiffs gasoline station thereat but reasoned out that they did
Civil Case No. 90-11 entitled, Reynaldo C. Villafuerte and Perlita Tan Villafuerte v. Edilberto De Mesa and
so on account of the plaintiffs refusal to vacate the same despite demands.
Gonzalo Daleon.
After hearing the parties in connection with the plaintiffs application for a writ of preliminary mandatory
The facts, as established by the Court of Appeals, follow:
injunction, the lower court, in its order of May 23, 1990, ruled that with the expiration of the lease on the
Appelees the spouses Reynaldo C. Villafuerte and Perlita Tan-Villafuerte operated a gasoline station known defendants property, the plaintiffs have no more right to stay thereon and, therefore, cannot pretend to
as Peewees Petron Powerhouse Service Station and General Merchandise on the premises of three (3) have a clear and unmistakable right to an injunctive writ and accordingly denied their application therefore
adjoining lots at the corner of Gomez Street and Quezon Avenue in Lucena City. One of these lots, Lot No. (Rec., p. 186). In a subsequent order of July 30, 1990, the same court denied the Villafuertes motion for
2948-A with an area of 575 square meters, is owned by several persons, one of whom is appellant Edilberto reconsideration (Rec., p. 237).
de Mesa, while the other lot, Lot 2948-B with an area of 290 square meters, is owned by appellant Gonzalo
Later, with leave of court, the Villafuertes amended their complaint to allege, among others, that the
Daleon and his brother Federico A. Daleon. The remaining lot belongs to Mrs. Anicia Yap-Tan, mother of
complained acts of the defendants cost them the following items of actual damages:
appellee Perlita Tan-Villafuerte.
a) Daily Sales (4000-5000 lts.) at .35lt.
Appellants Edilberto de Mesa and Gonzalo Daleon acquired their respective lots subject to the lease by
Petrophil Corporation which had built thereon the gasoline station being managed by the Villafuerte mark-up, P1,750 x 270 days P472,500.00
couple. When the lease of Petrophil Corporation expired on December 31, 1988, the Villafuertes obtained
a new lease on Lot No. 2948-A from appellant Edilberto de Mesa for a period expiring on December 31, b) Storage Fee of POL (Petroleum, Oil &
1989, thus:.
Lubricants) Recom 4 at 5% for 100,000 lts.
1 This lease will be for a period of one (1) year only, from January 1, 1989 and will terminate on the 31st of
December 1989 at a monthly rental of FOUR THOUSAND PESOS (P4,000.00). (Exhibit 1-A-1 De Mesa). = 5000 lts. X 3 quarters x P6.00/lt. 90,000.00

As regards Lot 2948-B of the Daleon brothers, the Villafuertes were not as lucky. For, instead of obtaining c) Tires, Batteries, Accessories (TBA) Gen.
a lease renewal, what they received were demand letters from the brothers counsel ordering them to
Merchandise Sales, P50,000/mo. 20% mark-
vacate the premises. Instead of complying therewith, the Villafuertes simply ignored the demand and
continued operating the gas station (Exhibits 3-B, 3-C and 3-F, Daleon). Up = P10,000 x 9 months 90,000.00
On May 9, 1989, in the Office of the Barangay Captain of Barangay Tres, Lucena City, a complaint for d) Hauling of Petroleum products for Peewees
ejectment was filed by Gonzalo Daleon against the Villafuertes (Exhibit 6, Daleon). Evidently, no settlement
was reached thereat, as shown by a certification to file action issued by the lupon. Petron Powerhouse, 2 trips weekly, P1,500

With their problem with the Daleon brothers far from over, the Villafuertes were apt for another one; their X 8 trips/mo. X 9 months 108,000.00
lease contract with Edilberto de Mesa was not renewed when it expired on December 31, 1989.
Nonetheless, and duplicating what they had done in the case of the property of the Daleon brothers, the e) Hauling of Petroleum products for military
spouses continued to operate their gasoline station and other businesses on the lot of de Mesa despite
7 trips/qtr., P1,500/trip x 21 (3 qtrs.) 31,500.00
the latters demand to vacate.
f) Balloon Business (Sunshine Balloons)
What transpired next lays at the core of the instant controversy.
P50,000.00 capital, P6,000/mo. Income
79

TOTAL LOSS 200,000.00 C - Requiring the defendants to pay jointly and severally actual damages representing unrealized income
and profits as well as losses referred to in paragraphs 10 and 12 hereof in such amount as may be shown
g) Uncollected Debts 619,030.61 in evidence during the hearing.
h) Uncollected Checks 37,449.05 D - Granting the plaintiffs such other just and equitable remedies to which they may be entitled under the
law and equity. (Orig. Rec., pp. 292-293).
i) Merchandise Inventory as of July 25, 1990,
As later events disclosed, the defendants resumed possession of the premises in question on January 25,
P141,036.50 value, 50% damaged 70,518.25
1991 (Rec., p. 333). Four (4) days later, they obtained a judgment by compromise from the Municipal Trial
j) Damaged Office Equipments 30,000.00 Court in Cities, Lucena City in connection with the suit for ejectment they earlier filed thereat against
Petrophil Corporation. In that judgment, Petrophil bound itself to remove the materials and equipment
k) Stampitas (Religious Articles) and other related to the operation of the gasoline station on the subject premises. (Rec., pp. 355-356).

Hermana Fausta Memorial Foundation, Inc. After the parties herein had presented their respective evidence, the lower court came out with the
decision now under review. Dated November 13, 1990, the decision dispositively reads:
printed matters entrusted in my care,
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the plaintiffs and ordering the defendants Edliberto
totally damaged by rain and termites 5,000.00 de Mesa and Gonzalo Daleon to pay, jointly and severally, plaintiffs the following:

l) Products lost in 4 underground tanks 249,805.00 1. Actual damages in the total amount of TWO MILLION ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY SIX THOUSAND AND TWO
HUNDRED NINETY THREE PESOS AND FORTY FOUR CENTAVOS (P2,176,293.44);
m) Interest payments to RCBC (Rizal Commercial
2. Moral damages in the amount of P200,000.00;
Banking Corporation) for additional loan
3. Exemplary damages in the amount of P50,000.00;
availed of to pay off products acquired on
4. P50,000.00, as and for attorneys fees; and
credit from Petron Corp. but were held
5. Costs of suit.
inside gas station 172,490.53
SO ORDERED (Rec., pp. 408-414).[3]
TOTAL -- P2,176,293.44
The trial court ruled that with the continued occupation by petitioners of the two lots belonging to private
(Rec., pp. 290, 300)
respondents, despite the expiration of the lease contracts over the same, petitioners had become
The amended complaint thus prayed for the following reliefs: undesirable lessees.[4] However, it was improper for private respondents to resort to fencing their
properties in order to remove petitioners from the premises in the light of the clear provision of the Civil
WHEREFORE, it is respectfully prayed of this Hon. Court that judgment be rendered in favor of the plaintiffs: Code on the matter, to wit:

A - Immediately ordering the issuance of a writ of preliminary mandatory injunction against the defendants Art. 536. In no case may possession be acquired through force or intimidation as long as there is a
commanding them and any person acting in their behalf to forthwith remove the fence they have possessor who objects thereto. He who believes that he has an action or a right to deprive another of the
constructed around the premises in question, and after trial making the said injunction permanent. holding of a thing, must invoke the aid of the competent court, if the holder should refuse to deliver the
thing.
B - Ordering the defendants to pay jointly and severally the plaintiffs the following:
Having disregarded the plain requirement of the law, private respondents were held accountable to
1) Moral damages equivalent to not less than P200,000.00; petitioners for the various damages prayed for by petitioners in their amended complaint.

2) Exemplary damages in the amount of P50,000.00; In due time, private respondents filed their respective appeals before the Court of Appeals which affirmed,
with modification, the decision of the trial court. The dispositive portion of the appellate courts decision
3) Attorneys fee in the amount of P60,000.00 plus twenty-five percent (25%) of the amount of damages to
reads:
which plaintiffs are entitled; and

4) Litigation expenses in this instance in the amount of P10,000.00


80

WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is MODIFIED by holding the appellants jointly and severally liable 8. Private respondents are nevertheless liable for exemplary damages for having taken the law into their
to the appellees for P50,000.00 as exemplary damages and for P27,000.00 as actual damages, itemized as own hands by fencing the premises of the Petron gasoline station operated by petitioners instead of
follows: seeking redress from the proper court as mandated by Article 536 of the Civil Code; and

1. detention of the records: P7,000.00; 9. Petitioners are liable to pay private respondents for the unpaid rentals from the time the lease
agreements over the subject properties expired until 01 February 1990 when private respondents
2. detention of the merchandise: P10,000.00; constructed the fence.
3. value of the damaged merchandise and religious items: P5,000; and Dissatisfied with the ruling of the Court of Appeals, petitioners are now before us raising, in the main, the
issue of whether the appellate court erred in substantially reducing the amount of damages earlier
4. detention of offices equipment: P5,000.00,
awarded to them by the trial court.
and by holding the appellees jointly and severally liable for rental to appellants Edilberto de Mesa and
Petitioners insist that the appellate court resorted to assumptions, inferences, surmises and conjectures
Gonzalo Daleon in the amount of P5,500.00 and P39,000.00, respectively.
in disallowing certain items of actual damages like lost petroleum products valued at P249,805.00, loss of
The deficiency in the payment of the docket fees, to be computed by the clerk of court of the lower court, value of merchandise detained for a quite a long time (sic) in the fenced premises and uncollected debts
shall constitute a lien on this judgment.[5] as against the positive testimony of petitioner Perlita Villafuerte which remained unrebutted and
uncontested even on appeal.[9] They also allege that the list of unrealized income, collectibles and damages
In adjudging private respondents liable for damages, the Court of Appeals substantially ruled that: prepared by petitioner Perlita was based and ably supported by documents.

1. Private respondents could not invoke the doctrine of self-help contained in Article 429 of the Civil Petitioners also maintain that the Court of Appeals erred in finding that they came to court with unclean
Code[6] reasoning that the doctrine finds no application when occupation was effected through lawful hands, thus, depriving them of entitlement to moral damages. According to petitioners, their continued
means such as in this case where petitioners possession of the lots owned by private respondents was occupation of private respondents properties was based on their belief that their lease contract with
effected through lease agreements; private respondent De Mesa was modified and extended whereas private respondent Daleon had verbally
agreed to allow them to continue with their possession of his lot for as long as the Petron Corporations
2. Petitioners continued unauthorized occupation of private respondents properties may have been illegal, equipment remain in the premises.
however, it was incumbent upon private respondents to abide by the express provision of Article 536 of
the Civil Code requiring recourse to the proper court prior to ousting petitioners from their (private Finally, petitioners argue that the trial court was correct in awarding in their favor attorneys fees in the
respondents) lots; amount of P50,000.00 as they were compelled to engage the services of counsel in order to seek
vindication from the arbitrary action of private respondents.
3. On the matter of insufficient docket fees paid by petitioners during the institution of this action, the
Court of Appeals declared that whatever deficiency there may be in the docket fees can be levied from the After a considered review of the records of this case, we resolve to affirm, with modification, the decision
amount that may be awarded the appellees (petitioners herein)[7] and that private respondents were of the Court of Appeals.
already estopped from assailing the jurisdiction of the trial court;
Both the trial court and the Court of Appeals concluded that the lease contracts between petitioners and
4. Private respondents could not invoke the principle of damnum absque injuria as this doctrine only private respondents over the latters respective lots had already expired. There was also a congruence of
applies when the loss or damage does not constitute a violation of a legal right or amounts to a legal findings that it was wrong for private respondents to fence their properties thereby putting to a halt the
wrong[8] and not to this case where private respondents clearly violated the law by unilaterally displacing operation of petitioners gasoline station. To this, we agree.
petitioners from the subject premises;
Article 536 of the Civil Code previously quoted explicitly provides for the proper recourse of one who claims
5. On the issue of actual damages, the appellate court substantially reduced the amount of actual damages to be entitled to the possession of a thing. When private respondents personally took it upon themselves
awarded by the court a quo upon the ground that petitioners failed to substantiate their claims thereto to evict petitioners from their properties, which act was in clear contravention of the law, they became
except for the detention of petitioners records of their receivables, various merchandise, damaged goods, liable for all the necessary and natural consequences of [their] illegal act.[10]
religious items, and office equipment;
As expected, petitioners instituted this action praying that private respondents be held liable for actual
6. As for the propriety of awarding moral damages to petitioners, the Court of Appeals held that petitioners damages, moral damages, exemplary damages, attorneys fees, and costs of litigation. We shall resolve
are not entitled to this form of damage as this case does not fall within Article 2219 of the Civil Code; their right to these damages in seriatim.

7. Although Article 2219 of the Civil Code encompasses incidents which may fall within the purview of Actual or compensatory damages are those awarded in order to compensate a party for an injury or loss
Article 21 of the Civil Code, the latter, being a rule based on equity, necessitates the claimant to come to he suffered. They arise out of a sense of natural justice and are aimed at repairing the wrong
court with clean hands which cannot be said of petitioners who continued to occupy the lands belonging done.[11] Except as provided by law or by stipulation, a party is entitled to an adequate compensation only
to private respondents without the authority of a subsisting lease agreement; for such pecuniary loss as he has duly proven.[12] It is hornbook doctrine that to be able to recover actual
81

damages, the claimant bears the onus of presenting before the court actual proof of the damages alleged Q: Is the mark-up of P0.35 centavos per liter thru (sic), irrespective of amount of gasoline or value of
to have been suffered, thus: gasoline per liter?

A party is entitled to an adequate compensation for such pecuniary loss actually suffered by him as he has A: We have different kinds of petroleum products, extra, regular and diesel and the average mark-up is
duly proved. Such damages, to be recoverable, must not only be capable of proof, but must actually be thirty-five (35) centavos.
proved with a reasonable degree of certainty. We have emphasized that these damages cannot be
presumed and courts, in making an award must point out specific facts which could afford a basis for ...
measuring whatever compensatory or actual damages are borne.[13]
Q: Calling your attention to No. 2 in the list which refers to storage fee of petroleum, oil and lubricant from
We have exhaustively perused the records of this case and thus conclude that petitioners have miserably RECOM IV amounting to a total of ninety thousand pesos (P90,000.00) will you kindly explain how you
failed to proffer evidence capable of sustaining their plea for actual damages. We note that when arrived at this amount?
petitioner Perlita was directly examined with respect to her unrealized income[14] for the following
A: The military, PC/INP RECOM IV which is stationed at Camp Nakar has entered into an agreement with
matters, namely: daily sales of various petroleum products;[15] storage fee of RECOM IVs petroleum, oil,
us to deposit their petroleum, oil and lubricant for every quarter, sir.
and lubricants;[16] sales of tires, batteries, accessories, and general merchandise;[17] hauling of petroleum
products for Peewees Petron Powerhouse by the gasoline tankers owned by petitioners;[18]hauling of Q: Under what condition was that deposit made for?
petroleum products for the military;[19] and petitioner Perlitas balloon business which she conducted
within the premises of the fenced gasoline station,[20] she repeatedly testified that she arrived at these A: That they will be able to withdraw the said products for a certain storage fee, sir, and the storage fee is
claimed amounts based on the average of her sales for the month of January 1990, the number of trips 5% which would cover disposing the products and also certain percent of evaporation.
undertaken by their tankers, and average volume of the gasoline deposit for RECOM IV. Her testimony on
these matters went as follows: COURT: Five percent of what?

Atty. CAMALIGAN: A: Five percent of the number of liters deposited with us so that if they deposited one hundred thousand
(100,000) liters we are paid in terms of gasoline also, five thousand (5,000) liters.
May I ask that this List of Unrealized Income, Collectibles and Damages from Febrauary 1, 1990 to October
30, 1990 be marked as Exhibit AA. Q: What was the average volume of deposit made by the RECOM IV?

... A: It is on a quarterly basis, that is one hundred thousand (100,000) liters quarterly, sir.

Q: Will you explain to the court why this list you made is up to October 30, 1990? Q: On item 3 referring to tires, batteries, accessories, general merchandise is listed an amount of ninety
thousand (P90,000.00) pesos as your losses, will you please explain how you incurred such losses?
A: I prepared this list until October 10, 1990 in preparation for our first hearing sometime in November,
sir. A: Aside from petroleum products we also sell accessories for the motoring public and they are in kinds
like tires, batteries and some additives, how do you realize income out of this? (sic)
Q: I am calling your attention to No. 1 which is I quote, Daily Sales (4,000 to 5,000 liters) at P0.035 per liter
mark up P1,750.00 by 270 days amounting to P472,500.00 will you explain to the court how you incurred A: We have 20% mark-up on the merchandise and last January 1990 I average fifty thousand (P50,000.00)
this damage? pesos gross income on the general merchandise so for 20% mark-up that is more or less ten thousand
(P10,000.00) pesos and for nine (9) months that is ninety thousand (P90,000.00) pesos, sir.
(A): After the closure of our gasoline station that was February 1, 1990 and then until September, 1990 is
nine (9) months and that is 270 days. I went thru my sales for January and the average sales (is) 4,000 to Q: In item No. 4 appearing in your list you listed a total amount of one hundred eight thousand
5,000 liters and so for our daily sales of 4,000 to 5,000 liters sale at P0.35 centavos mark-up, I got P1,750.00 (P108,000.00) pesos, for hauling of petroleum products for Peewees Petron Powerhouse, will you explain
daily so that is times 270 days until September 1990, the total is P472,500.00, sir. to the court this hauling?

COURT: That is gross? A: My husband and I run a fleet of gasoline tankers and they are hauling petroleum products for our
gasoline stations and for the military accounts. We average two (2) deliveries every week so this is already
A: Yes, your Honor. a net of one thousand five hundred (P1,500.00) pesos per delivery. It is two thousand eight hundred
(P2,800.00) pesos per delivery and deducting the salaries of the drivers, the fuel consumption and the
COURT: What about the net income to be realized? depreciation of the tankers, we incur a net of one thousand five hundred (P1,500.00) pesos per trip. Every
month we incur at least eight (8) trips and that is one thousand five hundred (P1,500.00) pesos times eight
A: Your Honor, we will deduct from here the salaries and wages of the gasoline boys and electric bill, maybe
(8) trips times nine (9) months and I got one hundred eight thousand (P108,000.00) pesos total.
P0.25 centavos per liter.
Q: Do you own them?
COURT: Proceed.
82

A: Yes, sir. eight thousand seven hundred twenty five pesos and fifty five centavos (P98,725.55) figure is, this
represents seventy percent (70%) of the total amount because when we retrieved the merchandize, we
Q: In item No. 6 you listed Balloon Business under Sunshine Balloon, you have given a total amount of two noticed that most of them are already defective, so we valued the damages only seventy percent (70%) of
hundred thousand (P200,000.00) pesos as your losses here, will you please explain to the Court how you the total value because some of them could still be sold, sir.
incurred these losses?
ATTY. CAMALIGAN:
...
Q: I noticed there is a correction in Item No. 9 from ninety percent (90%) to seventy percent (70%). When
A: Inside the gasoline station we also operate a balloon business and we have invested fifty thousand did you make that correction?
capital on this balloon business. This business has been thriving for several years and we usually incur six
(6) thousand monthly income from said business, sir. Now that the gasoline station was closed with all the A: Only last December 30, 1990 after we have retrieved all the merchandize. I prepared this list on October
equipments of the balloon business inside also, we have totally lost the market for the balloon business 31, 1990 not realizing the extent of the real damages to the merchandize but when we retrieved them last
and I feel that two hundred thousand (P200,000.00) pesos would have to be paid for the total loss of the December 29 and upon inspection, most of the motor oil have already leaked because of the plastics that
business.[21] were exposed to sun and rain, so we changed the estimate to seventy percent (70%), sir.[25]

Noticeably, petitioner Perlitas testimony was replete with claims that her unrealized income, as far as Such arbitrary estimations run afoul with our consistent pronouncement that actual or compensatory
these items were concerned, were based on the average. Except, however, for the record of daily damages cannot be presumed but must be proved with reasonable degree of certainty.[26] A court cannot
petroleum sales for the month of January 1990,[22] petitioners failed to present any evidence that would simply rely on speculation, conjecture or guesswork as to the fact and amount of damages, but is required
sufficiently establish their mean income from these business undertakings. In the absence of any to depend upon competent proof that the claimant had suffered and on evidence of the actual amount
corroborative proof, this Court is not bound to award in petitioners favor the actual damages for items a, thereof.[27] Failing in this regard, we resolve to delete the award of actual damages rendered by the Court
b, c, d, e, and f of her alleged unrealized income. Nor can we give premium on the summary of daily of Appeals with respect to these items.
petroleum sales for January 1990 prepared by petitioner Perlita as the same is not supported by any
competent evidence; at best, said exhibit is self-serving. Similarly, we rule that petitioners are not entitled to the total amount of the 17 checks issued in their favor
by their customers and to the amount of uncollected debts owed to them by their patrons. Petitioners
Anent the actual damages claimed for the deterioration of the items which remained inside petitioners maintain that their customers were used to coming to their gasoline station in order to settle their
office, petitioner Perlita testified that when they were able to retrieve the merchandise from the gasoline obligations but were prevented from doing after the 01 February 1990 incident. They therefore would like
station, they noticed that most of them were already defective and so they valued[23] the damages thereto to hold private respondents accountable for these receivables. This, we can not grant.
at seventy (70%) of their total value. As for the items entrusted to her by the Hermana Fausta Memorial
Foundation of which she was the executive vice president at that time, petitioner Perlita alleged that the The records indicate that petitioners filed before the trial court a motion to allow them to enter the
amount of five thousand pesos represents the production cost of these materials which the foundation gasoline station subject of this dispute in order to make an inventory of their property that were locked
purportedly paid to Imprenta Lucentina. As regards the amount of P30,000.00 sought as actual damages inside and to remove those they needed for their personal use.[28] Among the items removed from the
for the damaged office equipment, petitioner Perlita stated before the trial court that she arrived at this gasoline station were the receipts evidencing petitioners receivables from their customers[29] as well as the
figure after computing the acquisition costs of these equipment which she approximated[24] to 17 uncollected checks.[30] Obviously, after the court-approved ocular inspection conducted on 24 July 1990
be P35,000.00. and 25 July 1990, petitioners were already in possession of the evidences of credit of their customers.
There was nothing, not even the closure of their gasoline station, which stood in the way of petitioners
Evidently, in establishing the amount of actual damages for the merchandise inventory, office equipment, exerting earnest efforts in going after their debtors.
and materials owned by the Hermana Fausta Memorial Foundation, petitioners relied solely on their own
assessment of the prices of these items as well as the damage thereto purportedly occasioned by the Petitioners likewise seek to be compensated for the value of the petroleum products allegedly lost from
fencing of the gasoline station. This is clearly demonstrated by the inconsistent stance of petitioner Pertlita the four underground tanks between the period 01 February 1990 until 25 July 1990 when an ocular
with regard to the percentage of damaged merchandise stored in the gasoline station, thus: inspection was conducted within the disputed property. According to petitioners, after they compared the
volume of the tanks contents as of the evening of 31 January 1990 with the dipstick reading on 25 July
ATTY. CAMALIGAN: 1990, they discovered that they had lost thousands of liters of petroleum products. On this point, we quote
with approval the conclusion of the Court of Appeals, to wit:
Q: I noticed that the total appearing on page 3 of your merchandize inventory is one hundred forty one
thousand thirty six pesos and fifty centavos (P141,036.50) only while in your list, it is ninety eight thousand The appellees[31] failed to adduce convincing evidence that appellants are the ones responsible for the loss
seven hundred twenty five pesos and fifty five centavos (P98,725.55), will you please explain the same? of the petroleum products in the four (4) underground tanks (item 1, paragraph 10 of Amended
Complaint). Although the premises which were fenced by the appellants[32] adjoin the lot of Perlitas mother
WITNESS: and are even secured by appellees guard, the appellees did not present anyone to testify on the fact of
loss of said gasoline products. Instead, they chose to rely on Perlitas bare assertion that she
A: This list with the total amount of one hundred forty one thousand thirty six pesos and fifty centavos
lostP249,805.00 in terms of petroleum products that allegedly disappeared. The sheer volume of the
(P141,036.50) represent the total value of all the merchandize but then the reason why we have the ninety
83

missing fuel makes it difficult for the pilferer to commit the deed without attracting attention. An (7) Libel, slander or any other form of defamation;
unsubstantiated claim of loss, more so of such a dimension, cannot merit an award therefor.[33]
(8) Malicious prosecution;
Finally, with respect to the interest payments to the Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC),
petitioners maintain that because of the fencing of their gasoline station on 01 February 1990, they were (9) Acts mentioned in article 309;
forced to obtain a loan from RCBC in order to pay off their obligations to different suppliers. This
(10) Acts and actions referred to in articles 21, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 32, 34, and 35.
contention was effectively refuted by petitioner Perlita herself when, during her re-direct examination,
she admitted that the loan granted by the RCBC was intended for all the businesses that she and her The parents of the female seduced, abducted, raped or abused, referred to in No. 3 of this article, may
husband, petitioner Reynaldo, were maintaining.[34] It would, therefore, be iniquitous to charge private also recover moral damages.
respondents for the interest payments for this loan the proceeds of which were utilized to finance
petitioners various businesses and not solely the settlement of petitioners obligations to the suppliers of The spouse, descendants, ascendants, and brothers and sisters may bring the action mentioned in No. 9
Peewees Petron Powerhouse. In the absence of actual proof as to how much of the RCBC loan was really of this article, in the order named.
used to pay the creditors of the closed gasoline station, this Court can not affirm petitioners right to be
compensated for the amount of interest payments they have made to the RCBC. Noticeably, none of the foregoing instances has any relevant bearing to the case at bench. While Article
2219 comprehends the situation in Article 21 of the Code, whereunder [A]ny person who willfully causes
We find, however, that an award of temperate damages to petitioners is in order. In lieu of actual damages, loss or injury to another in a manner that is contrary to morals, good customs or public policy shall
temperate damages, which are more than nominal but less than compensatory damages, may be awarded compensate the latter for the damages, the appellees cannot benefit from it. The right to recover moral
where the court finds that some pecuniary loss had been suffered by the claimant but its amount cannot damages under Article 21 is based on equity, and those who come to court to demand equity must come
be proved with certainty. Undoubtedly, pecuniary loss had been inflicted upon petitioners in this case, with clean hands (Garciano v. Court of Appeals, 212 SCRA 436 citing Padilla, CIVIL CODE ANNOTATED, Vol.
however, due to the insufficiency of evidence before us, we cannot place its amount with certainty. In this 1, 1975 Ed., p. 87). The appellees knew that their lease had expired. Yet, despite such awareness, they
regard, we find the amount of P50,000.00 to be sufficient. persisted in their unauthorized occupancy of appellants property. Being partly responsible for their
present predicament which is very much within their power to avoid, appellees cannot receive
Petitioners also assail the removal by the Court of Appeals of the moral damages previously ordered by compensation for whatever mental anguish or suffering they went thru.[35]
the trial court. They argue that contrary to the findings of the appellate court, they came to court with
clean hands as they believed that the lease contract with private respondent De Mesa was modified and Similarly, we uphold the award of P50,000.00 as exemplary damages in order to deter similarly minded
extended. At the same time, they contend that they had a verbal understanding with private respondent individuals from pursuing the course of action taken by private respondents. The law on this matter is
Daleon wherein the latter permitted them to remain in his lot for as long as Petron Corporation was not clear: (h)e who believes himself entitled to deprive another of the possession of a thing, so long as the
removing its equipment. Further, petitioners contend that under Article 2219 of the Civil Code, this Court possessor refuses delivery, must request the assistance of the proper authority. [36] Petitioners arbitrary
had awarded moral damages in instances where the claimants were victims of capricious, wanton, conduct of fencing their properties under the claim that they own the same brazenly violates the law and
oppressive, malicious, and arbitrary acts such as petitioners in this case. On this issue, we agree in the circumvents the proper procedure which should be obtained before the court.
findings of the Court of Appeals that:
This Court likewise adopts the conclusion reached by the Court of Appeals that petitioners do not deserve
The Court must have to disallow the lower courts award of moral damages. The concept of moral damages, the award of attorneys fees for it was precisely their unfounded insistence to stay on private respondents
as announced in Article 2217 of the Civil Code, is designed to compensate the complainant for his physical properties that precipitated this suit.
suffering, mental anguish, fright, serious anxiety, besmirched reputation, wounded feelings, moral shock,
social humiliation and similar injury occasioned by the defendants wrongful act or omission. Article 2219 WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Court of Appeals dated 31 March 1998, which modified the Decision
of the same Code specifies the cases where moral damages may be awarded, to wit: dated 13 November 1992 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 55, Lucena City, and its Resolution of 17 June
1993 denying reconsideration are hereby MODIFIED as follows:
Art. 2219. Moral damages may be recovered in the following and analogous cases:
1. The award of Twenty-Seven Thousand Pesos (P27,000.00) as actual damages in favor of petitioners
(1) A criminal offense resulting in physical injuries; Reynaldo and Perlita Villafuerte is deleted; and

(2) Quasi-delicts causing physical injuries; 2. Private respondents Edilberto De Mesa and Gonzalo Daleon are held jointly and severally liable to pay
petitioners the amount of Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00) as temperate damages.
(3) Seduction, abduction, rape, or other lascivious acts;
The remainder of the same Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals are hereby AFFIRMED. No
(4) Adultery or concubinage; costs.
(5) Illegal or arbitrary detention or arrest; SO ORDERED.
(6) Illegal search;
84

G.R. No. L-4155 March 20, 1908 The judgment appealed from, in so far as it is not in conformity with this judgment, is reversed, and the
defendants are absolved without special ruling as to costs; The right is reserved to Ruperto Belzunce to
RUPERTO BELZUNCE,Plaintiff-Appellee, vs. VALENTINA FERNANDEZ, ET AL.,Defendants-Appellants. bring the proper action to recover the rent for 1906 and the following years.
J.F. Martinez for appellants. Both parties appealed from the above judgment, and both also petitioned for a rehearing. Some time after,
M. Locsin for appellee. however, the plaintiff withdrew his appeal and motion for rehearing, leaving only the appeal and motion
for rehearing filed by the defendants, which gave rise to the bill of exceptions which was duly certified and
ARELLANO, C.J. :chanrobles virtual law library
filed with this court soon after exception was taken to the order denying the motion for
By a complaint filed in the month of September, 1905, the plaintiff instituted ejectment proceedings rehearing.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
against the defendants to oust the latter from the hacienda named "Anonolip," and to recover from him
The assignment of errors made in support of the appeal is as follows:chanrobles virtual law library
the sum of P1,723.22, the amount of rent due and unpaid.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual
law library 1. The court erred "in finding that the deed of June 14, 1903, is not a mortgage, but a contract of sale with
right of repurchase."chanrobles virtual law library
The said complaint was filed with the court of the justice of the peace of Isabela, and judgment was entered
dismissing the ejectment proceedings, but sentencing the defendants to pay to the plaintiff the rents due 2. The court erred "in finding that Valentina Fernandez is the only person who testified in regard to the
in the amount specified in the complaint. But parties appealed from this deed of June 14, 1903, and in not mentioning in its judgment the acts of the plaintiff which corroborate
judgment.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library the contention of the defendants."chanrobles virtual law library

The court of the justice of the peace furthermore issued an order for the preliminary attachment of the 3. The court erred "in finding that the defendants failed to explain why they did sign the deed of June 14,
carabaos and agricultural products of the defendants.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law 1903, as executed."chanrobles virtual law library
library
4. The court erred "in not finding against the plaintiff for the payment to the defendants of the damages
Upon the filing of a complaint with the Court of First Instance of Occidental Negros, similar to the former, resulting from the preliminary attachment, and in not reserving to them at least the right to bring an action
the plaintiff prayed for the recovery of the possession of the said hacienda called "Anonolip," and the against the plaintiff, in this case, for damages caused by the illegal preliminary attachment."chanrobles
payment of the rents corresponding to 1904 and 1905, already due, and the rents which might accrue virtual law library
during the year 1906, together with the legal interest and the costs.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles
virtual law library The subject-matter of the complaints, respectively, filed with both courts is the ejectment and the
payment of rents. The judgment appealed from does not sentence the defendants to be ejected from the
The defendants, by their answer, made a general denial of all the facts alleged and, by way of special land or to pay the rent. The purpose of the defendants in assigning the first three errors is therefore
defense, alleged that they had already paid the rent claimed, which constitutes the interest on a mortgage incomprehensible. Their allegation is evidently irrelevant and should not therefore occupy the attention
debt, and that, on the contrary, there remained a balance to their credit. In addition thereto, the of this court.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
defendants, by way of counterclaim, made a further claim for damages amounting to P15,000 resulting,
on the one hand, from the preliminary attachment, and on the other, from noncompliance, on the part of The fourth error is the only one might serve as the basis for the bill exceptions. Nevertheless, the Court of
the plaintiff, with a contract under seal, dated July 15, 1905, according to the terms of which the latter First Instance did not err in not finding against the plaintiff for the payment of damages resulting from the
bound himself to furnish the defendants the money necessary to cultivate the hacienda preliminary attachment issued by request of the latter, nor did the lower court commit error in not
"Anonolip."chanrobles virtual law library reserving to the defendants the right to bring a separate action for said damages:chanrobles virtual law
library
This hacienda had been sold by the defendants to the plaintiff on June 14, 1903, the right of repurchase
was reserved to the former, and by the terms of the agreement in the form of a contract of lease said land First, because the nonreservation by judgment of the court of the right which one of the parties to an
was to be left in the possession of the vendors during the period allowed for the repurchase, conditioned action deems he may exercise in a separate action is neither an error nor an injury, because the law does
upon the payment of rent, which was made the subject of the complaint in this case, because the rent was not impose upon the judge the duty of making a reservation of this kind in cases when the exercise of the
not paid during the years above mentioned.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library right does not depend thereon.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library

After trial the Court of First Instance entered judgment as follows: Second, because the counterclaim for damages, filed for the first time on appeal before the Court of First
Instance, not having been filed nor being proper in the proceeding for ejectment in the court of the justice
The court finds that the need of June 14, 1903, is a contract of sale with right of repurchase, and that the of the peace, it was reasonably denied, on account of its notorious impropriety, as has been determined
defendants, at the date of the filing of the complaint of ejectment in this case, had already paid the rents in several decisions of the Supreme Court.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
corresponding to 1904 and 1905.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
Third, because, according to section 439 of the Code of Civil Procedure, whose heading is "Disposition of
attached property in case of judgment against the plaintiff upon the obligation provided in section 427 for
85

any damages he may have sustained by reason of the attachment, after summary hearing in the same
action on due notice," if the attachment, according to section 427, "shall finally be adjudged to have been
wrongful or without sufficient cause."chanrobles virtual law library

For the foregoing reasons, we affirm the judgment appealed from, with the costs of this instance against
the appellants. So ordered.
86

[G.R. No. 147010. July 18, 2003] The respondents, as vendors, guaranteed that the franchise and routes to Buendia-Ayala-UP and vice
versa and Monumento-Ayala via EDSA were valid, fully and completely utilizable, and merely required
PIONEER INSURANCE AND SURETY CORPORATION, petitioner, vs. DE DIOS TRANSPORTATION CO., INC. registration with the Land Transportation Office (LTO) for the vendees to be able to operate the
and DE DIOS MARIKINA TRANSIT CORPORATION, respondents. same.[5] The vendees delivered the downpayment and postdated checks drawn upon the account of
Goldfinger with the Philbanking Corporation for the balance of the purchase price.
DECISION
On March 23, 1995, the respondents delivered the buses to the vendees. The respondents were able to
CALLEJO, SR., J.:
encash the check for the downpayment of the purchase price. However, before the respondents could
This is a petition for review on certiorari of the October 31, 2000 Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals in CA- deposit the first check for the remaining balance, the vendees stopped all payments, on their claim that,
G.R. SP No. 58519[2] and its January 30, 2001 Resolution denying the petitioners motion for reconsideration contrary to the representations of the respondents, some of the buses were not in good running
of the said decision. condition. The color of the buses had been changed without the proper permits or clearances from the
Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), the LTO and the Philippine National Police
The petition at bar arose from the following factual milieu: (PNP). Consequently, the vendees failed to operate the buses. The vendees were, likewise, unable to
operate the buses along the Buendia-Ayala-UP route, notwithstanding the representation of the
Herein respondents De Dios Transportation Co. (DDTC) and De Dios Marikina Transport Corporation respondents that only registration with the LTO was required.
(DMTC) were the franchise holders and owners of fifty-eight buses plying the Buendia-Ayala-UP and
Monumento-Ayala routes. On February 23, 1995, the respondents, as vendors, executed a Deed of On July 20, 1995, the vendees, through its counsel, the Padilla Reyes & De la Torre Law Office, filed a
Conditional Sale covering the said buses and their franchise in favor of Willy Choa Coyukiat (Coyukiat) complaint against the respondents and Philbanking Corporation as defendants with the Regional Trial
and/or Goldfinger Transport Corporation (Goldfinger) as vendees. In the said contract, the respondents Court (RTC) of Quezon City for rescission of contract with a plea for a temporary restraining order or writ
bound and obliged themselves to sell to Coyukiat and Goldfinger the fifty-eight buses and their of preliminary injunction.[6]
corresponding franchise, and to deliver and turn over possession of the said buses to the vendees for the
price of P12,000,000, payable as follows: Therein plaintiffs Coyukiat and Goldfinger alleged that defendants (the respondents herein) reneged on
their obligation to deliver the buses in good running condition. By reason of the defendants
(a) A downpayment of ONE MILLION (P1,000,000.00) PESOS in personal check shall be paid upon the misrepresentation regarding the registration of the buses, they failed to secure certificates of registration
execution of this Contract; under their names, preventing them from operating the buses, thus causing tremendous losses to their
business which impelled them to stop the payments of the eleven remaining postdated checks. The
(b) The balance of ELEVEN MILLION (P11,000,000.00) to be paid by eleven (11) postdated checks at the complaint contained the following prayer:
rate of ONE MILLION (P1,000,000.00) a month all of which shall likewise be delivered to the VENDORS
upon the execution of this Contract; provided, however, that the date of the first postdated check shall be ON THE FIRST CAUSE OF ACTION
thirty days from the full and actual delivery of the units as provided in paragraph 3 hereof and the
subsequent dates of the other postdated checks shall be reckoned from the date of the first postdated 1. Declaring the Deed of Conditional Sale entered into between the plaintiffs Willy Choa Coyukiat and
check;[3] Goldfinger Transport Corporation and the defendants De Dios Transportation Co., Inc. and the De Dios
Marikina Transit Corporation as RESCINDED.
The parties further agreed that in case of default by the vendors:
2. Ordering the defendants De Dios Transportation Co. Inc and the De Dios Marikina Transit Corporation
8. CONSEQUENCES OF DEFAULT. It is agreed and understood that the representations and warranties to return the One Million Pesos (P1,000,000.00) down payment and all other amounts given by the
made by the VENDORS in this Contract are the primary motivations/reasons that induced, convinced and plaintiffs to them under the Deed of Conditional Sale.
moved the VENDEE to enter into this contract and the Deed of Sale. In the event of default by the
VENDORS, the VENDEE shall at its option either consider the obligations of the VENDORS under the 3. Requiring the defendants De Dios Transportation Co. Inc. and the De Dios Marikina Transit Corporation
Contract immediately due and demandable and the VENDORS shall immediately execute the Deed of Sale to accept the return from the plaintiffs of the fifty-eight (58) passenger buses;
of the buses and their corresponding lines/franchises without need of any further payments or reimburse
4. Ordering the defendant De Dios Transportation Co. Inc. and the De Dios Marikina Transit Corporation
all the amounts paid by the VENDEE to the VENDORS. In either case, the VENDORS shall, likewise, be liable
to pay jointly and severally to the plaintiffs the amount of Twelve Million Pesos (P12,000,000.00) as
to the VENDEE for liquidated damages in the amount of Twelve Million (P12,000,000.00) pesos.
liquidated damages.
In the event of default by the VENDEE, the VENDORS shall at their option, declare the entire obligation due
ON THE SECOND CAUSE OF ACTION
and demandable, and demand for the payment of the entire balance of the purchase price or declare the
contract as without any further force and effect and that all payments previously paid are forfeited. In 5. On the second cause of action, ordering the defendant De Dios Transportation Co. Inc. and the De Dios
either case, the VENDEE shall, likewise, be liable for liquidated damages in the amount of Twelve Million Marikina Transit Corporation to pay jointly and severally to the plaintiffs the amount of One Million Pesos
(P12,000,000.00) Pesos in favor of the VENDORS.[4] (P1,000,000.00) as moral damages.
87

ON THE THIRD CAUSE OF ACTION (3) FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS (P500,000.00) as moral damages and FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND
PESOS (P500,000.00) as exemplary damages; and
6. On the third cause of action, ordering the defendants De Dios Transportation Co. Inc. and the De Dios
Marikina Transit Corporation to pay jointly and severally the amount of One Million Pesos (P1,000,000.00) (4) TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS as attorneys fees and P113,783.50 as litigation expenses;
as exemplary damages.
(5) Costs of suit.[11]
ON THE FOURTH CAUSE OF ACTION
Aggrieved, the plaintiffs Coyukiat and Goldfinger interposed an appeal to the Court of Appeals (CA) which
7. On the fourth cause of action, ordering the defendants De Dios Transportation Co. Inc. and the De Dios was docketed as CA-G.R. CV No. 61310.
Marikina Transit Corporation to pay jointly and severally to the plaintiffs the amounts of Five Hundred
Thousand Pesos (P500,000.00) as attorneys fees and at least One Hundred Thousand Pesos (P100,000.00) On August 20, 1999, the appellants, through Atty. Ronaldo Reyes, filed their brief with the CA. Before the
as litigation expenses.[7] appellees (the respondents herein) could file their brief, the Padilla Reyes & De la Torre Law Office filed on
September 14, 1999 its withdrawal of appearance as counsel for the appellants. On the same day, the Luis
The plaintiffs therein prayed for the issuance of a temporary restraining order, and after due notice and Q.U. Uranza, Jr. & Associates filed its appearance as counsel for the appellants and filed a notice of
hearing, to issue a writ of preliminary injunction, enjoining the therein defendants DDTC and DMTC, their withdrawal of appeal. However, the withdrawal of appearance of the Padilla Reyes & De la Torre Law
agents, representatives and all persons acting in their behalf from encashing, depositing, discounting or Office, the appearance of the Luis Q.U. Uranza, Jr. & Associates and the notice of withdrawal of appeal
transacting the postdated checks issued by plaintiff Goldfinger as listed in Annex B of the complaint, and filed by Luis Q.U. Uranza, Jr. & Associates did not bear the conformity of the appellants. The appellees
enjoining the defendant Philbanking Corporation (Del Monte branch), its agents, representatives and all (herein respondents) were served with copies thereof thru their counsel by registered mail.[12]
persons acting in its behalf from encashing, accepting, clearing, or transacting in any other manner, the
postdated checks listed in Annex A of the complaint. On September 15, 1999, the respondents filed with the CA a Motion to Execute Against the Injunction
Bond posted by herein petitioner Pioneer Insurance and Surety Corporation, serving a copy thereof on
On July 21, 1995, the RTC issued a temporary restraining order enjoining the defendants and their agents Atty. Ronaldo Reyes.[13]
from encashing, accepting, clearing, or transacting twelve postdated checks issued by therein plaintiff
Coyukiat.[8] On August 11, 1995, the RTC granted the plaintiffs plea for a writ of preliminary injunction on The respondents alleged inter alia in their motion that the appellants Coyukiat and Goldfinger were not
a bond of P11,000,000. The plaintiffs posted Bond No. 71336 issued by herein petitioner Pioneer Insurance entitled to a temporary restraining order or a writ of preliminary injunction. They contend that were it not
& Surety Corporation for the amount of P11,000,000.[9] for the said temporary restraining order and writ of preliminary injunction, the appellants would not have
been able to hide and dispose of their assets and sell the buses, thus frustrating the collection of the
On August 17, 1995, the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint dropping Philbanking Corporation as party- amount of P11,000,000 representing the respondents counterclaim.[14] The CA issued a resolution
defendant. requiring the petitioner to file its comment on the motion.

The defendants, in their answer with counterclaim, denied the material allegations of the complaint and On September 16, 1999, the CA issued a resolution granting the withdrawal of the Padilla Reyes & De la
prayed for the dismissal thereof. The defendants interposed counterclaims for damages and attorneys Torre Law Office as counsel for the appellants and noting the entry of the Luis Q.U. Uranza, Jr. & Associates
fees, thus: (a) P11,000,000 representing the plaintiffs unpaid balance; (b) P12,000,000 representing as new counsel. However, with respect to the withdrawal of their appeal, the CA directed the appellants
liquidating damages; (c) P1,000,000 for moral damages; (d) P1,000,000 for exemplary damages; and (e) to submit their written conformity thereto, and held in abeyance the resolution of the said incident
twenty percent of the claim representing attorneys fees and P1,000 for each court appearance.[10] pending compliance by the appellants to its resolution.[15]

On September 21, 1998, the trial court issued an order dismissing the case on motion of the defendants On September 28, 1999, the appellants submitted to the CA their conformity to the withdrawal of their
for failure of the plaintiffs to prosecute the same. As directed by the trial court on motion of the appeal. On October 8, 1999, the CA issued a resolution (a) declaring that the appeal of the appellants was
defendants, the latter adduced evidence ex parte to prove their counterclaim. considered withdrawn and dismissed; and (b) directing the appellees to address their motion to execute
the bond with the trial court after the remand thereto of the records. On the same day, an entry of
On December 14, 1998, the RTC rendered a decision dismissing the complaint and granting the judgment was issued by the CA.[16]
counterclaims of the defendants, the dispositive portion of which is herein quoted:
On November 4, 1999, the petitioner filed with the CA its comment on the opposition to the motion to
WHEREFORE, as prayed for, defendants counterclaim is hereby GRANTED, and judgment is hereby execute filed by the respondents with the CA on the following grounds:
rendered ordering plaintiff to pay the defendants the following:
I
(1) ELEVEN MILLION (P11,000,000.00) PESOS representing the plaintiffs unpaid balance on the
consideration of the Deed of Conditional Sale; There is no basis for defendants-appellees to execute against the injunction bond.[17]

(2) TWELVE MILLION (P12,000,000.00) PESOS as liquidated damages; II


88

The Decision of the lower court has become final and, therefore, defendants-appellees Motion can no WHEREFORE, the assailed Orders dated February 2, 2000 and March 13, 2000 are REVERSED and SET
longer be entertained.[18] ASIDE and, in lieu thereof, another is rendered granting the petitioners Motion to Execute Against the
Injunction Bond. No costs.[23]
III
The Court of Appeals cited the ruling of this Court in International Container Terminal Services, Inc. v. Court
Even assuming, for the sake of argument that an application for damages can still be made, defendants- of Appeals,[24] which declared that Section 20, Rule 57 of the Rules of Court regarding the application
appellees suffered no damage by reason of the issuance of the injunction.[19] against the surety bond in support of the writ of preliminary attachment shall apply by analogy to a
preliminary injunction. The CA likewise cited the ruling of this Court in Rivera v. Talavera,[25] and Ponce
In accordance with the directive of the Court of Appeals, the respondents filed on December 9, 1999 with
Enrile v. Capulong,[26] that the application or claim for damages against the injunction bond must be filed
the RTC Quezon City, Br. 223, a Motion to Resolve their Motion to Execute Against the Injunction Bond. The
before the trial court either during the trial with due notice to the surety or sureties, or even after trial
respondents alleged inter alia that (a) the trial court had ruled that the plaintiffs Coyukiat and Goldfinger
when judgment is rendered, but before entry thereof.
were not entitled to a writ of preliminary injunction; (b) were it not for the writ, the respondents would
have been able to negotiate and collect on the remaining postdated checks of the plaintiffs which had In its petition at bar, the petitioner contends that the decision and resolution of the CA should be reversed
become stale in the meantime; (c) the plaintiffs were able to hide and dispose of their assets because of a and set aside based on the following grounds:
temporary restraining order and writ of preliminary injunction issued by the court; (d) by reason of the
failure of the plaintiffs to pay the amount due and demandable under the decision of the court, the 1. With all due respect, the Honorable Court of Appeals decided the case in a way not in accord with law
respondents sustained damages; (e) in accordance with the provisions of the Revised Rules of Court, and the applicable decisions of the Honorable Supreme Court. The Honorable Court of Appeals erred when
before the decision of the court a quo became final and executory, the respondents filed their motion to it ruled that it still had jurisdiction over the case even after Coyukiat and Goldfinger had filed their Notice
execute against the injunction bond on September 15, 1999 before the CA; (f) the CA directed the of Withdrawal of Appeal as a matter of right.
respondents to address their motion to the trial court for consideration and resolution thereof.[20]
2. Respondents are not entitled to execute on the injunction bond for failing to file an application for
On February 2, 2000, the court a quo issued an order denying the motion of the respondents on the damages against the injunction bond at the trial of the main case, Civil Case No. Q-95-24462, and for filing
following grounds: (a) its Decision dated December 4, 1998 had already attained finality in view of the the same only after the decision in said case had become final and executory.
withdrawal of the appeal by the plaintiffs; and (b) the resolution of the respondents motion to execute
against the injunction bond would necessitate the reception of evidence which could no longer be done 3. The judgment of the Quezon City RTC-Branch 223 in the main case, Civil Case No. Q-95-24462, did not
as its decision had become final and executory. The respondents motion for reconsideration of the order include any award for damages in favor of respondents by reason of the issuance of the writ of preliminary
was denied by the court on March 13, 2000.[21] injunction, and the fact that the decision therein was in favor of respondents did not automatically entitle
them to such award for damages.
On April 21, 2000, the respondents, consequently, filed a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the 1997
Rules of Civil Procedure before the CA seeking the annulment of the February 2, 2000 and March 13, 2000 4. The damages allegedly sustained by respondents were not by reason of the issuance of the writ of
Orders of the court a quo. The respondents in this case alleged inter alia that the court a quoacted with preliminary injunction.[27]
grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when it denied their motion to resolve
The petition is bereft of merit.
(the motion to execute against the injunction bond) on the ground that the judgment in the main case had
become final and executory, and that the case could no longer be re-opened for the parties to adduce On the first ground, the petitioner argues that the withdrawal of the appeal on September 14, 1999
evidence in support of the motion.[22] rendered the decision of the trial court ipso facto final and executory. Since the appellants filed their notice
of withdrawal of appeal before the filing of the appellees brief, under Section 3, Rule 50 of the Rules of
On June 23, 2000, herein petitioner filed its comment. The petitioner averred that the decision of the trial
Court, the appeal could be withdrawn without the need for the trial courts post factum approval. Further,
court had become final and executory on September 14, 1999, upon the withdrawal of the appeal. Further,
under Section 1(c) of Rule 15 of the 1996 Internal Rules of the CA, when an appeal is withdrawn, entry of
when the CA issued its October 8, 1999 Resolution directing the respondents in this case to address their
judgment shall be made immediately.
motion to the trial court, it had already lost its jurisdiction over the appeal. Even assuming that the motion
of the respondents was timely filed, nevertheless, they did not suffer any damages arising from the For their part, the respondents contend that the filing of the withdrawal of appeal through new counsel,
preliminary injunction issued by the trial court. The injunction bond answers only for the damages caused but without the appellants written conformity to the substitution and to such withdrawal of appeal, was
to the adverse party by reason of the wrongful issuance of the injunction and not for the damages awarded not self-executory. The appeal was deemed withdrawn and dismissed only upon the submission by the
by the trial court on the respondents counterclaims. appellants of their written conformity to the substitution of their new counsel and to the withdrawal of
their appeal, and the CAs approval of the same. It was only then that the appeal of the appellants was
On October 31, 2000, the CA rendered a decision annulling the assailed orders of the trial court and
deemed withdrawn and dismissed, and the decision of the trial court rendered final and executory. Thus:
granting the motion to execute on the injunction bond issued by the petitioner therein, thus:
The Court of Appeals still had jurisdiction over the case when the Motion to Execute Against the Injunction
Bond was filed.
89

Petitioner argues in its Petition that Coyukiat filed a Withdrawal of Appeal on September 14, 1999 or one This conformity was taken note of by the Court of Appeals on October 8, 1999 when it dismissed the
day before respondents filed their Motion to Execute Against Injunction Bond on September 15, appeal.
1999. Since no appellees brief had been filed at that time, petitioner argues that the withdrawal of the
appeal was a matter of right. Thus, Pioneer triumphantly concludes, on September 14, 1999 the appeal Clearly, therefore, even if we were to follow petitioners argument that a withdrawal of appeal is a matter
was already effectively withdrawn and the Decision of the trial court had already become final and of right and needs no further action from the court, in this case the intention of withdrawing the appeal
executory. was only properly made known to the court by Coyukiat and Goldfinger Transport Corp. on September 29,
1999.
What Pioneer conveniently does not disclose is that the Withdrawal of Appeal was not filed by counsel of
record for Coyukiat but a different counsel purporting to be the newly substituted counsel for By that time, respondents had already filed their Motion to Execute Against the Injunction Bond.
Coyukiat. This different counsel from the counsel of record had entered her appearance as such only for
It is, therefore, not factually and legally accurate for petitioner Pioneer to claim that the Court of Appeals
the purpose of withdrawing the appeal.
had already lost jurisdiction over the case when the Motion to Execute Against the Injunction Bond was
More importantly, Pioneer also conveniently fails to disclose that neither the Entry of Appearance of new filed.[28]
counsel for Coyukiat nor the Withdrawal of the Appeal bore the conformity of Willy Choa Coyukiat and
In its reply to the comment of the respondents, the petitioner avers that the compliance to the CA
Goldfinger Transport Corporationthe appellants.
Resolution of September 16, 1999, to submit the appellants conformity to the substitution of new counsel
It is well-established that substitution of counsel is not effective without the conformity of and the withdrawal of the appeal was a ratification of the withdrawal of the appeal by the new counsel
client. Moreover, well-entrenched is the rule that pleadings which have the effect of withdrawing the which should be deemed effective as of the date of the filing of the notice of withdrawal of appeal, or on
appeal should bear the conformity of the appellant. September 14, 1999.

Clearly therefore, the Withdrawal of Appeal filed on September 14, 1999 was not effectual because it did For its part, the CA ruled that it still retained jurisdiction over the appeal when the respondents filed their
not bear the conformity of Coyukiat. The new counsel of Coyukiat (who entered her appearance without motion for execution of the bond with the said court, the supervening finality of the RTC decision
Coyukiats conformity in substitution of the counsel of record) cannot reasonably expect that she will be notwithstanding:
allowed by the Court of Appeals to withdraw the appeal on her own. This is especially so when even her
The record shows that the withdrawal of their appeal by appellants Willy Choa Coyukiat and Goldfinger
substitution of the counsel of record does not bear the conformity of the appellants.
Transport Corporation from the decision rendered in Civil Case No. Q-95-24462 was approved by the
In a long line of cases, the court has ruled that the attorney of record is regarded as the counsel who should Thirteenth Division of this Court only on October 8, 1999. Having preceded the resolution to the effect
be held responsible for the conduct of the case (Fojas vs. Navarro, 32 SCRA 476, 485 [1970]). issued in CA-G.R. CV No. 61310 (p. 92, Rollo) by twenty-three (23) days, there is no gainsaying the fact that
the petitioners filing of their application for damages against the injunction bond on September 15, 1999
For a substitution of attorneys to be effectual, the procedure to be followed strictly is as follows: (pp. 72-75, ibid.) was still well within the time frame the law prescribes therefor. That this Court still had
jurisdiction over the case when the petitioners Motion for Execution Against the Injunction Bond was filed
In order that there may be substitution of attorneys in a given case, there must be (1) a written application is evident from the referral thereof to the court a quo in the same order which granted the appellants
for substitution; (2) the written consent of the client; (3) the written consent of the attorney substituted; withdrawal of their appeal (p. 92, ibid.). The supervening finality of the decision in Civil Case No. Q-95-
and (4) in case such written consent cannot be secured, there must be filed with the application proof of 24462 notwithstanding, the respondent court clearly committed grave abuse of discretion in denying the
service of notice of such motion upon the attorney to be substituted, in the manner prescribed by the petitioners motion to resolve their application for damages solely on the ground that the withdrawal of
rules. Unless the foregoing formalities are complied with, substitution will not be permitted, and the the appeal rendered its Decision dated December 4, 1998 final and executory (p. 28, ibid.).[29]
attorney who properly appeared last in the case, before such application for substitution, will be regarded
as the attorney of record and will be held responsible for the proper conduct of the case. (Adarne vs. The contention of the petitioner does not persuade.
Aldaba, A.C. No. 801, June 27, 1978; Cortez, et al. vs. CA, et al., L-32547, May 9, 1978; Ramos vs.
Potenciano, 118 Phil. 1435; and U.S. vs. Borromeo, 20 Phil. 189). First. The notice of withdrawal of appeal filed by the Luis Q.U. Uranza, Jr. & Associates on September 14,
1999 with the CA was a mere scrap of paper, absent a valid substitution of counsel. The counsel of record
In this case, therefore, the Withdrawal of Appeal filed by a new counsel who substituted the counsel of as of September 14, 1999 was the Padilla Reyes & De la Torre Law Office. On the said date, the law office
recordAtty. Ronaldo Reyes, without bearing the conformity of Coyukiat was a mere scrap of paper. filed a motion with the CA to withdraw as counsel for the appellants, while the Luis Q.U. Uranza, Jr. &
Associates filed the notice of withdrawal of appeal for the appellants. In the case of Santana-Cruz v. Court
This is precisely the reason why the Court of Appeals issued a resolution requiring the appellant to submit of Appeals,[30] this Court enumerated the essential requisites of a valid substitution of counsel:
his conformity to the withdrawal.
No substitution of counsel of record is allowed unless the following essential requisites of a valid
As mentioned above, the appellants only manifested their desire to withdraw the appeal, by way of the substitution of counsel concur: (1) there must be a written request for substitution; (2) it must be filed
signature of Coyukiat in his behalf and in behalf of Goldfinger Transport Corporation, on September 29, with the written consent of the client; (3) it must be with the written consent of the attorney to be
1999. substituted; and (4) in case the consent of the attorney to be substituted cannot be obtained, there must
90

be at least a proof of notice that the motion for substitution was served on him in the manner prescribed 3. After hearing with notice to the surety.[34]
by the Rules of Court. [31]
In International Container Terminal Services, Inc. v. Court of Appeals,[35] this Court ruled that due notice to
There was clearly no compliance to these essential requisites. It was only on September 16, 1999 when the adverse party and its surety setting forth the facts supporting the applicants right to damages and the
the CA granted the motion of the Padilla Reyes & De la Torre Law Office to withdraw as counsel for the amount thereof under the bond is indispensable. The surety should be given an opportunity to be heard
appellants that the withdrawal of the said counsel and its substitution by the Luis Q.U. Uranza, Jr. & as to the reality or reasonableness of the damages resulting from the wrongful issuance of the writ.[36] In
Associates became effective. the absence of due notice to the surety, therefore, no judgment for damages may be entered and executed
against it.
Second. Section 3, Rule 50 of the Rules of Court, as amended, reads:
In this case, the petitioner was not served with a copy of the motion to execute on the bond filed by the
Section 3. Withdrawal of appeal. An appeal may be withdrawn as a matter of right at any time before the respondents with the CA in CA-G.R. CV 61310.But the records show that the CA directed the petitioner to
filing of the appellees brief. Thereafter, the withdrawal may be allowed in the discretion of the court. file its comment on the said motion.[37] On November 4, 1999, the petitioner filed its comment on the
respondents motion, and on December 9, 1999, the respondents filed their motion to resolve with the trial
We agree with the respondents that the notice of withdrawal of appeal of the appellants in CA-G.R. CV No.
court, serving a copy thereof to the petitioner.It cannot, thus, be gainsaid that the petitioner was deprived
61310 filed on September 14, 1999 was not self-executory, and did not render the trial courts December
of its right to be heard on the respondents motion to execute on the bond.
4, 1998 Decision final and executory. While we agree with the petitioner that under Section 3, Rule 50 of
the Rules of Court, an appeal may be withdrawn by the appellants as a matter of right at any time before We also agree that the Court of Appeals had the authority to remand to the court of origin the resolution
the filing of the appellees brief; however, the rule does not apply in this case because the notice of of the motion to execute against the injunction bond after the parties adduced their respective evidence
withdrawal of appeal filed in CA-G.R. CV No. 61310 by the Luis Q.U. Uranza, Jr. & Associates did not bear on the motion. To repeat, the respondents motion to execute was filed earlier than the motion to
the appellants conformity thereto. It bears stressing that the counsel of the appellants was a mere agent withdraw the appeal, and more importantly, before the December 4, 1998 Decision of the court of origin
holding a special power of attorney to act for and in behalf of the principal respecting the ordinary course became final and executory.[38]
of the appealed case. There was a need for the appellants, as the principals, to execute a special power of
attorney specifically authorizing the withdrawal of a perfected appeal.[32] Absent a special power of On the third and fourth grounds, the same should be addressed to and resolved by the trial court after
attorney expressly authorizing their counsel to withdraw their appeal, or in lieu thereof, the written due hearing and presentation of evidence. As it was, the trial court denied the motion of the respondents
conformity of the appellants to the withdrawal of their appeal, the notice of withdrawal of appeal by the on its finding that it had no jurisdiction to take cognizance of the motion, without affording the parties the
new counsel of the appellants was a mere scrap of paper. right to adduce evidence thereon.

Third. The submission by the appellants on September 28, 1999 of the requisite conformity to the IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the Petition is DENIED DUE COURSE. The decision of the Court of
withdrawal of their appeal should not be given retroactive effect so as to foreclose the right of the Appeals is AFFIRMED. The RTC Quezon City, Branch 223, is directed to resolve on the merits the Motion to
respondents to file with the CA their motion to execute against the injunction bond, thus enabling the Execute Against Injunction Bond filed by the respondents after the parties shall have adduced their
petitioner to escape liability on the same. As ratiocinated by the CA: respective evidence in Civil Case No. Q-95-24462 with dispatch.

Having successfully enjoined the encashment of the checks they issued through the surety bond issued by SO ORDERED.
the private respondent (pp. 55-58, ibid.), Willy Choa Coyukiat and Goldfinger Transport Corporation were
able to use and dispose of the petitioners buses (p. 134, ibid.) and to evade the satisfaction of the decision
rendered in Civil Case No. Q-95-24462 pending appeal (pp. 76-77, ibid.). Far from acknowledging the
judgment debt, therefore, it appears that the withdrawal of the appeal was merely calculated to further
frustrate the satisfaction of the same.[33]

The notice of withdrawal of appeal was deemed filed only on September 28, 1999 upon compliance with
the September 16, 1999 Resolution of the CA.The appeal of the appellants was effectively withdrawn and
dismissed before October 8, 1999 when the CA issued its resolution therein. The petitioner should not be
benefited by the deleterious manipulation of the rules of procedure.

On the second ground, the petitioner avers that the respondents failed to serve a copy of their
(respondents) motion to execute on the bond as mandated by Section 20, Rule 51 of the Rules of Court,
as amended, which reads:

1. The application for damages must be filed in the same case where the bond was issued;

2. Such application for damages must be filed before the entry of judgment; and
91

CALIFORNIA BUS LINES INC. vs STATE INVESTMENT HOUSE, INC. G.R. No. 147950. December 11, 2003 A petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriage may be filed solely by the husband or wife.
Exceptions: (1) Nullity of marriage cases commenced before the effectivity of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC; and
QUISUMBING, J: (2) Marriages celebrated during the effectivity of the Civil Code. Under the Rule on Declaration of
Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages, the petition for declaration of
Facts:
absolute nullity of marriage may not be filed by any party outside of the marriage. A petition for
Delta Motors Corporation applied for financial assistance from respondent State Investment House, Inc., declaration of absolute nullity of void marriage may be filed solely by the husband or the wife. Only an
a domestic corporation engaged in the business of quasi-banking. SIHI agreed to extend a credit line to aggrieved or injured spouse may file a petition for annulment of voidable marriages or declaration of
Delta which eventually became indebted to SIHI. Meanwhile, petitioner purchased on installment basis absolute nullity of void marriages. Such petition cannot be filed by compulsory or intestate heirs of the
several buses to Delta. To secure the payment of the obligation petitioner executed promissory notes in spouses or by the State. The Committee is of the belief that they do not have a legal right to file the
favor of Delta. When petitioner defaulted on the payments of the debts, it entered into an agreement with petition. Compulsory or intestate heirs have only inchoate rights prior to the death of their predecessor,
delta to cover its due obligations. However, petitioner still had trouble meeting its obligations with delta. and, hence, can only question the validity of the marriage of the spouses upon the death of a spouse in a
Pursuant to the memorandum of agreement delta executed a deed of sale assigning to respondent, the proceeding for the settlement of the estate of the deceased spouse filed in the regular courts. On the other
promissory notes from petitioner. Respondent subsequently sent a demand letter to petitioner requiring hand, the concern of the State is to preserve marriage and not to seek its dissolution. The Rule extends
remitting payments due on the promissory notes. Petitioner replied informing respondent of the fact that only to marriages entered into during the effectivity of the Family Code which took effect on August 3,
delta had taken over its management and operations. 1988.

Issue: The advent of the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages marks the beginning of the
end of the right of the heirs of the deceased spouse to bring a nullity of marriage case against the surviving
Whether the Restructuring Agreement dated October 7, 1981, between petitioner CBLI and Delta Motors, spouse. But the Rule never intended to deprive the compulsory or intestate heirs of their successional
Corp. novated the five promissory notes Delta Motors, Corp. assigned to respondent SIHI, rights.

Held: While A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC declares that a petition for declaration of absolute nullity of marriage may be
filed solely by the husband or the wife, it does not mean that the compulsory or intestate heirs are without
The attendant facts do not make out a case of novation. The restructuring agreement between Delta and any recourse under the law. They can still protect their successional right, for, as stated in the Rationale of
CBLI executed on October 7, 1981, shows that the parties did not expressly stipulate that the restructuring the Rules on Annulment of Voidable Marriages and Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages,
agreement novated the promissory notes. Absent an unequivocal declaration of extinguishment of the compulsory or intestate heirs can still question the validity of the marriage of the spouses, not in a
pre-existing obligation, only a showing of complete incompatibility between the old and the new obligation proceeding for declaration of nullity but upon the death of a spouse in a proceeding for the settlement of
would sustain a finding of novation by implication. 59 However, our review of its terms yields no the estate of the deceased spouse filed in the regular courts.
incompatibility between the promissory notes and the restructuring agreement.
It is emphasized, however, that the Rule does not apply to cases already commenced before March 15,
CARLOS VS SANDOVAL 2003 although the marriage involved is within the coverage of the Family Code. This is so, as the new Rule
which became effective on March 15, 2003 is prospective in its application.
Teofilo Carlos and petitioner Juan De Dios Carlos were brothers who each have three parcels of land by
virtue of inheritance. Later Teofilo died intestate. He was survived by respondents Felicidad Sandoval and Petitioner commenced the nullity of marriage case against respondent Felicidad in 1995. The marriage in
their son, Teofilo Carlos II. Upon Teofilo’s death, two parcels of land were registered in the name of controversy was celebrated on May 14, 1962. Which law would govern depends upon when the marriage
Felicidad and Teofilo II. In August 1995, Carlos commenced an action against respondents before the took place.
court a quo. In his complaint, Carlos asserted that the marriage between his late brother and Felicidad was
a nullity in view of the absence of the required marriage license. He likewise maintained that his deceased The marriage having been solemnized prior to the effectivity of the Family Code, the applicable law is the
brother was neither the natural nor the adoptive father of Teofilo Carlos II. He argued that the properties Civil Code which was the law in effect at the time of its celebration. But the Civil Code is silent as to who
covered by such certificates of title, including the sums received by respondents as proceeds, should be may bring an action to declare the marriage void. Does this mean that any person can bring an action for
reconveyed to him. the declaration of nullity of marriage?

HELD: The grounds for declaration of absolute nullity of marriage must be proved. Neither judgment on True, under the New Civil Code which is the law in force at the time the respondents were married, or
the pleadings nor summary judgment is allowed. So is confession of judgment disallowed. Carlos argues even in the Family Code, there is no specific provision as to who can file a petition to declare the nullity of
that the CA should have applied Rule 35 of the Rules of Court governing summary judgment, instead of marriage; however, only a party who can demonstrate “proper interest” can file the same. A petition to
the rule on judgment on the pleadings. Petitioner is misguided. Whether it is based on judgment on the declare the nullity of marriage, like any other actions, must be prosecuted or defended in the name of the
pleadings or summary judgment, the CA was correct in reversing the summary judgment rendered by the real party-in-interest and must be based on a cause of action. Thus, in Niñal v. Badayog, the Court held
trial court. Both the rules on judgment on the pleadings and summary judgments have no place in cases that the children have the personality to file the petition to declare the nullity of marriage of their deceased
of declaration of absolute nullity of marriage and even in annulment of marriage. father to their stepmother as it affects their successional rights.
92

FLORES VS STRONGHOLD INSURANCE On October 13, 1995, the spouses Flores filed a Motion to Lift Preliminary Injunction and
Attachment.[9] They manifested their willingness to post a bond to lift the preliminary injunction and a
DECISION counterbond to lift the preliminary attachment.
CALLEJO, SR., J.: On May 22, 1996, the RTC issued an Order[10] granting the motion of the spouses Flores to lift the writ of
attachment upon the filing and approval of a counterbond in the amount of P6,000,000.00; however, the
This is a petition for review on certiorari of the Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No.
RTC denied
77593 and its Resolution denying the motion for reconsideration thereof. The assailed decision nullified
the prayer to lift the writ of preliminary injunction. Upon motion of the spouses Flores, the RTC
the Order[2] of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati City, Branch 63, directing respondent Stronghold
reconsidered its order and reduced the amount of the counterbond to P3,000,000.00. It rendered
Insurance Corporation (SICI) to pay petitioner-spouses Napoleon and Veronidia Flores actual and moral
judgment on June 25, 1999[11] in favor of the spouses Flores, declaring the MOA rescinded and ordering
damages, attorneys fees and costs of suit.
Liu to pay actual damages and attorneys fees. The fallo of the decision reads:
Spouses Napoleon M. Flores, Sr. and Veronidia J. Flores were engaged in business under the business
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of defendants, declaring the Memorandum of
name Flojos Garments Manufacturing (FGM). On April 28, 1995, Stephen Liu and the spouses Flores
Agreement rescinded, ordering both plaintiff and defendants to surrender that which they have
executed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA),[3] whereby the latter sold forP8,500,000.00 all their
respectively received and to place each other as far as practicable in his original situation, and ordering
rights and interests over their garments manufacturing business, including all its existing licenses and
plaintiff to pay the following:
government permits, machinery, supplies and spare parts, and its real property located at No. 17,
Jacamar St., Marikina Subdivision, Marikina City; and all other accessories, raw materials, and other 1. The amount of P6,582,133.08 as payment to all of defendants creditors;
related items. For his part, Liu obliged himself to assume the payment of the spouses obligations with
Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company as part of the purchase price, the balance of the purchase price to 2. The amount of P2,500,000.00 as compensation for the materials and machines lost; [and]
be paid within 120 days from the date of the signing of the MOA.
3. The amount of [P225,150.00] as attorneys fees and expenses.
On September 7, 1995, Liu filed a complaint[4] against the spouses Flores and Alexander J. Flores (in his
capacity as attorney-in-fact of Napoleon Flores, Sr.) for specific performance and damages with a prayer SO ORDERED.[12]
for issuance of temporary restraining order and/or writ of preliminary injunction and a writ of
The trial court upheld the spouses Flores claim that it was Liu who committed a breach of the MOA on
preliminary attachment. He alleged that the spouses Flores failed and refused to execute the necessary
the following ratiocinations:
deeds of conveyance, transfer or assignment of all the items included in the MOA, causing damages to
him; as a consequence of their acts of harassment and obstruction, he was entitled to the issuance of a Unrebutted testimony for the defendants belied the allegation of plaintiff. It was stated that all records
temporary restraining order or writ of preliminary injunction. He averred that, unless a writ of of the business including the licenses were turned over to plaintiff, together with the factory premises;
preliminary attachment was issued, there might not be sufficient security for the satisfaction of any the same being kept therein. It was, likewise, stated that the licenses, as of the date of the turnover, had
judgment which the court might render against them. all been effective and valid. A certification was obtained from the Bureau of Customs that no order of
revocation was ever issued against defendants business, to corroborate the testimony. The accreditation
On October 3, 1995, the RTC issued an Order[5] granting Lius prayer for writ of preliminary injunction and
from the Garments and Textile Export Board was still valid at the time of the agreements execution and
attachment upon the filing and approval of an injunction bond in the amount of P2,000,000.00 and
was even used to export a load of garments.
attachment bond in the amount of P3,000,000.00. The plaintiff thus posted Attachment Bond No. 00565
and Injunction Bond No. 00566 issued by Stronghold Insurance Corporation, Inc. for P3,000,000.00 On the other hand, it appears that it was plaintiff who failed to perform his obligations. Despite full
andP2,000,000.00, respectively. compliance on the part of defendants, plaintiff failed to pay the P8,000,000.00 balance of the purchase
price less any deductions from payments to defendants creditors. Indeed, plaintiff contends that no
In their Answer to the complaint,[6] the spouses Flores alleged that the complaint failed to state a cause
balance remains to be paid defendants their debts to creditors having been found by him to actually be
of action as there was no allegation that he complied with his obligations under the MOA; it was Liu who
in the amount of P14,631,082.00; P6,631,082.00 more than the purchase price. In other words, plaintiff
failed to pay the balance of the purchase price of the property, less the amounts due to their creditors;
wants the court to believe that as there is more than P8,000,000.00 in debts to pay, no further amount is
such failure caused them (spouses Flores) actual damages in the form of accumulated interests and
due defendants outside of the downpayment. However, the court observes that none of the debts had
penalties on their outstanding loans, loss of expected profits on prospective and realizable business
been paid; not even any such which may be covered by theP8,000,000.00. Plaintiff has not alleged
ventures and opportunities. They prayed that they likewise be awarded moral damages for the mental
payment of any creditors; neither those covered by paragraph 5 of the agreement and Annex B thereof,
anguish; besmirched reputation, moral shock, sleepless nights and other similar injuries, exemplary
nor those included in plaintiffs own inventory of accounts payable.
damages in order to serve as an example for the plaintiff and other persons in maliciously and
capriciously filing baseless and unjust suit; and attorneys fees as they were constrained to hire the And although plaintiff alleged failure of payment due to the unsatisfied requirement of special power of
services of counsel.[7] They interposed counterclaims and averred that the ground relied upon for the attorney, no proof of such requirement was presented.
issuance of preliminary attachment did not exist at the time of the filing of the present suit.[8]
93

The foregoing considered, it is clear that plaintiff and not defendants breached the Memorandum of f) What is significant to note is the finding of the Honorable Court that because of the breach of the
Agreement. Ergo, defendants and not plaintiff are entitled to rescission. For the same reasons and more, Memorandum of Agreement by plaintiff no amount of damages nor attorneys fees are due
no amount for damages nor attorneys fees are due plaintiff. Defendants have faithfully performed their plaintiff. The decision did not say that because of the bonds, the defendants are entitled to damages;
obligations and in good faith. Any unrealized income or damage to reputation asserted by plaintiff
remain mere allegations and was caused by no act of defendants but his own. g) The motion did not comply with Section 20, Rule 57 of the Rules of Court because it did not specify the
amount for each item of damages. More importantly, defendants have not shown in the motion the facts
It is defendants who are entitled to damages and attorneys fees. Materials and machinery of the showing their rights to damages;
business have been found missing and unaccounted for since turnover of possession and custody to
plaintiff. The redemption period for the property and improvements mortgaged, an essential and h) Both injunction and attachment bonds were issued by Stronghold upon application by plaintiff and
intrinsic component of said business, lapsed and were consequently foreclosed upon. Debts which pursuant to the legal orders of this Honorable Court and which orders were never questioned by
should have been paid in accordance with paragraph 5 of the agreement remain outstanding. defendants.[17]
Defendants were constrained to engage the services of an attorney in order to protect their rights and
Alexander Flores was presented as witness to prove the damages which the spouses Flores claimed to
interest, and to pay the same P225,150.00. (Exhs. 1, 2, and 9 to 12).[13]
have suffered on account of the improper issuance of the writ of attachment/injunction. The spouses
On July 1, 1999, the spouses Flores received a copy of the June 25, 1999 decision. The parties did not Flores did not testify. For its part, SICI opted not to present any evidence to support its opposition to the
appeal the decision. motion, on its claim that there was no factual
proof of damages. Besides, the spouses Flores application for damages was time-barred because it was
On July 16, 1999, the spouses Flores filed their application for damages against the bonds posted by the filed three days after the reglementary period to appeal (July 1, 1999); hence, the period to appeal had
SICI, captioned A Motion to Set Hearing on the Damages Caused by the Injunction and lapsed.
Attachment.[14] They alleged that, by posting the injunction/attachment bonds, Liu and SICI bound
themselves to be jointly and severally liable for such damages sustained by them by reason of the On January 21, 2002, the RTC issued an Order[18] directing SICI to pay the spouses Flores actual and moral
injunction/attachment if the RTC should finally decide that it was not entitled to such remedy.[15] The damages, attorneys fees, and costs of suit. The pertinent portion reads:
spouses Flores served a copy of their pleading on Liu and SICI by registered mail on July 16, 1999.
WHEREFORE, Stronghold Insurance Corporation is directed to pay the defendants the following:

1.) The amount of P2.5 million as actual damages for the materials and machines lost;
In its Comment and/or Opposition[16] to the said motion, SICI averred that the motion was premature,
2.) The amount of P2.0 million as moral damages;
and that the alleged damages suffered by the spouses Flores were not caused by the injunction or
attachment for which the bonds posted by it could be proceeded against, thus: 3.) The amount of P225,150.00 as attorneys fees; and
a) With all due respect, said motion has no factual and legal basis as all allegations therein contained did 4.) The costs of the suit.
not set forth the facts showing their right to damages, the nature of damages and the amount, if any,
corresponding to such damages directly or indirectly caused by either injunction or the attachment; SO ORDERED.[19]

b) The motion is prematurely filed as there is no showing that either the injunction or the attachment SICI filed a motion for reconsideration, which the RTC denied in an Order[20] dated July 30, 2002.
was illegally and improperly issued;
SICI appealed the Order of the RTC to the CA, alleging that:
c) There is no evidence whatsoever on record to show that either the injunction or the attachment was
illegal or improper; I

d) The damages, if any, incurred by defendants are not by reason of either the injunction or the THE LOWER COURT PALPABLY COMMITTED GRAVE ERROR IN ORDERING APPELLANT TO PAY THE
attachment for which the bonds put up by Stronghold can be held liable; DEFENDANTS THE AMOUNT OFP2.5 MILLION AS ACTUAL DAMAGES FOR MATERIALS AND MACHINES
LOST; THE AMOUNT OF P2.0 MILLION AS MORAL DAMAGES; AND THE AMOUNT OF P225,150.00 AS
e) In fact, the issue of the injunction or the attachment was not even touched in the Decision rendered ATTORNEYS FEES.
by this Honorable Court dated June 25, 1999.There was not even any inference to either injunction or
the attachment. That is because defendants never challenged the injunction or the attachment for II
having been issued illegally or improperly. It is only now that it is raised, for the first time, when it is
THE LOWER COURT PALPABLY COMMITTED GRAVE ERROR WHEN IT ISSUED THE QUESTIONED ORDERS
already too late-in-a-day after the decision was rendered;
DESPITE JUDGMENT HAVING BECOME FINAL AND EXECUTORY.[21]
94

On November 10, 2004, the CA rendered a Decision[22] nullifying the Order of the RTC, holding that the applicable Statute, the day of the act or event from which the designated period of time begins is to be
spouses Flores motion for damages against the bonds were filed on July 16, 1999; the decision of the excluded and the date of the performance included.
trial court had already become final and executory as to them since they did not appeal the
decision. Thus, the CA declared, the RTC no longer had jurisdiction to hear the motion nor amend its own In the present case, petitioners received a copy of the decision on July 1, 1999. Conformably with Section
decision which had become final and executory. 1, Rule 22, in relation to Section 3, Rule 41, July 1, 1999 should be excluded from the computation of the
fifteen-day period; hence, the 15-day period should be computed from July 2, 1999. Counting 15 days
The spouses Flores filed a motion for reconsideration which the CA denied in a from July 2, 1999, the 15th day fell on July 16, 1999; as such, petitioners had until July 16, 1999 within
Resolution[23] dated February 17, 2005. which to perfect their appeal from the decision of the trial court or file their application under Section
20, Rule 57.
The spouses Flores, now petitioners, seek relief from this Court via petition for review on certiorari,
contending that: Section 3, Rule 13 provides that a pleading may be filed by registered mail, and the date of the mailing as
shown by the post office stamp on the envelope or the registry receipt shall be considered as the date of
THE COURT OF APPEALS DECIDED A QUESTION OF LAW NOT IN ACCORD WITH THE LAW OR APPLICABLE the filing thereof.
DECISIONS OF THE HONORABLE COURT IN HOLDING THAT THE RTC HAD LOST JURISDICTION TO HEAR
AND ACT UPON THE MOTION FOR DAMAGES FILED BY THE PETITIONERS.[24] SEC. 3. Manner of filing. The filing of pleadings, appearances, motions, notices, orders, judgments and all
other papers shall be made by presenting the original copies thereof, plainly indicated as such,
The sole issue in this case is whether the petition for application of damages against the bonds posted by personally to the clerk of court or by sending them by registered mail. In the first case, the clerk of court
respondent SICI was already time-barred when petitioners filed the same on July 16, 1999. shall endorse on the pleading the date and hour of filing. In the second case, the date of the mailing of
motions, pleadings, or any other papers or payments or deposits, as shown by the post office stamp on
The petition is meritorious.
the envelope or the registry receipt, shall be considered as the date of their filing, payment, or deposit in
Section 20 of Rule 57 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure reads: court.The envelope shall be attached to the record of the case.

SEC. 20. Claim for damages on account of improper, irregular or excessive attachment. An application for Under Section 7, Rule 13 of the Rules of Court, pleadings may be served by registered mail or by ordinary
damages on account of improper, irregular or excessive attachment must be filed before the trial or mail:
before appeal is perfected or before the judgment becomes executory, with due notice to the attaching
SEC. 7. Service by mail. Service by registered mail shall be made by depositing the copy in the office, in a
party and his surety or sureties, setting forth the facts showing his right to damages and the amount
sealed envelope, plainly addressed to the party or his counsel at his office, if known, otherwise at his
thereof. Such damages may be awarded only after proper hearing and shall be included in the judgment
residence, if known, with postage fully pre-paid, and with instructions to the postmaster to return the
on the main case.
mail to the sender after ten (10) days if undelivered. If no registry service is available in the locality of
An application for damages against the bonds must be filed in the same case where the bond was issued, either the sender or the addressee, service may be done by ordinary mail.
either (a) before the trial or (b) before the appeal is perfected or (c) before the judgment becomes
The Court notes that petitioners filed their application and served a copy thereof on respondent by
executory.[25] The principal party and his surety or sureties must be notified of said application. This rule
registered mail on July 16, 1999. As of said date, the decision of the RTC had not yet become final and
is mandatory.[26] In the absence of due notice to the surety, no judgment for damages may be entered
executory, and the fifteen-day period to appeal the decision had not yet lapsed.Thus, the application of
and executed against it.[27]
the petitioners with the RTC was not yet time-barred.
In this case, petitioners, as defendants below, received the Decision of the RTC dated June 25,
IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-
1999 on July 1, 1999. Under Rule 41 of the Revised Rules of Court, the decision may be appealed to the
G.R. CV No. 77593 isREVERSED. The Court of Appeals is ordered to REINSTATE the appeal of petitioners
CA by filing a notice of appeal with the court which rendered judgment or final order within fifteen (15)
and to resolve the same in due course. No costs.
days from notice thereof.
SO ORDERED.
After the lapse of the fifteen-day period, the judgment or final order becomes final and executory and is
beyond the power or jurisdiction of the court which rendered it to further amend or reverse.[28] The
court loses jurisdiction over the case except to issue orders for the protection and preservation of the
rights of the parties which do not involve any matter litigated by the appeal, approve compromises,
permit appeals of indigent litigants, order execution pending appeal, and allow withdrawal of the
appeal.[29]

Article 13, last paragraph of the New Civil Code provides that in computing a period, the first day shall be
excluded and the last day included. Section 1, Rule 22, of the Revised Rules of Court also provides that, in
computing any period of time prescribed or allowed by the Rules, or by order of the court or by any
95

[G.R. No. 158495. October 21, 2004] In Criminal Case No. 1191-M-95:

ELIZABETH EUSEBIO-CALDERON, petitioner, vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent. That in or about the months of May to November 1994, in the municipality of Pulilan, province of
Bulacan, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, by
DECISION means of deceit, false pretenses and fraudulent manifestations, and pretending to have sufficient funds
with the Allied Bank, PCIBank and Planters Bank, Plaridel Branch, did then and there willfully, unlawfully
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:
and feloniously, prepared, issue and make out the following checks to wit:
This is a petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, assailing the Decision[1] dated April 30,
BANK CHECK NO. DATE AMOUNT
2001 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 23466, which reversed and set aside the Decision[2] dated
June 17, 1999 of the Regional Trial Court of Malolos, Bulacan, Branch 79, acquitting the accused of the Allied Bank 16076401 11-15-94 P52,500.00
crime of Estafa in the consolidated Criminal Cases No. 1190-M-95, 1191-M-95, and 1192-M-95 but
ordering her to pay civil liability to the following: Amelia Casanova in the total amount of P130,900.00; -do- 16076402 11-30-94 105,000.00
Teresita Eusebio in the total amount of P172,250.00; and Manolito Eusebio in the total amount of
P60,000.00. PCIB 214730 11-30-94 2,500.00

Petitioner Elizabeth Eusebio-Calderon was charged with Estafa in three separate Informations, to wit: PCIB 214796 11-30-94 1,750.00

In Criminal Case No. 1190-M-95: Planters Bank 15109960 12-03-94 5,000.00

That in or about the months of May to November, 1994, in the municipality of Pulilan, province of Allied Bank 16083156 12-03-94 2,500.00
Bulacan, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, by
Planters Bank 15094519 11-30-94 3,000.00
means of deceit, false pretenses and fraudulent manifestations, and pretending to have sufficient funds
with the Allied Bank, Planters Bank and PCIBank, Plaridel Branch, did then and there willfully, unlawfully (Total Amount Supplied) P172,250.00
and feloniously, prepared, issue and make out the following checks to wit:
drawn against the said banks, and deliver the said checks to one Teresita Eusebio as exchange for cash
BANK CHECK NO. DATE AMOUNT received from the said Teresita Eusebio, knowing fully well that at the time the checks were issued, her
representations were false for she had no sufficient funds in the said bank, so much so, that upon
Allied Bank 16041982 11-30-94 P100,000.00
presentation of the said checks with the said banks for deposit or encashment, the same were
Planters Bank 115954 12-2-94 4,500.00 dishonored and refused payment for having been drawn against a Closed Account and inspite of
repeated demands to deposit with the said banks the total amount of P172,250.00, the said accused
-do- 115961 12-4-94 9,500.00 failed and refused to do so, to the damage and prejudice of the said Teresita Eusebio in the said total
amount of P172,250.00.[4]
-do- 15109854 12-4-94 2,500.00
In Criminal Case No. 1192-M-95:
-do- 15109930 12-7-94 5,000.00
That in or about the months of June to November, 1994, in the municipality of Pulilan, province of
PCIB 214723 12-7-94 5,000.00 Bulacan, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, by
means of deceit, false pretenses and fraudulent manifestations, and pretending to have sufficient funds
Planters Bank 115968 12-9-94 4,400.00
with the Allied Bank and Planters Bank, Plaridel Branch, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and
(Total Amount Supplied) P130,900.00 feloniously, prepared, issue and make out the following checks to wit:

drawn against the said banks, and deliver the said checks to one Amelia Casanova as exchange for cash BANK CHECK NO. DATE AMOUNT
received from the said Amelia Casanova, knowing fully well that at the time the checks were issued, her
Allied Bank 16083115 12-3-94 P 2,500.00
representations were false for she had no sufficient funds in the said bank, so much so, that upon
presentation of the said checks with the said banks for deposit or encashment, the same were -do- 16063578 12-6-94 50,000.00
dishonored and refused payment for having been drawn against a Closed Account and inspite of
repeated demands to deposit with the said banks the total amount of P130,900.00, the said accused -do- 16063577 12-6-94 2,500.00
failed and refused to do so, to the damage and prejudice of the said Amelia Casanova in the said total
amount of P130,900.00.[3] -do- 16076436 12-13-94 2,500.00
96

Planters Bank 116202 12-13-94 2,500.00 she would not have parted with her P100,000.00 if not for the assurance that the check issued was
properly funded.
(Total Amount Supplied) P60,000.00
WHEREFORE, the Court hereby renders judgment finding accused ELIZABETH E. CALDERON of Poblacion,
drawn against the said banks, and deliver the said checks to one Manolito G. Eusebio as exchange for Pulilan, Bulacan guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Estafa defined and penalized under Par.
cash received from the said Manolito G. Eusebio, knowing fully well that at the time the checks were 2 (d) of Art. 315, Revised Penal Code as amended by P.D. 818 and sentencing the said accused as follows:
issued, her representations were false for she had no sufficient funds in the said bank, so much so, that
upon presentation of the said checks with the said banks for deposit or encashment, the same were 1. To suffer an indeterminate sentence of imprisonment of nine (9) years and one (1) day of PRISION
dishonored and refused payment for having been drawn against a Closed Account and inspite of MAYOR as minimum to SEVENTEEN (17) YEARS FOUR (4) months and one (1) day of RECLUSION
repeated demands to deposit with the said banks the total amount of P60,000.00, the said accused failed TEMPORAL as maximum;
and refused to do so, to the damage and prejudice of the said Manolito G. Eusebio in the said total
amount of P60,000.00.[5] 2. To suffer the accessory penalties provided by law;

The private complainants, Teresita Eusebio, Amelia Casanova and Manolito Eusebio, are petitioners aunt 3. To pay the cost; and
and cousins, respectively.
4. To indemnify the complainant Amelia Casanova the sum of P100,000.00. (Exh. A)
On May 15, 1994, petitioner visited her Aunt Teresita in Bulacan to borrow P50,000.00, in exchange for
Necessarily, the other checks exhibits B, C, D, E, F and G in the amount of P5,000.00, P5,000.00,
which she issued an Allied Bank Check No. 16076401, postdated November 15, 1994, in the amount of
P4,400.00, P4,500.00, P9,500.00 and P 2,500.00 respectively in the total amount of P30,900.00 is hereby
P52,500.00. On May 30, 1994, petitioner again borrowed from Teresita the amount of P100,000.00, in
DISMISSED the same being civil in nature and are interest of transaction other than the principal amount
exchange for which she issued Allied Bank Check No. 16076402, postdated November 14, 1994, in the
of P100,000.00.[6]
amount of P105,000.00.
In Criminal Case No. 1191-M-95:
Also on May 30, 1994, Amelia Casanova went to the drugstore of petitioner and lent her the amount of
P100,000.00, allegedly to be used for the expansion of her business. In exchange, petitioner issued Allied PREMISES CONSIDERED, the court finds accused Elizabeth Calderon guilty beyond reasonable doubt of
Bank Check No. 16041982, postdated November 30, 1994, for P100,000.00 and six other checks in the crime of ESTAFA defined and penalized under Par. 2 (d) of Art. 315, Revised Penal Code as amended
various amounts purportedly to cover the interests. by P.D. 818 sentencing the said accused as follows:
Manolito Eusebio alleges that in November 1994, petitioner borrowed money from him because she 1. To suffer an indeterminate sentence of imprisonment of Ten (10) years and One (1) day of PRISION
needed it for her pharmaceutical business. Manolito loaned her P50,000.00, for which she issued Allied MAYOR as minimum to seventeen (17) years FOUR (4) months and one (1) day of RECLUSION TEMPORAL
Bank Check No. 16063578 covering the principal amount of the loan, dated December 6, 1994, and four as maximum;
other postdated checks for the interests thereon.
2. To suffer the accessory penalties provided by law;
According to private complainants, petitioner assured them that the checks will be honored upon
maturity. They gave her the money because she showed them her pieces of jewelry which convinced 3. To pay the cost; and
them that she has the ability to pay the loans.
4. To indemnify the complainant Teresita Eusebio the sum of P157,500.00 representing the two checks,
In her defense, petitioner admits that she issued the checks but alleges that it was not done to defraud exhibits A and B.[7]
her creditors. She claims that her dealings with private complainants started in 1987 with her uncle
Alberto, the husband of complainant Teresita and the father of Amelia and Manolito. Although her uncle In Criminal Case No. 1192-M-95:
died in 1989, she continued to make good the value of the postdated checks she issued until 1990.
WHEREFORE, the court hereby renders judgment finding accused Elizabeth Calderon guilty beyond
Finally, she asserts that she is an educated woman and she never had any intention to deceive the
reasonable doubt of the Crime of ESTAFA defined and penalized under Par. 2 (d) of Art. 315 of the
private complainants.
Revised Penal Code as amended by P.D. 818 and sentencing the said accused as follows:
After trial, the lower court rendered a joint decision finding petitioner guilty beyond reasonable doubt of
1. To suffer an indeterminate sentence of imprisonment of FOUR (4) years 2 months and one (1) day of
three counts of Estafa but ruled that her liability for the interest checks was only civil. The dispositive
PRISION CORRECCIONAL as minimum to eight (8) years and one (1) day of PRISION MAYOR;
portion of the decision reads:
2. To suffer the accessory penalties provided by law;
In Criminal Case No. 1190-M-95:
3. To pay the costs; and
PREMISES CONSIDERED the complainant in Criminal Case No. 1190-M-95 wherein the complainant is one
Amelia Casanova was able to prove beyond reasonable doubt the culpability of herein accused because 4. To indemnify the complainant Manolito Eusebio the sum of P50,000.00.
97

The other checks exhibit B to E are hereby DISMISSED.[8] jurisdiction and rendered it competent to examine the records, revise the judgment appealed from,
increase the penalty and cite the proper provision of the penal law.[13]
The trial court denied petitioners Motion for Reconsideration for lack of merit.[9] Hence, petitioner
appealed the judgment of the trial court to the Court of Appeals. Under Article 29 of the Civil Code, when the accused in a criminal prosecution is acquitted on the ground
that his guilt has not been proven beyond reasonable doubt, a civil action for damages for the same act
In its Decision dated April 30, 2001, the Court of Appeals disposed of the appeal as follows: or omission may be instituted. The judgment of acquittal extinguishes the liability of the accused for
damages only when it includes a declaration that the fact from which the civil liability might arise did not
WHEREFORE, the Decision appealed from in so far as it bears on the criminal liability of the accused is
exist.[14] Thus, Section 1, paragraph (a) of Rule 111 of the Rules of Court provides:
REVERSED and SET ASIDE and a new judgment is issued ACQUITTING the accused of the crimes charged
on the ground that her guilt has not been proven beyond reasonable doubt. However, she is held civilly SECTION 1. Institution of criminal and civil actions. (a) When a criminal action is instituted, the civil action
liable as follows: for the recovery of civil liability arising from the offense charged shall be deemed instituted with the
criminal action unless the offended party waives the civil action, reserves the right to institute it
In Criminal Case No. 1190-M-95: To indemnify Amelia Casanova the total amount of P130,900.00;
separately or institutes the civil action prior to the criminal action.
In Criminal Case No. 1191-M-95: To indemnify Teresita Eusebio the total amount of P172,250.00;
In the case of Manantan v. Court of Appeals,[15] we elucidated on the two kinds of acquittal recognized by
In Criminal Case No. 1192-M-95: To indemnify Manolito Eusebio the total amount of P60,000.00; our law as well as its different effects on the civil liability of the accused. Thus:

all with interest thereon at the rate of 12% per annum effective December 20, 1994, the date of x x x. First is an acquittal on the ground that the accused is not the author of the act or omission
complainants demand thru their counsel, until fully paid, and to pay costs. complained of. This instance closes the door to civil liability, for a person who has been found to be not
the perpetrator of any act or omission cannot and can never be held liable for such act or omission.
SO ORDERED.[10] There being no delict, civil liability ex delicto is out of the question, and the civil action, if any, which may
be instituted must be based on grounds other than the delict complained of. This is the situation
In the instant petition for review, petitioner raises the following errors: contemplated in Rule 111 of the Rules of Court. The second instance is an acquittal based on reasonable
doubt on the guilt of the accused. In this case, even if the guilt of the accused has not been satisfactorily
1. The Honorable Court of Appeals failed to consider that on the face of the Decision rendered by the
established, he is not exempt from civil liability which may be proved by preponderance of evidence
Presiding Judge of RTC Branch 17, Malolos City, thatinterest checks were dismissed but found the
only. This is the situation contemplated in Article 29 of the Civil Code, x x x.
appellant guilty with respect to the principal loan checks in the three cases above mentioned.
An accused who is acquitted of Estafa may nevertheless be held civilly liable where the facts established
2. The Honorable Court of Appeals failed to consider that the whole transactions that transpired
by the evidence so warrant.[16] Petitioner Elizabeth Calderon is clearly liable to the private respondents
between appellant and private appellees covered a period lasting in years whereby private appellees
for the amount borrowed. The Court of Appeals found that the former did not employ trickery or deceit
charged appellant highly usurious interests which under current jurisprudence maintains that usurious
in obtaining money from the private complainants, instead, it concluded that the money obtained was
interests are void.
undoubtedly loans for which petitioner paid interest. The checks issued by petitioner as payment for the
3. With utmost due respect, the Honorable Court of Appeals failed to consider that under the sorry state principal loan constitute evidence of her civil liability which was deemed instituted with the criminal
of affairs which petitioner experienced when the instant three criminal cases were pending before RTC action.
Branch 79, Malolos City, that private respondents should have filed a separate civil complaint for their
The civil liability of petitioner includes only the principal amount of the loan. With respect to the interest
alleged claim of Sum of Money.[11]
checks she issued, the same are void. There was no written proof of the payable interest except for the
The issues for resolution are as follows: (1) Did the Court of Appeals err in finding the appellant civilly verbal agreement that the loan shall earn 5% interest per month. Under Article 1956 of the Civil Code, an
liable to complainants with respect to the interest in the principal loan despite the dismissal of the agreement as to payment of interest must be in writing, otherwise it cannot be valid.[17] Consequently,
interest checks by the Regional Trial Court? (2) Is the interest agreed upon by the parties usurious? (3) no interest is due and the interest checks she issued should be eliminated from the computation of her
Should the private respondents file a separate civil complaint for the claim of Sum of Money? civil liability.

We find the petition meritorious. Since the 1st and 3rd issues are interrelated they shall be discussed However, while there can be no stipulated interest, there can be legal interest pursuant to Article 2209
jointly. of the Civil Code.[18] It is elementary that in the absence of a stipulation as to interest, the loan due will
now earn interest at the legal rate of 12% per annum.[19] In the case of Eastern Shipping Lines, Inc. v.
In a criminal case, an appeal throws the whole case wide open for review. Issues whether raised or not Court of Appeals,[20] we established the guidelines particularly for the award of interest in the concept of
by the parties may be resolved by the appellate court.[12] When petitioner appealed her conviction, the actual and compensatory damages, the rate of interest, as well as the accrual thereof as follows:
dismissal of the interest checks by the lower court did not preclude the Court of Appeals from reviewing
such decision and modifying her civil liability. The appeal conferred upon the appellate court full When the obligation is breached, and it consists in the payment of a sum of money, i.e., a loan or
forbearance of money, the interest due should be that which may have been stipulated in writing.
98

Furthermore, the interest due shall itself earn legal interest from the time it is judicially demanded. In
the absence of stipulation, the rate of interest shall be 12% per annum to be computed from default,
i.e., from judicial or extrajudicial demand under and subject to the provisions of Article 1169 of the Civil
Code. (Emphasis supplied)

Hence, petitioner is liable for the payment of legal interest per annum to be computed from December
20, 1994, the date when she received the demand letter. After the judgment becomes final and
executory until the obligation is satisfied, the amount due shall earn interest at 12% per year, the interim
period being deemed equivalent to a forbearance of credit.[21]

In view of our ruling that there can be no stipulated interest in this case, there is no need to pass upon
the second issue of whether or not the interests were usurious.

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 23466 is
AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION that petitioner is ordered to pay Amelia Casanova the sum of
P100,00.00; Teresita Eusebio the sum of P157,500.00; and Manolito Eusebio the sum of P50,000.00 as
civil liability with legal interest of twelve percent (12%) per annum from December 20, 1994 until its
satisfaction.

Costs de oficio.

SO ORDERED.
99

PADILLA VS CA signed a bilateral Deed of Sale (1st Deed) over the subject property at the agreed price of P 10,500.00
per sq. m. After the payment @ P 10,500.00 per sq. m., Flaviano executed and signed a unilateral Deed
Summary of the Case: of Sale (2nd Deed) over the same property with a purchase price of P 3,000.00 per sq. m. Thereafter the
One night, Enrique Manarang noticed the accused appellant’s car running fast. After a while, a screech of 2nd Deed was presented by Flaviano for registration which became the basis of the Certificate of Title of
tires was heard and thus, made the officer run out and investigate. Not so long, the car continued to run, the said property.
so a hot-pursuit took place. Manarang then radioed the incident to the Police.
When the car was put to a stop, the driver rolled down the windows with his hands raised. The officers Ramiscal Jr filed his first Motion for Reconsideration date February 12, 1999 with a supplemental motion
then noticed that it was the famous actor, Robin Padilla. While apprehended, because of the hit-and-run dated May 28, 1999 regarding the findings of the Ombudsman. With this, a panel of prosecutors was
incident, the police saw the revolver tucked in the left waist of Robin. So, the police insisted that the gun tasked to review the records of the case, they found out that Ramiscal Jr., indeed participated in an
be shown in the office if it was legal. The crowd had formed and Robin was shaking their hands and affixed his signature on the contracts and found probable cause. The Ombudsman acted positively on the
pointing to the police while saying “iyan kinuha ang baril ko”, as if it was in the movies. The gesture then findings of the prosecutor and scheduled the arraignment of Ramiscal Jr. Howver, Ramiscal Jr., refused to
revealed a magazine clip of a rifle which made the police suspect that there is a rifle inside the vehicle. enter a plea for petitioner on the ground that there is a pending resolution of his second Motion for
Then the rifle was seen. The other firearms were voluntarily surrendered by Robin. Reconsideration.
Now, Robin’s defense was that his arrest was illegal and consequently, the firearms and ammunitions
taken in the course thereof are inadmissible in evidence under the exclusionary rule. Issue:
Robin Padilla was arrested, tried, and convicted for illegal possession of firearms. He was in possession of Whether or not the second Motion for Reconsideration is valid and should hold his arraignment.
a .357 caliber revolver, Smith and Wesson with 6 live ammunitions, One M-16 baby Armalite Rifle with
ammunitions, One .380 Pietro Barreta with 8 live ammunitions, and six live double action ammunitions Whether or not there is probable cause to file a case for violation of Section 3 (e) of the Anti-Graft and
of .38 caliber revolver. Corrupt Practices Act and falsification of public documents.

Relation to Article3: Section 2. Ruling:


No, Sec 7 of Rule 11 of the Rules provides that only one motion for reconsideration or reinvestigation of
Robin claimed that there was no search warrant or warrant of arrest thus, making his arrest illegal and an approved order or resolution shall be allowed xxxxx the filing of a motion for
the evidences inadmissible. The Bill of rights’ purpose is to put limit to the government’s power. In the reconsideration/reinvestigation shall not bar the filling of the corresponding information in Court on the
People vs. Marti case, the government was not involved. In this case, the government is involved but it basis of the finding of probable cause in the resolution subject of the motion.
was not illegal.
Why? According to what’s written in the case, a peace officer or a private person may arrest a person: (a) The arraignment may be suspended under Sec. 11 of Rule 116 of the Rules of Court are: unsoundness of
when the person has committed, is actually committing or is attempting to commit and offense, (b) mind, prejudicial question and a pending petition for review of the resolution of the prosecutor in the
when an offense has in fact just been committed, and he has personal knowledge of facts indicating that DOJ in which the suspension shall not exceed 60 days. Ramiscal Jr., failed to show that any of the
the person to be arrested has committed it. instances constituting a valid ground for suspension of arraignment obtained in this case.
The instances above clearly explain the legality of the arrest. Robin Padilla, my idol had first sideswept a
balut vendor and the incident was heard by Manarang and he saw Robin fled away from the scene, thus, With respect to the finding of probable cause, it is the Ombudsman who has the full discretion to
committing a hit-and-run. And Enrique Manarang was a peace officer. determine whether or not a criminal case should be filed in the Sandiganbayan, once the case has been
When he was halted, the firearms were revealed to the police officers without their act of searching. The filed with the said court, it is the Sandiganbayan, and no longer the Ombudsman which has full control of
firearms were in “plain view”. And the firearms were found by the police in their pursuit of their official the case. Ramiscal Jr., failed to establish that Sandiganbayan committed grave abuse of discretion, thus,
duties. And the police have the right as to where they are because they were in pursuit of Robin when there is probable cause in the filing of the case.
they found the firearms

. Ramiscal Jr vs SANDIGANBAYAN and People of the Philippines

GR Nos 172476-99 September 15, 2010

Facts:
Ramiscal Jr (Ramiscal) was a retired officer of AFP and the former president of AFP-Retirement and
Separation Benefits System (AFP-RSBS). During his incumbency, the BOD of AFP-RSBS approved the
acquisition of 15,020 sq. m. of land for development as housing projects. On August 1, 1997 AFP-RSBS as
represented by Ramiscal Jr., and Flaviano the attorney-in-fact of 12 individual vendors executed and
100

[A.C. No. 4552. December 14, 2004] dito ang decision ng MTC; at ang apilasyon sa RTC, at ang petsa ng decision ng RTC na tinaggap ni Atty.
Noel.
JOSE A. ROLDAN, complainant, vs. ATTY. NATALIO PANGANIBAN and ATTY. JUANITO P.
NOEL, respondents. 9. Na noong Abril 24, 1995 umapila ako sa Court of Appeal makaraan ang ilang buwan ay dumating sa
office ni Atty. Noel at Atty. Panganiban, noong November 13, 1995 ang decision subalit tinawagan ako ng
RESOLUTION sekretarya nila Atty. Noel at Atty. Panganiban noon lang November 24, 1995. Tinanong ko ang sekretarya
ni Atty. Panganiban kung nasaan si Atty. Noel, ang sagot ng sekretarya ay Nasa probinsiya maraming
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.:
inaasikaso doon. Agad kong sinabi: Hindi ba fifteen days lang para maka-apila sa Supreme Court.
Before us is an administrative case for disbarment filed by complainant Jose A. Roldan against Sumagot si Zeny at sinabi Isang buwan daw yun para sagutin.
respondents Atty. Natalio M. Panganiban and Atty. Juanito P. Noel. Complainant charges that
10. Na madalas kong tawagan si Zeny (ang sekretarya ni Atty. Panganiban) na sinasabi kong nakahanda
respondent lawyers reneged in their duties and obligations towards him as their client, especially in the
na ang pangbayad gawin na ninyo ang apilasyon sa Supreme Court, itoy madalas kong sabihin sa
complainants right to appeal to the higher court after losing his case in the lower courts. The allegations
sekretarya (si Zeny) kayat ibinigay niya ang bagong office ni Atty. Noel sa Gedisco Centre Rm. 134, 1564
in the complaint dated February 12, 1996[1] in support of the accusations are as follows:
Mabini St., Ermita, Manila.
1. Na ako ang plaintiff sa Civil Case No. 144860-CV M.I.T. Branch 25 Jose A. Roldan vs. Ramon Montano &
11. Na madalas akong magpunta sa bagong office ni Atty. Noel gaya noong Dec. 1, 1995, Dec. 4, 1995,
Robert Montano, na ang Judge ay si Honorable Severino De Castro, Jr. na ang kaso ay Recovery of
Dec. 5, 1995, Dec. 7, 1995, Dec. 8, 1995 at noon pang huling linggo ng November ay sisimulan ko ng
possession with damages. Itoy iniapila ko sa RTC Branch 43 with Civil Case No. 95-73739 na ang Judge
sabihin sa dalawang sekretarya (si Zeny at Marie Cris) na gawin na ang aking apilasyon sabihin kay Atty.
naman dito ay si Honorable Manuel F. Lorenzo ng RTC. Si Atty. Panganiban at Atty. Noel ang abogado ko.
Noel sa Supreme Court.
...
12. Na noong December 12, 1995 maaga pa ay nagpunta ako sa office ni Atty. Noel sa Gedisco 3rd Flr.
4. Na noong February 6, 1995 bago kami pumasok sa court room ay nagtanong sa akin si Atty. Noel, ng Mabini St., Ermita, Manila. Tinanong ko ang kaniyang sekretarya kung nakausap si Atty. Noel, sinagot ako
ganito: Mr. Roldan nasaan nga pala yung resibo na ibinigay ni Tessie sa iyo na nagbigay ka ng down ng sekretarya at sinabing Tinanong ko si Atty. Noel kung yari na yung apilasyong ipinagagawa ninyo (Jose
payment na Ten Thousand Pesos (P10,000.00) noong March 1, 1986. Agad akong sumagot at sinabi ko sa Roldan) hindi po niya ako sinasagot.
kaniya, Atty. Noel lahat po ng original ay hiningi ninyo sa akin, lahat po ay binigay ko sa inyo kasama
13. Na kaya agad akong magpunta sa RTC Branch 43 upang alamin ang katotohanan nabatid ko noon
iyong resibo ni Tessie Dalusong, na akoy magbigay ng Ten Thousand Pesos bilang downpayment sa
lang, na akoy natalo ng walang kalaban-laban, pagkat nag-laps na o lampas na ang panahong ibinibigay
ipinagbili niyang bahay sa akin. Agad siyang sumagot Wala kang ibinibigay sa akin!
ng batas para makapag-payl ng apilasyon sa Supreme Court.
5. Na kaya nga sinabi ko kay Atty. Noel na: Ibigay ninyo sa akin ang folder at ako ang hahanap ng resibo ni
14. Na dahil dito sa mga panloloko, at pagwawalang bahala sa aking kaso ni Atty. Noel, at Atty.
Tessie Dalusong. Tumulong din si Atty. Noel, at nakita din namin. Sinabi ni Atty. Noel Sayang hindi na
Panganiban ay idinidimanda ko sila ng Damages na halagang one hundred fifty thousand (P150,000.00)
natin maipasok ito, hindi na kasi pwedeng magpasok pa ng mga ibidensya. Di ko alam kung bakit hindi
pesos at dapat silang alisan ng karapatan na makapag-practice sa kanilang propesyon.
niya ipinasok noon pa man. (Ang resibo na nagpapatunay na ako ang unang nakabili ng bahay sa 1723
Pedro Gil St., Paco, Maynila). In his Comment dated August 8, 1996, Atty. Panganiban avers that he was neither aware nor did he
participate in the prosecution of Civil Case No. 144860-CV M.I.T. Branch 25 Jose A. Roldan vs. Ramon
6. Na noong nasa loob na kami ng court room ay handa na ako sa sinasabi ni Atty. Noel no Rebuttal pero
Montano & Robert Montano and in the appeal of said case to the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 43;
nagtaka ako kinumbinsi ako na diumano ay malinaw na ang aking deklarasyon at malinaw ang mga
they do not have a lawyer-client relationship because he is on leave in the practice of law since October
ebidensya kaya hindi na raw dapat mag rebuttal i-waive na lang daw sa Memorandum kaya nga sinabi ng
18, 1993 when he was designated Acting Mayor of Laurel, Batangas, and during his incumbency as such,
Judge na: Gumawa kayo ng Memoranda within fifteen days submitted for decision. Noong March 8, 1995
and up to the filing of this administrative complaint in 1996, he is still on leave as law practitioner
ang memorandum ay submitted for decision;
because he was elected Mayor of Laurel, Batangas in the last 1995 election; probably, complainant
7. Na noong Abril 7, 1995 sinabi ko kay Atty. Noel, Bakit may ibinigay na zerox copies ng decision si included him as respondent because he thought that he is practicing law and is still an associate of Atty.
Robert Montano na aking kalaban sumagot si Atty. Noel, at sinabi sa akin Tsekin mo sa court. Gayon nga Juanito P. Noel, due to the fact that on some occasions complainant might have seen him or they might
ang aking ginawa. At bumalik ako kay Atty. Noel, at sinabi ko: Totoo nga na may decision na. Sinabi ni have talked casually in the law office from which he was on leave in his practice of law because he drops
Atty. Noel na: Ginapang nila yun, sapalagay mo, magkano ang inilagay nila? Sa palagay ko ay hindi lang there from time to time to meet visitors from Laurel who are living and who have problems in Metro
trenta mil (P30,000.00) pesos ang magagastos nila sa kasong ito, yun ang isinagot ko; Manila; and he has not received any single centavo from the complainant.

8. Na iminungkahi ko kay Atty. Noel na magpayl ng motion for reconsideration, sinagat ako ni Atty. Noel In his Comment, dated August 29, 1996, Atty. Noel alleges: Sometime in 1994, he agreed to represent
na: Ginapang na nila yun kaya dapat umapila na lang tayo. Sinabi ko kay Atty. Noel na: Kung matalo pa complainant in recovering a one-half portion of the ground floor of a house located at 1723 Pedro Gil St.,
rin ako dito, ay dalhin natin sa Supreme Court para parehas ang laban; Na bilang bahagi nito inilakip ko Paco, Manila which complainant bought from one Simplicia Villanueva represented by her daughter
Teresita Dalusong on November 28, 1986. A civil complaint for recovery of ownership and possession
101

was filed on February 8, 1994 with the RTC but upon the effectivity of the law expanding the jurisdiction Complainant insists that Atty. Noels failure to present in evidence the receipt dated March 1, 1986 was
of the Metropolitan Trial Court (MTC) the case was transferred to the MTC. From the evidence of the fatal to his cause. The receipt shows that complainant made a partial payment of P10,000.00 of
defendant, he honestly saw no need to present a rebuttal evidence. The MTC rendered a decision the P40,000.00 price of the subject property. Complainant claims that this piece of document proves that
dismissing the case on the alleged ground that the identity of the subject matter of the action was not complainant bought the subject property ahead of the defendants who bought it only on July 30, 1986.
clearly established. He filed an appeal in due time to the RTC of Manila (Branch 43) and not with the Thus, to the mind of the complainant, the non-presentation of the subject receipt is suppression of
Court of Appeals as stated in paragraph 9 of the complaint. On November 13, 1995, he received a copy of evidence.
the RTC decision dated October 10, 1995, affirming the decision of the MTC. Through the telephone, he
informed the complainant about the decision of the RTC. Complainant instructed him to prepare an Atty. Noel denied receiving the subject receipt and asserts that the same was mere fabrication of the
appeal to the higher court which actually refers to the Court of Appeals and not with the Supreme Court complainant. He insists that said receipt did not exist during the preparation and filing of the complaint
as complainant claims. He advised the complainant that he could find no error in the said decision and a and even during the presentation of evidence. Otherwise, he argues that such fact should have been
further appeal would be frivolous and without merit and requested the complainant to come over so alleged in the complaint to show that complainant bought the subject property ahead of the other
that he could discuss the matter with him. Whenever the complainant went to the law office, he failed to buyer. Atty. Noel also claims that assuming that the receipt was given to him, the same cannot be used
see him because the latter was still attending court hearings. The complainant asked for the records of as evidence because the receipt shows that it was signed by one Romeo Dalusong who is not a party to
the case which was given by his secretary. Complainant never returned the case folder to him, neither the sale; neither does it appear in the receipt that Romeo was acting in a representative capacity.
did he call up by phone, or see him personally. He then assumed that the complainant had hired another
A short historical backdrop is necessary for a clearer insight of this issue.
lawyer to handle the appeal. He was surprised when he received on July 18, 1996 a copy of the
resolution of this Honorable Court dated June 19, 1996, requiring them to file their comment on the It appears that the subject property was subjected to a double sale by the same seller. The Deed of Sale
complaint of Jose A. Roldan. of the complainant is dated November 28, 1986 while that of the other buyer is dated July 30, 1986. But
complainant claims that actually the sale as to him took place on March 1, 1986 as evidenced by the
We referred the matter to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation. After hearing, IBP
subject receipt. Complainant however failed to take possession of the subject property as the same is
Investigating Commissioner Manuel A. Quiambao submitted his Report and Recommendation dismissing
already in the possession of the other buyer. Complainant filed an ejectment case[4] against the tenant of
the complaint against Atty. Panganiban and imposing censure to Atty. Noel. In a Resolution dated
the other buyer but the same was dismissed for the reason that complainant failed to show that he had
February 27, 2004, the IBP adopted and approved the said Report and Recommendation.
proprietary right over the property in question. Unable to take possession of the subject property,
We shall first resolve the issue of the existence or non-existence of lawyer-client relationship between complainant filed a case against the seller for the annulment of the contract of sale, the Deed of Sale
Atty. Panganiban and the complainant. dated November 28, 1986. Complainant won and the court awarded him damages of P80,000.00.

From a careful reading of the records of this case, it appears that Atty. Panganiban and Atty. Noel used to Subsequently, the seller and the complainant entered into a Compromise Agreement.[5] The seller,
be law associates. However, Atty. Panganiban went on leave from the practice of law since October 18, agreed to sell one-half of her duplex house which is the same property that was previously sold to
1993 when he was designated as acting mayor of Laurel, Batangas[2] due to the indefinite leave of complainant on November 28, 1986, including all her proprietary rights over the land, in the amount
absence filed by the mayor and by reason of his election as mayor of the said municipality in 1995. The ofP80,000.00. Since the Court awarded damages to the complainant in the same amount, this was set-off
complainant claims that he secured the services of Atty. Panganiban on January 6, 1994.[3] It is thus clear against the price of the property. Pursuant to the said compromise agreement, a Deed of Absolute Sale
that Atty. Panganiban was not an active associate of the law firm, since at that time, he was already on and Transfer of Right[6] in favor of the complainant was executed on December 22, 1990 by the seller
leave from the practice of law. Moreover, the complaint filed in 1996 before the RTC for Recovery of over the said property.
Possession and Ownership with Damages was prepared and signed by Atty. Noel alone and not in any
Even with the sale on December 22, 1990 over the subject property as a result of the compromise
representation of any law firm. In fact from the filing of the said civil case in the RTC, it was Atty. Noel
agreement, complainant still failed to take possession of the subject property, hence he filed a complaint
who represented the complainant. Not once did Atty. Panganiban appear for the complainant nor did he
for Recovery of Possession and Ownership with Damages against the other buyer. It is in this case that
sign any document pertaining with the aforesaid case. Necessarily, the complaint against Atty.
complainant claims that Atty. Noel failed to present the subject receipt. The MTC dismissed the
Panganiban must be dismissed.
complaint and the RTC on appeal, dismissed it again. Upon failure of Atty. Noel to file a petition for
As to the complaint against Atty. Noel. review with the Court of Appeals, complainant filed the present administrative complaint against him.

The main issues to be resolved are: (1) whether there was a deliberate attempt to suppress evidence on We find credence to the allegation of Atty. Noel that the subject receipt was not in existence at the time
the part of Atty. Noel, to the prejudice of complainant and (2) whether it was correct for Atty. Noel to he prepared the complaint or even at the time of presentation of evidence. The complaint was verified
refuse to file a further appeal of the case to the Court of Appeals by way of petition for review despite by the complainant stating the fact that he caused its preparation, that he read the same and attested
the manifest desire of the complainant to do so. that the contents thereof are true and correct. If complainants allegation that he gave the receipt to
Atty. Noel at that time, and considering the importance of the subject receipt to his case, he should have
Anent the first issue. called the attention of Atty. Noel that there was no allegation of the existence of the subject receipt.

We thus hold that Atty. Noel is not guilty of suppressing evidence.


102

As to the second issue, that is, the issue of propriety of Atty. Noels refusal or failure to file a petition for We note that the complainant was informed about the adverse RTC decision within the 15-day
review before the Court of Appeals. prescriptive period to appeal. As stated elsewhere, Atty. Noel received the adverse RTC decision on
November 13, 1995 and the complainant was informed about the adverse RTC decision on November 24,
It is the contention of the complainant that he lost the right to file a further appeal because he was not 1995. Hence, complainant has still four days to file an appeal. However, Atty. Noel failed to ensure that
informed immediately of the result of the appeal to the RTC. Complainant insists that Atty. Noel, through the client was advised appropriately. Atty. Noel entrusted entirely with his secretary the duty to inform
his secretary, called the complainant only on November 24, 1995 or 11 days after the receipt of the the complainant about the adverse decision. And the secretary informed the complainant rather late and
adverse RTC decision and was given the impression that he has still one month within which to file an worse with the wrong information that the complainant has still a month within which to file an appeal.
appeal. The complainant also said that he paid the respondents visits on December 1, 4, 5, 7 and 8, 1995, This resulted to the lapse of the prescriptive period to appeal without complainant having availed of the
to follow up the filing of the appeal to the higher court but that he was not able to talk to Atty. Noel; that said remedy.
it was only when he went to the RTC that he learned that he lost the case because the period of the
appeal has lapsed. A lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him and his negligence in connection therewith
shall render him liable.[7] If only Atty. Noels position of not filing an appeal because it would only be
Atty. Noel contends that he received the RTC decision on November 13, 1995 and on the following day, frivolous has been properly communicated to the complainant at the earliest possible time so that the
he instructed his secretary to contact the complainant to inform him of the adverse RTC decision with complainant would be able to seek the services of another lawyer for help, it would have been
the directive for the complainant to call up Atty. Noel; that when complainant called, he was instructed commendable. A lawyers duty is not to his client but to the administration of justice; to that end, his
by the complainant to prepare an appeal to the higher court; that he told the complainant that there is clients success is wholly subordinate; and his conduct ought to and must always be scrupulously
no need to appeal the case because, first, the decision of the court is correct, and second, he is obligated observant of law and ethics.[8] But as it was, Atty. Noels negligence as afore-discussed robbed the
by the code of professional responsibilities to refrain from filing a frivolous and unmeritorious appeal; complainant of the opportunity to at least look for another lawyer for professional help and file an
that thereafter, complainant went to his office twice, the last of this instance was when complainant appeal, after all, it is the client who finally decides whether to appeal or not an adverse decision.
took all the records of the case and never came back which led him to believe that complainant will not
appeal the adverse RTC decision. Atty. Noel further states that, in any event, his relationship with the We cannot also accept the reasoning of Atty. Noel that he should not be expected to file an appeal for
complainant ended upon the issuance of the decision and that the complainant should not expect that the complainant because their lawyer-client relationship ended with the RTC decision. First, a lawyer
he would still appeal the case. continues to be a counsel of record until the lawyer-client relationship is terminated either by the act of
his client or his own act, with permission of the court. Until such time, the lawyer is expected to do his
We find for the complainant. best for the interest of his client.[9] Second, Atty. Noel admitted that complainant instructed him to file
an appeal with the higher court. Even assuming that their contract does not include filing of an appeal
It is noted that the complainant has been very diligent in following up the status of the case. From the
with the higher courts, it is still the duty of Atty. Noel to protect the interest of the complainant by
time, complainant filed the case with the MTC up to the time he appealed with the RTC, complainant was
informing and discussing with the complainant of the said decision and his assessment of the same. A
vigilant with his rights constantly in contact with Atty. Noel. We find it strange therefore that upon
lawyer shall represent his client with zeal within the bounds of the law.[10] It is the obligation of counsel
receipt of the adverse RTC decision, it would seem, if Atty. Noels version is to be given credence, the
to comply with his clients lawful request. Counsel should exert all effort to protect the interest of his
complainant had lost his zeal and just allowed the time to appeal to lapse. As correctly observed by the
client.
Investigating Commissioner in his Report:
The determination of the appropriate penalty to be imposed on an errant lawyer involves the exercise of
Here was a complainant who went through several litigations over the same subject matter, including a
sound judicial discretion based on the facts of the case.[11] In cases of similar nature, the penalty imposed
case of ejectment, a case of annulment of contract of sale with damages, a case of action for recovery of
by the Court consisted of reprimand,[12] fine of five hundred pesos with warning,[13] suspension of three
ownership and possession, an appeal to the Regional Trial Court, and he did not seem perturb that he
months,[14] six months[15] and even disbarment[16] in aggravated case.
lost it (the appeal) and did not find it essential to discuss the matter with his lawyer for possible remedial
action? That is, as claimed by his lawyer? The facts of the case show that Atty. Noel failed to live up to his duties as a lawyer pursuant to the Code
of Professional Responsibility. We conclude that a suspension from the practice of law for one month is
...
just penalty under the circumstances.
As opposed to the general denial given by the respondent about the claim that the complainant followed
Complainants claim for damages cannot be entertained in the present disbarment case as it is not the
up his case several times with his office (outside of the two occasions that he conceded the complainant
proper forum. It is not an ordinary civil case where damages could be awarded.[17] A disbarment case is a
did so), the complainant was precise in detailing the circumstances which described how he tried his best
proceeding that is intended to protect the Court and the public from the misconduct of its officers; to
to seek the presence of Atty. Noel to no avail. There were dates, detailed circumstances, and specific
protect the administration of justice by requiring that those who exercise this important function shall be
places. Given the character which had characterized the effort of the complainant to seek appropriate
competent, honorable and reliable, men in whom courts and clients may repose confidence.[18] It has
legal remedies for his complaints, the assertions would be consistent, that is, that he made great efforts
been emphasized in a number of cases that disbarment proceedings belong to a class of their own,
to find Atty. Noel.
distinct from that of a civil or a criminal action.[19]
103

Wherefore, the complaint against Atty. Natalio M. Panganiban is DISMISSED. Atty. Juanito P. Noel is
SUSPENDED for one month with a warning that a repetition of the same would be meted a more severe
penalty. Let a copy of this decision be attached to respondents personal record in the Office of the Bar
Confidant and copies be furnished to all chapters of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and to all courts
of the land.

SO ORDERED.
104

CONLU VS AREDONIA unknown;[10] (c) considered him as having waived his right to file comment; and (d) referred the
administrative case to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for report, investigation and
Before the Court is a complaint[1] for disbarment with a prayer for damages instituted by Antonio Conlu recommendation.[11]
(Antonio) against Atty. Ireneo Aredonia, Jr. (Atty. Ireneo) on grounds of gross negligence and dereliction
of sworn duty. At the IBP, Atty. Ireneo desisted from addressing his administrative case, his desistance expressed by not
attending the mandatory conference or filing the required position paper. On the basis of the pleadings,
Antonio was the defendant in Civil Case No. 1048, a suit for Quieting of Title and Recovery of a Parcel of the IBP-Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD) found Ireneo liable for violating Canon 1, Rules 1.01 and 1.03
Land commenced before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Silay City, Negros Occidental.[2] He engaged the and Canon 18, Rule 18.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and recommended his suspension
services of Atty. Ireneo to represent him in the case. On March 16, 1995, the RTC rendered from the practice of law for a period of six (6) months, with warning. The salient portions of the
judgment[3] adverse to Antonio. Therefrom, Atty. Ireneo, for Antonio, appealed to the Court of Appeals investigating commissioners Report and Recommendation[12] read as follows:
(CA) whereat the recourse was docketed as CA-G.R. CV No. 50075.
Uncontroverted and uncontested are respondents inability to file appellants Brief, his futile attempts to
The CA, per its Resolution of February 10, 1997, eventually dismissed the appeal for non-filing of the mislead the Court of Appeals that he did not personally received [sic] the resolution of dismissal. His
appellants brief within the reglementary period. Antonio got wind of the dismissal from his wife who filing of the Motion for Reconsideration five (5) months late. [sic]
verified the status of the case when she happened to be in Manila. When confronted about the dismissal
action, Atty. Ireneo promised to seek reconsideration, which he did, but which the appellate court later Aggravated by his failure to file his comment in the instant administrative complaint despite his
denied for belated filing of the motion. numerous motions for extension to file the same. [sic]

In that motion[4] he prepared and filed, Atty. Ireneo averred receiving the adverted February 10, 1997 CA He is even adamant to comply with the show cause order of the bar confidant. The series of snobbish
Resolution[5] only on April 25, 1997, adding in this regard that the person in the law office who initially actuations in several resolution of the Supreme Court enjoining him to make the necessary pleading. [sic]
received a copy of said resolution was not so authorized. However, the CA denied the motion for having
been filed out of time. As the CA would declare in a subsequent resolution dated December 3, 1997, By Resolution No. XVIII-2008-523, the IBP Board of Governors adopted and approved said report and
there was a valid receipt by Atty. Ireneo, as shown by the registry return card with his signature, of a recommendation of the CBD.[13]
copy of the CAs February 10, 1997 Resolution. Accordingly, as the CA wrote, the motion for
We agree with the inculpatory findings of the IBP but not as to the level of the penalty it recommended.
reconsideration of the February resolution which bore the mailing date May 8, 1997 cannot but be
considered as filed way out of time. Res ipsa loquitur. Atty. Ireneo had doubtless been languid in the performance of his duty as Antonios
counsel. He neglected, without reason, to file the appellants brief before the CA. He failed, in short, to
In light of these successive setbacks, a disgusted Antonio got the case records back from Atty. Ireneo
exert his utmost ability and to give his full commitment to maintain and defend Antonios right. Antonio,
and personally filed on October 13, 1997 another motion for reconsideration. By Resolution of December
by choosing Atty. Ireneo to represent him, relied upon and reposed his trust and confidence on the
3, 1997, the CA again denied[6] this motion for the reason that the prejudicial impact of the belated filing
latter, as his counsel, to do whatsoever was legally necessary to protect Antonios interest, if not to
by his former counsel of the first motion for reconsideration binds Antonio.
secure a favorable judgment. Once they agree to take up the cause of a client, lawyers, regardless of the
Forthwith, Antonio elevated his case to the Court on a petition for certiorari but the Court would later importance of the subject matter litigated or financial arrangements agreed upon, owe fidelity to such
dismiss the petition and his subsequent motion to reconsider the denial. cause and should always be mindful of the trust and confidence reposed on them.[14] And to add insult to
injury, Atty. Ireneo appeared not to have taken any effort to personally apprise Antonio of the dismissal
Such was the state of things when Antonio lodged this instant administrative case for disbarment with a of the appeal, however personally embarrassing the cause for the dismissal might have been. As
prayer for damages. To support his claim for damages, Antonio asserts having suffered sleepless nights, mentioned earlier, Antonio came to know about the outcome of his appeal only after his wife took the
mental torture and anguish as a result of Atty. Ireneos erring ways, besides which Antonio also lost a trouble of verifying the case status when she came to Manila. By then, all remedies had been lost.
valuable real property subject of Civil Case No. 1048.
It must be remembered that a retained counsel is expected to serve the client with competence and
Following Atty. Ireneos repeated failure to submit, as ordered, his comment, a number of extensions of diligence. This duty includes not merely reviewing the cases entrusted to the counsels care and giving
time given notwithstanding,[7] the Court referred the instant case, docketed as Administrative Case No. the client sound legal advice, but also properly representing the client in court, attending scheduled
4955, to its Office of the Bar Confidant (OBC) for evaluation, report and recommendation. hearings, preparing and filing required pleadings, prosecuting the handled cases with reasonable
dispatch, and urging their termination without waiting for the client or the court to prod him or her to do
Acting on OBCs Report and Recommendation[8] dated November 23, 2000, the Court, by Resolution of so. The lawyer should not be sitting idly by and leave the rights of the client in a state of uncertainty.[15]
January 31, 2001, directed Atty. Ireneo to show cause within ten (10) days from noticelater successively
extended via Resolutions dated July 16 and 29, 2002why he should not be disciplinarily dealt with or held The failure to file a brief resulting in the dismissal of an appeal constitutes inexcusable negligence.[16] This
in contempt for failing to file his comment and to comply with the filing of it. default translates to a violation of the injunction of Canon 18, Rules 18.03 and 18.04 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility, respectively providing:
In separate resolutions, the Court (a) imposed on Atty. Ireneo a fine of PhP 2,000;[9] (b) ordered his arrest
but which the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) cannot effect for the reason: whereabouts CANON 18 A LAWYER SHALL SERVE HIS CLIENT WITH COMPETENCE AND DILIGENCE.
105

Rule 18.03 A lawyer shall not neglect a matter entrusted to him, and his negligence in connection Rule 12.03 A lawyer shall not, after obtaining extensions of time to file pleadings, memoranda or
therewith shall render him liable. briefs, let the period lapse without submitting the same or offering an explanation for his failure to do
so.
Rule 18.04 A lawyer shall keep the client informed of the status of his case and shall respond within a
reasonable time to the clients request for information. Rule 12.04 A lawyer shall not unduly delay a case, impede the execution of a judgment or misuse Court
processes. (Emphasis supplied.)
As if his lack of candor in his professional relationship with Antonio was not abhorrent enough, Atty.
Ireneo tried to mislead the appellate court about the receipt of a copy of its February 10, 1997 A lawyer may be disbarred or suspended for gross misconduct or for transgressions defined by the rules
Resolution dismissing the appeal in CA-G.R. CV No. 50075. He denied personally receiving such copy, but as grounds to strip a lawyer of professional license.[18] Considering, however, the serious consequences
the CA found and declared that he himself received said copy. The CA arrived at this conclusion thru the of either penalty, the Court will exercise its power to disbar or suspend only upon a clear, convincing,
process of comparing Atty. Ireneos signature appearing in the pleadings with that in the registry return and satisfactory proof of misconduct that seriously affects the standing of a lawyer as an officer of the
card. Both signatures belong to one and the same person. Needless to stress, Atty. Ireneo had under the court and as member of the bar.
premises indulged in deliberate falsehood, contrary to the self-explanatory prescriptions of Canon 1,
Rule 1.01 and Canon 10, Rule 10.01, which provide: In Heirs of Tiburcio F. Ballesteros, Sr. v. Apiag,[19] the Court penalized a lawyer who failed to file a pre-trial
brief and other pleadings, such as position papers, leading to the dismissal of the case with six months
CANON 1 A LAWYER SHALL UPHOLD THE CONSTITUTION, OBEY THE LAWS OF THE LAND AND PROMOTE suspension. In Soriano v. Reyes,[20] We meted a one-year suspension on a lawyer for inexcusable
RESPECT FOR LAW AND LEGAL PROCEDURES. negligence, the latter having failed to file a pre-trial brief leading to the dismissal of the case and failure
to prosecute in another case, and omitting to apprise complainant of the status of the two cases with
Rule 1.01 A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. assurance of his diligent attention to them.
CANON 10 A LAWYER OWES CANDOR, FAIRNESS AND GOOD FAITH TO THE COURT. In this case, Atty. Ireneo should be called to task for the interplay of the following: his inexcusable
negligence that resulted in the dismissal of Antonios appeal, coupled by his lack of candor in not
Rule 10.01 A lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in court; nor shall he
apprising Antonio of the status of his appealed case; his attempt to mislead the CA in a vain bid to evade
mislead, or allow the Court to be misled by any artifice. (Emphasis supplied.)
the consequence of the belated filing of a motion for reconsideration; and, last but not least, his cavalier
We cannot write finis to this case without delving into and addressing Atty. Ireneos defiant stance disregard of the Courts directives primarily issued to resolve the charges brought against him by Antonio.
against the Court as demonstrated by his repetitive disregard of its resolution to file his comment on the We deem it fitting that Atty. Ireneo be suspended from the practice of law for a period of one year, up
basic complaint. After requesting and securing no less than three (3) extensions of time to file his from the penalty recommended by the IBP Board of Governors. This should serve as a constant reminder
comment, he simply closed, so to speak, communication lines. And when ordered to give an explanation of his duty to respect courts of justice and to observe that degree of diligence required by the practice of
through a show-cause directive for not complying, he asked for and was granted a 30-day extension. But the legal profession. His being a first offender dictates to large degree this leniency.
the required comment never came. When the Court eventually directed the NBI to arrest him, he just
The prayer for damages cannot be granted. Let alone the fact that Antonio chose not to file his position
left his last known address and could not be located.
paper before the IBP-CBD and, therefore, was unable to satisfactorily prove his claim for damages, a
The Courts patience has been tested to the limit by what in hindsight amounts to a lawyers impudence proceeding for disbarment or suspension is not in any sense a civil action; it is undertaken and
and disrespectful bent. At the minimum, members of the legal fraternity owe courts of justice respect, prosecuted for public welfare. It does not involve private interest and affords no redress for private
courtesy and such other becoming conduct so essential in the promotion of orderly, impartial and grievance.[21]
speedy justice. What Atty. Ireneo has done was the exact opposite. What is clear to the Court by now is
WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Ireneo Aredonia, Jr. is declared GUILTY of inexcusable negligence,
that Ireneo was determined all along not to submit a comment and, in the process, delay the resolution
attempting to mislead the appellate court, misuse of Court processes, and willful disobedience to lawful
of the instant case. By asking several extensions of time to submit one, but without the intention to so
orders of the Court. He is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of one (1) year
submit, Ireneo has effectively trifled with the Courts processes, if not its liberality. This cannot be
effective upon his receipt of this Resolution, with WARNING that a repetition of the same or similar acts
tolerated. It cannot be allowed to go unpunished, if the integrity and orderly functioning of the
will be dealt with more severely. Let a copy of this Decision be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant,
administration of justice is to be maintained. And to be sure, Atty. Ireneo can neither defeat this Courts
the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and all courts throughout the country.
jurisdiction over him as a member of the bar nor evade administrative liability by the mere ruse of
concealing his whereabouts.[17] Manifestly, he has fallen short of the diligence required of every member SO ORDERED.
of the Bar. The pertinent Canon of the Code of Professional Responsibility provides:

CANON 12 A LAWYER SHALL EXERT EVERY EFFORT AND CONSIDER HIS DUTY TO ASSIST IN THE SPEEDY
AND EFFICIENT ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE.
106

G.R. No. 166703 April 14, 2008 ACC, in its position paper, countered that Garcia and Balla's dismissal was due to the legitimate
streamlining by the company.
AMA COMPUTER COLLEGE, INC., petitioner,
vs. On 25 March 2002, the Labor Arbiter ruled that Garcia and Balla were illegally dismissed and ordered the
ELY GARCIA and MA. TERESA BALLA, respondents. payment of their backwages and additional separation pay. The dispositive portion of the Labor Arbiter's
Decision3 reads:
DECISION
Wherefore, premises all considered, judgment is hereby rendered finding the dismissal illegal and
CHICO-NAZARIO, J.: ordering respondent [petitioner ACC] to pay complainants [Garcia and Balla] backwages and additional
separation pay.
This Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court seeks to reverse the
Decision1 dated 30 August 2004 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 81808 affirming the Decision The Research and Computation Unit, (sic) this Commission is hereby directed to effect the necessary
dated 29 May 2003 of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) in NLRC NCR 00-03-01898-00. computation which shall form part of this decision.
The NLRC, in its Decision, affirmed the Labor Arbiter's Decision dated 25 March 2002, finding that the
dismissal by petitioner AMA Computer College, Inc. (ACC) of respondents Ely Garcia (Garcia) and Ma. Aggrieved by the Labor Arbiter's afore-quoted Decision, ACC appealed to the NLRC.
Teresa Balla (Balla) was illegal and granting of backwages and separation pay; but modified the same by
deleting the grant of 13th month pay, service incentive leave pay and cost of living allowance. The Court On 20 May 2003, the NLRC4 affirmed the assailed Decision of the Labor Arbiter with the modification of
of Appeals, in its Resolution dated 1 December 2004, denied ACC's motion for reconsideration of its deleting the award of 13th month pay, service incentive leave pay and cost of living allowance. The NLRC
earlier Decision. thus ordered:

The factual antecedents of the case are as follows: While We are in accord with the finding that complainants were illegally dismissed from employment,
We find the inclusion of the relief of 13th month pay, Service Incentive Leave Pay and Cost of Living
Garcia was hired as a janitress by ACC on 6 January 1988. On 15 May 1989, her employment status was Allowance as inappropriate.
changed to probationary Library Aide. She became a regular employee on 15 February 1990.
Quite notable from the pro-forma complaint that no prayer for payment of cost of living allowance or
Balla was hired as a Social Worker by ACC on 1 August 1996. She later became a Guidance Assistant in service incentive leave pay was indicated therein by the complainants (Records, p. 2). And, while they
the Guidance Department of ACC, and on 2 June 1997, became a regular employee. may have indicated non-payment of the 13th month benefit as a cause of action, nowhere in the Labor
Arbiter's decision can it be gleaned that the said relief was adjudged in favor of the complainants.
On 21 March 2000, Anthony R. Vince Cruz, ACC Human Resource Director, informed Garcia and Balla and Deletion of the aforesaid monetary award is, therefore, decreed.
52 other employees of the termination of their employment, thus:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the decision under review is hereby MODIFIED by DELETING the
This is to formally inform you that due to the prevailing economic condition of our economy and as part relief of 13th month pay, service incentive leave pay and cost of living allowance therefrom.
of the austerity program of the company, the top management has decided to come up with a
manpower review of the AMA Group of Companies in order to streamline its operation and the growth In other respects, the decision, insofar as it orders the payment to the complainants [Garcia and Balla]
of the Organization. their backwages and additional separation pay, shall stand AFFIRMED.

In view of this, your position as Library Aide [for Ely; Guidance Assistant, for Teresa] has (sic) been found ACC filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the foregoing but the same was denied5 by the NLRC in a
no longer necessary for the reason that your function can be handled by the other existing staff. Resolution dated 30 October 2003.

Thus, we regret to inform you effective April 21, 2000, your employment with AMA Group of Companies ACC then appealed6 by way of Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court to the Court of
is hereby terminated. x x x.2 Appeals alleging that the NLRC gravely abused its discretion amounting to lack or in excess of jurisdiction
in only partially modifying the Decision of the Labor Arbiter and affirming the rest thereof.
Thereafter, Garcia and Balla filed a complaint with the Labor Arbiter for illegal dismissal and prayed for
the payment of separation pay, 13th month pay, and attorney's fees, alleging that ACC's streamlining On 30 August 2004, the Court of Appeals rendered a Decision7 affirming the Decision of the NLRC. In its
program was tainted with bad faith as there was no fair and reasonable criteria used therein, such as the Decision, the Court of Appeals ruled that inquiry in a Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of
less preferred status, efficiency rating and authority. They asserted that certain acts of ACC belied its Court is limited exclusively to the issue of whether or not respondent acted with grave abuse of
claim of being adversely affected by the prevailing economic conditions, and that the statistics and discretion, amounting to lack or in excess of jurisdiction, and does not go as far as to evaluate the
pattern of dismissal by the college indicate a nefarious intent to circumvent the law on the security of sufficiency of evidence upon which the NLRC and the Labor Arbiter based their determination.
tenure.
ACC filed a motion for reconsideration but was denied by the Court of Appeals in a Resolution8 dated 1
December 2004.
107

Hence, the present Petition for Review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court filed by ACC raising the The issues for resolution are factual and Rule 45 of the Rules of Court provides that only questions of law
following errors9 of the Court of Appeals: may be raised in a petition for review on certiorari. The raison d'etre is that the Court is not a trier of
facts. It is not to reexamine and reevaluate the evidence on record. Moreover, the factual findings of the
THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN DEPARTING FROM THE ACCEPTED AND USUAL COURSE OF NLRC, as affirmed by the Court of Appeals, are accorded high respect and finality unless the factual
JUDICIAL REVIEW[.] findings and conclusions of the Labor Arbiter clash with those of the NLRC and the Court of Appeals in
which case, the Court will have to review the records and the arguments of the parties to resolve the
THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED WHEN IT SUSTAINED THE FINDING OF ILLEGAL DISMISSAL
factual issues and render substantial justice to the parties.20
NOTWITHSTANDING THE SUBSTANTIAL EVIDENCE ADDUCED BY PETITIONER TO THE CONTRARY[.]
In termination cases, the burden of proving just and valid cause for dismissing an employee from his
THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED WHEN IT REFUSED TO RECOGNIZE REDUNDANCY AS A BASIS IN
employment rests upon the employer, and the latter's failure to discharge that burden would result in a
TERMINATING THE SERVICES OF RESPONDENT[S].
finding that the dismissal is unjustified.21
On 18 April 2005, We required10 Garcia and Balla to file their Comment within ten days from notice, but
It must be stressed at the outset that ACC raised different grounds to justify its dismissal of Garcia and
they failed to comply therewith despite notice.
Balla: before the Labor Arbiter, it cited retrenchment; before the NLRC, it claimed redundancy; and
As a consequence, we required11 Garcia and Balla to show cause why they should not be held in before the Court of Appeals, it averred both retrenchment and redundancy.
contempt of court for failure to file their desired comment. Again, they failed to comply with our show
It is apparent that ACC itself is confused as to the real reason why it terminated Garcia and Balla's
cause order, thus, we imposed12 upon them a fine of P500.00 each payable within ten days from receipt
employment.
of notice.
Both retrenchment and redundancy are authorized causes for the termination of employment. According
Still failing to receive any response from Garcia and Balla, we required13 ACC, on 2 October 2006, to
to Article 283 of the Labor Code:
inform the Court of their current addresses.
ART. 283. Closure of establishment and reduction of personnel. – The employer may also terminate the
In a Manifestation14 dated 18 January 2007, ACC stated that, as for Garcia, it has the same address as the
employment of any employee due to the installation of labor-saving devices, redundancy, retrenchment
one being considered by the Court; and as to Balla, all pleadings and orders in the course of the
to prevent losses or the closing or cessation of operation of the establishment or undertaking unless the
proceedings before the NLRC and the Court of Appeals were served to her through Garcia's address.
closing is for the purpose of circumventing the provisions of this Title, by serving a written notice on the
In a Resolution dated 28 February 2007, we noted ACC's Manifestation but considered its compliance worker and the Department of Labor and Employment at least one (1) month before the intended date
unsatisfactory. We required ACC to exert more effort in locating Garcia's present address and to inform thereof. In case of termination due to the installation of labor-saving devices or redundancy, the worker
the Court thereof within ten days from notice.15 affected thereby shall be entitled to a separation pay equivalent to at least his one (1) month pay or to at
least one (1) month pay for every year of service, whichever is higher. In case of retrenchment to prevent
ACC through counsel failed to comply with our 28 February 2007 Resolution, thus, we required16 its losses and in cases of closures or cessation of operations of establishment or undertaking not due to
counsel to show cause why it should not be held in contempt for failure to submit the addresses of serious business losses or financial reverses, the separation pay shall be equivalent to one (1) month pay
Garcia and Balla despite notice. or at least one-half (1/2) month pay for every year of service, whichever is higher. A fraction of at least
six (6) months shall be considered one (1) whole year.
In a Compliance17 dated 5 December 2007, ACC through counsel apologized for its inadvertence and
asked for an extension within which to comply with the 28 February 2007 Resolution, which was Although governed by the same provision of the Labor Code, retrenchment and redundancy are two
granted.18 distinct grounds for termination arising from different circumstances, thus, they are in no way
interchangeable.
ACC's counsel would later inform us that various ways were employed to search for Garcia's address,
such as searches through the telephone directories, internet and personal inquiries, but to no avail. Redundancy exists when the service capability of the workforce is in excess of what is reasonably needed
Hence, ACC requested for another extension,19 which was again granted. to meet the demands of the business enterprise. A reasonably redundant position is one rendered
superfluous by any number of factors, such as overhiring of workers, decreased volume of business,
In a Manifestation, dated 5 January 2007, ACC through counsel stated that it already made a personal dropping of a particular product line previously manufactured by the company or phasing out of service
inquiry at Garcia's previous address, but still without success. activity priorly undertaken by the business. Among the requisites of a valid redundancy program are: (1)
the good faith of the employer in abolishing the redundant position; and (2) fair and reasonable criteria
Thus, we resolved to dispense with Garcia and Balla's comment and submitted the case for decision
in ascertaining what positions are to be declared redundant and accordingly abolished.22
based on the pleadings filed.
The determination that the employee's services are no longer necessary or sustainable and, therefore,
Even without Garcia and Balla's comment, this Court denies ACC's Petition.
properly terminable for being redundant is an exercise of business judgment of the employer. The
wisdom or soundness of this judgment is not subject to discretionary review of the Labor Arbiter and the
108

NLRC, provided there is no violation of law and no showing that it was prompted by an arbitrary or determining that, among its employees, Garcia and Balla should be dismissed, thus, making their
malicious act. In other words, it is not enough for a company to merely declare that it has become dismissal arbitrary and illegal.
overmanned. It must produce adequate proof of such redundancy to justify the dismissal of the affected
employees.23 Retrenchment, on the other hand, is the termination of employment effected by management during
periods of business recession, industrial depression, seasonal fluctuations, lack of work or considerable
In Panlilio v. National Labor Relations Commission,24 it was held that the following evidence may be reduction in the volume of the employer's business.30 Resorted to by an employer to avoid or minimize
proffered to substantiate redundancy: the new staffing pattern, feasibility studies/proposal on the business losses,31 it is a management prerogative consistently recognized by this Court.32
viability of the newly created positions, job description and the approval by the management of the
restructuring. There are three basic requisites for a valid retrenchment to exist, to wit: (a) the retrenchment is
necessary to prevent losses and such losses are proven; (b) written notice to the employees and to the
In the case at bar, ACC attempted to establish its streamlining program by presenting its new table of DOLE at least one (1) month prior to the intended date of retrenchment; and (c) payment of separation
organization. ACC also submitted a certification25 by its Human Resources Supervisor, Ma. Jazmin pay equivalent to one (1) month pay or at least one-half (1/2) month pay for every year of service,
Reginaldo, that the functions and duties of many rank and file employees, including the positions of whichever is higher.33
Garcia and Balla as Library Aide and Guidance Assistant, respectively, are now being performed by the
supervisory employees. These, however, do not satisfy the requirement of substantial evidence that a To justify retrenchment, the employer must prove serious business losses.34 Indeed, not all business
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.26 As they are, they are grossly losses suffered by the employer would justify retrenchment under Article 283 of the Labor Code.35 The
inadequate and mainly self-serving. More compelling evidence would have been a comparison of the old "loss" referred to in Article 283 cannot be just any kind or amount of loss; otherwise, a company could
and new staffing patterns, a description of the abolished and newly created positions, and proof of the easily feign excuses to suit its whims and prejudices or to rid itself of unwanted employees.36
set business targets and failure to attain the same which necessitated the reorganization or streamlining.
In a number of cases, the Court has identified the necessary conditions for the company losses to justify
To further justify its dismissal of Garcia and Balla, ACC presented several memoranda to prove that retrenchment: (1) the losses incurred are substantial and not de minimis; (2) the losses are actual or
Garcia and Balla had been remiss in the performance of their duties, as well as perennially tardy and reasonably imminent; (3) the retrenchment is reasonably necessary and is likely to be effective in
absent. Other than being self-serving, said memoranda are irrelevant to prove redundancy of the preventing the expected losses; and (d) the alleged losses, if already incurred, or the expected imminent
positions held by Garcia and Balla. Redundancy arises because there is no more need for the employee's losses sought to be forestalled, are proven by sufficient and convincing evidence.37 ACC miserably failed
position in relation to the whole business organization, and not because the employee unsatisfactorily to prove any of the foregoing.
performed the duties and responsibilities required by his position. Redundancy is an authorized cause for
In the case at bar, ACC claimed that the retrenchment of Garcia and Balla was justified due to the
termination of employment under Article 282 of the Labor Code; while serious misconduct or willful
financial difficulties experienced by the college that it was made effective in all of its campuses and for all
disobedience or gross and habitual neglect of duties by the employee is a just cause for dismissal under
departments; and appropriate notices were given to Garcia and Balla. But other than its bare allegations,
Article 283 of the Code.
ACC failed to present any supporting evidence.
The lingering doubt as to the existence of redundancy or of ACC's so called "streamlining program" is
Not only was ACC unable to prove its losses, it also failed to present proof that it served the necessary
highlighted even more by its non-presentation of the required notice27 to the Department of Labor and
notice to the DOLE one month before the purported retrenchment of Garcia and Balla.38 As also found by
Employment (DOLE) at least one month before the intended dismissal.28 The notice to the DOLE would
the Labor Arbiter, and affirmed by the NLRC and the Court of Appeals, ACC did not give Garcia and Balla
have afforded the labor department the opportunity to look into and verify whether there is truth as to
sufficient separation pay. Falling short of all the requirements, ACC cannot claim that it had effected a
ACC's claim that a decline in its student population resulted in excess manpower in the college.
valid retrenchment of Garcia and Balla.
Compliance with the required notices would have also established that ACC pursued its streamlining
program in good faith. In sum, the Court finds no basis for disturbing the consistent findings of the Labor Arbiter, the NLRC and
the Court of Appeals that ACC was not able to discharge the burden of proving that its dismissal of Garcia
In balancing the interest between labor and capital, the prudent recourse in termination cases is to
and Balla was valid.
safeguard the prized security of tenure of employees and to require employers to present the best
evidence obtainable, especially so because in most cases, the documents or proof needed to resolve the Finally, ACC argues that the Court of Appeals should not have limited its power of review to the finding of
validity of the termination, are in the possession of employers. A contrary ruling would encourage grave abuse of discretion allegedly committed by the NLRC, but should have considered the substantial
employers to utilize redundancy as a means of dismissing employees when no valid grounds for evidence adduced by ACC.
termination are shown by simply invoking a feigned or unsubstantiated redundancy program.
The contention is without merit.
Granting that ACC was able to substantiate the need for streamlining its organization, it still failed to
implement the same using fair and reasonable criteria for choosing which employees to dismiss. Among The extent of judicial review by certiorari of decisions or resolutions of the NLRC, as exercised previously
the accepted criteria in implementing a redundancy are: (a) less preferred status, e.g., temporary by the Supreme Court and now by the Court of Appeals, is described in Zarate, Jr. v. Olegario,39 thus –
employee; (b) efficiency; and (c) seniority.29 There is no showing that ACC applied any of these criteria in
109

The rule is settled that the original and exclusive jurisdiction of this Court to review a decision of None of the foregoing circumstances exists in this case that would justify the Court of Appeals, in a
respondent NLRC (or Executive Labor Arbiter as in this case) in a petition for certiorari under Rule petition forcertiorari, to look into and re-weigh the evidence on record to determine whether the NLRC
65 does not normally include an inquiry into the correctness of its evaluation of the evidence. Errors of committed errors of judgment as regards thereto. Absent exceptional circumstances, the general rule
judgment, as distinguished from errors of jurisdiction, are not within the province of a special civil applies and the Court of Appeals is limited only to ascertaining whether the NLRC acted capriciously and
action for certiorari, which is merely confined to issues of jurisdiction or grave abuse of discretion.It is whimsically in total disregard of evidence material to or decisive of the controversy so as to oust the
thus incumbent upon petitioner to satisfactorily establish that respondent Commission or executive latter of jurisdiction.
labor arbiter acted capriciously and whimsically in total disregard of evidence material to or even
decisive of the controversy, in order that the extraordinary writ of certiorari will lie. By grave abuse of WHEREFORE, the instant Petition is hereby DENIED. The Decision dated 30 August 2004 of the Court of
discretion is meant such capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment as is equivalent to lack of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 81808 is hereby AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioner.
jurisdiction, and it must be shown that the discretion was exercised arbitrarily or despotically.
SO ORDERED.
For certiorari to lie, there must be capricious, arbitrary and whimsical exercise of power, the very
antithesis of the judicial prerogative in accordance with centuries of both civil law and common law
traditions. (Underscoring supplied.)

The Court of Appeals, therefore, can grant the petition for certiorari if it finds that the NLRC, in its
assailed decision or resolution, committed grave abuse of discretion by capriciously, whimsically, or
arbitrarily disregarding evidence which is material or decisive of the controversy.

In Garcia v. National Labor Relations Commission,40 we further defined the scope of the Court of Appeals'
power to review the evidence when the decision of the NLRC is brought before it via a petition
for certiorari –

[I]n Ong v. People, we ruled that certiorari can be properly resorted to where the factual findings
complained of are not supported by the evidence on record. Earlier, in Gutib v. Court of Appeals, we
emphasized thus:

[I]t has been said that a wide breadth of discretion is granted a court of justice in certiorari proceedings.
The cases in which certiorari will issue cannot be defined, because to do so would be to destroy its
comprehensiveness and usefulness. So wide is the discretion of the court that authority is not wanting to
show that certiorari is more discretionary than either prohibition or mandamus. In the exercise of our
superintending control over inferior courts, we are to be guided by all the circumstances of each
particular case "as the ends of justice may require." So it is that the writ will be granted where
necessary to prevent a substantial wrong or to do substantial justice.

And in another case of recent vintage, we further held:

In the review of an NLRC decision through a special civil action for certiorari, resolution is confined only
to issues of jurisdiction and grave abuse of discretion on the part of the labor tribunal. Hence, the Court
refrains from reviewing factual assessments of lower courts and agencies exercising adjudicative
functions, such as the NLRC. Occasionally, however, the Court is constrained to delve into factual matters
where, as in the instant case, the findings of the NLRC contradict those of the Labor Arbiter.

In this instance, the Court in the exercise of its equity jurisdiction may look into the records of the case
and re-examine the questioned findings. As a corollary, this Court is clothed with ample authority to
review matters, even if they are not assigned as errors in their appeal, if it finds that their consideration
is necessary to arrive at a just decision of the case. The same principles are now necessarily adhered to
and are applied by the Court of Appeals in its expanded jurisdiction over labor cases elevated through a
petition for certiorari; thus, we see no error on its part when it made anew a factual determination of
the matters and on that basis reversed the ruling of the NLRC. (Underscoring supplied.)
110

[G.R. No. 123639. June 10, 1997] (1) dismissal with prejudice of all cases pending between the parties here and abroad, except as to claims
against ARCI and Interlek with respect to which the dismissals in the aforementioned actions shall be
ANTONIO M. GARCIA, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS and PHILIPPINE EXPORT & FOREIGN LOAN without prejudice;
GUARANTEE CORPORATION, respondents.
(2) the assignment to Defendant Philguarantee of all shares of stocks owned and controlled by Chuidian
DECISION in Interlek;
KAPUNAN, J.: (3) the assignment to Philguarantee to all shares of Chuidian in ARCI and in Dynetics;

Petitioner Antonio Garcia challenges, through this petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the (4) the payment by Dynetics of US$100,000.00 per month to Chuidian for five years, backed by a Letter
Revised Rules of Court, the decision of the Court of Appeals promulgated on 23 October 1995 in CA-G.R. of Credit; and
SP No. 27994 granting the motion to dismiss filed by private respondent Philippine Export & Foreign Loan
Guarantee Corporation (Philguarantee) on grounds of lack of jurisdiction. Similarly impugned is the Court (5) the assumption by Dynetics of all the obligations of ARCI in favor of Defendant Philguarantee in the
of Appeals resolution dated 31January 1996 denying petitioners motion for reconsideration. aggregate sum of approximately US$47 Million.[3]

Petitioner was a major stockholder and president of Dynetics, Inc., a corporation primarily engaged in On 12 December 1991, petitioner instituted a complaint for damages before the Regional Trial Court of
the manufacture of semi-conductors) originally owning 43% of its outstanding shares of stock. In 1981, Makati, Branch 58. On his first cause of action, petitioner alleged that private respondent reneged on its
Asia Reliability Co., Inc. (ARCI) obtained 28.98% interest in Dynetics. With the said acquisition, the commitment, based on the aforecited SMRA, to rehabilitate Dynetics and Chemark (a subsidiary wholly
ownership structure of Dynetics became: petitioner Garcia - 32.88%; ARCI - 28.78%; Vicente Chuidian owned by Dynetics) and this caused the financial ruin of the two corporations. Dynetics and Chemark
(petitioners business partner and a major stockholder of ARCI) - 26%; and others - 11.26%.[1] consequently defaulted on their financial obligations and petitioner, in his capacity as guarantor, was
held personally liable. He was forced to compromise with the creditor banks in the total amount
In February 1981, ARCI, through the initiative of Chuidian and with the guarantee of private respondent, of P145,000.000.00.[4]
acquired a foreign loan in the amount of US$25,000,000.00 ostensibly to finance its various business
projects. However, the proceeds of the said loan were illegally diverted and used for unauthorized On his second cause of action, petitioner contended that as a result, likewise, of private respondents
purposes. failure to rehabilitate Dynetics and because of theimplementation of the onerous SMRA with Chuidian,
the book value of his shares in Dynetics plummeted, from P200.00 per share, to practically zero.
When ARCI defaulted in the payment of the aforestated loan, the foreign creditors went after the
guarantor herein private respondent. In turn, private respondent filed cases for recovery against On his third cause of action, petitioner alleged that Dynetics incurred severe losses due to the provision
Chuidian, both here and in the United States (where Chuidian fled). in the SMRA directing the said corporation to drop the collection case it filed against Interlek and
Chuidian for unpaid remittances.
Unfortunately, Dynetics was caught in the crossfire and became a battlefield for control between
Chuidian (who also owns, as previously stated, a substantial interest in Dynetics) and private respondent Petitioner thus prayed that private respondent pay the following:
Philguarantee.[2]
1. On his First Cause of Action, P145,000,000.00 as actual/compensatory damages under the terms and
In February 1985, Chuidian, as President of Interlek (the marketing arm of Dynetics, organized and based conditions of said compromise agreements mentioned in plaintiffs First Cause of Action dated January
in California, USA) ordered the company to stop its remittances to Dynetics for the latters assembly 17, 1989;
services which as of June 1985 amounted to approximately US$5,000,000.00. Consequently, Dynetics
filed a collection case against Interlek and Chuidian. 2. On his Second Cause of Action, P32,000,000.00 representing actual losses of the book value of
plaintiffs 159,997 shares of stock of Dynetics, Inc. from P200.00 per share to zero amount per share;
Thereafter, four (4) representatives of Philguarantee were assigned one (1) qualifying share each in
Dynetics. Thus, on 27 May 1985 during the stockholders meeting of Dynetics, the aforementioned 3. On his Third Cause of Action, P3,200,000.00 representing losses of plaintiffs equity in unrealized profit
nominees (Victor Macalindog, Cesar Macuja, Eduardo Morato and Manuel Lazaro) were elected out of said unremitted US$5,000,000.00 due from Interlek;
members of the Board of Directors of Dynetics (although Lazaro did not assume office). Petitioner was
4. On this Fourth Cause of Action, P15,000,000.00 as moral damages and P10,000,000.00 as exemplary
the fifth member of the Board.
damages.
On 27 November 1985, a Settlement and Mutual Release Agreement (SMRA) was executed by and
5. On his Fifth Cause of Action, P30,000,000.00 for and as attorneys fee (15% of the amount involved).[5]
between Dynetics and Chuidian and another between Philguarantee and Chuidian for the purpose of
finally putting an end to the numerous cases filed by the aforestated parties against one another.The On 20 February 1992, private respondent filed a motion to dismiss on grounds of lack of jurisdiction over
agreements, provided the following: the subject matter.
111

On 21 May 1992, the Regional Trial Court of Makati issued an order denying private respondents motion In insisting that the SEC does not have jurisdiction, petitioner recounts the events in this manner: before
to dismiss. The order reads thus: private respondent entered the picture, Chemark, a Dynetics subsidiary, obtained loans from PCIB, BPI,
RCBC, PISO, LB and other banks on various dates. These loans were personally guaranteed by petitioner
ORDER under suretyship agreements he executed in favor of the said banks in 1980. After private respondent
gained control of Dynetics, it made a firm commitment, petitioner claims, to rehabilitate Dynetics and
The decision promulgated on May 6, 1992 by the Hon. Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP. No. 27685 entitled
Chemark in exchange for his acquiescence to the SMRA even though its terms were prejudicial to
Phil. Export and Foreign Loan Guarantee Corporation vs. Hon. Presiding Judge, Br. 58, RTC, Makati
Dynetics. However, private respondent reneged on its promise, which caused Dynetics and Chemark to
directing this Court to resolve said petitioners motion to dismiss, a copy of said decision having been
collapse financially. Being the corporations guarantor, petitioner was forced to settle their debts with the
furnished this Court, is NOTED.
aforementioned banks with his personal properties. Hence, petitioner contends that what he sought to
Pending resolution before this Court is the motion to dismiss filed by defendant Philguarantee, the recover in his complaint for damages was primarily the money he paid to the creditor banks of Dynetics
opposition thereto filed by the plaintiff, and the reply to opposition filed by the said defendant. After and Chemark.
considering the arguments for and against the motion, the Court resolves to deny the
Petitioner thus persists in his argument that, being an action for damages due to breach of contract, the
motion. Furthermore, after a meticulous assessment of the record of this case, the Court is more inclined
present case is cognizable by the regular courts and beyond the jurisdiction of the SEC, for, had private
to believe that the nature of this case is for damages rather than an intra-corporate matter and therefore
respondent not withdrawn its commitment, petitioner rationalizes, Dynetics would have regained its
this Court has jurisdiction over this case. Due to the denial of defendants motion to dismiss as
strong business position. Consequently, it could have settled its obligations with its creditor banks and
aforementioned, the said defendant is given fifteen (15) days from receipt of a copy of this order within
petitioner would have been released from his obligations as surety.[10]
which to file its answer pursuant to Sec. 4, Rule 16 of the Rules of Court.
Petitioner further contends that he is suing not as a stockholder of Dynetics but in his personal capacity
Notify the respective counsel of both parties of this order.
as the latters aggrieved surety. In like manner, private respondent is being sued as a separate entity
SO ORDERED.[6] which authored the notorious SMRA.[11]

Private respondent challenged the trial courts order before the Court of Appeals which, in a decision Petitioner also avers that his principal cause of action is damages arising from breach of contract. The
dated 23 October 1995, reversed the same. The dispositive portion states thus: other causes of action in his complaint are incidental claims which emanate from and are the direct
consequences of his main cause of action.[12]
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the instant petition is hereby GRANTED. The assailed order of
respondent court dated May 21, 1992 is SET ASIDE. The petition is unmeritorious. Jurisdiction over the present controversy is vested in the SEC and not in
the regular courts.
SO ORDERED.[7]
To determine which body has jurisdiction over the present controversy, we rely on the sound judicial
The Court of Appeals ruled that the controversy between petitioner and private respondent is intra- principle that jurisdiction over the subject matter of a case is conferred by law and is determined by the
corporate in nature and therefore falls under the jurisdiction of the Securities and Exchange Commission allegations of the complaint irrespective of whether the plaintiff is entitled to all or some of the claims
(SEC) and not the regular courts. asserted therein.[13]

In a resolution dated 20 December 1995, the Court of Appeals denied petitioners motion for The law, P.D. 902-A, explicitly lays down the parameters of the Securities and Exchange
reconsideration.[8] Hence, this petition for review oncertiorari. Commissions jurisdiction. Thus:

Petitioner assigns the following errors: SECTION 5. In addition to the regulatory and adjudicative functions of the Securities and Exchange
Commission over corporations, partnerships and other forms of associations registered with it as
I expressly granted under existing laws and decrees, it shall have original and exclusive jurisdiction to hear
and decide cases involving:
RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT FINDING THAT PETITIONERS ACTION BEFORE THE
COURT A QUO IS PURELY OF DAMAGES ARISING OUT OF BREACH OF CONTRACT AND THEREFORE a) Devices or schemes employed by or any acts of the board of directors, business associates, its officers
WITHIN THE EXCLUSIVE JURISDICTION OF REGULAR CIVIL COURTS. or partners, amounting to fraud and misrepresentation which may be detrimental to the interest of the
public and/or of the stockholders, partners, members of associations or organizations registered with the
II
Commission.
RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT FINDING THAT THE INSTANT ACTION DOES NOT
b) Controversies arising out of intra-corporate or partnership relations, between and among
INVOLVE INTRA-CORPORATE MATTERS OR ISSUES AND THEREFORE BEYOND THE JURISDICTION OF THE
stockholders, members, or associates; between any and/or all of them and the corporation, partnership
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION.[9]
or association of which they are stockholders, members or associates, respectively; and between such
112

corporation, partnership or association and the State insofar as it concerns their individual franchise or claim for damages as such to remove the present controversy from Section 5(b) of P.D. 902-A, and
right to exist as such entity. corollarily from the jurisdiction of the SEC.

c) Controversies in the election or appointments of directors, trustees, officers or managers of such Petitioner, likewise, assails the status of private respondent as stockholder of Dynetics. His contention,
corporations, partnerships, or associations. however, is belied by the allegations in his complaint. As early as 27 May 1985 Philguarantees
representatives were already on the Board of Directors of Dynetics, constituting the majority thereof. In
d) Petitions of corporations, partnerships or associations to be declared in the state of suspension of his complaint, petitioner himself stated, that:
payments in cases where the corporation, partnership or association possesses sufficient property to
cover all of its debts but foresees the impossibility of meeting them when they respectively fall due or in 9. At the start of the second quarter of 1985, the defendant, acting apparently upon the instructions of
cases where the corporation, partnership or association has no sufficient assets to cover its liabilities but the Marcoses, without assuming formal ownership of the company and employing undue power and
is under the Management Committee created pursuant to this Decree. influence started to gain control of Dynetics. No major decision or fund disbursement was made without
the defendants consent. On May 27, 1985, during a stockholders meeting convened at its proddings, the
Jurisprudence, however, has tempered the aforequoted provision, paragraph (b) in particular: defendant had its nominees, namely, Victor Macalincag, Cesar Macuja and Eduardo Morato (of HSDC)
elected and constituted as a majority in the board of Dynetics. Out of five members, only four assumed
x x x. The better policy in determining which body has jurisdiction over a case would be to consider not
office. The fourth member was plaintiff. The fifty member, Manuel Lazaro, then the Presidents Legal
only the status or relationship of the parties but also the nature of the question that is the subject of
Counsel, was nominated and elected but did not assume office. Chuidian was ousted as a director
their controversy.[14]
although he still had sufficient shares in his name and control to elect himself.[17] (underscoring ours).
We have judiciously gone over petitioners original complaint and are not deceived by his cunning
Since both parties in the case at bar are stockholders of the corporation, jurisdiction over their present
arguments. The case at bar is a classic illustration of a dispute between stockholders - - private
conflict vests in the SEC pursuant to Sec. 5(b) of P.D. 902-A. Our task, however, does not end here. As
respondent, the current majority and controlling stockholder of Dynetics and petitioner, the erstwhile
stated in Viray v. CA,[18] the establishment of any of the relationships in Sec. 5(b) of PD 902-A does not
majority stockholder of said corporation (although he still holds a substantial interest therein).
automatically confer jurisdiction over the dispute on the SEC to the exclusion of the regular courts. We
Petitioners stubborn insistence that he brought the case for damages in his capacity as an aggrieved are quite aware that not all disagreements between stockholders or between a corporation and its
surety and not as a stockholder is belied by the opening statement in his complaint: stockholder are intra-corporate in nature. Hence, we proceed to the next test: whether or not the nature
of the controversy itself is intra-corporate.
1. Plaintiff is a Filipino, of legal age, with business address at 7th Floor, Chemphil Building, Pasay Road,
Makati, Metro Manila, where he may be served with all court processes; he was (and still is) at all times Contrary to petitioners averments, this is not a simple action for breach of contract. Digging deeper, the
relevent to his complaint a major stockholder of Dynetics, Inc. (Dynetics for brevity), a corporation duly corporate nature of the present controversy is eventually revealed.
organized and existing under the laws of the Philippines;[15] x x x (underscoring ours).
Petitioner attributes to the SMRA the commitment of private respondent to rehabilitate Dynetics and
Moreover, in the same complaint petitioner also sought to recover the loss in the book value of his Chemark. This is the reason why, when private respondent withdrew the restructuring plans for the
shares of stock in Dynetics and his share in the said corporations unrealized profits. Although the rehabilitation of the aforementioned corporations, petitioner instituted a complaint for breach of
foregoing may have arisen from the same facts or circumstances, we cannot simply brush these aside as contract.The problem with this scenario, however, is that petitioner failed to indicate the exact provision
incidental claims because only in his personality as a prejudiced stockholder, and not in his capacity as a where this specific promise is embodied. Instead, petitioner presented the letter dated 18 October 1985
mere surety, will petitioner be able to rightly pray for and be granted these claims. sent by Cesar P. Macuja, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Dynetics and Executive Vice-President of
private respondent to all the creditor banks of Dynetics and Chemark entitled Proposed
More importantly, petitioner became a surety of Dynetics and Chemark because he was then one of the Integrated Financial Plan for the Rehabilitation of Dynetics, Inc.,Asian Reliability Company, Inc. and
principal stockholders of Dynetics. This was a requisite of the creditor banks. Petitioners character as Chemark Electric Motors, Inc. The contents of the said letter is hereby reproduced:
surety for Dynetics, therefore, can even be traced to and is interlocked with the fact that he is a major
stockholder of the said corporation. Petitioner himself revealed in his complaint: In accordance with our discussion meetings of 9-11 October 1985, I am submitting to each one of you for
review and favorable consideration, the Proposed Integrated Financial Plan for the rehabilitation of the
21. On the other hand, at various times before the aforesaid controversy between the Marcoses and above-mentioned companies.
Chuidian, Chemark, a subsidiary of Dynetics, obtained various loans from PCIB, IBAA, SBTC and a
consortium of banks (PISO, BPI, RCBC, PCIB, and LB) the security for which loans were required by said As reported to you, PHILGUARANTEE has been ceded ownership of these companies and the success of
creditor banks to include guarantee and/or suretyships coming from the principal stockholders of our rehabilitation of the business will depend largely on your approval to restructure your respective
Dynetics and Chemark including plaintiff who had to execute such guarantees and/or suretyships in his exposures in Dynetics and Chemark. The basic restructuring scheme is summarized as follows:
personal capacity under a joint and several or solidary type of obligation.[16] (underscoring ours).
1. For the Secured Creditors of Dynetics. - Unpaid interest up to 31 December 1985 will be capitalized as
It is evident from the aforequoted averment that petitioner instituted his complaint primarily as principal. The consolidated principal amount (original principal balance plus capitalized interest) will be
stockholder of Dynetics. Petitioner however, wants us to focus solely on his character as surety and his
113

repaid within four (4) years at an interest rate of 14% per annum with a one (1) year grace period on Thank you and regards.
principal repayment. These loans will remain as dollar-denominated liabilities.
CESAR P. MACUJA
2. For the Unsecured Creditors of Dynetics - Unpaid interest up to 31 December 1985 will be capitalized
as principal. The consolidated principal amount (original principal balance plus capitalized interest) will Chairman of the Board Executive Vice President
be repaid within seven (7) years at an interest rate of 1-1/2% over Treasury Bills with two (2) years grace
Dynetics, Incorporated Phil. Export & Foreign
period on principal repayment.
Loan Guarantee Corp.
3. For the Chemarks Creditors - Unpaid interest up to 31 December 1985 will be capitalized as
principal. The consolidated principal amount (original principal balance plus capitalized interest) will be cc: Philguarantee Board of Directors.[19]
repaid within fifteen (15) years with two (2) years grace period on principal repayment at an interest rate
of 10% per annum. The aforequoted letter, to use a worn cliche, reveals beyond the shadow of a doubt that the proposed
rehabilitation program for the said corporation was made by private respondent in its capacity as the
4. New Equity Contribution - Since PHIL- GUARANTEE is a government financial institution and not a majority or controlling stockholder of Dynetics. The rehabilitation plan was a corporate decision and a
venture capital company, it is proposed that an Investors Group be invited to invest new money of corporate action. The root of petitioners complaint therefore, no matter how cleverly devised and
about P44.0 million. artfully disguised is plainly a corporate affair and being so, jurisdiction over the dispute at bar pertains to
the SEC and not to the regular courts.
COMMERCIAL PLAN
We concur with the findings of the Court of Appeals, thus:
The financial projections are prepared on the basis of three (3) divisional commercial plans as follows:
The private respondent, however, vigorously asserts that his case is nothing but an action for damages
a. Semiconductor - There will be a continuance of the operations of Dynetics, Inc. as a semi conductor
arising from breach of contractual obligation committed by petitioner in unilaterally withdrawing its
assembly division with gradual buildup of supply orders from its 40 major customers with profitable
agreement to rehabilitate Dynetics and Chemark. The contention is clever, but unacceptable. The fact
market recovery during 1986.
remains that the claim for damages either depends on, or is inextricably linked with, the resolution of the
b. PHILGUARANTEEs acquired assets from ARCI shall be integrated into the operation of Dynetics as corporate controversies. For instance, the prayer for moral and exemplary damages is grounded on
Integrated Circuits Testing/Tool and Die Fabrication Divisions. defendants total bad faith and malice knowing fully well that its acts were patently injurious to the rights
and interests of said corporations and its stockholders, including plaintiff xxx. xxx. Clearly, what private
c. Restart the operation of Chemark under the financial assistance from Dynetics in accordance with new respondent filed against petitioner before the court below was an intra-corporate case under the guise
business opportunities as reflected by letters of intent. of an action for damages employing civil law terms and phrases.

EXPANDED BOARD OF DIRECTORS The teaching of the Court, en banc, penned by Justice Bellosillo, in the recent case of Andaya vs. Abadia,
et al., 228 SCRA 707, 711, further illumines the issue:
It is planned that the consolidated operation will have a simple Board of Directors to be expanded from
the present five (5) members to nine (9) members. The four (4) new Board representatives are proposed The allegations against herein respondents in the amended complaint unquestionably reveal intra-
to be nominated from among the creditor banks. corporate controversies cleverly concealed, although unsuccessfully, by use of civil law terms and
phrases, xxx While it may be said that the same corporate acts also give rise to civil liability for damages,
You will also note that one of the highlights of the projections, aside from the assumed restructuring it does not follow that the case is necessarily taken out of the jurisdiction of the SEC as it may award
terms, is a conservative estimate of Dynetics overall working capital requirements, of P89.0 Million. This damages which can be considered consequential in the exercise of its adjudicative powers. Besides,
estimate already took into account Dynetics financial assistance contemplated for Chemark for incidental issues that properly fall within the authority of a tribunal may also be considered by it to avoid
about P35.2 million. In this regard, Dynetics management had earlier proposed to source this multiplicity of actions. Consequently, in intra-corporate matters such as those affecting the corporation,
requirement through short-term borrowings. It is nonetheless the opinion of PHILGUARANTEE that the the issue of consequential damages may just as well be resolved and adjudicated by the SEC.
right funding mix is a combination of short-term borrowings of P45.0 million and fresh equity infusion of (underscoring supplied).[20]
the P44.0 million to be supplied by a proposed Investors Group. PHILGUARANTEE is pursuing this funding
mix so as not to overburden Dynetics in terms of financing cost. In view of the foregoing, the declaration in Union Glass and Container Corp. vs. SEC.[21] is appropriately
recalled:
The Integrated Financial Plan amply illustrates the business potential of this group of companies. May I
therefore reiterate that your decision to go with this plan will benefit not just the thousands of people .x x x. The principal function of the SEC is the supervision and control over corporations, partnerships and
depending on these companies for livelihood. In more ways than one, your concerted efforts will go a associations with the end in view that investment in these entities may be encouraged and protected
long way towards achieving the desired stability of the export electronic industry in the Philippines, and and their activities pursued for the promotion of economic development.
should ultimately redound to the benefit of the private sectors like you.
114

It is in aid of this office that the adjudicative power of the SEC must be exercised. Thus the law explicitly
specified and delimited its jurisdiction to matters intrinsically connnected with the regulation of
corporations, partnerships and associations and those dealing with the internal affairs of such
corporations, partnerships or associations. (underscoring ours).

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition for review on certiorari is hereby DENIED.

SO ORDERED.
115

12. That the respondent Judge has likewise no jurisdiction entertaining cases where moral and/or
exemplary damages are asked for, these matters failing exclusively within the jurisdiction of the ordinary
G.R. No. L-26933 October 18, 1977 court of justice;
CESAR JAYME AND CONCHITA JAYME, petitioners, 13. That the Honorable Judge cannot entertain matten where differential pay is alleged in the
vs. complaint filed in behalf of the other respondent, Flaviano Alentorio et at., and the same suffers from
JUDGE SEVERIANO DE LEON, REYNOLD S. FAJARDO, FLAVIANO ALENTORIO, PEDRO ALLIEZA, ERNESTO defect for alleging therein attorney's fees as asked by the Honorable Investigator Reynold S. Fajardo in
CANDIDO, ROMEO CANDIDO, FRANCISCO CRISOSTOMO, JESUS CRISOSTOMO, JESUS CAONTOY behalf of Atty. Bernardo Pablo counsel for the respondent. (Emphasis supplied.)
PROFIRIO DOLLAR, MELCHOR PALERMO, FLOR DELGADO, FERNANDO TAGACAY and COMMERCIAL &
AGROINDUSTRIAL LABOR ORGANIZATION CAILO, respondents. Apropos the foregoing, We note petitioners' statement in the "Motion for Reconsideration" to the
effect: ñé+.£ªwph!1
Enrique Debuque, Jorge Debuque, Emilio de la Cruz and Francisco Garganera for petitioners.
6. That it escapes our logic how Section 2 (4) which is only a declaration of policy, Sections 40, 41, 47 and
Estrelia T. Estrada for respondent Judge. 154, of Republic Act 3844, which provisions all refer to unfair labor practices for agrarian workers, are
made applicable to the question of the procedure in the implementation of these substantive rights. No
Bernardo B. Pablo for private respondents.
one disputes any substantive right under Republic Act 3844 or existing laws thereto Rather, it is the
manner of enforcing these tights without doing violence to the applicable laws and the constitution
governing the matter which the defendants are seeking reverently.8 (Italics supplied)
SANTOS, J.:têñ.£îhqwâ£
The by way of and "as the grounds upon which the Petitioner rely ..." they cite - ñé+.£ªwph!1
In this petition for certiorari and prohibition with prayer for preliminary injunction filed on December 5.
1966, petitioners seek to annul the proceedings of the court of Agrarian Relations (CAR) in CAR Case No. (a) The Land Reform Code (RA 3844), RA 1267, creating and establishing the jurisdiction of the Court of
L- 229, Negros Occidental entitled "Flaviano Alentorio et al. versus Dr. Cesar Jayme, et al." and to restrain Agrarian Relations, nor the Revised Rules of Court does not vest the Court of Agrarian Relations, with the
respondent Judge from taking further action the same. On December 12, 1966, the petition was given power to conduct preliminary investigation much less grant the Honorable Investigator Reynold S.
due course and respondents were required to file an answer, not a motion to dismiss. Upon the filling Fajardo the power to sign complaints for and in behalf of the real party in interest and that Section 155 of
and approval of a bond in the amount of One Thousand Pesos (PI,000.00), the lower Court was the Land Reform Code specifically so provides that the Revised Rules of Court should govern procedures
restrained from further proceedings on January 3, 1967.1 in the Court of Agrarian Relations;

The factual antecedents of this petition are as follow: On April 8, 1965. a complaint for unfair labor (b) The power to award moral damages falls within the original and exclusive jurisdiction of the ordinary
practice was filed with the Court of Agrarian Relations (CAR) of Bacolod City, by Reynold S. Fajardo, an courts of Justice the same being beyond pecuniary estimation and hence the Judiciary Act of 1949, See.
attorney of the Court of Agrarian Relations, Quezon City, after conducting a priliminary investigation of 44(c), defining the original and exclusive jurisdiction of the Court of First Instance, remove the award of
the unfair labor practice charged filed by private respondents. The complaint was docketed as CAR law moral damages from any other body except the Court of First Instance;
No. L-229-Neg. Occ., and, correspondingly,summons was issued and duly served upon the petitioners
(c) The power to award exemplary damages is likewise vested with the ordinary courts of justice;
herein. 2
(d) In line with the case of Valleson Inc. versus Tiburcio, G.R. No. L- 18185, September 27, 1962, the
A motion to dismiss dated October 18, 1966, ordered by petitioners, as defendants below, was denied by
Court of Agrarian Relations has no power to decide differential pay;
respondent Judge an Order dated Oct. 22, 1966.3 Their Motion for reconsiders of the denial was also
denied by respondent Judge in an Order dated November 9, 1966.4 Hence, this petition. (e) That it is not for the Honorable Investigator to decide the amount of attorney's fees but the real party
in interest. 9 (Italics supplied).
Petitioners, in asserting 'that respondent, Judge Severiano de Leon, has acted without and/or excess of
his jurisdiction denying petitioners' motion to dismiss, relies on the allegations — ñé+.£ªwph!1 A careful consideration of the foregoing pleadings shows that while at first blush petitioners' counsel
seem to assert that the CAR has no jurisdiction to try unfair labor practice cases involving private workers
10. That the above mentioned case for unfair labor practices outside thejurisdiction of the respondent
- as asserted in paragraph 10 quoted above petitioners in reality do not dispute the authority and/or
Judge the same being of violation 155, Republic Act No, 3844 otherwise known as the Land Reform Code
jurisdiction of respondent Judge to try and decide the merits of the unfair labor practice charge or
and Republic Act No. 2367 which specifically prescribes the Rules of Procedures of the Court of Agrarian
complaint involving private respondents who are agricultural workers - as copied in pars. 6 and (a) also
Relations to Section 10 of Republic Act 1267and the Revised Rules of the Court
above quoted. For while petitioners, thru counsel assert that this ". . . case for unfair labor practice
11. That the Court of Agrarian Relations has no jurisdiction to hear cases the complaint of which is fatally is outside the jurisdiction of response Judge ... " citing Section 155 of Republic Act No. 3844 or the
defective for want signatures of the proper party in interest in violation of the Rules of Court, Republic Agricultural Land Reform Code and Republic Act No. 1267, Charter of the Court of Agrarian Relations, it is
Act 1267 and Republic Act 3844; obvious that what they question is "... the manner of enforcing these rights ... because "... The Land
Reform Code (Republic Act 3844) Republic Act 1267 creating and establishing the jurisdiction of the
116

Court Agrarian Relations, nor the Revised Rules of Court does not vest the Court of Agrarian Relations practice charge was a condition precedent for the CAR to acquire jurisdiction over an unfair labor
with the power to preliminary investigation much less grant the Honorable Investigator Reynold S. practice suit. And this Court held in the negative.
Fajardo, the power to sign complaints and in behalf of the real party in interest ...". The real question
presented to Us, therefore, in respect to the unfair labor practice cause is - (1) Did respondent Judge, in While there is merit in petitioners' contention that preliminary investigation of unfair labor charge
designating an investigate Atty. Reynold S. Fajardo, to look into the merits of the unfair labor Practice before the CAR is not required, this case presents a different situation, For the preliminary investigation
charge filed by private respondents, and in giving due course to the unfair labor practice complaint was already fait accompliwhen petitioners questioned, through a motion to dismiss, the procedure
signed and filed by the said Court investigator, act without and/or in excess of jurisdiction on Petitioners, adopted by respondent Judge.
additionally, also contend that - (2) the Court of Agrarian Relations does not have jurisdiction to the
Respondent Judge by causing the, conduct of a preliminary investigation, although the same was not
cognizance of claims for moral and exemplary damages and differential pay - as alleged in Paragraphs 11,
required, and in giving due course to the complaint filed by the investigator on behalf of the private
12, and 13 and (b), (c) and (d) also quoted above.
respondents, indeed committed a breach of procedure. This, however, did not affect his jurisdiction to
1. Now to resolve the first question. There can be no issue with respect to the jurisdiction of respondent try and decide the case. For respondent Court had jurisdiction over the subject matter of the suit and it
Judge over the unfair labor Practice case filed by private respondents as agricultural workers at the time acquired jurisdiction over the persons of petitioners with the service of summons. The error committed
the complaint for unfair labor Practice was filed on April 8, 1965 in the Court below. For it is a settled was procedural, i.e., in the mere exercise of jurisdiction, not one involving lack or excess of jurisdiction.
doctrine that cases involving agricultural workers, including unfair labor practice cases, were within the Thus — ñé+.£ªwph!1
original and exclusive junction of the CAR upon the approval of Republic Act 1267 on June 14, 1955. This
Admittedly, respondent court had jurisdiction over the case, the impugned orders were issued in the
has been the consistent holding of this Court in at least three cases, the latest of which was decided on
exercise of such jurisdiction. If the court has jurisdiction of the subject matter and of the person, orders
March 30, 1963. ñé+.£ªwph!1
or decisions upon all questions pertaining to the cause are orders or decisions within its questions and
Jurisdiction: Unfair labor Practice: Jurisdiction of Court of Agrarian Relations if agricultural laborers are however irregular or erroncous they may be, they cannot be corrected by certiorari (Gala vs. Cui and
involved, - Laborers whose principal work in an hacienda consists in the planting and harvesting of sugar Rodriguez, 25 Phil. 522). Judicial errors or mistakes of law, are proper subjects of appeal Macasieb Sison
canes and other Chores incidental to ordinary farming operations are agricultural laborers, and any vs. CFI of Pangasinan, 34 Phil. 404; Galang vs. Endencia, 73 Phil. 399.14
unfair labor practice case involving them comes within the jurisdiction of the court of Agrarian Relations,
Besides, the Court of Agrarian Relations, under the provisions of Sec. 155, Republic Act 3844 were
not the Court of Industrial Relations.10 Section 8 of Republic Act 2263, which amended Section 27 of
allowed to deviate from usual norms of procedure as long as such excursions did not impair substantial
Republic Act 1199, otherwise known as Agricutural Tenancy Act of the Philippines, made this
rights. We here recall the statement of petitioners in their Motion for Reconsideration 15 quoted earlier,
jurisdictional competence of CAR over unfair labor practice cases clearer with the provision that -
where they in effect conceded that their "substantial rights under Republic Act 3844 or existing laws
(5) The landholder shall not discourage, directly or indirectly, the formation, maintenance or growth of a prior thereto" have not been affected by the allegedly erroneous procedure followed by respondent
union or organization of tenants in his landholding, but he shall not initiate, dominate, assist or interfere Judge.
in the formation or administration of any such union or organization."
Finally, the preliminary investigation which respondent Judge caused to be conducted was not a useless
Finally, Republic Act 3844, the Agricultural Land Reform Code of 1963, under the regime of which the proceeding; it has a desirable objective. Thus, it has been said that its purpose in unfair labor practice
cause of action of private respondents herein accrued, expressly and specifically vests in the CAR the cases is " ... not only for the protection of the respondent but also for the benefit of the CIR itself so that
jurisdiction to hear and decide unfair labor practice (ULP) cases. 11 the respondent may not be required to defend itself against frivolous and unfounded charges, and the
valuable time of the CIR dissipated and unnecessarily spent in hearing charges without basis.16"
On the procedural aspect of unfair labor practice cases before the CAR, which is our main concern here,
this Court in Matillano vs. De Leon 12 and Philippine Packing Corporation vs. Reyes 13 said: From the point of view of substantive rights and procedural due process, therefore, no prejudice has
been suffered by petitioners.
The procedure applicable to cases involving agricultural laborers prior to the creation of the Court of
Agrarian Relations was the Rules of the Court of Industrial Relations. After the Court of Agrarian Relation 2. Now with respect to the second question on the jurisdiction of the Court of Agrarian Relations to
was created on June 14, 1955, until the effectivity of the Agricultural Land Reform Code on August 8, award moral and exemplary damages and attomey's fees in the concept of damages, suffice it to state
1963, the procedure for was that provided for in the Rules of the Court of Agrarian Relations This, as that said Courts are vested with such authority not only because the Courts of Agrarian Relations have all
stated, was the procedure applicable when the present suit was filed. And finally, on August 8, 1963, to the powers and prerogatives inherent in or belonging to the Courts of First instance; 17 but also,
the present, the procedure governing agricultural laborer's cases is the Rules of Court by virtue of procedurally, to require private respondents to split their causes of action and seek redress in different
Section 155 of the Agricutural Land Reform Code. Neither the Rules of Court required the preliminary Courts would be to encourage multiplicity of suits which is abhorred in the interest of orderly
investigations in Question." administration of justice. 18"

In both the foregoing cases, petitioners therein questioned the action of the CAR in giving due course to On the last contention of petitioners that respondent Court "cannot entertain matters where differential
the ULP charge filed by private respondents in said cases, without the benefit of preliminary pay is alleged in the complaint for unfair labor practice" Sec. 154, par. (2), in relation to Secs. 42 and 47
investigation. In other words, the issue was whether or not a preliminary investigation of the unfair labor of Republic Act No. 3844 clearly vest in the Courts of Agrarian Relations the jurisdiction to try and decide
117

cases involving violations of minimum wage fixed by law, or regulations issued by the Department of
Labor, for agricultural workers. 19

Finally, on the need for further proceedings and the proper forum for the same. We have thus arrived at
the conclusion that this Petition is without merit and, therefore, further proceedings will be necessary in
CAR Case No. L- 229 Neg. Occ. But in the meantime that this Petition was pending before this Court, Pres.
Decree 442 otherwise known as Labor Code of the Philippines, was promulgated and became effective
on May 1, 1974. Under the said Code, as amended by Pres. Decree 570-A promulgated on November 1,
1974, the Courts of Agrarian Relations have been divested of jurisdiction over disputes and controversies
involving agricultural workers and the authority to try the same was vested in Labor Arbiters with
appellate recourse to the National Labor Relations Commission.20 However, the Transitory and Final
Provisions of the Code, as amended, contain no provision for the transfer of agricultural labor cases
pending before Courts of Agrarian Relations to the National Labor Relations Commission.21 This
notwithstanding and with the promulgation and effectivity of Pres. Decree 946, on June 17, 1976, further
proceedings in this case now properly fall within the jurisdiction of Labor Arbiters and the National Labor
Relations Commission.22 The records of CAR Case No. L- 229 should therefore be transferred to the Labor
Arbiter at Bacolod for further proceedings.

WHEREFORE, the Petition is hereby DENIED. The writ of preliminary injunction issued on August 3, 1967
is hereby DISSOLVED. Let the records of CAR Case No. L-229 of the Court of Agrarian Relations, Branch 1,
Bacolod City, be transferred to the Office of the Labor Arbiter theseat for further proceedings. Costs
against petitioners.

SO ORDERED.
118

G.R. No. 75195 August 29, 1988 On February 28, 1986, petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration. When more than four (4) months
had elapsed without respondent judge resolving the same, petit