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G.R. No.

71159 November 15, 1989


City of Manila, et al., Petitioners
vs.
Intermediate Appellate Court, et al., Respondents

FACTS:

The private respondents went to visit their late father at


North Cemetery during All Soul’s Day. In their shock and dismay the
resting place of dear depart was already removed and been
replaced with other stone marker. Only to find out that the remains
of their father/husband had been taken from the burial lot and was
already given to another lessee. And that the remains were already
in the warehouse of the cemetery where the exhumed remains of
the North cemetery were being kept.

The private respondents argued that their contract of lease


with the North Cemetery was for fifty (50) years as supported by
the Official Receipt issued to them for the full payment. However,
Petitioners contends that the lot was already subject for
exhumation according to Administrative Order No. 5, Series of 1975,
dated March 6, 1975. Such order prescribed for a uniform procedure
and guidelines in the processing of documents pertaining to and for
the use and disposition of burial lots and plots within the North
Cemetery, wherein the lot in question was only leased for five (5)
years. Thus, on January 25, 1978, subject lot was certified as ready
for exhumation.

The Trial Court favored the herein respondents, ordering the


herein petitioners to give the former the right to make use of
another single lot within the North Cemetery for a period of forty-
three(43) years four (4) months and eleven (11) days, corresponding
to the unexpired term of the fully paid lease sued upon.

Court of Appeals rendered decision modifying the decision


appealed from by awarding damages for breach of contract, moral
damages, exemplary damaged, attorney’s fees and the cost of the
suit.

Petitioners’ motion for reconsideration was likewise denied.

Herein petitioners argue that CA erred awarding damages


against the herein respondents, notwithstanding their good faith
and their lack of knowledge or consent to the removal of the
remains of the late Vivencio Sto. Domingo, Sr. from the subject
burial lot. Additionally, CA also erred in holding the herein
petitioners responsible for the alleged torts of their subordinate
officials and employees, inspite of the provisions of Section 4 of
Revised Charter of Manila and other applicable jurisprudence on the
subject exempting the petitioners from damages from the
malfeasance or misfeasance of their officials and employees, if
there may be any case.

Hence, this instant petition.

THE CASE:

This is a Petition for Review on certiorari seeking to reverse


and set aside: (a) the Decision of the Court of Appeals, modifying
the decision of the Trial Court ordering the herein petitioners; (b)
the Resolution of the Court of Appeals denying petitioner’s motion
for reconsideration.

ISSUE:

Whether or not, the operations and functions of a public


cemetery are a governmental, or a corporate or proprietary
function of the City of Manila.

RULING OF THE COURT:

The decision of the Court of Appeals was affirmed.

Under the Philippine laws, the City of Manila is a political


body corporate and as such endowed with the faculties of municipal
corporations to be exercised by and through is city government in
conformity with the law, and in its proper corporate name. It may
sue and be sued, and contract and be contracted with.

The Court stressed that “the rule of law is a general one, that
the superior or employer must answer civilly for the negligence or
want of skill of its agent or servant in the course or line of his
employment by which another who is free from contributory fault,
is injured. Municipal corporations under the conditions herein
stated, fall within tile operation of this rule of law, and are liable
accordingly, to civil actions for damages when the requisite
elements of liability co-exist…” as declared in the ruling of Torio vs.
Fontanilla. It also added that “maintenance of parks, golf courses,
cemeteries and airports, among others, are also recognized as
municipal or city activities of a proprietary character.”
Under the foregoing considerations and in the absence of a
special law, the North Cemetery is a patrimonial property of the
City of Manila and, therefore, no doubt that the North Cemetery is
within the class of property which the City of Manila owns in its
private character.

DOCTRINES/PRINCIPLES:

Under Philippine laws, the City of Manila is a political body


corporate and as such endowed with the faculties of municipal
corporations to be exercised by and through its city government in
conformity with law, and in its proper corporate name. It may sue
and be sued, and contract and be contracted with.

Its powers are twofold in character-public, governmental or


political on the one hand, and corporate, private and proprietary on
the other.

The following are corporate or proprietary in character, viz:


municipal waterworks, slaughter houses, markets, stables, bathing
establishments, wharves, ferries and fisheries. Maintenance of
parks, golf courses, cemeteries and airports among other, are also
recognized as municipal or city activities of a proprietary character.

STARE DECISIS DOCTRINE. A legal doctrine that obligates


courts to follow historical cases when making a ruling on a similar
case. The Court cited Torio vs Fontanilla decision declaring that
with respect to proprietary functions the settled rule is that a
municipal corporation can be held liable to third persons ex
contractu (Municipality of Moncada v. Cajuigan, et al., 21 Phil. 184
(1912) or ex delicto (Mendoza v. de Leon, 33 Phil. 508 (1916).