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ABERCA v.

VER

FACTS

Task Force Makabansa (TFM) was ordered by General Fabian Ver to conduct pre-emptive strikes against
Communist- Terrorist underground houses. TFM raided several houses, employing in most cases
defectively judicial search warrants, arrested people without warrant of arrest, denied visitation rights,
and interrogated them with the use of threats and tortures. A motion to dismiss was filed
by defendants, stating that 1) plaintiffs may not cause a judicial inquiry about their detention because
the writ of habeas corpus was suspended; 2) defendants are immune from liability for acts done in
their official duties; 3) there was no cause of action. On Nov 8, 1983, Judge Fortun granted the motion
to dismiss, which prompted plaintiffs to file a MR on Nov 18, 1983. He later inhibited himself and
was replaced Judge Lising, who denied the MR for being filed out of time. Another MR was filed, and
was only modified to include Maj. Aguinaldo and MSgt. Balaba for officers accountable in the said
complaint.

ISSUES

1. Whether or not immunity from suit may be invoked?

2. Whether petitioners have the right to question the alleged violation of their rights in the constitution?

3. Whether the superior officers who gave the orders are liable?

HELD

1. NO, Article 32 of the Civil Code provides a sanction to rights and freedom enshrined in the
constitution. These rights cannot be violated just because of an order given by a superior. The rule of
law must prevail, or else liberty will perish. Even though they just followed the orders of their superior,
these do not authorize them to disregard the rights of the petitioners, and therefore cannot be
considered “acts done in their officialduties”. Article 32 speaks of any public officer or private individual,
and violation of these constitutional rights does not exempt them from responsibility.
2. YES, the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus does not prevent petitioners from claiming damages
for the illegal arrest and detention in violation of their constitutional rights by seeking judicial authority.
What the writ suspends is merely the right of an individual to seek release from detention as a speedy
means of obtaining liberty. It cannot suspend their rights and cause of action for injuries suffered due to
violation of their rights.
3. YES, Article 32 speaks of the liabilities of people who are in direct violation of the rights stated, as well
as people who are indirectly responsible for such acts. In the case at hand, the superior officers are the
ones who gave the order, and can be considered indirectly responsible. It was also stated in the
complaint who were the ones who directly and indirectly participated in those acts. By filing a motion
to dismiss, they admitted all the facts stated in the complaint.

Aberca vs. Ver Case Digest


Aberca vs. Ver, 160 SCRA 590 (1989)

FACTS:

This case stems from alleged illegal searches and seizures and other violations of the rights and liberties
of plaintiffs by various intelligence units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, known as Task Force
Makabansa (TFM) ordered by General Fabian Ver “to conduct pre-emptive strikes against known
communist-terrorist (CT) underground houses in view of increasing reports about CT plans to sow
disturbances in Metro Manila,”

Plaintiffs allege, among others, that complying with said order, elements of the TFM raided several
places, employing in most cases defectively issued judicial search warrants; that during these raids,
certain members of the raiding party confiscated a number of purely personal items belonging to
plaintiffs; that plaintiffs were arrested without proper warrants issued by the courts; that for some
period after their arrest, they were denied visits of relatives and lawyers; that plaintiffs were
interrogated in violation of their rights to silence and counsel; that military men who interrogated them
employed threats, tortures and other forms of violence on them in order to obtain incriminatory
information or confessions and in order to punish them; that all violations of plaintiffs constitutional
rights were part of a concerted and deliberate plan to forcibly extract information and incriminatory
statements from plaintiffs and to terrorize, harass and punish them, said plans being previously known
to and sanctioned by defendants.

A motion to dismiss was filed by defendants, through their counsel, then Solicitor-General Estelito
Mendoza, alleging among others that (1) plaintiffs may not cause a judicial inquiry into the
circumstances of their detention in the guise of a damage suit because, as to them, the privilege of the
writ of habeas corpus is suspended; (2) assuming that the courts can entertain the present action,
defendants are immune from liability for acts done in the performance of their official duties.

ISSUE:

1. WON the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus bars a civil action for damages for
illegal searches conducted by military personnel and other violations of rights and liberties guaranteed
under the Constitution?

2. If such action for damages may be maintained, may a superior officer under the notion of respondent
superior be answerable for damages, jointly and severally with his subordinates, to the person whose
constitutional rights and liberties have been violated?

HELD:

1. NO. The suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus does not destroy petitioners’ right
and cause of action for damages for illegal arrest and detention and other violations of their
constitutional rights. The suspension does not render valid an otherwise illegal arrest or detention.
What is suspended is merely the right of the individual to seek release from detention through the writ
of habeas corpus as a speedy means of obtaining his liberty.
2. YES. Article 32 of the Civil Code renders any public officer or employee or any private individual liable
in damages for violating the Constitutional rights and liberties of another, as enumerated therein. The
doctrine of respondent superior has been generally limited in its application to principal and agent or to
master and servant (i.e. employer and employee) relationship. No such relationship exists between
superior officers of the military and their subordinates. Be that as it may, however, the decisive factor in
this case, in our view, is the language of Article 32. The law speaks of an officer or employee or person
‘directly’ or “indirectly” responsible for the violation of the constitutional rights and liberties of another.
Thus, it is not the actor alone (i.e. the one directly responsible) who must answer for damages under
Article 32; the person indirectly responsible has also to answer for the damages or injury caused to the
aggrieved party.

By this provision, the principle of accountability of public officials under the Constitution 5 acquires
added meaning and a larger dimension. No longer may a superior official relax his vigilance or abdicate
his duty to supervise his subordinates, secure in the thought that he does not have to answer for the
transgressions committed by the latter against the constitutionally protected rights and liberties of the
citizen. Part of the factors that propelled people power in February 1986 was the widely held perception
that the government was callous or indifferent to, if not actually responsible for, the rampant violations
of human rights. While it would certainly be go naive to expect that violators of human rights would
easily be deterred by the prospect of facing damage suits, it should nonetheless be made clear in no
ones terms that Article 32 of the Civil Code makes the persons who are directly, as well as indirectly,
responsible for the transgression joint tortfeasors.

ROGELIO ABERCA, et al. vs. FABIAN VER, et al.

L-69866

April 15, 1988

FACTS:

Sometime in the early 1980s, various Intelligence units of the AFP known as Task Force
Makabansa (TFM) were ordered by respondents then Maj. Gen. Fabian Ver to conduct pre-emptive
strikes against known communist-terrorist (CT) underground houses in view of increasing reports about
CT plans to sow disturbances in Metro Manila. In compliance thereof, the TFM raided several places,
employing in most cases defectively issued judicial search warrants. During these raids, certain
members of the raiding TFM confiscated a number of purely personal items belonging to the 20
petitioners. Petitioners were arrested without proper arrest warrants issued by the courts. For some
period after their arrest, they were arrested without denied visits of relatives and lawyers; interrogated
in violation of their rights to silence and counsel, through threats, torture and other forms of violence in
order to obtain incriminatory information or confessions and in order to punish them.
Plaintiffs then filed an action for damages before the RTC of Quezon City against respondents-
officers of the AFP headed by Ver. Respondents, in their motion to dismiss, claimed that (1) the wrti of
habeas corpus was suspended, thus giving credence to petitioners’ detention; (2) respondents were
immune from liability for acts done in the performance of their official duties, and that (3) the complaint
did not state a cause of action against respondents.

On November 8, 1983, the RTC granted the motion to dismiss the case. A motion to set aside
the order dismissing the complaint, and a supplemental motion for reconsideration were filed by
petitioners. On May 11, 1984, the trial court, without acting on the motion to set aside the Order of
Nov. 8, 1983, declared the finality of said Order against petitioners. After their motion for
reconsideration was denied by the RTC, petitioners then filed the instant petition for certiorari, on
March 15, 1985, seeking to annul and set aside the respondent court’s resolutions and order.

ISSUES:

(1) Whether or not the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus bars a civil action for
damages for illegal searches conducted by military personnel and other violations of rights and liberties
guaranteed under the Constitution;

(2) Whether or not respondents may invoke state immunity from suit for acts done in the
performance of official duties and functions;

(3) Whether or not a superior officer, under the notion of respondeat superior, be answerable for
damages jointly and severally with his subordinates, to the person whose constitutional rights and
liberties have been violated.

HELD:

(1) The suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus (PWHC) does not destroy
petitioners’ right and cause of action for damages for illegal arrest and detention and other violations of
their constitutional rights. The suspension does not render valid an otherwise illegal arrest or
detention. What is suspended is merely the right of the individual to seek release from detention
through the writ of habeas corpus as a speedy means of obtaining his liberty.

Moreover, as pointed out by petitioners, their right and cause of action for damages are
explicitly recognized in PD 1755 which amended Art. 1146 of the Civil Code by adding the following
text: However, when the action (for injury to the rights of the plaintiff or for quasi-delict) arises from or
out of any act, activity or conduct of any public officer involving the exercise of powers or authority
arising from martial law including the arrest, detention and/or trial of the plaintiff, the same must be
brought within one year.

Even assuming that the suspension of the PWHC suspends petitioners’ right of action for
damages for illegal arrest and detention, it does not and cannot suspend their rights and causes of
action for injuries suffered because of respondents’ confiscation of their private belongings, the
violation of their right to remain silent and to counsel and their right to protection against unreasonable
searches and seizures and against torture and other cruel and inhuman treatment.

The question became moot and academic since the suspension of the PWHC had been lifted
with the issuance of then Pres. Corazon Aquino of Proclamation No. 2 on March 25, 1986.

(2) It may be that the respondents, as members of the AFP, were merely responding to their
duties, as they claim, “to prevent or suppress lawless violence, insurrection, rebellion and subversion” in
accordance with Proclamation No. 2054 of Pres. Marcos, despite the lifting of Martial Law on January
27, 1981, and in pursuance of such objective, to launch pre-emptive strikes against alleged CT
underground houses. But this cannot be construed as a blanket license or roving commission
untrammeled by any constitutional restraint, to disregard or transgress upon the rights and liberties of
the individual citizen enshrined and protected by the Constitution.

Article 32 of the Civil Code, which renders any public officer or employees, or any private
individual, liable in damages for violating the constitutional rights and liberties of another, does not
exempt the respondents from responsibility. Only judges are excluded from liability under the said
article, provided their acts or omissions do not constitute a violation of the Revised Penal Code or other
penal statute.

This is not say that military authorities are restrained from pursuing their assigned task or
carrying out their mission with vigor, to protect the Philippines from its enemies, whether of the left or
of the right, or from within or without, seeking to destroy or subvert our democratic institutions and
imperil their very existence. What is meant is that in carrying out their task and mission, constitutional
and legal safeguards must be observed; otherwise, the very fabric of our faith will start to unravel. In
the battle of competing ideologies, the struggle of mind is just as vital as the struggle of arms. The
linchpin in that psychological struggle is faith in the rule of law. Once that faith is lost or compromised,
the struggle may well be abandoned.

(3) The doctrine of respondeat superior is not applicable in this case. It has been generally
limited in its application to principal and agent or to master and servant relationships. No such
relationship exists superiors of the military and their subordinates. However, the decisive factor in this
case is the language of Art. 32, Civil Code; the law speaks of an officer or employee or person “directly”
or “indirectly” responsible for the violation of the constitutional rights and liberties of another. Thus, it
is not the actor alone who must answer for damages under Art. 32; the person indirectly responsible has
also to answer for the damages or injury caused to the aggrieved party. Art. 32 makes the persons who
are directly as well as indirectly responsible for the transgression joint tortfeasors.

SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. L-69866 April 15, 1988


ROGELIO ABERCA, RODOLFO BENOSA, NESTOR BODINO NOEL ETABAG DANILO DE LA FUENTE, BELEN
DIAZ-FLORES, MANUEL MARIO GUZMAN, ALAN JAZMINEZ, EDWIN LOPEZ, ALFREDO MANSOS, ALEX
MARCELINO, ELIZABETH PROTACIO-MARCELINO, JOSEPH OLAYER, CARLOS PALMA, MARCO PALO,
ROLANDO SALUTIN, BENJAMIN SESGUNDO, ARTURO TABARA, EDWIN TULALIAN and REBECCA
TULALIAN petitioners,
vs.
MAJ. GEN. FABIAN VER, COL. FIDEL SINGSON, COL. ROLANDO ABADILLA, COL. GERARDO B. LANTORIA,
COL. GALILEO KINTANAR, 1ST LT. COL. PANFILO M. LACSON, MAJ. RODOLFO AGUINALDO, CAPT.
DANILO PIZARRO, 1ST LT. PEDRO TANGO, 1ST LT. ROMEO RICARDO, 1ST LT. RAUL BACALSO, MSGT
BIENVENIDO BALABA and REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, National Capital Judicial Region, Branch XCV (95),
Quezon City, respondents.

YAP, J.:

This petition for certiorari presents vital issues not heretofore passed upon by this Court. It poses the
question whether the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus bars a civil action for
damages for illegal searches conducted by military personnel and other violations of rights and liberties
guaranteed under the Constitution. If such action for damages may be maintained, who can be held
liable for such violations: only the military personnel directly involved and/or their superiors as well.

This case stems from alleged illegal searches and seizures and other violations of the rights and liberties
of plaintiffs by various intelligence units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, known as Task Force
Makabansa (TFM) ordered by General Fabian Ver "to conduct pre-emptive strikes against known
communist-terrorist (CT) underground houses in view of increasing reports about CT plans to sow
disturbances in Metro Manila," Plaintiffs allege, among others, that complying with said order, elements
of the TFM raided several places, employing in most cases defectively issued judicial search warrants;
that during these raids, certain members of the raiding party confiscated a number of purely personal
items belonging to plaintiffs; that plaintiffs were arrested without proper warrants issued by the courts;
that for some period after their arrest, they were denied visits of relatives and lawyers; that plaintiffs
were interrogated in violation of their rights to silence and counsel; that military men who interrogated
them employed threats, tortures and other forms of violence on them in order to obtain incriminatory
information or confessions and in order to punish them; that all violations of plaintiffs constitutional
rights were part of a concerted and deliberate plan to forcibly extract information and incriminatory
statements from plaintiffs and to terrorize, harass and punish them, said plans being previously known
to and sanctioned by defendants.

Plaintiffs sought actual/compensatory damages amounting to P39,030.00; moral damages in the


amount of at least P150,000.00 each or a total of P3,000,000.00; exemplary damages in the amount of
at least P150,000.00 each or a total of P3,000,000.00; and attorney's fees amounting to not less than
P200,000.00.
A motion to dismiss was filed by defendants, through their counsel, then Solicitor-General Estelito
Mendoza, alleging that (1) plaintiffs may not cause a judicial inquiry into the circumstances of their
detention in the guise of a damage suit because, as to them, the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is
suspended; (2) assuming that the courts can entertain the present action, defendants are immune from
liability for acts done in the performance of their official duties; and (3) the complaint states no cause of
action against the defendants. Opposition to said motion to dismiss was filed by plaintiffs Marco Palo,
Danilo de la Fuente, Benjamin Sesgundo, Nel Etabag, Alfredo Mansos and Rolando Salutin on July 8,
1983, and by plaintiffs Edwin Lopez, Manuel Mario Guzman, Alan Jasminez, Nestor Bodino, Carlos
Palma, Arturo Tabara, Joseph Olayer, Rodolfo Benosa, Belen Diaz, Flores, Rogelio Aberca, Alex Marcelino
and Elizabeth Marcelino on July 21, 1983. On November 7, 1983, a Consolidated Reply was filed by
defendants' counsel.

Then, on November 8, 1983, the Regional Trial Court, National Capital Region, Branch 95, Judge
Willelmo C. Fortun, Presiding, 1 issued a resolution granting the motion to dismiss. I sustained, lock,
stock and barrel, the defendants' contention (1) the plaintiffs may not cause a judicial inquiry into the
circumstances of their detention in the guise of a damage suit because, as to them, the privilege of the
writ of habeas corpus is suspended; (2) that assuming that the court can entertain the present action,
defendants are immune from liability for acts done in the performance of their official duties; and (3)
that the complaint states no cause of action against defendants, since there is no allegation that the
defendants named in the complaint confiscated plaintiffs' purely personal properties in violation of their
constitutional rights, and with the possible exception of Major Rodolfo Aguinaldo and Sergeant
Bienvenido Balabo committed acts of torture and maltreatment, or that the defendants had the duty to
exercise direct supervision and control of their subordinates or that they had vicarious liability as
employers under Article 2180 of the Civil Code. The lower court stated, "After a careful study of
defendants' arguments, the court finds the same to be meritorious and must, therefore, be granted. On
the other hand, plaintiffs' arguments in their opposition are lacking in merit."

A motion to set aside the order dismissing the complaint and a supplemental motion for reconsideration
was filed by the plaintiffs on November 18, 1983, and November 24, 1983, respectively. On December 9,
1983, the defendants filed a comment on the aforesaid motion of plaintiffs, furnishing a copy thereof to
the attorneys of all the plaintiffs, namely, Attys. Jose W. Diokno, Procopio Beltran, Rene Sarmiento,
Efren Mercado, Auguso Sanchez, Antonio L. Rosales, Pedro B. Ella Jr., Arno V. Sanidad, Alexander Padilla,
Joker Arroyo, Rene Saguisag, Ramon Esguerra and Felicitas Aquino.

On December 15, 1983, Judge Fortun issued an order voluntarily inhibiting himself from further
proceeding in the case and leaving the resolution of the motion to set aside the order of dismissal to
Judge Lising, "to preclude any suspicion that he (Judge Fortun) cannot resolve [the] aforesaid pending
motion with the cold neutrality of an impartial judge and to put an end to plaintiffs assertion that the
undersigned has no authority or jurisdiction to resolve said pending motion." This order prompted
plaintiffs to reesolve an amplificatory motion for reconsideration signed in the name of the Free Legal
Assistance Group (FLAG) of Mabini Legal Aid Committee, by Attys. Joker P. Arroyo, Felicitas Aquino and
Arno Sanidad on April 12, 1984. On May 2,1984, the defendants filed a comment on said amplificatory
motion for reconsideration.
In an order dated May 11, 1984, the trial court, Judge Esteban Lising, Presiding, without acting on the
motion to set aside order of November 8, 1983, issued an order, as follows:

It appearing from the records that, indeed, the following plaintiffs, Rogelio Aberca, Danilo de la Fuente
and Marco Palo, represented by counsel, Atty. Jose W. Diokno, Alan Jasminez represented by counsel,
Atty. Augusta Sanchez, Spouses Alex Marcelino and Elizabeth Protacio-Marcelino, represented by
counsel, Atty. Procopio Beltran, Alfredo Mansos represented by counsel, Atty. Rene Sarmiento, and
Rolando Salutin, represented by counsel, Atty. Efren Mercado, failed to file a motion to reconsider the
Order of November 8, 1983, dismissing the complaint, nor interposed an appeal therefrom within the
reglementary period, as prayed for by the defendants, said Order is now final against said plaintiffs.

Assailing the said order of May 11, 1984, the plaintiffs filed a motion for reconsideration on May
28,1984, alleging that it was not true that plaintiffs Rogelio Aberca, Danilo de la Fuente, Marco Palo,
Alan Jasminez, Alex Marcelino, Elizabeth Protacio-Marcelino, Alfredo Mansos and Rolando Salutin failed
to file a motion to reconsider the order of November 8, 1983 dismissing the complaint, within the
reglementary period. Plaintiffs claimed that the motion to set aside the order of November 8, 1983 and
the amplificatory motion for reconsideration was filed for all the plaintiffs, although signed by only some
of the lawyers.

In its resolution of September 21, 1984, the respondent court dealt with both motions (1) to reconsider
its order of May 11, 1984 declaring that with respect to certain plaintiffs, the resolution of November 8,
1983 had already become final, and (2) to set aside its resolution of November 8, 1983 granting the
defendants' motion to dismiss. In the dispositive portion of the order of September 21, 1984, the
respondent court resolved:

(1) That the motion to set aside the order of finality, dated May 11, 1984, of the Resolution of dismissal
of the complaint of plaintiffs Rogelio Aberca, Danilo de la Fuente, Marco Palo, Alan Jasminez Alex
Marcelino, Elizabeth Protacio-Marcelino, Alfredo Mansos and Rolando Salutin is deed for lack of merit;

(2) For lack of cause of action as against the following defendants, to wit:

1. Gen Fabian Ver

2. Col. Fidel Singson

3. Col. Rolando Abadilla

4. Lt. Col. Conrado Lantoria, Jr.

5. Col. Galileo Montanar

6. Col. Panfilo Lacson

7. Capt. Danilo Pizaro

8. 1 Lt Pedro Tango
9. Lt. Romeo Ricardo

10. Lt. Raul Bacalso

the motion to set aside and reconsider the Resolution of dismissal of the present action or complaint,
dated November 8, 1983, is also denied but in so far as it affects and refers to defendants, to wit:

1. Major Rodolfo Aguinaldo, and

2. Master Sgt. Bienvenido Balaba

the motion to reconsider and set aside the Resolution of dismissal dated November 3, 1983 is granted
and the Resolution of dismissal is, in this respect, reconsidered and modified.

Hence, petitioners filed the instant petition for certiorari on March 15, 1985 seeking to annul and set
aside the respondent court's resolution of November 8, 1983, its order of May 11, 1984, and its
resolution dated September 21, 1984. Respondents were required to comment on the petition, which it
did on November 9, 1985. A reply was filed by petitioners on August 26, 1986.

We find the petition meritorious and decide to give it due course.

At the heart of petitioners' complaint is Article 32 of the Civil Code which provides:

ART. 32. Any public officer or employee, or any private individual who directly or indirectly obstructs,
defeats, violates or in any manner impedes or impairs any of the following rights and liberties of another
person shall be liable to the latter for damages:

(1) Freedom of religion;

(2) Freedom of speech;

(3) Freedom to write for the press or to maintain a periodical publication;

(4) Freedom from arbitrary or illegal detention;

(5) Freedom of suffrage;

(6) The right against deprivation of property without due process

(7) of law;

(8) The right to a just compensation when private property is taken for public use;

(9) The right to the equal protection of the laws;

(10) The right to be secure in one's person, house, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches
and seizures;

(11) The liberty of abode and of changing the same;


(12) The privacy of cmmunication and correspondence;

(13) The right to become a member of associations or societies for purposes not contrary to law;

(14) The right to take part in a peaceable assembly to petition the Government for redress of grievances;

(15) The right to be free from involuntary servitude in any form;

(16) The rigth of the accused against excessive bail;

(17) The rigth of the aaccused to be heard by himself and counsel, to be informed of the nature and
cause of the accusation against him, to have a speedy and public trial, to meet the witnesses face to
face, and to have compulsory process to secure the attendance of witness in behalf;

(18) Freedom from being compelled to be a witness against ones self, or from being forced to confess
guilt, or from being induced by a promise of immunity or reward to make such confession, except when
the person confessing becomes a State witness;

(19) Freedom from excessive fines or cruel and unusual punishment, unless the same is imposed or
inflicted in accordance with a statute which has not been judicially declared unconstitutional; and

(20) Freedom of access to the courts.

In any of the cases referred to in this article, whether or not the defendant's act or omission constitutes
a criminal offense, the against grieved party has a right to commence an entirely separate and distinct
civil action for damages, and for other relief. Such civil action shall proceed independently of any
criminal prosecution (if the latter be instituted), and may be proved by a preponderance of evidence.

The indemnity shall include moral damages. Exemplary damages may also be adjudicated.

The responsibility herein set forth is not demandable from a judge unless his act or omission constitutes
a violation of the Penal Code or other penal statute.

It is obvious that the purpose of the above codal provision is to provide a sanction to the deeply
cherished rights and freedoms enshrined in the Constitution. Its message is clear; no man may seek to
violate those sacred rights with impunity. In times of great upheaval or of social and political stress,
when the temptation is strongest to yield — borrowing the words of Chief Justice Claudio Teehankee —
to the law of force rather than the force of law, it is necessary to remind ourselves that certain basic
rights and liberties are immutable and cannot be sacrificed to the transient needs or imperious demands
of the ruling power. The rule of law must prevail, or else liberty will perish. Our commitment to
democratic principles and to the rule of law compels us to reject the view which reduces law to nothing
but the expression of the will of the predominant power in the community. "Democracy cannot be a
reign of progress, of liberty, of justice, unless the law is respected by him who makes it and by him for
whom it is made. Now this respect implies a maximum of faith, a minimum of Idealism. On going to the
bottom of the matter, we discover that life demands of us a certain residuum of sentiment which is not
derived from reason, but which reason nevertheless controls. 2
Seeking to justify the dismissal of plaintiffs' complaint, the respondents postulate the view that as public
officers they are covered by the mantle of state immunity from suit for acts done in the performance of
official duties or function In support of said contention, respondents maintain that —

Respondents are members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Their primary duty is to safeguard
public safety and order. The Constitution no less provides that the President may call them "to prevent
or supress lawless violence, invasion, insurrection or rebellion, or imminent danger thereof."
(Constitution, Article VII, Section 9).

On January 17, 1981, the President issued Proclamation No. 2045 lifting martial law but providing for the
continued suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in view of the remaining dangers to
the security of the nation. The proclamation also provided "that the call to the Armed Forces of the
Philippines to prevent or suppress lawless violence, insuitection rebellion and subversion shall continue
to be in force and effect."

Petitioners allege in their complaint that their causes of action proceed from respondent General Ver's
order to Task Force Makabansa to launch pre-emptive strikes against communist terrorist underground
houses in Metro Manila. Petitioners claim that this order and its subsequent implementation by
elements of the task force resulted in the violation of their constitutional rights against unlawful
searches, seizures and arrest, rights to counsel and to silence, and the right to property and that,
therefore, respondents Ver and the named members of the task force should be held liable for
damages.

But, by launching a pre-emptive strike against communist terrorists, respondent members of the armed
forces merely performed their official and constitutional duties. To allow petitioners to recover from
respondents by way of damages for acts performed in the exercise of such duties run contrary to the
policy considerations to shield respondents as public officers from undue interference with their duties
and from potentially disabling threats of hability (Aarlon v. Fitzgerald 102 S. Ct. 2731-1 Forbes v. Chuoco
Tiaco, 16 Phil. 634), and upon the necessity of protecting the performance of governmental and public
functions from being harassed unduly or constantly interrupted by private suits (McCallan v. State, 35
Cal. App. 605; Metran v. Paredes, 79 Phil. 819).

xxx xxx xxx

The immunity of public officers from liability arising from the performance of their duties is now a
settled jurisprudence Alzua v. Johnson, 21 Phil. 308; Zulueta v. Nicolas, 102 Phil. 944; Spalding v. Vilas,
161 US 483; 40 L. Ed. 780, 16 S. Ct. 631; Barr v. Mateo, 360; Butz v. Economon, 438 US 478; 57 L. Ed. 2d
895, 98 S. Ct. 2894; Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 US 232; Forbes v. Chuoco Tiaco, supra; Miller v. de Leune,
602 F. 2d 198; Sami v. US, 617 F. 2d 755).

Respondents-defendants who merely obeyed the lawful orders of the President and his call for the
suppression of the rebellion involving petitioners enjoy such immunity from Suit.3
We find respondents' invocation of the doctrine of state immunity from suit totally misplaced. The cases
invoked by respondents actually involved acts done by officers in the performance of official duties
written the ambit of their powers. As held in Forbes, etc. vs. Chuoco Tiaco and Crossfield: 4

No one can be held legally responsible in damages or otherwise for doing in a legal manner what he had
authority, under the law, to do. Therefore, if the Governor-General had authority, under the law to
deport or expel the defendants, and circumstances justifying the deportation and the method of
carrying it out are left to him, then he cannot be held liable in damages for the exercise of this power.
Moreover, if the courts are without authority to interfere in any manner, for the purpose of controlling
or interferring with the exercise of the political powers vested in the chief executive authority of the
Government, then it must follow that the courts cannot intervene for the purpose of declaring that he is
liable in damages for the exeercise of this authority.

It may be that the respondents, as members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, were merely
responding to their duty, as they claim, "to prevent or suppress lawless violence, insurrection, rebellion
and subversion" in accordance with Proclamation No. 2054 of President Marcos, despite the lifting of
martial law on January 27, 1981, and in pursuance of such objective, to launch pre- emptive strikes
against alleged communist terrorist underground houses. But this cannot be construed as a blanket
license or a roving commission untramelled by any constitutional restraint, to disregard or transgress
upon the rights and liberties of the individual citizen enshrined in and protected by the Constitution. The
Constitution remains the supreme law of the land to which all officials, high or low, civilian or military,
owe obedience and allegiance at all times.

Article 32 of the Civil Code which renders any public officer or employee or any private individual liable
in damages for violating the Constitutional rights and liberties of another, as enumerated therein, does
not exempt the respondents from responsibility. Only judges are excluded from liability under the said
article, provided their acts or omissions do not constitute a violation of the Penal Code or other penal
statute.

This is not to say that military authorities are restrained from pursuing their assigned task or carrying out
their mission with vigor. We have no quarrel with their duty to protect the Republic from its enemies,
whether of the left or of the right, or from within or without, seeking to destroy or subvert our
democratic institutions and imperil their very existence. What we are merely trying to say is that in
carrying out this task and mission, constitutional and legal safeguards must be observed, otherwise, the
very fabric of our faith will start to unravel. In the battle of competing Ideologies, the struggle for the
mind is just as vital as the struggle of arms. The linchpin in that psychological struggle is faith in the rule
of law. Once that faith is lost or compromised, the struggle may well be abandoned.

We do not find merit in respondents' suggestion that plaintiffs' cause of action is barred by the
suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. Respondents contend that "Petitioners cannot
circumvent the suspension of the privilege of the writ by resorting to a damage suit aimed at the same
purpose-judicial inquiry into the alleged illegality of their detention. While the main relief they ask by
the present action is indemnification for alleged damages they suffered, their causes of action are
inextricably based on the same claim of violations of their constitutional rights that they invoked in the
habeas corpus case as grounds for release from detention. Were the petitioners allowed the present
suit, the judicial inquiry barred by the suspension of the privilege of the writ will take place. The net
result is that what the courts cannot do, i.e. override the suspension ordered by the President,
petitioners will be able to do by the mere expedient of altering the title of their action."

We do not agree. We find merit in petitioners' contention that the suspension of the privilege of the writ
of habeas corpus does not destroy petitioners' right and cause of action for damages for illegal arrest
and detention and other violations of their constitutional rights. The suspension does not render valid
an otherwise illegal arrest or detention. What is suspended is merely the right of the individual to seek
release from detention through the writ of habeas corpus as a speedy means of obtaining his liberty.

Moreover, as pointed out by petitioners, their right and cause of action for damages are explicitly
recognized in P.D. No. 1755 which amended Article 1146 of the Civil Code by adding the following to its
text:

However, when the action (for injury to the rights of the plaintiff or for a quasi-delict) arises from or out
of any act, activity or conduct of any public officer involving the exercise of powers or authority arising
from Martial Law including the arrest, detention and/or trial of the plaintiff, the same must be brought
within one (1) year.

Petitioners have a point in contending that even assuming that the suspension of the privilege of the
writ of habeas corpus suspends petitioners' right of action for damages for illegal arrest and detention, it
does not and cannot suspend their rights and causes of action for injuries suffered because of
respondents' confiscation of their private belongings, the violation of their right to remain silent and to
counsel and their right to protection against unreasonable searches and seizures and against torture and
other cruel and inhuman treatment.

However, we find it unnecessary to address the constitutional issue pressed upon us. On March 25,
1986, President Corazon C. Aquino issued Proclamation No. 2, revoking Proclamation Nos. 2045 and
2045-A and lifting the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. The question therefore
has become moot and academic.

This brings us to the crucial issue raised in this petition. May a superior officer under the notion of
respondent superior be answerable for damages, jointly and severally with his subordinates, to the
person whose constitutional rights and liberties have been violated?

Respondents contend that the doctrine of respondent superior is applicable to the case. We agree. The
doctrine of respondent superior has been generally limited in its application to principal and agent or to
master and servant (i.e. employer and employee) relationship. No such relationship exists between
superior officers of the military and their subordinates.

Be that as it may, however, the decisive factor in this case, in our view, is the language of Article 32. The
law speaks of an officer or employee or person 'directly' or "indirectly" responsible for the violation of
the constitutional rights and liberties of another. Thus, it is not the actor alone (i.e. the one directly
responsible) who must answer for damages under Article 32; the person indirectly responsible has also
to answer for the damages or injury caused to the aggrieved party.

By this provision, the principle of accountability of public officials under the Constitution 5 acquires
added meaning and asgilrnes a larger dimension. No longer may a superior official relax his vigilance or
abdicate his duty to supervise his subordinates, secure in the thought that he does not have to answer
for the transgressions committed by the latter against the constitutionally protected rights and liberties
of the citizen. Part of the factors that propelled people power in February 1986 was the widely held
perception that the government was callous or indifferent to, if not actually responsible for, the
rampant violations of human rights. While it would certainly be go naive to expect that violators of
human rights would easily be deterred by the prospect of facing damage suits, it should nonetheless be
made clear in no ones terms that Article 32 of the Civil Code makes the persons who are directly, as well
as indirectly, responsible for the transgression joint tortfeasors.

In the case at bar, the trial court dropped defendants General Fabian Ver, Col. Fidel Singson, Col.
Rolando Abadilla, Col. Gerardo Lantoria, Jr., Col. Galileo Kintanar, Col. Panfilo Lacson, Capt. Danilo
Pizarro, lst Lt. Pedro Tango, Lt. Romeo Ricardo and Lt. Ricardo Bacalso from the acts of their
subordinates. Only Major Rodolfo Aguinaldo and Master Sgt. Bienvenido Balaba were kept as
defendants on the ground that they alone 'have been specifically mentioned and Identified to have
allegedly caused injuries on the persons of some of the plaintiff which acts of alleged physical violence
constitute a delict or wrong that gave rise to a cause of action. But such finding is not supported by the
record, nor is it in accord with law and jurisprudence.

Firstly, it is wrong to at the plaintiffs' action for damages 5 Section 1, Article 19. to 'acts of alleged
physical violence" which constituted delict or wrong. Article 32 clearly specifies as actionable the act of
violating or in any manner impeding or impairing any of the constitutional rights and liberties
enumerated therein, among others —

1. Freedom from arbitrary arrest or illegal detention;

2. The right against deprivation of property without due process of law;

3. The right to be secure in one's person, house, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and
seizures;

4. The privacy of communication and correspondence;

5. Freedom from being compelled to be a witness against one's self, or from being forced to confess
guilt, or from being induced by a promise of immunity or reward to make a confession, except when the
person confessing becomes a state witness.

The complaint in this litigation alleges facts showing with abundant clarity and details, how plaintiffs'
constitutional rights and liberties mentioned in Article 32 of the Civil Code were violated and impaired
by defendants. The complaint speaks of, among others, searches made without search warrants or
based on irregularly issued or substantially defective warrants; seizures and confiscation, without proper
receipts, of cash and personal effects belonging to plaintiffs and other items of property which were not
subversive and illegal nor covered by the search warrants; arrest and detention of plaintiffs without
warrant or under irregular, improper and illegal circumstances; detention of plaintiffs at several
undisclosed places of 'safehouses" where they were kept incommunicado and subjected to physical and
psychological torture and other inhuman, degrading and brutal treatment for the purpose of extracting
incriminatory statements. The complaint contains a detailed recital of abuses perpetrated upon the
plaintiffs violative of their constitutional rights.

Secondly, neither can it be said that only those shown to have participated "directly" should be held
liable. Article 32 of the Civil Code encompasses within the ambit of its provisions those directly, as well
as indirectly, responsible for its violation.

The responsibility of the defendants, whether direct or indirect, is amply set forth in the complaint. It is
well established in our law and jurisprudence that a motion to dismiss on the ground that the complaint
states no cause of action must be based on what appears on the face of the complaint. 6 To determine
the sufficiency of the cause of action, only the facts alleged in the complaint, and no others, should be
considered. 7 For this purpose, the motion to dismiss must hypothetically admit the truth of the facts
alleged in the complaint. 8

Applying this test, it is difficult to justify the trial court's ruling, dismissing for lack of cause of action the
complaint against all the defendants, except Major Rodolfo Aguinaldo and Master Sgt. Bienvenido
Balaba. The complaint contained allegations against all the defendants which, if admitted hypothetically,
would be sufficient to establish a cause or causes of action against all of them under Article 32 of the
Civil Code.

This brings us to the last issue. Was the trial court correct in dismissing the complaint with respect to
plaintiffs Rogelio Aberca, Danilo de la Puente, Marco Palo, Alan Jazminez, Alex Marcelino, Elizabeth
Protacio-Marcelino, Alfredo Mansos and Rolando Salutin, on the basis of the alleged failure of said
plaintiffs to file a motion for reconsideration of the court's resolution of November 8, 1983, granting the
respondent's motion to dismiss?

It is undisputed that a timely motion to set aside said order of November 8, 1983 was filed by 'plaintiffs,
through counsel. True, the motion was signed only by Atty. Joker P. Arroyo, counsel for Benjamin
Sesgulido; Atty. Antonio Rosales, counsel for Edwin Lopez and Manuel Martin Guzman; Atty. Pedro B.
Ella, Jr., counsel for Nestor Bodino and Carlos Palma; Atty. Arno V. Sanidad, counsel for Arturo Tabara;
Atty. Felicitas S. Aquino, counsel for Joseph Olayer; and Atty. Alexander Padilla, counsel for Rodolfo
Benosa.

But the body of the motion itself clearly indicated that the motion was filed on behalf of all the plaintiffs.
And this must have been also the understanding of defendants' counsel himself for when he filed his
comment on the motion, he furnished copies thereof, not just to the lawyers who signed the motion,
but to all the lawyers of plaintiffs, to wit: Attys. Jose Diokno, Procopio Beltran, Rene Sarmiento, Efren
Mercado, Augusto Sanchez, Antonio Rosales, Pedro Efla Jr., Arno Sanidad, Alexander Padilla, Joker
Arroyo, Rene Saguisag, Ramon Esguerra and Felicitas S. Aquino.

In filing the motion to set aside the resolution of November 8, 1983, the signing attorneys did so on
behalf of all the plaintiff. They needed no specific authority to do that. The authority of an attorney to
appear for and in behalf of a party can be assumed, unless questioned or challenged by the adverse
party or the party concerned, which was never done in this case. Thus, it was grave abuse on the part of
respondent judge to take it upon himself to rule that the motion to set aside the order of November 8,
1953 dismissing the complaint was filed only by some of the plaintiffs, when by its very language it was
clearly intended to be filed by and for the benefit of all of them. It is obvious that the respondent judge
took umbrage under a contrived technicality to declare that the dismissal of the complaint had already
become final with respect to some of the plaintiffs whose lawyers did not sign the motion for
reconsideration. Such action tainted with legal infirmity cannot be sanctioned.

Accordingly, we grant the petition and annul and set aside the resolution of the respondent court, dated
November 8, 1983, its order dated May 11, 1984 and its resolution dated September 21, 1984. Let the
case be remanded to the respondent court for further proceedings. With costs against private
respondents.

SO ORDERED.

Fernan, Narvasa, Melencio-Herrera, Cruz, Paras, Feliciano, Gancayco, Bidin, Sarmiento, Cortes and Griño-
Aquino, JJ., concur.

Gutierrez, Jr., J., concur in the result.

Padilla, J., took no part.

Separate Opinions

TEEHANKEE, C.J., concurring:

The Court's judgment at bar makes clear that all persons, be they public officers or employees, or
members of the military or police force or private individuals who directly or indirectly obstruct, defeat,
violate or in any manner impede or impair the constitutional rights and civil liberties of another person,
stand liable and may be sued in court for damages as provided in Art. 32 of the Civil Code.

The case at bar specifically upholds and reinstates the civil action for damages filed in the court below
by petitioners-plaintiffs for illegal searches conducted by military personnel and other violations of their
constitutional rights and liberties. At the same time it rejects the automatic application of the principle
of respondeat superior or command responsibility that would hold a superior officer jointly and severally
accountable for damages, including moral and exemplary, with his subordinates who committed such
transgressions. However, the judgment gives the caveat that a superior officer must not abdicate his
duty to properly supervise his subordinates for he runs the risk of being held responsible for gross
negligence and of being held under the cited provision of the Civil Code as indirectly and solidarily
accountable with the tortfeasor.

The rationale for this rule of law was best expressed by Brandeis in wise: "In a government of laws,
existence of the government be imperilled following it fails to observe the law scrupulously. Our
government is the potent omnipresent teacher. For good or ill, it teaches the whole people by example.
Crime is contagious. If the government becomes the law breaker, it breeds contempt for the law, it
invites every man to become a law unto himself, it invites anarchy. To declare that in the administration
of criminal law the end justifies the means ... would bring terrible retribution." 1

As the writer stress in Hildawa vs. Enrile 2 Which Was an action to enjoin the operations of the dreaded
secret marshals during the past regime, 'In a democratic state, you don't stoop to the level of criminals.
If we stoop to what they do, then we're no better than they ... there would be no difference. ... The
Supreme Court stands as the guarantor of the Constitutional and human rights of all persons within its
jurisdiction and cannot abdicate its basic role under the Constitution that these rights be respected and
enforced. The spirit and letter of the Constitution negates as contrary to the basic precepts of human
rights and freedom that a person's life be snuffed out without due process in a split second even if he is
caught in flagrante delicto — unless it was caned for as an act of self-defense by the law agents using
reasonable means to prevent or repel an unlawful aggression on the part of the deceased.

Needless to say, the criminal acts of the "Sparrow Units" or death squads of the NPA which have
infutrated the cities and suburbs and performed their despicable killings of innocent civilians and
military and police officers constitute an equally perverse violation of the sanctity of human life and
must be severely condemned by all who adhere tothe Rule of the Law.

It need only be pointed out that one of the first acts of the present government under President
Corazon C. Aquino after her assumption of office in February, 1986 was to file our government's
ratification and access to all human rights instruments adopted under the auspices of the United
Nations, declaring thereby the government's commitment to observe the precepts of the United Nations
Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. More than this, pursuant to our Constitution
which the people decisively ratified on February 2, 1987, the independent office of the Commission on
Human Rights hats been created and organized with ample powers to investigate human rights
violations and take remedial measures against all such violations by the military as well as by the civilian
groups.
Separate Opinions

TEEHANKEE, C.J., concurring:

The Court's judgment at bar makes clear that all persons, be they public officers or employees, or
members of the military or police force or private individuals who directly or indirectly obstruct, defeat,
violate or in any manner impede or impair the constitutional rights and civil liberties of another person,
stand liable and may be sued in court for damages as provided in Art. 32 of the Civil Code.

The case at bar specifically upholds and reinstates the civil action for damages filed in the court below
by petitioners-plaintiffs for illegal searches conducted by military personnel and other violations of their
constitutional rights and liberties. At the same time it rejects the automatic application of the principle
of respondeat superior or command responsibility that would hold a superior officer jointly and severally
accountable for damages, including moral and exemplary, with his subordinates who committed such
transgressions. However, the judgment gives the caveat that a superior officer must not abdicate his
duty to properly supervise his subordinates for he runs the risk of being held responsible for gross
negligence and of being held under the cited provision of the Civil Code as indirectly and solidarily
accountable with the tortfeasor.

The rationale for this rule of law was best expressed by Brandeis in wise: "In a government of laws,
existence of the government be imperilled following it fails to observe the law scrupulously. Our
government is the potent omnipresent teacher. For good or ill, it teaches the whole people by example.
Crime is contagious. If the government becomes the law breaker, it breeds contempt for the law, it
invites every man to become a law unto himself, it invites anarchy. To declare that in the administration
of criminal law the end justifies the means ... would bring terrible retribution." 1

As the writer stress in Hildawa vs. Enrile 2 Which Was an action to enjoin the operations of the dreaded
secret marshals during the past regime, 'In a democratic state, you don't stoop to the level of criminals.
If we stoop to what they do, then we're no better than they ... there would be no difference. ... The
Supreme Court stands as the guarantor of the Constitutional and human rights of all persons within its
jurisdiction and cannot abdicate its basic role under the Constitution that these rights be respected and
enforced. The spirit and letter of the Constitution negates as contrary to the basic precepts of human
rights and freedom that a person's life be snuffed out without due process in a split second even if he is
caught in flagrante delicto — unless it was caned for as an act of self-defense by the law agents using
reasonable means to prevent or repel an unlawful aggression on the part of the deceased.

Needless to say, the criminal acts of the "Sparrow Units" or death squads of the NPA which have
infutrated the cities and suburbs and performed their despicable killings of innocent civilians and
military and police officers constitute an equally perverse violation of the sanctity of human life and
must be severely condemned by all who adhere tothe Rule of the Law.

It need only be pointed out that one of the first acts of the present government under President
Corazon C. Aquino after her assumption of office in February, 1986 was to file our government's
ratification and access to all human rights instruments adopted under the auspices of the United
Nations, declaring thereby the government's commitment to observe the precepts of the United Nations
Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. More than this, pursuant to our Constitution
which the people decisively ratified on February 2, 1987, the independent office of the Commission on
Human Rights hats been created and organized with ample powers to investigate human rights
violations and take remedial measures against all such violations by the military as well as by the civilian
groups.

Footnotes

1 The Presiding Judge of Branch 95, Judge Esteban M. Lising was allowed to go on leave, per resolution
of the Supreme Court on October 18, 1983, and Judge Willelmo C. Fortun was authorized to take
cognizance of all kinds of cases of Branch 95 during the former's absence.

2 Joseph Charmont French Legal Philosophy, Mcmillan Co., New York, 1921, pp. 72-73.

3 Rollo, pp. 240-241; 244,

4 16 Phil. 534, 578.

5 Section 1, Article XI.

6 Azur v. Provincial Board, 27 SCRA 50, 57; Garcon v. Redemptorist tourist Fathers, 17 SCRA 341.

7 Adamos v. J. M. Tuazon, 25 SCRA 529; Socorro v. Vargas, 25 SCRA 592, 596; La Suerte Cigar & Cigarette
Factory vs. Central Azuearera de Davao, 23 SCRA 686, 690.

8 Garcon vs. Redemptorist Fathers, supra; PNB vs. Hipolito, 13 SCRA 20.

Teehankee, J., concurring:

1 Olmstead vs, U.S. 277 U.S. 438; dissenting opinion. _

2 138 SCRA 146, 161.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. 86720 September 2, 1994


MHP GARMENTS, INC., and LARRY C. DE GUZMAN, petitioners,
vs.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, AGNES VILLA CRUZ, MIRASOL LUGATIMAN, and GERTRUDES
GONZALES, respondents.

Benjamin M. Dacanay for petitioners.

Emmanuel O. Tansingco for private respondents.

PUNO, J.:

The constitutional protection of our people against unreasonable search and seizure is not merely a
pleasing platitude. It vouchsafes our right to privacy and dignity against undesirable intrusions
committed by any public officer or private individual. An infringement of this right justifies an award for
damages.

On February 22, 1983, petitioner MHP Garments, Inc., was awarded by the Boy Scouts of the Philippines,
the exclusive franchise to sell and distribute official Boy Scouts uniforms, supplies, badges, and insignias.
In their Memorandum Agreement, petitioner corporation was given the authority to "undertake or
cause to be undertaken the prosecution in court of all illegal sources of scout uniforms and other
scouting supplies." 1

Sometime in October 1983, petitioner corporation received information that private respondents Agnes
Villa Cruz, Mirasol Lugatiman, and Gertrudes Gonzales were selling Boy Scouts items and paraphernalia
without any authority. Petitioner de Guzman, an employee of petitioner corporation, was tasked to
undertake the necessary surveillance and to make a report to the Philippine Constabulary (PC).

On October 25, 1983, at about 10:30 A.M., petitioner de Guzman, Captain Renato M. Peñafiel, and two
(2) other constabulary men of the Reaction Force Battalion, Sikatuna Village, Diliman, Quezon City went
to the stores of respondents at the Marikina Public Market. Without any warrant, they seized the boy
and girl scouts pants, dresses, and suits on display at respondents' stalls. The seizure caused a
commotion and embarrassed private respondents. Receipts were issued for the seized items. The items
were then turned over by Captain Peñafiel to petitioner corporation for safekeeping.

A criminal complaint for unfair competition was then filed against private respondents. 2 During its
pendency, petitioner de Guzman exacted from private respondent Lugatiman the sum of THREE
THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED PESOS (P3,100.00) in order to be dropped from the complaint. On December
6, 1983, after a preliminary investigation, the Provincial Fiscal of Rizal dismissed the complaint against all
the private respondents. On February 6, 1984, he also ordered the return of the seized items. The seized
items were not immediately returned despite demands. 3 Private respondents had to go personally to
petitioners' place of business to recover their goods. Even then, not all the seized items were returned.
The other items returned were of inferior quality.
Private respondents then filed Civil Case No. 51144 against the petitioners for sums of money and
damages. 4 In its Decision dated January 9, 1987, the trial court ruled for the private respondents, thus:

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of plaintiffs and against defendants, ordering the
latter jointly and severally:

1. To return the amount of P3,100.00 to plaintiff Mirasol Lugatiman with interest at 12% per annum
from January 12, 1984, the date of the last receipt issued, until fully paid;

2. To pay plaintiff Agnes Villa Cruz the sum of P2,000.00 for the 26 pieces of girl scout items not
returned;

3. To pay plaintiffs the amount of P50,000.00 for and as moral damages and P15,000.00 for and as
exemplary damages; and

4. P5,000.00 for and as attorney's fees and litigation expenses.

Costs against the defendants.

SO ORDERED.

The decision was appealed to the respondent court. On January 18, 1989, its Fifth Division, 5 affirmed
the Decision with modification, thus:

WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION; and, as modified, the
dispositive portion thereof now reads as follows:

Judgment is hereby rendered in favor of plaintiffs (private respondents) and against defendants
(petitioners), ordering the latter jointly and severally;

1. To return the amount of P3,100.00 to plaintiff (respondent) Mirasol Lugatiman and cancel her
application for distributor's license;

2. To pay plaintiff (respondent) Agnes Villa Cruz the sum of P2,000.00 for the unreturned 26 pieces of
girl scouts items with interest at 12% per annum from June 4, 1984 (date the complaint was filed) until it
is fully paid;

3. To pay plaintiffs (respondents) the amount of P10,000.00 each, or a total of P30,000.00, for and as
moral damages; and P5,000.00 each, or a total of P15,000.00, for and as exemplary damages; and

4. To pay plaintiffs (respondents) P5,000.00 for and as attorney's fees and litigation expenses.

Costs of the case a quo and the instant appeal are assessed jointly and severally against defendants-
appellants (petitioners) MHP Garments, Inc. and Larry de Guzman.

SO ORDERED.

In this petition for certiorari, petitioners contend:


FIRST ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR

THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN IMPUTING LIABILITY FOR DAMAGES TO THE PETITIONERS WHO DID
NOT EFFECT THE SEIZURE OF THE SUBJECT MERCHANDISE.

SECOND ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR

THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED WHEN IT MADE A FINDING THAT THE MANNER WITH WHICH THE
CONFISCATION OF PRIVATE RESPONDENTS WAS TORTIOUS BUT PENALIZED INSTEAD THE PETITIONERS
WHO DID NOT COMMIT THE ACT OF CONFISCATION.

THIRD ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR

THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED WHEN IT FOUND FOR THE PRIVATE RESPONDENTS AND AGAINST THE
PETITIONERS.

We affirm.

Article III, section 2, of the Constitution protects our people from unreasonable search and seizure. It
provides:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable
searches and seizures of whatever nature for any purpose shall be inviolable, and no search warrant or
warrant of arrest shall issue except upon probable cause to be determined personally by the judge after
examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and
particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.

This provision protects not only those who appear to be innocent but also those who appear to be guilty
but are nevertheless to be presumed innocent until the contrary is proved. 6 In the case at bench, the
seizure was made without any warrant. Under the Rules of Court, 7 a warrantless search can only be
undertaken under the following circumstance:

Sec. 12. Search incident to a lawful arrest. - A person lawfully arrested may be searched for dangerous
weapons or anything which may be used as proof of the commission of an offense, without a search
warrant.

We hold that the evidence did not justify the warrantless search and seizure of private respondents'
goods. Petitioner corporation received information that private respondents were illegally selling Boy
Scouts items and paraphernalia in October 1983. The specific date and time are not established in the
evidence adduced by the parties. Petitioner de Guzman then made a surveillance of the stores of private
respondents. They reported to the Philippine Constabulary and on October 25, 1983, the raid was made
on the stores of private respondents and the supposed illicit goods were seized. The progression of time
between the receipt of the information and the raid of the stores of private respondents shows there
was sufficient time for petitioners and the PC raiding party to apply for a judicial warrant. Despite the
sufficiency of time, they did not apply for a warrant and seized the goods of private respondents. In
doing so, they took the risk of a suit for damages in case the seizure would be proved to violate the right
of private respondents against unreasonable search and seizure. In the case at bench, the search and
seizure were clearly illegal. There was no probable cause for the seizure. Probable cause for a search has
been defined as "such facts and circumstances which would lead a reasonably discreet and prudent man
to believe that an offense has been committed and that the objects sought in connection with the
offense are in the place sought to be searched." 8 These facts and circumstances were not in any way
shown by the petitioners to justify their warrantless search and seizure. Indeed, after a preliminary
investigation, the Provincial Fiscal of Rizal dismissed their complaint for unfair competition and later
ordered the return of the seized goods.

Petitioners would deflect their liability with the argument that it was the Philippine Constabulary that
conducted the raid and their participation was only to report the alleged illegal activity of private
respondents.

While undoubtedly, the members of the PC raiding team should have been included in the complaint for
violation of the private respondents' constitutional rights, still, the omission will not exculpate
petitioners.

In the case of Lim vs. Ponce de Leon, 9 we ruled for the recovery of damages for violation of
constitutional rights and liberties from public officer or private individual, thus:

Art. 32. Any public officer or employee, or any private individual, who directly or indirectly obstructs,
defeats, violates or in any manner impedes or impairs any of the following rights and liberties of another
person shall be liable to the latter for damages.

xxx xxx xxx

(9) The rights to be secure in one's person, house, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches
and seizures.

xxx xxx xxx

The indemnity shall include moral damages. Exemplary damages may also be adjudged.

Art. 2219. Moral damages may be recovered in the following and analogous cases:

xxx xxx xxx

(6) Illegal search;

(1) Acts and actions referred to in Articles 21, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 32, 34, and 35.

Pursuant to the foregoing provisions, a person whose constitutional rights have been violated or
impaired is entitled to actual and moral damages from the public officer or employee responsible
therefor. In addition, exemplary damages may also be awarded.

xxx xxx xxx


The very nature of Article 32 is that the wrong may be civil or criminal. It is not necessary therefore that
there should be malice or bad faith. To make such a requisite would defeat the main purpose of Article
32 which is the effective protection of individual rights. Public officials in the past have abused their
powers on the pretext of justifiable motives or good faith in the performance of their duties. Precisely,
the object of the Article is to put an end to official abuse by plea of the good faith. In the United States
this remedy is in the nature of a tort. (emphasis supplied)

In the subsequent case of Aberca vs. Ver, 10 the Court En Banc explained the liability of persons indirectly
responsible, viz:

[T]he decisive factor in this case, in our view, is the language of Article 32. The law speaks of an officer
or employee or person "directly or indirectly" responsible for the violation of the constitutional rights
and liberties of another. Thus, it is not the actor alone (i.e., the one directly responsible) who must
answer for damages under Article 32; the person indirectly responsible has also to answer for the
damages or injury caused to the aggrieved party.

xxx xxx xxx

While it would certainly be too naive to expect that violators of human rights would easily be deterred
by the prospect of facing damages suits, it should nonetheless be made clear in no uncertain terms that
Article 32 of the Civil Code makes the persons who are directly, as well as indirectly, responsible for the
transgression joint tortfeasors.

xxx xxx xxx

[N]either can it be said that only those shown to have participated "directly" should be held liable.
Article 32 of the Civil Code encompasses within the ambit of its provisions those directly, as well as
indirectly, responsible for its violations. (emphasis supplied)

Applying the aforecited provisions and leading cases, the respondent court correctly granted damages
to private respondents. Petitioners were indirectly involved in transgressing the right of private
respondents against unreasonable search and seizure. Firstly, they instigated the raid pursuant to their
covenant in the Memorandum Agreement to undertake the prosecution in court of all illegal sources of
scouting supplies. 11 As correctly observed by respondent court:

Indeed, the acts committed by the PC soldiers of unlawfully seizing appellees' (respondents')
merchandise and of filing the criminal complaint for unfair competition against appellees (respondents)
were for the protection and benefit of appellant (petitioner) corporation. Such being the case, it is, thus,
reasonably fair to infer from those acts that it was upon appellant (petitioner) corporation's instance
that the PC soldiers conducted the raid and effected the illegal seizure. These circumstances should
answer the trial court's query — posed in its decision now under consideration — as to why the PC
soldiers immediately turned over the seized merchandise to appellant (petitioner) corporation. 12

The raid was conducted with the active participation of their employee. Larry de Guzman did not lift a
finger to stop the seizure of the boy and girl scouts items. By standing by and apparently assenting
thereto, he was liable to the same extent as the officers themselves. 13 So with the petitioner
corporation which even received for safekeeping the goods unreasonably seized by the PC raiding team
and de Guzman, and refused to surrender them for quite a time despite the dismissal of its complaint
for unfair competition.

Secondly, Letter of Instruction No. 1299 was precisely crafted on March 9, 1983 to safeguard not only
the privilege of franchise holder of scouting items but also the citizen's constitutional rights, to wit:

TITLE: APPREHENSION OF UNAUTHORIZED MANUFACTURERS AND DISTRIBUTORS OF SCOUT


PARAPHERNALIA AND IMPOUNDING OF SAID PARAPHERNALIA.

ABSTRACT:

Directs all law enforcement agencies of the Republic of the Philippines, to apprehend immediately
unauthorized manufacturers and distributors of Scout paraphernalia, upon proper application by the Boy
Scouts of the Philippines and/or Girl Scouts of the Philippines for warrant of arrest and/or search warrant
with a judge, or such other responsible officer as may be authorized by law; and to impound the said
paraphernalia to be used as evidence in court or other appropriate administrative body. Orders
the immediate and strict compliance with the Instructions. 14

Under the above provision and as aforediscussed, petitioners miserably failed to report the unlawful
peddling of scouting goods to the Boy Scouts of the Philippines for the proper application of a warrant.
Private respondents' rights are immutable and cannot be sacrificed to transient needs. 15 Petitioners did
not have the unbridled license to cause the seizure of respondents' goods without any warrant.

And thirdly, if petitioners did not have a hand in the raid, they should have filed a third-party complaint
against the raiding team for contribution or any other relief, 16 in respect of respondents' claim for
Recovery of Sum of Money with Damages. Again, they did not.

We have consistently ruled that moral damages are not awarded to penalize the defendant but to
compensate the plaintiff for the injuries he may have suffered. 17 Conformably with our ruling in Lim vs.
Ponce de Leon, op. cit., moral damages can be awarded in the case at bench. There can be no doubt that
petitioners must have suffered sleepless nights, serious anxiety, and wounded feelings due the tortious
raid caused by petitioners. Private respondents' avowals of embarrassment and humiliation during the
seizure of their merchandise were supported by their testimonies. Respondent Cruz declared:

I felt very nervous. I was crying to loss (sic) my goods and capital because I am doing business with
borrowed money only, there was commotion created by the raiding team and they even stepped on
some of the pants and dresses on display for sale. All passersby stopped to watch and stared at me with
accusing expressions. I was trembling and terribly ashamed, sir. 18

Respondent Lugatiman testified:


I felt very nervous. I was crying and I was very much ashamed because many people have been watching
the PC soldiers hauling my items, and many/I (sic) heard say "nakaw pala ang mga iyan" for which I am
claiming P25,000.00 for damages.19

While respondent Gonzalez stated thus:

I do not like the way the raid was conducted by the team sir because it looked like that what I have been
selling were stolen items that they should be confiscated by uniformed soldiers. Many people were
around and the more the confiscation was made in a scandalous manner; every clothes, T-shirts, pants
and dresses even those not wrapped dropped to the ground. I was terribly shamed in the presence of
market goers that morning.20

Needles to state, the wantonness of the wrongful seizure justifies the award of exemplary damages. 21 It
will also serve as a stern reminder to all and sundry that the constitutional protection against
unreasonable search and seizure is a virile reality and not a mere burst of rhetoric. The all encompassing
protection extends against intrusions directly done both by government and indirectly by private
entities.

IN VIEW WHEREOF, the appealed decision is AFFIRMED WITH MODIFICATION. We impose a SIX PERCENT
(6%) interest from January 9, 1987 on the TWO THOUSAND PESOS (P2,000.00) for the unreturned
twenty-six (26) pieces of girl scouts items and a TWELVE PERCENT (12%) interest, in lieu of SIX PERCENT
(6%), on the said amount upon finality of this Decision until the payment thereof. 22 Costs against
petitioners.

SO ORDERED.

Narvasa, Padilla, Regalado, and Mendoza, JJ., concur.

#Footnotes

1 Exhibit "1".

2 I.S. No. 83-15275 before the Rizal Provincial Fiscal's Office.

3 Demand letters were sent on March 22, 1984 and April 11, 1984.

4 RTC, NJCR, Pasig, Branch 151.

5 Penned by Mr. Justice Jesus M. Elbinias, and concurred by Justices Floreliana C. Bartolome and
Antonio M. Martinez.

6 Bagalihog vs. Fernandez, G.R. No. 96356, June 27, 1991, 198 SCRA 614.

7 Section 12, Rule 126 of the Rules of Court.


8 Burgos, Sr. vs. Chief of Staff, AFP, No. L-64261, December 26, 1984, 133 SCRA 800.

9 No. L-22554, August 29, 1975, 66 SCRA 299.

10 No. L-69866, April 15, 1988, 160 SCRA 590.

11 Supra.

12 Rollo, p. 22, Court of Appeals Decision, p. 9.

13 Am. Jur., 47 [1943], see Hebrew vs. Pulis, 73 NJL 621, 64 A 121, 7 LRA(NS) 580, 118 Am St Rep 716.

14 Court of Appeals Decision, pp. 5-6; Rollo, pp. 18-19.

15 See, Aberca vs. Ver, op cit.

16 Section 12, Rule 6, Rules of Court.

17 Simex International (Manila), Inc. vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 88013, March 19, 1990, 183 SCRA
360.

18 Rollo, p. 17.

19 Id., pp. 17-18.

20 Id., p. 18.

21 Article 2229, Civil Code.

22 Eastern Shipping Lines, Inc., vs. Hon. Court of Appeals and Mercantile Insurance Company, Inc., G.R.
No. 97412, July 12, 1994.

The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation

MAXIMO MARCIA, AMALIA MOJICA, TIRSO YAP, DAMIANA MARCIA, EDGAR MARCIA, and RENATO
YAP, petitioners, vs. COURT OF APPREALS, FELARDO PAJE and VICTORY LINER, INC., respondents.

Facts:

On December 23, 1956, in the municipality of Lubao Pampanga, a bus operated by Victory Liner, Inc. and
driven by Felardo Paje, collided with a jeep driven by Clemente Marcia, resulting in the latter’s death
and in physical injuries to petitioner Edgar Marcia and Renato Yap. Thereupon, an information
for homicide and serious physical injuries thru reckless imprudence was filed against Paje in RTC
Pampanga.

On January 23, 1957 an action for damages was filed in the RTC of Rizal by the petitioner against Victory
and Paje, alleging that the mishap due to the reckless imprudence and negligence of the latter in driving.
While the civil case was in progress in Rizal, RTC Pampanga rendered its decision and convicted the
respondent. However, in their appeal to the Ca they were acquitted.

As conducted by the CA, criminal negligence is wanting in the case, and that Paje was not even guilty of
Civil Negligence because it was a case of mere accident.

Respondent Paje in the Civil Case in Rizal moved for dismissal of the complaint invoking the decision of
the CA for his acquittal. However, the Rizal RTC dismissed the motion and thereafter continued the trial.
The RTC Rizal dismissed the complaint against Victory and Paje based on the decision of the CA.

The petitioner appealed to the CA invoking Article 33 of the New Civil Code and Sec. 2 of Rule 111 of the
Rules of Court and not Sec. 3.

The CA held that private respondent cannot be held civilly liable after it had ruled in the criminal action
that negligence was wanting and that the collision was pure accident.

Issue:

Whether the civil case filed separately be dismissed.

Ruling:

It was held by the court that Article 33 speaks only of defamation, fraud and
physical injuries. The injuries suffered by the petitioners were alleged to be the result of criminal
negligence; they were not inflicted with malice. Hence, no independent civil action for damages maybe
instituted in connection therewith. Furthermore, Section 3 (c), Rule 111 of the Rules of Court states that
“extinction of the penal action does not carry with it extinction of the civil, unless the extinction
proceeds from which the civil might arise did not exist.” Otherwise stated, unless the act from which the
civil liability arises is declared to be non-existent in the final judgment, the extinction of the
criminal liability will not carry with it the extinction of the civil liability.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

FIRST DIVISION

G.R. No. L-34529 January 27, 1983

MAXIMO MARCIA, AMALIA MOJICA, TIRSO YAP, DAMIANA MARCIA, EDGAR MARCIA, and RENATO
YAP, petitioners,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS, FELARDO PAJE, and VICTORY LINER, INC., respondents.

Ricardo J. Francisco, for petitioners.


Flors, Macapagal, Ocampo & Dizon for private respondents.

RELOVA, J.:

Appeal by certiorari from the decision of the Court of Appeals affirming the judgment of the Court of
First Instance of Rizal, which dismissed the complaint filed by tile petitioners against private respondents
in the concept of an independent civil action for damages for physical injuries resulting from reckless
imprudence.

On December 23, 1956, in the municipality of Lubao, Pampanga, a passenger bus operated by private
respondent Victory Liner, Inc. and driven by its employee. private respondent Felardo Paje, collided with
a jeep driven by Clemente Marcia, resulting in the latter's death and in physical injuries to herein
petitioners, Edgar Marcia and Renato Yap. Thereupon, an information for homicide and serious physical
injuries thru reckless imprudence was filed against Felardo Paje in the Court of First Instance of
Pampanga (Criminal Case No. 2745).

On January 23, 1957, an action for damages (Civil Case No. 4425) was filed in the Court of First Instance
of Rizal by Edgar Marcia and Renato Yap, together with their respective parents. against the Victory
Liner, Inc. and Felardo Paje, alleging that, the mishap was due to the reckless imprudence and
negligence of the latter in driving the passenger bus.

While said Civil Case No. 4425 was in progress in the Court of First Instance of Rizal, the criminal action
proceeded in the Court of First Instance of Pampanga (Criminal Case No. 2745). The accused Felardo
Paje was convicted of the offense charged. However, on appeal to the Court of Appeals, he was
acquitted in a decision promulgated on November 3, 1982, based on the findings, to wit:

1 That the Victory Liner bus left its post, kilometer post no. 156, in San Marcelino, Zambales, at about
2:00 AM

2 That on the highway at Lubao, Pampanga, between Posts Nos. 83 and 84, the appellant driver thereof,
saw a cargo truck parked in the middle of the right lane of the road to Manila, without

3 That appellant slackened the speed of his truck from 60 km. p.h. to 35 or 40 km. p. h. in order to pass
said truck;

4 That the appellant did not see the oncoming jeep until it swerved to the left.

5 That the jeep was still far so appellant attempted to pass the truck but before he could do so, the jeep
came very fast at the center of the road and out of its lane.

6 That the passengers of the bus shouted at the appellant to bring the bus to the side so as to avoid a
frontal collision with he jeep, and appellant brought his bus to the right shoulder of the road going to
Bataan;
7 That the jeep driven by the deceased Clemente Marcia was running at a fast pace for which reason the
driver lost control and veered sharply to the right shoulder of the road and crashed into the bus, parked
thereat a few seconds before.

8 That appellant was not speeding, was diligent, and hence, not liable for the collision which at the least,
was a fortuitous event for which no one was responsible.

and the conclusion that "CRIMINAL NEGLIGENCE is WANTING in this case, and that appellant was NOT
even guilty of CIVIL NEGLIGENCE, Insofar as appellant was concerned, it was a case of PURE ACCIDENT."

As a consequence, herein private respondents, defendants in Civil Case No. 4425 of the Court of First
Instance of Rizal, moved for the dismissal of the complaint invoking the decision of the Court of Appeals
acquitting Felardo Paje and citing Section I (d), Rule 107 of the Rules of Court now Section 3 (c), Rule I I I
of the New Rules of Court), which reads:

SECTION 1. Rules governing civil actions arising from offenses. — Except as otherwise provided by law,
the following rules shall be observed:

xxx xxx xxx

(d) Extinction of the penal action does not carry with it extinction of the civil, unless the extinction
proceeds from a declaration in a final judgment that the fact from which the civil might arise did not
exist. In the other cases, the persons entitled to the civil action may institute it in the jurisdiction and in
the manner provided by law against the person who may be liable for restitution of the thing and
reparation or indemnity for the damages suffered.

The trial court denied the motion to dismiss and, thereafter, continued to hear defendants' (herein
private respondents) evidence. The following were presented as defendants' evidence in chief:

(a) the whole record of Criminal Case No. 2745 of the Court of First Instance of Pampanga in which
defendant Felardo Paje was by reason of the occurrence prosecuted criminally and convicted of
homicide with serious physical injuries thru reckless imprudence;

(b) the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. 01691 Cr, acquitting the accused; and

(c) copy of the brief of the said defendant as accused-appellant in the said Court of Appeals case.

On August 10, 1966, the Court of First Instance of Rizal rendered a decision dismissing plaintiffs'
complaint against the defendants Victory Liner, Inc. and Felardo Paje, without pronouncement as to
costs.

Petitioners appealed the case to the (Court of Appeals CA-G.R. No. 38964-R) alleging that the acquittal
of Paje in the criminal action for homicide and serious physical injuries thru reckless imprudence "is not
a ground for dismissing the complaint in the instant civil action; that the instant civil action is entirely
separate and distinct from the criminal action and shall proceed independently of the criminal
prosecution, so that whatever may have been the result of the criminal action is irrelevant to this civil
action; that Section 2 of Rule 111 of the Rules of Court and not Section 3, paragraph (c) of the said rule
applies; that the statement in the decision of the Court of Appeals in the criminal action that defendant
Paje as accused therein was not guilty of civil negligence is without the jurisdiction of the said Court to
make and is to be completely disregarded as an extraneous, officious and void statement which cannot
affect in any way the instant civil action; that the records of the criminal action against defendant Paje
are inadmissible evidence; that it has been established in the case at bar, not only by preponderance of
evidence but by uncontradicted, conclusive evidence that petitioners suffered damages as a proximate
result of the negligence of respondent Paje and that it has been established, not only by preponderance
of evidence but by uncontradicted, conclusive evidence, that the damages suffered by petitioners as a
result of the negligence of private respondents is in the amount of P250,817.96, and that the latter
should be sentenced, jointly and severally, to pay the same to petitioner.

In the meantime, the heirs of Clemente Marcia who, as aforesaid, died as a result of the collision,
instituted a separate civil action in the Court of First Instance of Rizal (Civil Case No. 6880) for damages
based on the alleged reckless imprudence of bus driver Felardo Paje, praying that the driver and the
Victory Liner, Inc. be ordered to pay jointly and severally the amount of damages claimed. The complaint
of the heirs of Clemente Marcia was dismissed by the trial court. Appeal on questions of law was taken
to this Court (Laura Corpus et al vs. Felardo Paje at al, 28 SCRA 1062) which, however, affirmed the
order for the reason, among others, that "(1) The acquittal of the defendant Felardo Paje by the Court of
Appeals in the criminal action on the ground that the reckless imprudence or criminal negligence
charged against him did not exist and that the collision was a case of pure accident, was a bar to the civil
action for damages for the death of Clemente Marcia, which action was based upon the same criminal
negligence of which the defendant Felardo Paje was acquitted in the criminal action."

Following the ruling of this Court in the Corpus vs. Paje decision, respondent Court of Appeals held that
the private respondents Cannot be held civilly liable after it had ruled in the criminal action that
negligence was wanting and that the collision was a case of pure accident.

Dissatisfied with the decision, petitioners have come to US alleging that the Court of Appeals erred:

I.

IN NOT HOLDING THAT PETITIONERS INSTANT CIVIL ACTION FOR DAMAGES AGAINST PRIVATE
RESPONDENTS FOR PHYSICAL INJURIES RESULTING FROM NEGLIGENCE IS AN INDEPENDENT ONE,
ENTIRELY SEPARATE AND DISTINCT FROM THE CRIMINAL ACTION, UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF ARTICLES
33, 2176 AND 2177 OF THE NEW (CIVIL CODE AND SECTION 2 OF RULE 111 OF THE RULES OF COURT.
AND IN INSTEAD HOLDING THAT THE INSTANT ACTION IS NOT AMONG THE INDEPENDENT CIVIL
ACTIONS AUTHORIZED BY THE SAID PROVISIONS.

II.

IN NOT HOLDING THAT THE ACQUITTAL OF RESPONDENT FELARDO PAJE, DRIVER OF RESPONDENT
VICTORY LINER, INC., IN THE CRIMINAL ACTION BASED ON THE SAID PHYSICAL INJURIES AND
NEGLIGENCE IS ENTIRELY IRRELEVANT TO THE INSTANT CIVIL ACTION FOR DAMAGES BY VIRTUE OF THE
AFORECITED PROVISIONS OF THE NEW CIVIL CODE AND THE RULES OF COURT, AND IN INSTEAD
HOLDING THAT THE SAID ACQUITTAL IS A BAR TO THE INSTANT CIVIL ACTION UNDER SECTION 3 (c) OF
RULE I I I AND SECTION 49 (c) OF RULE 39 OF THE RULES OF COURT.

III.

IN NOT HOLDING THAT THE EVIDENCE ADDUCED BY PRIVATE RESPONDENTS IN THE INSTANT CIVIL
ACTION FOR DAMAGES, CONSISTING OF THE RECORDS OF THE CRIMINAL ACTION IN THE TRIAL COURT,
THE DECISION OF THE COURT OF APPEALS ACQUITTING RESPONDENT PAJE AND THE COPY OF THE BRIEF
OF THE SAID RESPONDENT AS ACCUSED-APPELLANT, ARE INADMISSIBLE IN THE INSTANT CIVIL ACTION
FOR DAMAGES.

IV.

IN NOT HOLDING THAT IT HAS BEEN ESTABLISHED IN THE CASE AT BAR, NOT ONLY BY PREPONDERANCE
OF EVIDENCE BUT BY UNCONTRADICTED, CONCLUSIVE EVIDENCE, THAT PETITIONERS SUFFERED
DAMAGES AS A PROXIMATE RESULT OF THE NEGLIGENCE OF RESPONDENT PAJE.

V.

IN NOT HOLDING THAT IT HAS BEEN ESTABLISHED, NOT ONLY BY PREPONDERANCE OF EVIDENCE BUT
BY UNCONTRADICTED, CONCLUSIVE EVIDENCE, THAT THE DAMAGES SUFFERED BY PETITIONERS AS A
RESULT OF THE NEGLIGENCE OF DEFENDANTS IS IN THE AMOUNT OF P250,817.96, AND IN NOT
SENTENCING PRIVATE RESPONDENTS JOINTLY AND SEVERALLY TO PAY THE SAME TO PETITIONERS.

It is the stand of herein petitioners that Section 2, Rule 111 of the Rules of Court, not Section 3 (c)
thereof, should apply in the case at bar.

Sec. 2. Independent civil action. — In the cases provided for in Articles 31, 32, 33, 34 and 2177 of the
Civil Code of the Philippines, an independent civil action entirely separate and distinct from the criminal
action, may be brought by the injured party during the pendency of the criminal case, provided the right
is reserved as required in the preceding section. Such civil action shall proceed independently of the
criminal prosecution, and shall require only a preponderance of evidence.

We do not agree, Section 2 of Rule 111 merely refers to the institution of an independent civil action
without waiting for the filing or termination of the criminal action and requires only preponderance of
evidence to prosper and not proof beyond reasonable doubt as required for conviction in criminal cases.
However, an acquittal based on the finding that the facts upon which civil liability did not exist, bars the
filing of an independent civil action if it is based on the crime. As early as 1952, We have held in the case
of Tan vs. Standard Vacuum Oil Company 91 Phil. 672, that "the acquittal of the accused from the
criminal charge will not necessarily extinguish the civil liability unless the court declares in the judgment
that the fact from which the civil liability might arise did not exist. Where the court states 'that the
evidence throws no light on the cause of fire and that it was an unfortunate accident for which the
accused cannot be held responsible,' this declaration fits well into the exception of the rule which
exempts the accused, from civil liability. " Likewise, in Albornoz vs. Albornoz, 98 Phil. 785, it was the
ruling that "where the judgment in a criminal action contains an express declaration that the basis of
claimant's action did not exist, the latter's action for civil liability is barred under section 1 (d) Rule 107
of the Rules of Court." And, in De Mesa vs. Priela 24 SCRA 582, this Court, speaking through then Chief
Justice Roberto Concepcion, ruled that extinction of the penal action does not carry with it extinction of
the civil, unless the extinction proceeds from a declaration in a final judgment that the fact from which
the civil might arise did not exist. In other cases, the person entitled to the civil action may institute it in
the jurisdiction and in the manner provided by law against the person who may be liable for restitution
of the thing and reparation or indemnity for the damage suffered (Sec. 3 [c], Rule 111, Rules of Court.)"

As held in Corpus vs. Paje, supra, reckless imprudence or criminal negligence is not one of the three
crimes mentioned in Article 33 of the Civil Code, which provides:

ART. 33. In cases of defamation, fraud, and physical injuries, a civil action for damages, entirely separate
and distinct from the criminal action may be brought by the injured party. Such civil action shall proceed
independently of the criminal prosecution, and shall require only a preponderance of evidence.

The above article speaks only of defamation, fraud and physical injuries. The injuries suffered by herein
petitioners were alleged to be the result of criminal negligence; they were not inflicted with malice.
Hence, no independent civil action for damages may be instituted in connection therewith. Further,
Section 3 (c), Rule 111 of the Rules of Court states that "(c) Extinction of the penal action does not carry
with it extinction of the civil, unless the extinction proceeds from a declaration in a final judgment that
the fact from which the civil might arise did not exist." Otherwise stated, unless the act from which the
civil liability arises is declared to be nonexistent in the final judgment, the extinction of the criminal
liability will not carry with it the extinction of the civil liability. Thus, if a person is charged with homicide
and successfully pleaded self-defense, his acquittal by reason thereof will extinguish his civil liability. He
has not incurred any criminal liability. On the other hand, if his acquittal is, for instance, due to the fact
that he was not sufficiently Identified to be the assailant, a civil action for damages may be maintained.
His acquittal is not due to non-existence of the crime from which civil liability might arise, but because
he was not, in the eyes of the court, sufficiently Identified as the perpetrator of the crime.

In People vs. Buan, 22 SCRA 1383, this Court, speaking through Mr. Justice J.B.L. Reyes, said that "the
essence of the quasi offense of criminal negligence under Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code lies in
the execution of an imprudent or negligent act that, if intentionally done, would be punishable as a
felony. The law penalizes the negligent or careless act, not the result thereof. The gravity of the
consequence is only taken into account to determine the penalty; it does not qualify the substance of
the offense.

The charge against Felardo Paje was not for homicide and physical injuries but for reckless imprudence
or criminal negligence resulting in homicide (death of Clemente Marcia) and physical injuries suffered by
Edgar Marcia and Renato Yap. They are not one of the three (3) crimes mentioned in Article 33 of the
Civil Code and, therefore, no civil action shall proceed independently of the criminal prosecution.

The case of Laura Corpus vs. Felardo Paje (supra) is the same as the case at bar, the only difference
being the party-plaintiffs or petitioners. Clemente Marcia died, while Edgar Marcia and Renato Yap
suffered physical injuries in the same accident. The heirs of Clemente Marcia filed Civil Case No. 6880 in
the Court of First Instance of Rizal against herein respondents. The case was dismissed and appealed
directly to this Court.1äwphï1.ñët The order appealed from was affirmed, as recorded in Laura Corpus
vs. Felardo Paje, 28 SCRA 1062.

The case at bar (Civil Case No. 4425) was filed by Edgar Marcia and Renato Yap against the same
defendants in the Court of First Instance of Rizal. After trial, the case was dismissed and affirmed by the
Court of Appeals. It is now before Us on appeal by certiorari from the said decision.

Relative to the admissibility of the documents, to wit; (a) the records of the criminal case against Paje,
(b) the decision of the Court of Appeals acquitting the latter; and (c) copy of the brief of the respondent
Paje as accused-appellant, suffice it to say that since petitioners' cause of action is based on the alleged
recklessness and imprudence of respondent Paje it necessarily follows that his acquittal by the Court of
Appeals and its declaration that the mishap was "pure accident" are relevant and material evidence. In
fact, the lower court may even take judicial notice of the decision of the Court of Appeals in said criminal
case.

Finally, with respect to the findings of fact of the Court of Appeals, well settled is the rule that the same
are final and cannot be disturbed by Us, particularly where they are based, as they are in the case at bar,
upon substantial evidence.

WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is hereby AFFIRMED in toto. With costs against the petitioners.

SO ORDERED.

Teehankee (Chairman), Melencio-Herrera, Plana, Vasquez and Gutierrez, Jr., JJ., concur.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. L-51183 December 21, 1983

CARMEN L. MADEJA, petitioner,


vs.
HON. FELIX T. CARO and EVA ARELLANO-JAPZON, respondents.

Ernesto P. Miel for petitioner.

Gorgonio T. Alvarez for respondents.

ABAD SANTOS, J.:ñé+.£ªwph!1


In Criminal Case No. 75-88 of the defunct Court of First Instance of Eastern Samar, DR. EVA A. JAPZON is
accused of homicide through reckless imprudence for the death of Cleto Madeja after an
appendectomy. The complaining witness is the widow of the deceased, Carmen L. Madeja. The
information states that: "The offended party Carmen L. Madeja reserving her right to file a separate civil
action for damages." (Rollo, p. 36.)

The criminal case still pending, Carmen L. Madeja sued Dr. Eva A. Japzon for damages in Civil Case No.
141 of the same court. She alleged that her husband died because of the gross negligence of Dr. Japzon.
The respondent judge granted the defendant's motion to dismiss which motion invoked Section 3(a) of
Rule 111 of the Rules of Court which reads:têñ.£îhqwâ£

Sec. 3. Other civil actions arising from offenses. — In all cases not included in the preceding section the
following rules shall be observed:

(a) Criminal and civil actions arising from the same offense may be instituted separately, but after the
criminal action has been commenced the civil action can not be instituted until final judgment has been
rendered in the criminal action. ...

According to the respondent judge, "under the foregoing Sec. 3 (a), Rule 111, New Rules of Court, the
instant civil action may be instituted only after final judgment has been rendered in the criminal action."
(Rollo, p. 33.)

The instant petition which seeks to set aside the order of the respondent judge granting the defendant's
motion to dismiss Civil Case No. 141 is highly impressed with merit.

Section 2, Rule 111 of the Rules of Court in relation to Article 33 of the Civil Code is the applicable
provision. The two enactments are quoted hereinbelow:têñ.£îhqwâ£

Sec. 2. Independent civil action. — In the cases provided for in Articles 31,32, 33, 34 and 2177 of the Civil
Code of the Philippines, an independent civil action entirely separate and distinct from the criminal
action, may be brought by the injured party during the pendency of the criminal case, provided the right
is reserved as required in the preceding section. Such civil action shall proceed independently of the
criminal prosecution, and shall require only a preponderance of evidence." (Rule 111, Rules of Court.)

Art. 33. In cases of defamation, fraud, and physical injuries, a civil action for damages, entirely separate
and distinct from the criminal action, may be brought by the injured party. Such civil action shall
proceed independently of the criminal prosecution, and shall require only a preponderance of evidence.
(Civil Code,)

There are at least two things about Art. 33 of the Civil Code which are worth noting, namely:

1. The civil action for damages which it allows to be instituted is ex-delicto. This is manifest from the
provision which uses the expressions "criminal action" and "criminal prosecution." This conclusion is
supported by the comment of the Code Commission, thus:têñ.£îhqwâ£
The underlying purpose of the principle under consideration is to allow the citizen to enforce his rights
in a private action brought by him, regardless of the action of the State attorney. It is not conducive to
civic spirit and to individual self-reliance and initiative to habituate the citizens to depend upon the
government for the vindication of their own private rights. It is true that in many of the cases referred to
in the provision cited, a criminal prosecution is proper, but it should be remembered that while the
State is the complainant in the criminal case, the injured individual is the one most concerned because it
is he who has suffered directly. He should be permitted to demand reparation for the wrong which
peculiarly affects him. (Report, p. 46.)

And Tolentino says:têñ.£îhqwâ£

The general rule is that when a criminal action is instituted, the civil action for recovery of civil liability
arising from the offense charged is impliedly instituted with the criminal action, unless the offended
party reserves his right to institute it separately; and after a criminal action has been commenced, no
civil action arising from the same offense can be prosecuted. The present articles creates an exception
to this rule when the offense is defamation, fraud, or physical injuries, In these cases, a civil action may
be filed independently of the criminal action, even if there has been no reservation made by the injured
party; the law itself in this article makes such reservation; but the claimant is not given the right to
determine whether the civil action should be scheduled or suspended until the criminal action has been
terminated. The result of the civil action is thus independent of the result of the civil action." (I Civil
Code, p. 144 [1974.])

2. The term "physical injuries" is used in a generic sense. It is not the crime of physical injuries defined in
the Revised Penal Code. It includes not only physical injuries but consummated, frustrated and
attempted homicide.têñ.£îhqwâ£

The Article in question uses the words 'defamation', 'fraud' and 'physical injuries.' Defamation and fraud
are used in their ordinary sense because there are no specific provisions in the Revised Penal Code using
these terms as means of offenses defined therein, so that these two terms defamation and fraud must
have been used not to impart to them any technical meaning in the laws of the Philippines, but in their
generic sense. With this apparent circumstance in mind, it is evident that the terms 'physical injuries'
could not have been used in its specific sense as a crime defined in the Revised Penal Code, for it is
difficult to believe that the Code Commission would have used terms in the same article-some in their
general and another in its technical sense. In other words, the term 'physical injuries' should be
understood to mean bodily injury, not the crime of physical injuries, bacause the terms used with the
latter are general terms. In any case the Code Commission recommended that the civil action for
physical injuries be similar to the civil action for assault and battery in American Law, and this
recommendation must hove been accepted by the Legislature when it approved the article intact as
recommended. If the intent has been to establish a civil action for the bodily harm received by the
complainant similar to the civil action for assault and battery, as the Code Commission states, the civil
action should lie whether the offense committed is that of physical injuries, or frustrated homicide, or
attempted homicide, or even death," (Carandang vs. Santiago, 97 Phil. 94, 96-97 [1955].)
Corpus vs. Paje, L-26737, July 31, 1969, 28 SCRA 1062, which states that reckless imprudence or criminal
negligence is not included in Article 33 of the Civil Code is not authoritative. Of eleven justices only nine
took part in the decision and four of them merely concurred in the result.

In the light of the foregoing, it is apparent that the civil action against Dr. Japzon may proceed
independently of the criminal action against her.

WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby granted; the order dismissing Civil Case No. 141 is hereby set aside;
no special pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.1äwphï1.ñët

Makasiar (Chairman), Concepcion, Jr., Guerrero, De Castro and Escolin, JJ., concur.

Separate Opinions

AQUINO, J., concurring:

I concur. Death due to a negligent act may be a delict or quasi-delict. It may create a civil action based
on article 100 of the Penal Code or an action based on culpa aquiliana under article 2176 of the Civil
Code. These alternatives are assumed in article 2177 of the Civil Code "but the plaintiff cannot recover
twice for the same act or omission of the defendant" (Barredo vs. Garcia, 73 Phil. 607 and Sudario vs.
Acro Taxi and Yuson, 86 Phil. 1. See Formento vs. CA, L-26442, August 29,1969,29 SCRA 437).

The term "physical injuries" in article 33 of the Civil Code includes death and may give rise to an
independent civil action (Dyogi vs. Yatco, 100 Phil. 1095).

The rule in Corpus vs. Paje, L-26737, July 31, 1969, 28 SCRA 1062, that reckless imprudence is not
included in article 33 of the Civil Code, is not authoritative doctrine because it was concurred in by
only five Justices. Four Justices concurred in the result.

Separate Opinions

AQUINO, J., concurring:

I concur. Death due to a negligent act may be a delict or quasi-delict. It may create a civil action based
on article 100 of the Penal Code or an action based on culpa aquiliana under article 2176 of the Civil
Code. These alternatives are assumed in article 2177 of the Civil Code "but the plaintiff cannot recover
twice for the same act or omission of the defendant" (Barredo vs. Garcia, 73 Phil. 607 and Sudario vs.
Acro Taxi and Yuson, 86 Phil. 1. See Formento vs. CA, L-26442, August 29,1969,29 SCRA 437).

The term "physical injuries" in article 33 of the Civil Code includes death and may give rise to an
independent civil action (Dyogi vs. Yatco, 100 Phil. 1095).

The rule in Corpus vs. Paje, L-26737, July 31, 1969, 28 SCRA 1062, that reckless imprudence is not
included in article 33 of the Civil Code, is not authoritative doctrine because it was concurred in by
only five Justices. Four Justices concurred in the result.

Madeja vs. Caro, 126 SCRA 293 , December 21, 1983

Civil Law; Damages; Article 33 of the Civil Code; Civil action allowed to be instituted is ex-delicto.—The
civil action for damages which it allows to be instituted is ex delicto, This is manifest from the provision
which uses the expressions ''criminal action" and "criminal prosecution."

Same; Same; Same; Physical injuries, scope of.—The term "physical injuries" is used in a generic sense. It
is not the crime of physical injuries defined in the Revised Penal Code. It includes not only physical
injuries but consummated, frustrated and attempted homicide.

Same; Same; Same; Corpus vs. Paje (28 SCRA 1062) holding that reckless imprudence or criminal
negligence is not included in Article 33 of the Civil Code, not authoritative; Reason.—Corpus vs. Paje,
L26737, July 31, 1969, 28 SCRA 1062, which states that reckless imprudence or criminal negligence is not
included in Article 33 of the Civil Code is not authoritative. Of eleven justices only nine took part in the
decision and four of them merely concurred in the result.

Same; Same; Same; Civil action for damages may proceed independently of the criminal action for
homicide through reckless imprudence.—ln the light of the foregoing, it is apparent that the civil action
against Dr. Japzon may proceed independently of the criminal action against her.