Occena v. Icamina (G.R. No. 82146)

Facts:

Petitioner Eulogio Occena filed a criminal complaint for Grave Oral Defamation against private respondent Cristina Vegafria alleging that the latter had openly, publicly and maliciously insulted him by uttering that he is a “foolish Barangay Captain, traitor, tyrant and Judas” which caused great and irreparable injury to his person and honor. After trial, Cristina was found guilty of Slight Oral Defamation and was sentenced to pay the fine. However, the trial court did not award damages to petitioner stating that the facts and circumstances did not warrant the awarding of moral damages. Petitioner appealed the civil liability of Cristina but was denied.

Issue:

Whether or not petitioner is entitled to moral damages.

Ruling: YES.

Article 2219, par. (7) of the Civil Code allows the recovery of moral damages in case of libel, slander or any other form of defamation This provision of law establishes the right of an offended party in a case for oral defamation to recover from the guilty party damages for injury to his feelings and reputation. The offended party is likewise allowed to recover punitive or exemplary damages.

It must be remembered that every defamatory imputation is presumed to be malicious, even if it be true, if no good intention and justifiable motive for making it is shown. And malice may be inferred from the style and tone of publication subject to certain exceptions which are not present in the case at bar. Calling petitioner who was a barangay captain an ignoramus, traitor, tyrant and Judas is clearly an imputation of defects in petitioner’s character sufficient to cause him embarrassment and social humiliation. Petitioner testified to the feelings of shame and anguish he suffered as a result of the incident complained of.

From the evidence presented, we rule that for the injury to his feelings and reputation, being a barangay captain, petitioner is entitled to moral damages in the sum of P5,000.00 and a further sum of P5,000.00 as exemplary damages.

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People v. Plana (G.R. No. 128285)

Facts:

Helen Pirote had been missing for 3 days, and when she was found, she was already lifeless and decomposing. A witness (Lagud) came forward and recounted that 3 days before Helen’s body was found, on that same place, he saw 4 persons ganging up on a girl; the girl was being raped and later stabbed. Frightened that the assailants would see him, he ran away. He later learned that the deceased was Helen. In his affidavit and in his testimony in court, Lagud identified the 4 men he saw as the defendant appellants herein Plana, Perayra, Saldevea, and Banday. After due trial, the court found the 4 accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Rape with Homicide and ordered them to pay jointly and severally the heirs of the victim P50,000 as civil liability.

Issue:

Whether or not the amount of the award of civil liability is proper.

Ruling: NO.

However, there is need to modify the damages awarded to the heirs of Helen by the trial court. In addition to the sum of P25,000.00 as actual damages, the trial court awarded to the heirs of Helen the sum of P50,000.00 as civil indemnity. This amount should be increased in consonance with prevailing jurisprudence fixing the civil indemnity in cases of rape with homicide at P100,000.00. The Court, likewise, finds it proper to award the sum of P50,000.00 as moral damages. The award of moral damages may be made to the heirs of the victim in a criminal proceeding without need of proof. The fact that they suffered the trauma of mental or physical and psychological sufferings which constitute the basis for moral damages under the Civil Code are too obvious to still require recital thereof at trial.

Wassmer v. Velez (G.R. No. L-20089)

Facts:

Plaintiff Beatriz Wassmer and defendant Francisco Velez decided to get married. Two days before the wedding date, Francisco left a note for his bride-to-be saying that the wedding have to be postponed because his mother disapproves of it, and he will be leaving. The next day, he sent a telegram saying that he will be returning soon, but Francisco never appeared nor was he heard from again. Beatriz sued for damages and the court ordered defendant to pay damages. On appeal, Francisco asserted that he cannot be held liable from an action for breach of promise to marry.

Issue:

Whether or not defendant may be held liable.

Ruling: YES.

It must not be overlooked, however, that the extent to which acts not contrary to law may be perpetrated with impunity, is not limitless for Article 21 of said Code provides that “any person who wilfully causes loss or injury to another in a manner that is contrary to morals, good customs or public policy shall compensate the latter for the damage.”

Surely this is not a case of mere breach of promise to marry. As stated, mere breach of promise to marry is not an actionable wrong. But to formally set a wedding and go through all the preparation and publicity, only to walk out of it when the matrimony is about to be solemnized, is quite different. This is palpably and unjustifiably contrary to good customs for which defendant must be held answerable in damages in accordance with Article 21 aforesaid.

The record reveals that plaintiff and defendant applied for a license to contract marriage, which was subsequently issued. Their wedding was set. Invitations were printed and distributed to relatives, friends and acquaintances. The bride-to-be’s trousseau, party dresses and other apparel for the important occasion were purchased. Dresses for the maid of honor and the flower girl were prepared. A matrimonial bed, with accessories, was bought. Bridal showers were given and gifts received. And then, with but two days before the wedding, defendant, who was then 28 years old, simply left a note for plaintiff stating: “Will have to postpone wedding — My mother opposes it…“ He enplaned to his home city in Mindanao, and the next day, the day before the wedding, he wired plaintiff: “Nothing changed rest assured returning soon.” But he never returned and was never heard from again.

Maniago v. CA (G.R. No. 104392)

Facts:

One of the shuttle buses owned by petitioner Ruben Maniago, and driven by Herminio Andaya, figured in a vehicular accident with a passenger jeepney owned by respondent Boado along Loakan Road, Baguio City. A criminal case for reckless imprudence resulting in damage to property and multiple physical injuries was filed against petitioner’s driver. A month later, respondent Boado filed a civil case for damages against petitioner Maniago himself. Petitioner moved that the civil case be suspended citing that a criminal case was already pending. The trial court denied the motion on the ground that the civil action could proceed independently of the criminal action. On appeal to CA, petitioner reiterated his contention adding that the civil action could not proceed because no reservation to bring it separately was made in the criminal case. CA affirmed the trial court’s decision.

Issue:

Whether or not the civil action may proceed independently of the criminal action when no reservation of right to bring it separately was made.

Ruling: NO.

*We have reached the conclusion that the right to bring an action for damages under the Civil Code must be reserved as required by Rule III, §1, otherwise it should be dismissed.

To begin with, §1 quite clearly requires that a reservation must be made to institute separately all civil actions for the recovery of civil liability, otherwise they will be deemed to have been instituted with the criminal case. Such civil actions are not limited to those which arise “from the offense charged,” as originally provided in Rule III before the amendment of the Rules of Court in 1988. In other words the right of the injured party to sue separately for the recovery of the civil liability whether arising from crimes (ex delicto) or from quasi delict under Art. 2176 of the Civil Code must be reserved otherwise they will be deemed instituted with the criminal action.

*NOTA BENE: This case is decided under the old rules on criminal procedure. Now, there is no more need for a reservation of the right to file independent civil actions under Articles 32, 33, 34 and 2176 of the Civil Code of the Philippines. The reservation and waiver referred to refers only to the civil action for the recovery of the civil liability arising from the offense charged (Case on Point: DMPI Employees Credit Cooperative v. Velez, G.R. No. 129282, November 29, 2001)

 

Culion Ice v. Philippine Motors (G.R. No. L-32611)

Facts:

Culion Ice and Fish was the registered owner of the motor schooner, Gwendoline, which it uses for its fishing trade. In order to save costs in running the boat, Culion Ice decided to have the engine changed from gasoline consumer to a crude oil burner. Quest, general manager of Philippine Motors, a domestic corporation engaged in machinery engines and motors, agreed to do the job. Upon inspection, Quest came to conclusion that a carburetor needed to be installed. In the course of the work, it was observed that the carburetor was flooding and that the gasoline and other fuel was trickling freely to the floor but this concern was dismissed by Quest. During the boat’s trial run, the engine stopped and upon being started, a back fire occurred which then instantly spread and finally engulfed Gwendoline. The crew members safely escaped but Gwendoline was destroyed. Culion Ice moved for the recovery of the damages against Philippine Motors. The trial court ruled for Culion Ice. Philippine Motor asserts that the accident was not due to the fault of Quest.

Issue:

Whether or not Quest was negligent.

Ruling: YES.

When a person holds himself out as being competent to do things requiring professional skill, he will be held liable for negligence if he fails to exhibit the care and skill of one ordinarily skilled in the particular work which he attempts to do. The proof shows that Quest had had ample experience in fixing the engines of automobiles and tractors, but it does not appear that he was experienced in the doing of similar work on boats. For this reason, possibly the dripping of the mixture form the tank on deck and the flooding of the carburetor did not convey to his mind an adequate impression of the danger of fire. But a person skilled in that particular sort of work would, we think have been sufficiently warned from those circumstances (risks) to cause him to take greater and adequate precautions against the danger. In other words Quest did not use the skill that would have been exhibited by one ordinarily expert in repairing gasoline engines on boats. There was here, in our opinion, on the part of Quest, a blameworthy antecedent inadvertence to possible harm, and this constitutes negligence. The burning of the Gwendoline may be said to have resulted from accident, but this accident was in no sense an unavoidable accident. It would not have occurred but for Quest’s carelessness or lack of skill. The test of liability is not whether the injury was accidental in a sense, but whether Quest was free from blame.