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6/27/2015

G.R. No. L-20089

TodayisFriday,June26,2015

RepublicofthePhilippines
SUPREMECOURT
Manila
ENBANC
G.R.No.L20089December26,1964
BEATRIZP.WASSMER,plaintiffappellee,
vs.
FRANCISCOX.VELEZ,defendantappellant.
Jalandoni&Jamirfordefendantappellant.
SamsonS.Alcantaraforplaintiffappellee.
BENGZON,J.P.,J.:
Thefactsthatculminatedinthiscasestartedwithdreamsandhopes,followedbyappropriateplanningandserious
endeavors,butterminatedinfrustrationand,whatisworse,completepublichumiliation.
FranciscoX.VelezandBeatrizP.Wassmer,followingtheirmutualpromiseoflove,decidedtogetmarriedandset
September4,1954asthebigday.OnSeptember2,1954Velezleftthisnoteforhisbridetobe:
DearBet
WillhavetopostponeweddingMymotheropposesit.AmleavingontheConvairtoday.
PleasedonotasktoomanypeopleaboutthereasonwhyThatwouldonlycreateascandal.
Paquing
Butthenextday,September3,hesentherthefollowingtelegram:
NOTHINGCHANGEDRESTASSUREDRETURNINGVERYSOONAPOLOGIZEMAMAPAPALOVE
.
PAKING
ThereafterVelezdidnotappearnorwasheheardfromagain.
SuedbyBeatrizfordamages,Velezfilednoanswerandwasdeclaredindefault.Plaintiffadducedevidencebefore
theclerkofcourtascommissioner,andonApril29,1955,judgmentwasrenderedorderingdefendanttopayplaintiff
P2,000.00asactualdamagesP25,000.00asmoralandexemplarydamagesP2,500.00asattorney'sfeesandthe
costs.
OnJune21,1955defendantfileda"petitionforrelieffromorders,judgmentandproceedingsandmotionfornew
trialandreconsideration."Plaintiffmovedtostrikeitcut.Butthecourt,onAugust2,1955,orderedthepartiesand
theirattorneystoappearbeforeitonAugust23,1955"toexploreatthisstageoftheproceedingsthepossibilityof
arriving at an amicable settlement." It added that should any of them fail to appear "the petition for relief and the
oppositiontheretowillbedeemedsubmittedforresolution."
OnAugust23,1955defendantfailedtoappearbeforecourt.Instead,onthefollowingdayhiscounselfiledamotion
todeferfortwoweekstheresolutionondefendantspetitionforrelief.Thecounselstatedthathewouldconferwith
defendantinCagayandeOroCitythelatter'sresidenceonthepossibilityofanamicableelement.Thecourt
grantedtwoweekscountedfromAugust25,1955.
PlaintiffmanifestedonJune15,1956thatthetwoweeksgivenbythecourthadexpiredonSeptember8,1955but
thatdefendantandhiscounselhadfailedtoappear.
AnotherchanceforamicablesettlementwasgivenbythecourtinitsorderofJuly6,1956callingthepartiesand
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theirattorneystoappearonJuly13,1956.Thistime.however,defendant'scounselinformedthecourtthatchances
ofsettlingthecaseamicablywerenil.
OnJuly20,1956thecourtissuedanorderdenyingdefendant'saforesaidpetition.Defendanthasappealedtothis
Court.InhispetitionofJune21,1955inthecourtaquodefendantallegedexcusablenegligenceasgroundtoset
asidethejudgmentbydefault.Specifically,itwasstatedthatdefendantfilednoanswerinthebeliefthatanamicable
settlementwasbeingnegotiated.
A petition for relief from judgment on grounds of fraud, accident, mistake or excusable negligence, must be duly
supported by an affidavit of merits stating facts constituting a valid defense. (Sec. 3, Rule 38, Rules of Court.)
Defendant's affidavit of merits attached to his petition of June 21, 1955 stated: "That he has a good and valid
defense against plaintiff's cause of action, his failure to marry the plaintiff as scheduled having been due to
fortuitouseventand/orcircumstancesbeyondhiscontrol."Anaffidavitofmeritslikethisstatingmereconclusionsor
opinionsinsteadoffacts is not valid. (Cortes vs. Co Bun Kim, L3926, Oct. 10, 1951 Vaswani vs. P. Tarrachand
Bros.,L15800,December29,1960.)
Defendant, however, would contend that the affidavit of merits was in fact unnecessary, or a mere surplusage,
becausethejudgmentsoughttobesetasidewasnullandvoid,ithavingbeenbasedonevidenceadducedbefore
theclerkofcourt.InProvinceofPangasinanvs.Palisoc,L16519,October30,1962,thisCourtpointedoutthatthe
procedureofdesignatingtheclerkofcourtascommissionertoreceiveevidenceissanctionedbyRule34(nowRule
33)oftheRulesofCourt.Nowastodefendant'sconsenttosaidprocedure,thesamedidnothavetobeobtained
forhewasdeclaredindefaultandthushadnostandingincourt(Velezvs.Ramas,40Phil.787Alanovs.Courtof
FirstInstance,L14557,October30,1959).
Insupportofhis"motionfornewtrialandreconsideration,"defendantassertsthatthejudgmentiscontrarytolaw.
The reason given is that "there is no provision of the Civil Code authorizing" an action for breach of promise to
marry.Indeed,ourrulinginHermosisimavs.CourtofAppeals(L14628,Sept.30,1960),asreiteratedinEstopavs.
Biansay(L14733, Sept. 30, 1960), is that "mere breach of a promise to marry" is not an actionable wrong. We
pointedoutthatCongressdeliberatelyeliminatedfromthedraftofthenewCivilCodetheprovisionsthatwouldhave
itso.
It must not be overlooked, however, that the extent to which acts not contrary to law may be perpetrated with
impunity,isnotlimitlessforArticle21ofsaidCodeprovidesthat"anypersonwhowilfullycauseslossorinjuryto
another in a manner that is contrary to morals, good customs or public policy shall compensate the latter for the
damage."
TherecordrevealsthatonAugust23,1954plaintiffanddefendantappliedforalicensetocontractmarriage,which
wassubsequentlyissued(Exhs.A,A1).TheirweddingwassetforSeptember4,1954.Invitationswereprintedand
distributedtorelatives,friendsandacquaintances(Tsn.,5Exh.C).Thebridetobe'strousseau,partydrsrsesand
otherapparelfortheimportantoccasionwerepurchased(Tsn.,78).Dressesforthemaidofhonorandtheflower
girlwereprepared.Amatrimonialbed,withaccessories,wasbought.Bridalshowersweregivenandgiftsreceived
(Tsn.,6Exh.E).Andthen,withbuttwodaysbeforethewedding,defendant,whowasthen28yearsold,:simply
leftanoteforplaintiffstating:"WillhavetopostponeweddingMymotheropposesit..."Heenplanedtohishome
cityinMindanao,andthenextday,thedaybeforethewedding,hewiredplaintiff:"Nothingchangedrestassured
returningsoon."Butheneverreturnedandwasneverheardfromagain.
Surelythisisnotacaseofmerebreachofpromisetomarry.Asstated,merebreachofpromisetomarryisnotan
actionablewrong.Buttoformallysetaweddingandgothroughalltheabovedescribedpreparationandpublicity,
only to walk out of it when the matrimony is about to be solemnized, is quite different. This is palpably and
unjustifiablycontrarytogoodcustomsforwhichdefendantmustbeheldanswerableindamagesinaccordancewith
Article21aforesaid.
Defendanturgesinhisaforestatedpetitionthatthedamagesawardedwereexcessive.Noquestionisraisedasto
the award of actual damages. What defendant would really assert hereunder is that the award of moral and
exemplarydamages,intheamountofP25,000.00,shouldbetotallyeliminated.
Per express provision of Article 2219 (10) of the New Civil Code, moral damages are recoverable in the cases
mentionedinArticle21ofsaidCode.Astoexemplarydamages,defendantcontendsthatthesamecouldnotbe
adjudged against him because under Article 2232 of the New Civil Code the condition precedent is that "the
defendant acted ina wanton,fraudulent, reckless, oppressive, or malevolent manner." The argument is devoid of
merit as under the abovenarrated circumstances of this case defendant clearly acted in a "wanton ... , reckless
[and] oppressive manner." This Court's opinion, however, is that considering the particular circumstances of this
case,P15,000.00asmoralandexemplarydamagesisdeemedtobeareasonableaward.
PREMISES CONSIDERED, with the aboveindicated modification, the lower court's judgment is hereby affirmed,
withcosts.
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Bengzon, C.J., Bautista Angelo, Reyes, J.B.L., Barrera, Paredes, Dizon, Regala, Makalintal, and Zaldivar, JJ.,
concur.
TheLawphilProjectArellanoLawFoundation

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