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Republic of the Philippines

Supreme Court, Manila

THIRD DIVISION

G.R. No. 164749

ROMULO ABROGAR and ERLINDA ABROGAR … Petitioners

Versus

COSMOS BOTTLING COMPANY and INTERGAMES INC … Respondents

PRESENT: VELASCO, JR, J, CHAIRPERSON, BERSAMIN, REYES, JARDELEZA, AND TIJAM, JJ

Promulgated: March 15, 2017

DECISION

BERSAMIN, J:

This case involves a claim for damages arising from the negligence causing the death of a participant in an

organized marathon bumped by a passenger jeepney on the route of the race. The issues revolve on whether the

organizer and the sponsor of the marathon were guilty of negligence, and, if so, was their negligence the

proximate cause of the death of the participant; on whether the negligence of the driver of the passenger jeepney

was an efficient intervening cause; on whether the doctrine of assumption of risk was applicable to the fatality; and

on whether the heirs of the fatality can recover damages for loss of earning capacity of the latter who, being then a

minor, had no gainful employment.

The Case

By this appeal, the parents of the late Rommel Abrogar (Rommel), a marathon runner, seek the review and

reversal of the decision promulgated on March 10, 2004,1 whereby the Court of Appeals (CA) reversed and set

aside the judgment rendered in their favor on May 10, 1991 by the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 83, in

Quezon City2 finding and declaring respondents Cosmos Bottling Company (Cosmos), a domestic soft-drinks

company whose products included Pop Cola, and Intergames, Inc. (Intergames), also a domestic corporation

organizing and supervising the “1st Pop Cola Junior Marathon” held on June 15, 1980 in Quezon City, solidarity

liable for damages arising from the untimely death of Rommel, then a minor 18 years of age,3 after being bumped

by a recklessly driven passenger jeepney along the route of the marathon.

Antecedents
The CA narrated the antecedents in the assailed judgment,4 viz.:

[T]o promote the sales of “Pop Cola”, defendant Cosmos, jointly with Intergames, organized an endurance running

contest billed as the “1st Pop Cola Junior Marathon” scheduled to be held on June 15, 1980. The organizers plotted

a 10-kilometer course starting from the premises of the Interim Batasang Pambansa (IBP for brevity), through

public roads and streets, to end at the Quezon Memorial Circle. Plaintiffs' son Rommel applied with the defendants

to be allowed to participate in the contest and after complying with defendants' requirements, his application was

accepted and he was given an official number. Consequently, on June 15, 1980 at the designated time of the

marathon, Rommel joined the other participants and ran the course plotted by the defendants. As it turned out, the

plaintiffs' (sic) further alleged, the defendants failed to provide adequate safety and precautionary measures and to

exercise the diligence required of them by the nature of their undertaking, in that they failed to insulate and

protect the participants of the marathon from the vehicular and other dangers along the marathon route. Rommel

was bumped by a jeepney that was then running along the route of the marathon on Don Mariano Marcos Avenue

(DMMA for brevity), and in spite of medical treatment given to him at the Ospital ng Bagong Lipunan, he died later

that same day due to severe head injuries.

On October 28, 1980, the petitioners sued the respondents in the then Court of First Instance of Rizal (Quezon

City) to recover various damages for the untimely death of Rommel (i.e., actual and compensatory damages, loss

of earning capacity, moral damages, exemplary damages, attorney’s fees and expenses of litigation).5

Cosmos denied liability, insisting that it had not been the organizer of the marathon, but only its sponsor; that its

participation had been limited to providing financial assistance to Intergames;6 that the financial assistance it had

extended to Intergames, the sole organizer of the marathon, had been in answer to the Government's call to the

private sector to help promote sports development and physical fitness;7 that the petitioners had no cause of action

against it because there was no privity of contract between the participants in the marathon and Cosmos; and that

it had nothing to do with the organization, operation and running of the event.8

As counterclaim, Cosmos sought attorney’s fees and expenses of litigation from the petitioners for their being

unwarrantedly included as a defendant in the case. It averred a cross-claim against Intergames, stating that the

latter had guaranteed to hold Cosmos “completely free and harmless from any claim or action for liability for any

injuries or bodily harm which may be sustained by any of the entries in the '1st Pop Cola Junior Marathon' or for

any damage to the property or properties of third parties, which may likewise arise in the course of the

race.”9 Thus, Cosmos sought to hold Intergames solely liable should the claim of the petitioners prosper. 10

On its part, Intergames asserted that Rommel’s death had been an accident exclusively caused by the negligence

of the jeepney driver; that it was not responsible for the accident; that as the marathon organizer, it did not

assume the responsibilities of an insurer of the safety of the participants; that it nevertheless caused the

participants to be covered with accident insurance, but the petitioners refused to accept the proceeds

thereof;11 that there could be no cause of action against it because the acceptance and approval of Rommel’s
application to join the marathon had been conditioned on his waiver of all rights and causes of action arising from

his participation in the marathon;12 that it exercised due diligence in the conduct of the race that the circumstances

called for and was appropriate, it having availed of all its know-how and expertise, including the adoption and

implementation of all known and possible safety and precautionary measures in order to protect the participants

from injuries arising from vehicular and other forms of accidents;13 and, accordingly, the complaint should be

dismissed.

In their reply and answer to counterclaim, the petitioners averred that contrary to its claims, Intergames did not

provide adequate measures for the safety and protection of the race participants, considering that motor vehicles

were traversing the race route and the participants were made to run along the flow of traffic, instead of against it;

that Intergames did not provide adequate traffic marshals to secure the safety and protection of the

participants;14 that Intergames could not limit its liability on the basis of the accident insurance policies it had

secured to cover the race participants; that the waiver signed by Rommel could not be a basis for denying liability

because the same was null and void for being contrary to law, morals, customs and public policy; 15 that their

complaint sufficiently stated a cause of action because in no way could they be held liable for attorney’s fees,

litigation expenses or any other relief due to their having abided by the law and having acted honestly, fairly, in

good faith by according to Intergames its due, as demanded by the facts and circumstances.16

At the pre-trial held on April 12, 1981, the parties agreed that the principal issue was whether or not Cosmos and

Intergames were liable for the death of Rommel because of negligence in conducting the marathon.17

Judgment of the RTC

In its decision dated May 10, 1991,18 the RTC ruled as follows:

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of plaintiffs- spouses Romulo Abrogar and Erlinda Abrogar and

against defendants Cosmos Bottling Company, Inc. and Intergames, Inc., ordering both defendants, jointly and

severally, to pay and deliver to the plaintiffs the amounts of Twenty Eight Thousand Sixty One Pesos and Sixty

Three Centavos (P28,061.63) as actual damages; One Hundred Thousand Pesos (P100,000.00) as moral damages;

Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00) as exemplary damages and Ten Percent (10%) of the total amount of One

Hundred Seventy Eight Thousand Sixty One Pesos and Sixty Three Centavos (P178,061,63) or Seventeen

Thousand Eight Hundred Six Pesos and Sixteen Centavos (P17,806.16) as attorney's fees.

On the cross-claim of defendant Cosmos Bottling Company, Inc., defendant Intergames, Inc, is hereby ordered to

reimburse to the former any and all amounts which may be recovered by the plaintiffs from it by virtue of this

Decision.

SO ORDERED.

The RTC observed that the safeguards allegedly instituted by Intergames in conducting the marathon had fallen

short of the yardstick to satisfy the requirements of due diligence as called for by and appropriate under the
circumstances; that the accident had happened because of inadequate preparation and Intergames’ failure to

exercise due diligence;19 that the respondents could not be excused from liability by hiding behind the waiver

executed by Rommel and the permission given to him by his parents because the waiver could only be effective for

risks inherent in the marathon, such as stumbling, heat stroke, heart attack during the race, severe exhaustion and

similar occurrences;20 that the liability of the respondents towards the participants and third persons was solidary,

because Cosmos, the sponsor of the event, had been the principal mover of the event, and, as such, had derived

benefits from the marathon that in turn had carried responsibilities towards the participants and the public; that

the respondents’ agreement to free Cosmos from any liability had been an agreement binding only between them,

and did not bind third persons; and that Cosmos had a cause of action against Intergames for whatever could be

recovered by the petitioners from Cosmos.21

Decision of the CA

All the parties appealed to the CA.

The petitioners contended that the RTC erred in not awarding damages for loss of earning capacity on the part of

Rommel for the reason that such damages were not recoverable due to Rommel not yet having finished his

schooling; and that it would be premature to award such damages upon the assumption that he would finish

college and be gainfully employed.22

On their part, Cosmos and Intergames separately raised essentially similar errors on the part of the RTC, to wit:

(1) in holding them liable for the death of Rommel; (2) in finding them negligent in conducting the marathon; (3)

in holding that Rommel and his parents did not assume the risks of the marathon; (4) in not holding that the sole

and proximate cause of the death of Rommel was the negligence of the jeepney driver; and (5) in making them

liable, jointly and solidarity, for damages, attorney’s fees and expenses of litigation.23

The CA reduced the issues to four, namely:

1. Whether or not appellant Intergames was negligent in its conduct of the “1st Pop Cola Junior Marathon” held on

June 15, 1980 and if so, whether its negligence was the proximate cause of the death of Rommel Abrogar.

2. Whether or not appellant Cosmos can be held jointly and solidarily liable with appellant Intergames for the death

of Rommel Abrogar, assuming that appellant Intergames is found to have been negligent in the conduct of the Pop

Cola marathon and such negligence was the proximate cause of the death of Rommel Abrogar.

3. Whether or not the appellants Abrogar are entitled to be compensated for the “loss of earning capacity” of their

son Rommel.

4. Whether or not the appellants Abrogar are entitled to the actual, moral, and exemplary damages granted to

them by the Trial Court.24

In its assailed judgment promulgated on March 10, 2004,25 the CA ruled as follows:
As to the first issue, this Court finds that appellant Intergames was not negligent in organizing the said marathon.

Negligence is the omission to do something which a reasonable man, guided upon those considerations which

ordinarily regulate the conduct to human affairs, would do, or doing something which a prudent and reasonable

man would not do.

The whole theory of negligence presuppose some uniform standard of behavior which must be an external and

objective one, rather than the individual judgment good or bad, of the particular actor; it must be, as far as

possible, the same for all persons; and at the same time make proper allowance for the risk apparent to the actor

for his capacity to meet it, and for the circumstances under which he must act.

The question as to what would constitute the conduct of a prudent man in a given situation must of course be

always determined in the light of human experience and of the acts involved in the particular case.

In the case at bar, the trial court erred in finding that the appellant Intergames failed to satisfy the requirements of

due diligence in the conduct of the race.

The trial court in its decision said that the accident in question could have been avoided if the route of the

marathon was blocked off from the regular traffic, instead of allowing the runners to run together with the flow of

traffic. Thus, the said court considered the appellant Intergames at fault for proceeding with the marathon despite

the fact that the Northern Police District, MPF, Quezon City did not allow the road to be blocked off from traffic.

This Court finds that the standard of conduct used by the trial court is not the ordinary conduct of a prudent man in

such a given situation. According to the said court, the only way to conduct a safe road race is to block off the

traffic for the duration of the event and direct the cars and public utilities to take alternative routes in the

meantime that the marathon event is being held. Such standard is too high and is even inapplicable in the case at

bar because, there is no alternative route from IBP to Don Mariano Marcos to Quezon City Hall.

The Civil Code provides that if the law or contract does not state the diligence which is to be observed in the

performance of an obligation that which is expected of a good father of the family shall only be required.

Accordingly, appellant Intergames is only bound to exercise the degree of care that would be exercised by an

ordinarily careful and prudent man in the same position and circumstances and not that of the cautious man of

more than average prudence. Hence, appellant Intergames is only expected to observe ordinary diligence and not

extraordinary diligence.

In this case, the marathon was allowed by the Northern Police District, MPF, Quezon City on the condition that the

road should not be blocked off from traffic. Appellant Intergames had no choice. It had to comply with it or else the

said marathon would not be allowed at all.

The trial court erred in contending that appellant Intergames should have looked for alternative places in Metro

Manila given the condition set by the Northern Police District, MPF, Quezon City; precisely because as Mr. Jose
Castro has testified the said route was found to be the best route after a careful study and consideration of all the

factors involved. Having conducted several marathon events in said route, appellant Intergames as well as the

volunteer groups and the other agencies involved were in fact familiar with the said route. And assuming that there

was an alternative place suitable for the said race, the question is would they be allowed to block off the said road

from traffic?

Also, the trial court erred in stating that there was no adequate number of marshals, police officers and personnel

to man the race so as to prevent injury to the participants.

The general rule is that the party who relies on negligence for his cause of action has the burden of proving the

existence of the same, otherwise his action fails.

Here, the appellants-spouses failed to prove that there was inadequate number of marshals, police officers, and

personnel because they failed to prove what number is considered adequate.

This court considers that seven (7) traffic operatives, five (5) motorcycle policemen, fifteen (15) patrolmen

deployed along the route, fifteen (15) boyscouts, twelve (12) CATs, twenty (20) barangay tanods, three (3)

ambulances and three (3) medical teams were sufficient to stage a safe marathon.

Moreover, the failure of Mr. Jose R. Castro, Jr. to produce records of the lists of those constituting the volunteer

help during the marathon is not fatal to the case considering that one of the volunteers, Victor Landingin of the

Citizens Traffic Action (CTA) testified in court that CTA fielded five units on June 15, 1980, assigned as follows: (1)

at the sphere head; (2) at the finish line; (3) tail ender;(4) & (5) roving.

The trial court again erred in concluding that the admission of P/Lt. Jesus Lipana, head of the traffic policemen

assigned at the marathon, that he showed up only at the finish line means that he did not bother to check on his

men and did not give them appropriate instructions. P/Lt. Lipana in his testimony explained that he did not need to

be in the start of the race because he had predesignated another capable police officer to start the race.

In addition, this Court finds that the precautionary measures and preparations adopted by appellant Intergames

were sufficient considering the circumstances surrounding the case.

Appellant Intergames, using its previous experiences in conducting safe and successful road races, took all the

necessary precautions and made all the preparations for the race. The initial preparations included: determination

of the route to be taken; and an ocular inspection of the same to see if it was well-paved, whether it had less

corners for easy communication and coordination, and whether it was wide enough to accommodate runners and

transportation. Appellant Intergames choose the Don Mariano Marcos Avenue primarily because it was well-paved;

had wide lanes to accommodate runners and vehicular traffic; had less corners thus facilitating easy

communication and coordination among the organizers and cooperating agencies; and was familiar to the race

organizers and operating agencies. The race covered a ten-kilometer course from the IBP lane to the Quezon City

Hall Compound passing through the Don Mariano Marcos Avenue, which constituted the main stretch of the route.
Appellant Intergames scheduled the marathon on a Sunday morning, when traffic along the route was at its

lightest. Permission was sought from the then Quezon City Mayor Adelina Rodriguez for the use of the Quezon City

Hall Grandstand and the street fronting it as the finish line. Police assistance was also obtained to control and

supervise the traffic. The Quezon City Traffic Detachment took charge of traffic control by assigning policemen to

the traffic route. The particular unit assigned during the race underwent extensive training and had been involved

in past marathons, including marathons in highly crowded areas. The Philippine Boy Scouts tasked to assist the

police and monitor the progress of the race; and Citizens Traffic Action Group tasked with the monitoring of the

race, which assigned five units consisting of ten operatives, to provide communication and assistance were likewise

obtained. Finally, medical equipments and personnel were also requested from Camp Aguinaldo, the Philippine Red

Cross and the Hospital ng Bagong Lipunan.

Neither does this Court find the appellant Intergames’ conduct of the marathon the proximate cause of the death of

Rommel Abrogar. Proximate cause has been defined as that which, in natural and continuous sequence, unbroken

by any efficient intervening cause, produces injury, and without which the result would not have occurred.

It appears that Rommel Abrogar, while running on Don Mariano Marcos Avenue and after passing the Philippine

Atomic Energy Commission Building, was bumped by a jeepney which apparently was racing against a minibus and

the two vehicles were trying to crowd each other. In fact, a criminal case was filed against the jeepney driver by

reason of his having killed Rommel Abrogar.

This proves that the death of Rommel Abrogar was caused by the negligence of the jeepney driver. Rommel

Abrogar cannot be faulted because he was performing a legal act; the marathon was conducted with the

permission and approval of all the city officials involved. He had the right to be there. Neither can the appellant

Intergames be faulted, as the organizer of the said marathon, because it was not negligent in conducting the

marathon.

Given the facts of this case, We believe that no amount of precaution can prevent such an accident. Even if there

were fences or barriers to separate the lanes for the runners and for the vehicles, it would not prevent such an

accident in the event that a negligent driver loses control of his vehicle. And even if the road was blocked off from

traffic, it would still not prevent such an accident, if a jeepney driver on the other side of the road races with

another vehicle loses control of his wheel and as a result hits a person on the other side of the road. Another way

of saying this is: A defendant’s tort cannot be considered a legal cause of plaintiff’s damage if that damage would

have occurred just the same even though the defendant’s tort had not been committed.

This Court also finds the doctrine of assumption of risk applicable in the case at bar. As explained by a well-known

authority on torts:

“The general principle underlying the defense of assumption of risk is that a plaintiff who voluntarily assumes a risk

of harm arising from the negligent or reckless conduct of the defendant cannot recover for such harm. The defense

may arise where a plaintiff, by contract or otherwise, expressly agrees to accept a risk or harm arising from the
defendant’s conduct, or where a plaintiff who fully understands a risk or harm caused by the defendant’s conduct,

or by a condition created by the defendant, voluntarily chooses to enter or remain, or to permit his property to

enter or remain, within the area of such risk, under circumstances manifesting his willingness to accept the risk.

xxx

“Assumption of the risk in its primary sense arises by assuming through contract, which may be implied, the risk of

a known danger. Its essence is venturousness. It implies intentional exposure to a known danger; It embraces a

mental state of willingness; It pertains to the preliminary conduct of getting into a dangerous employment or

relationship, it means voluntary incurring the risk of an accident, which may or may not occur, and which the

person assuming the risk may be careful to avoid; and it defeats recovery because it is a previous abandonment of

the right to complain if an accident occurs.

“Of course, if the defense is predicated upon an express agreement the agreement must be valid, and in the light

of this qualification the rule has been stated that a plaintiff who, by contract or otherwise, expressly agreed to

accept a risk of harm arising from the defendant’s negligent or reckless conduct, cannot recover for such harm

unless the agreement is invalid as contrary to public policy.

xxx

“The defense of assumption of risk presupposes: (1) that the plaintiff had actual knowledge of the danger; (2) that

he understood and appreciated the risk from the danger; and (3) that he voluntarily exposed himself to such risk, x

xx

“The term ‘risk’ as used in this connection applies to known dangers, and not to things from which danger may

possibly flow. The risk referred to is the particular risk, or one of the risks, which the plaintiff accepted within the

context of the situation in which he placed himself and the question is whether the specific conduct or condition

which caused the injury was such a risk.”

In this case, appellant Romulo Abrogar himself admitted that his son, Rommel Abrogar, surveyed the route of the

marathon and even attended a briefing before the race. Consequently, he was aware that the marathon would pass

through a national road and that the said road would not be blocked off from traffic. And considering that he was

already eighteen years of age, had voluntarily participated in the marathon, with his parents’ consent, and was well

aware of the traffic hazards along the route, he thereby assumed all the risks of the race. This is precisely why

permission from the participant’s parents, submission of a medical certificate and a waiver of all rights and causes

of action arising from the participation in the marathon which the participant or his heirs may have against

appellant Intergames were required as conditions in joining the marathon.

In the decision of the trial court, it stated that the risk mentioned in the waiver signed by Rommel Abrogar only

involved risks such as stumbling, suffering heatstroke, heart attack and other similar risks. It did not consider

vehicular accident as one of the risks included in the said waiver.


This Court does not agree. With respect to voluntary participation in a sport, the doctrine of assumption of risk

applies to any facet of the activity inherent in it and to any open and obvious condition of the place where it is

carried on. We believe that the waiver included vehicular accidents for the simple reason that it was a road race

run on public roads used by vehicles. Thus, it cannot be denied that vehicular accidents are involved. It was not a

track race which is held on an oval and insulated from vehicular traffic. In a road race, there is always the risk of

runners being hit by motor vehicles while they train or compete. That risk is inherent in the sport and known to

runners. It is a risk they assume every time they voluntarily engage in their sport.

Furthermore, where a person voluntarily participates in a lawful game or contest, he assumes the ordinary risks of

such game or contest so as to preclude recovery from the promoter or operator of the game or contest for injury or

death resulting therefrom. Proprietors of amusements or of places where sports and games are played are not

insurers of safety of the public nor of their patrons.

In Mc Leod Store v. Vinson 213 Ky 667, 281 SW 799 (1926), it was held that a boy, seventeen years of age, of

ordinary intelligence and physique, who entered a race conducted by a department store, the purpose of which was

to secure guinea fowl which could be turned in for cash prizes, had assumed the ordinary risks incident thereto and

was barred from recovering against the department store for injuries suffered when, within catching distance, he

stopped to catch a guinea, and was tripped or stumbled and fell to the pavement, six or eight others falling upon

him. The court further said: “In this (the race) he was a voluntary participant, xxx The anticipated danger was as

obvious to him as it was to appellant (the department store). While not an adult, he was practically 17 years of

age, of ordinary intelligence, and perfectly able to determine the risks ordinarily incident to such games. An

ordinary boy of that age is practically as well advised as to the hazards of baseball, basketball, football, foot races

and other games of skill and endurance as is an adult x x x.”

In the case at bar, the “1st Pop Cola Junior Marathon” held on June 15, 1980 was a race the winner of which was

to represent the country in the annual Spirit of Pheidippides Marathon Classic in Greece, if he equals or breaks the

29-minute mark for the 10-km. race. Thus, Rommel Abrogar having voluntarily participated in the race, with his

parents’ consent, assumed all the risks of the race.

Anent the second issue, this Court finds that appellant Cosmos must also be absolved from any liability in the

instant case.

This Court finds that the trial court erred in holding appellant Cosmos liable for being the principal mover and

resultant beneficiary of the event.

In its decision it said that in view of the fact that appellant Cosmos will be deriving certain benefits from the

marathon event, it has the responsibility to ensure the safety of all the participants and the public. It further said

that the stipulations in the contract entered into by the two appellants, Cosmos and Intergames, relieving the

former from any liability does not bind third persons.


This Court does not agree with the reasoning of the trial court. The sponsorship contract entered between appellant

Cosmos and appellant Intergames specifically states that:

1. COSMOS BOTTLING CORPORATION shall pay INTERGAMES the amount of FIFTY FIVE THOUSAND PESOS

(P55,000.00) representing full sponsorship fee and in consideration thereof, INTERGAMES shall organize and stage

a marathon race to be called ‘1st POP COLA JUNIOR MARATHON.

xxx

3. INTERGAMES shall draw up all the rules of the marathon race, eligibility requirements of participants as well as

provide all the staff required in the organization and actual staging of the race. It is understood that all said staff

shall be considered under the direct employ of INTERGAMES which shall have full control over them.

xxx

5. INTERGAMES shall secure all the necessary permits, clearances, traffic and police assistance in all the areas

covered by the entire route of the ‘1st POP COLA JUNIOR MARATHON.

12. INTERGAMES shall hold COSMOS BOTTLING CORPORATION, completely free and harmless from any claim or

action for liability for any injuries or bodily harm which may be sustained by any of the entries in the ‘1st POP COLA

JUNIOR MARATHON’, or for any damages to the property or properties of third parties, which may likewise arise in

the course of the race.

From the foregoing, it is crystal clear that the role of the appellant Cosmos was limited to providing financial

assistance in the form of sponsorship. Appellant Cosmos’ sponsorship was merely in pursuance to the company’s

commitment for sports development of the youth as well as for advertising purposes. The use of the name Cosmos

was done for advertising purposes only; it did not mean that it was an organizer of the said marathon. As pointed

out by Intergames’ President, Jose Castro Jr., appellant Cosmos did not even have the right to suggest the location

and the number of runners.

To hold a defendant liable for torts, it must be clearly shown that he is the proximate cause of the harm done to

the plaintiff. The nexus or connection of the cause and effect, between a negligent act and the damage done, must

be established by competent evidence.

In this case, appellant Cosmos was not negligent in entering into a contract with the appellant Intergames

considering that the record of the latter was clean and that it has conducted at least thirty (30) road races.

Also there is no direct or immediate causal connection between the financial sponsorship and the death of Rommel

Abrogar. The singular act of providing financial assistance without participating in any manner in the conduct of the

marathon cannot be palmed off as such proximate cause. In fact, the appellant spouses never relied on any

representation that Cosmos organized the race. It was not even a factor considered by the appellants-spouses in

allowing their son to join said marathon.


In view of the fact that both defendants are not liable for the death of Rommel Abrogar, appellants-spouses are not

entitled to actual, moral, exemplary damages as well as for the “loss of earning capacity” of their son. The third

and fourth issues are thus moot and academic.

UPON THE VIEW WE TAKE OF THIS CASE, THUS, the judgment appealed from must be, as it hereby

is, REVERSED and SET ASIDE, and another entered DISMISSING the complaint a quo. The appellants shall bear

their respective costs.

SO ORDERED.26

Issues

In this appeal, the petitioners submit that the CA gravely erred:

A.

x x x in reversing the RTC Decision, (and) in holding that respondent Intergames was not negligent considering

that:

1. Respondent Intergames failed to exercise the diligence of a good father of the family in the conduct of the

marathon in that it did not block off from traffic the marathon route; and

2. Respondent Intergames’ preparations for the race, including the number of marshal during the marathon, were

glaringly inadequate to prevent the happening of the injury to its participants.

B.

x x x in reversing the RTC Decision, (and) in holding that the doctrine of assumption of risk finds application to the

case at bar even though getting hit or run over by a vehicle is not an inherent risk in a marathon race. Even

assuming arguendo that deceased Abrogar made such waiver as claimed, still there can be no valid waiver of one's

right to life and limb for being against public policy.

C.

x x x in reversing the RTC Decision, (and) in absolving respondent Cosmos from liability to petitioners on the sole

ground that respondent Cosmos' contract with respondent Intergames contained a stipulation exempting the

former from liability.

D.

x x x in reversing the RTC Decision and consequently holding respondents free from liability, (and) in not awarding

petitioners with actual, moral and exemplary damages for the death of their child, Rommel Abrogar.27

Ruling of the Court


The appeal is partly meritorious.

Review of factual issues is allowed because of the conflict between the findings of fact by the RTC and

the CA on the issue of negligence

The petitioners contend that Intergames was negligent; that Cosmos as the sponsor and Intergames as the

organizer of the marathon both had the obligation to provide a reasonably safe place for the conduct of the race by

blocking the route of the race from vehicular traffic and by providing adequate manpower and personnel to ensure

the safety of the participants; and that Intergames had foreseen the harm posed by the situation but had not

exercised the diligence of a good father of a family to avoid the risk;28hence, for such omission, Intergames was

negligent.29

Refuting, Cosmos and Intergames submit that the latter as the organizer was not negligent because it had

undertaken all the precautionary measures to ensure the safety of the race; and that there was no duty on the part

of the latter as the organizer to keep a racecourse “free and clear from reasonably avoidable elements that would

[occasion] or have the probable tendency, to occasion injury.”30

The issue of whether one or both defendants were negligent is a mixed issue of fact and law. Does this not restrict

the Court against reviewing the records in this appeal on certiorari in order to settle the issue?

The Court can proceed to review the factual findings of the CA as an exception to the general rule that it should not

review issues of fact on appeal on certiorari. We have recognized exceptions to the rule that the findings of fact of

the CA are conclusive and binding in the following instances: (1) when the findings are grounded entirely on

speculation, surmises or conjectures; (2) when the inference made is manifestly mistaken, absurd or impossible;

(3) when there is grave abuse of discretion; (4) when the judgment is based on a misapprehension of facts; (5)

when the findings of facts are conflicting; (6) when in making its findings the CA went beyond the issues of the

case, or its findings are contrary to the admissions of both the appellant and the appellee; (7) when the findings

are contrary to the trial court; (8) when the findings are conclusions without citation of specific evidence on which

they are based; (9) when the facts set forth in the petition as well as in the petitioner’s main and reply briefs are

not disputed by the respondent; (10) when the findings of fact are premised on the supposed absence of evidence

and contradicted by the evidence on record; and (11) when the CA manifestly overlooked certain relevant facts not

disputed by the parties, which, if properly considered, would justify a different conclusion.31 Considering that the

CA arrived at factual findings contrary to those of the trial court, our review of the records in this appeal should

have to be made.

Negligence is the failure to observe for the protection of the interests of another person that degree of care,

precaution, and vigilance which the circumstances justly demand, whereby such other person suffers

injury.32 Under Article 1173 of the Civil Code, it consists of the “omission of that diligence which is required by the
nature of the obligation and corresponds with the circumstances of the person, of the time and of the

place.”33 The Civil Code makes liability for negligence clear under Article 2176,34 and Article 20.35

To determine the existence of negligence, the following time-honored test has been set in Picart v. Smith:36

The test by which to determine the existence of negligence in a particular case may be stated as follows: Did the

defendant in doing the alleged negligent act use that reasonable care and caution which an ordinarily

prudent person would have used in the same situation? If not, then he is guilty of negligence. The law

here in effect adopts the standard supposed to be supplied by the imaginary conduct of the

discreet paterfamilias of the Roman law. The existence of negligence in a given case is not determined by reference

to the personal judgment of the actor in the situation before him. The law considers what would be reckless,

blameworthy, or negligent in the man of ordinary intelligence and prudence and determines liability by that.

The question as to what would constitute the conduct of a prudent man in a given situation must of course be

always determined in the light of human experience and in view of the facts involved in the particular case.

Abstract speculation cannot here be of much value but this much can be profitably said: Reasonable men govern

their conduct by the circumstances which are before them or known to them. They are not, and are not supposed

to be, omniscient of the future. Hence they can be expected to take care only when there is something before them

to suggest or warn of danger. Could a prudent man, in the case under consideration, foresee harm as a

result of the course actually pursued? If so, it was the duty of the actor to take precautions to guard

against that harm. Reasonable foresight of harm, followed by the ignoring of the suggestion born of

this prevision, is always necessary before negligence can be held to exist. Stated in these terms, the

proper criterion for determining the existence of negligence in a given case is this: Conduct is said to

be negligent when a prudent man in the position of the tortfeasor would have foreseen that an effect

harmful to another was sufficiently probable to warrant his foregoing the conduct or guarding against

its consequences.37 (bold underscoring supplied for emphasis)

A careful review of the evidence presented, particularly the testimonies of the relevant witnesses, in accordance

with the foregoing guidelines reasonably leads to the conclusion that the safety and precautionary measures

undertaken by Intergames were short of the diligence demanded by the circumstances of persons, time and place

under consideration. Hence, Intergames as the organizer was guilty of negligence.

The race organized by Intergames was a junior marathon participated in by young persons aged 14 to 18 years. It

was plotted to cover a distance of 10 kilometers, starting from the IBP Lane,38 then going towards the Batasang

Pambansa, and on to the circular route towards the Don Mariano Marcos Highway,39 and then all the way back to

the Quezon City Hall compound where the finish line had been set.40 In staging the event, Intergames had no

employees of its own to man the race,41 and relied only on the “cooperating agencies” and volunteers who had

worked with it in previous races.42 The cooperating agencies included the Quezon City police, barangay tanods,

volunteers from the Boy Scouts of the Philippines, the Philippine National Red Cross, the Citizens Traffic Action
Group, and the medical teams of doctors and nurses coming from the Office of the Surgeon General and the

Ospital ng Bagong Lipunan.43 According to Jose R. Castro, Jr., the President of Intergames, the preparations for the

event included conducting an ocular inspection of the route of the race,44 sending out letters to the various

cooperating agencies,45 securing permits from proper authorities,46 putting up directional signs,47 and setting up

the water stations.48

We consider the “safeguards” employed and adopted by Intergames not adequate to meet the requirement of due

diligence.

For one, the police authorities specifically prohibited Intergames from blocking Don Mariano Marcos Highway in

order not to impair road accessibility to the residential villages located beyond the IBP Lane.49 However, contrary to

the findings of the CA,50 Intergames had a choice on where to stage the marathon, considering its admission of the

sole responsibility for the conduct of the event, including the choice of location.

Moreover, the CA had no basis for holding that “the said route was found to be the best route after a careful study

and consideration of all the factors involved.”51 Castro, Jr. himself attested that the route had been the best one

only within the vicinity of the Batasan Pambansa, to wit:

COURT

q: Was there any specific reason from... Was there any specific reason why you used this route from Batasan to

City Hall? Was there any special reason?

a: We have, your Honor, conducted for example the Milo Marathon in that area in the Batasan Pambansa and we

found it to be relatively safer than any other areas within the vicinity. As a matter of fact, we had more

runners in the Milo Marathon at that time and nothing happened, your Honor.52

The chosen route (IBP Lane, on to Don Mariano Marcos Highway, and then to Quezon City Hall) was not the only

route appropriate for the marathon. In fact, Intergames came under no obligation to use such route especially

considering that the participants, who were young and inexperienced runners, would be running alongside moving

vehicles.

Intergames further conceded that the marathon could have been staged on a blocked-off route like Roxas

Boulevard in Manila where runners could run against the flow of vehicular traffic.53 Castro, Jr. stated in that regard:

COURT TO WITNESS

q: What law are you talking about when you say I cannot violate the law?

a: The police authority, your Honor, would not grant us permit because that is one of the conditions that if we are

to conduct a race we should run the race in accordance with the flow of traffic.

q: Did you not inform the police this is in accordance with the standard safety measures for a marathon race?
a: I believed we argued along that line but but (sic) again, if we insist the police again would not grant us any

permit like...except in the case of Roxas Boulevard when it is normally closed from 8 a.m. when you can

run against the flow of traffic.

q: You were aware for a runner to run on the same route of the traffic would be risky because he would not know

what is coming behind him?

a: I believed we talked of the risk, your Honor when the risk has been minimized to a certain level. Yes, there is

greater risk when you run with the traffic than when you run against the traffic to a certain level, it is correct but

most of the races in Manila or else-where are being run in accordance with the flow of the traffic.

xxx

ATTY. VINLUAN

q: Following the observation of the Court, considering the local condition, you will agree with me the risks here are

greater than in the United States where drivers on the whole follow traffic rules?

a: That is correct.

q: And because of that fact, it is with all the more reason that you should take all necessary precautions to insure

the safety of the runners?

a: That is correct.54

xxx

COURT:

xxx

Q: In your case in all the marathons that you had managed, how many cases have you encountered where the

routes are blocked off for vehicular traffic?

A: These are the International Marathon, Philippines Third World Marathon and the Milo Marathon. We are blocking

them to a certain length of time.

Q: What was the purpose of blocking the routes? Is it for the safety of the runners or just a matter of convenience?

A: In blocking off the route, Your Honor, it is light easier for the runners to run without impediments to be

rendered by the people or by vehicles and at the same time it would be also advantageous if the road will be

blocked off for vehicle traffic permitted to us by the traffic authorities.

Q: So, in this case, you actually requested for the traffic authorities to block off the route?
A: As far as I remember we asked Sgt. Pascual to block off the route but considering that it is the main artery to

Fairview Village, it would not be possible to block off the route since it will cause a lot of inconvenience for the

other people in those areas and jeepney drivers.

Q: In other words, if you have your way you would have opted to block off the route.

A: Yes, Your Honor.

Q: But the fact is that the people did not agree.

A: Yes, Your Honor, and it is stated in the permit given to us.55

Based on the foregoing testimony of Castro, Jr., Intergames had full awareness of the higher risks involved in

staging the race alongside running vehicles, and had the option to hold the race in a route where such risks could

be minimized, if not eliminated. But it did not heed the danger already foreseen, if not expected, and went ahead

with staging the race along the plotted route on Don Mariano Marcos Highway on the basis of its supposedly

familiarity with the route. Such familiarity of the organizer with the route and the fact that previous races had been

conducted therein without any untoward incident56 were not in themselves sufficient safeguards. The standards for

avoidance of injury through negligence further required Intergames to establish that it did take adequate measures

to avert the foreseen danger, but it failed to do so.

Another failing on the part of Intergames was the patent inadequacy of the personnel to man the route. As borne

by the records, Intergames had no personnel of its own for that purpose, and relied exclusively on the assistance

of volunteers, that is, “seven (7) traffic operatives, five (5) motorcycle policemen, fifteen (15) patrolmen deployed

along the route, fifteen (15) boy scouts, twelve (12) CATs, twenty (20) barangay tanods, three (3) ambulances

and three (3) medical teams”57 to ensure the safety of the young runners who would be running alongside moving

vehicular traffic, to make the event safe and well coordinated.

Although the party relying on negligence as his cause of action had the burden of proving the existence of the

same, Intergames’ coordination and supervision of the personnel sourced from the cooperating agencies did not

satisfy the diligence required by the relevant circumstances. In this regard, it can be pointed out that the number

of deployed personnel, albeit sufficient to stage the marathon, did not per se ensure the safe conduct of the race

without proof that such deployed volunteers had been properly coordinated and instructed on their tasks.

That the proper coordination and instruction were crucial elements for the safe conduct of the race was well known

to Intergames. Castro, Jr. stated as much, to wit:

ATTY. LOMBOS:

xxx
Q: You also said that if you block off one side of the road, it is possible that it would be more convenient to hold

the race in that matter. Will you tell the Honorable Court if it is possible also to hold a race safely if the road is not

blocked off?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: How is it done.

A: You can still run a race safely even if it is partially blocked off as long as you have the neccssary

cooperation with the police authorities, and the police assigned along the route of the race and the

police assigned would be there, this will contribute the safety of the participants, and also the

vehicular division, as long as there are substantial publicities in the newspapers, normally they will take the

precautions in the use of the particular route of the race.

Q: Let me clarify this. Did you say that it is possible to hold a marathon safely if you have this traffic assistance or

coordination even if the route is blocked or not blocked?

A: It is preferable to have the route blocked but in some cases, it would be impossible for the portions of the road

to be blocked totally. The route of the race could still be safe for runners if a proper coordination or the

agencies arc notified especially police detailees to man the particular stage.58

Sadly, Intergames’ own evidence did not establish the conduct of proper coordination and instruction. Castro, Jr.

described the action plan adopted by Intergames in the preparation for the race, as follows:

COURT

a: Did you have any rehearsal let us say the race was conducted on June 15, now before June 15 you call a

meeting of all these runners so you can have more or less a map-up and you would indicate or who will be

stationed in their places etc. Did you have such a rehearsal?

WITNESS

a: It is not being done, your honor, but you have to specify them. You meet with the group and you tell them that

you wanted them to be placed in their particular areas which we pointed out to them for example in the case of the

Barangay Tanod, I specifically assigned them in the areas and we sat down and we met.

COURT

q: Did you have any action, plan or brochure which would indicate the assignment of each of the participating

group?

WITNESS
a: Normally, sir, many of the races don't have that except when they called them to meeting either as a whole

group or the entire cooperating agency or meet them per group.

COURT

q: Did you have a check list of the activities that would have to be entered before the actual marathon some kind

of system where you will indicate this particular activity has to be checked etc. You did not have that?

WITNESS

q: Are you asking, your honor, as a race director of I will check this because if I do that, I won't have a race

because that is not being done by any race director anywhere in the world?

COURT

I am interested in your planning activities.

q: In other words, what planning activities did you perform before the actual marathon?

a: The planning activities we had, your honor, was to coordinate with the different agencies involved informing

them where they would be more or less placed.

COURT

q: Let us go to...Who was supposed to be coordinating with you as to the citizens action group who was your...you

were referring to a person who was supposed to be manning these people and who was the person whom you

coordinate with the Traffic Action Group?

WITNESS

a: I can only remember his name...his family name is Esguerra.

q: How about with the Tanods?

a: With the Tanods his name is Pedring Serrano.

q: And with the Boys Scouts? (sic)

a: And with the Boys Scouts of the Phils, (sic) it is Mr. Greg Panelo.

COURT

q: When did you last meet rather how many times did you meet with Esguerra before the marathon on June 15?

WITNESS

a: The Citizens Traffic Action Group, your honor, had been with me in previous races.
COURT

q: I am asking you a specific question. I am not interested in the Citizen Traffic Action Group. The marathon was

on June 15, did you meet with him on June 14, June 13 or June 12?

a: We met once, your honor, I cannot remember the date,

q: You don't recall how many days before?

a: I cannot recall at the moment.

q: How about with Mr. Serrano, how many times did you meet with him before the race?

a: If my mind does not fail me, your honor, I met him twice because he lives just within our area and we always

see each other,

q: How about with Panelo, how many times did you meet him?

a: If my mind does not fail me, your honor, I met him twice because he lives just within our area and we always

see each other,

q: How about with Panelo, how many times did you meet him?

a: With Mr. Panelo, I did not meet with them, your honor.

q: Was there an occasion where before the race you met with these three people together since you did not meet

with Panelo anytime? Was there anytime where you met with Serrano and Esguerra together?

WITNESS

a: No, your honor.

COURT

q: When you met once with Esguerra, where did you meet? What place?

a: I cannot recall at the moment, your honor, since it was already been almost six years ago.

q: How about Serrano, where did you meet him?

a: We met in my place.

q: From your house? He went in your house?

a: Yes, your honor.

q: So you did not have let us say a...you don't have records of your meetings with these people?
WITNESS

a: With the Citizens Traffic Action, your honor?

COURT

a: Yes.

WITNESS

a: I don't have, your honor.

COURT

q: Because you are familiar, I was just thinking this is an activity which requires planning etc., what I was thinking

when you said this was never done in any part of the world but all activities it has to be planned. There must be

some planning, now are you saying that in this particular case you had no written plan or check list of activities

what activities have to be implemented on a certain point and time, who are the persons whom you must meet in a

certain point and time.

WITNESS

a: Normally, we did not have that, your honor, except the check list of all the things that should be ready at a

particular time prior to the race and the people to be involved and we have a check list to see to it that everything

would be in order before the start of the race.

COURT

Proceed.

ATTY. VINLUAN

q: Following the question of the Court Mr. Castro, did you meet with Lt. Depano of the Police Department who were

supposed to supervise the police officers assigned to help during the race?

a: I did not meet with him, sir.

q: You did not meet with him?

a: I did not meet with him.

q: In fact, ever before or during the race you had no occasion to talk to Lt. Depano. Is that correct?

a: That is correct, sir.

ATTY. VINLUAN
Based on the question of the Court and your answer to the question of the Court, are you trying to say that this

planning before any race of all these groups who have committed to help in the race, this is not done in any part of

the world?

WITNESS

a: In the latter years when your race became bigger and bigger, this is being done now slowly.

ATTY. VINLUAN

q: But for this particular race you will admit that you failed to do it when you have to coordinate and even have a

dry run of the race you failed to do all of that in this particular race, yes or no?

a Because there was...

COURT

It was already answered by him when I asked him. The Court has...Everybody has a copy how of this time planner.

Any activity or even meeting a girlfriend or most people plan.

ATTY. F.M. LOMBOS

If your honor please, before we proceed...

WITNESS

In the latter years, your honor, when your race became bigger and bigger, this is being done now slowly.

q: For this particular race you will admit that you failed to do it?

a: Because there was no need, sir.59

Probably sensing that he might have thereby contradicted himself, Castro, Jr. clarified on re-direct examination:

ATTY. LOMBOS

Q: Now, you also responded to a question during the same hearing and this appears on page 26 of the transcript

that you did not hold any rehearsal or dry run for this particular marathon. Could you tell the Court why you did

not hold any such rehearsal or dry run?

A: Because I believe there was no need for us to do that since we have been doing this for many years and we

have been the same people, same organization with us for so many years conducting several races including some

races in that area consisting of longer distances and consisting of more runners, a lot more runners in that areay

(sic) so these people, they know exactly what to do and there was no need for us to have a rehearsal. I believe this

rehearsal would only be applicable if I am new and these people are new then, we have to rehearse.
ATTY. LOMBOS

q: You also stated Mr. Castro that you did not have any action plan or brochure which you would indicate, an

assignment of each of the participating group as to what to do during the race. Will you please explain what you

meant when you said you have no action plan or brochure?

WITNESS

a: What I mean of action plan, I did not have any written action plan but I was fully aware of what to do. I mean,

those people did not just go there out of nowhere. Obviously, there was an action on my part because I have to

communicate with them previously and to tell them exactly what the race is all about; where to start; where it

would end, and that is the reason why we have the ambulances, we have the Boy Scouts, we have the CTA, we

have the police, so it was very obvious that there was a plan of action but not written because I know pretty well

exactly what to do. I was dealing with people who have been doing this for a long period of time.60

While the level of trust Intergames had on its volunteers was admirable, the coordination among the cooperating

agencies was predicated on circumstances unilaterally assumed by Intergames. It was obvious that Intergames’

inaction had been impelled by its belief that it did not need any action plan because it had been dealing with people

who had been manning similar races for a long period of time.

The evidence presented undoubtedly established that Intergames’ notion of coordination only involved informing

the cooperating agencies of the date of the race, the starting and ending points of the route, and the places along

the route to man. Intergames did not conduct any general assembly with all of them, being content with holding a

few sporadic meetings with the leaders of the coordinating agencies. It held no briefings of any kind on the actual

duties to be performed by each group of volunteers prior to the race. It did not instruct the volunteers on how to

minimize, if not avert, the risks of danger in manning the race, despite such being precisely why their assistance

had been obtained in the first place.

Intergames had no right to assume that the volunteers had already been aware of what exactly they would be

doing during the race. It had the responsibility and duty to give to them the proper instructions despite their

experience from the past races it had organized considering that the particular race related to runners of a different

level of experience, and involved different weather and environmental conditions, and traffic situations. It should

have remembered that the personnel manning the race were not its own employees paid to perform their tasks,

but volunteers whose nature of work was remotely associated with the safe conduct of road races. Verily, that the

volunteers showed up and assumed their proper places or that they were sufficient in number was not really

enough. It is worthy to stress that proper coordination in the context of the event did not consist in the mere

presence of the volunteers, but included making sure that they had been properly instructed on their duties and

tasks in order to ensure the safety of the young runners.


It is relevant to note that the participants of the 1st Pop Cola Junior Marathon were mostly minors aged 14 to 18

years joining a race of that kind for the first time. The combined factors of their youth, eagerness and inexperience

ought to have put a reasonably prudent organizer on higher guard as to their safety and security needs during the

race, especially considering Intergames’ awareness of the risks already foreseen and of other risks already known

to it as of similar events in the past organizer. There was no question at all that a higher degree of diligence was

required given that practically all of the participants were children or minors like Rommel; and that the law imposes

a duty of care towards children and minors even if ordinarily there was no such duty under the same circumstances

had the persons involved been adults of sufficient discretion.61 In that respect, Intergames did not observe the

degree of care necessary as the organizer, rendering it liable for negligence. As the Court has emphasized

in Corliss v. The Manila Railroad Company,62 where the danger is great, a high degree of care is necessary, and the

failure to observe it is a want of ordinary care under the circumstances.63

The circumstances of the persons, time and place required far more than what Intergames undertook in staging

the race. Due diligence would have made a reasonably prudent organizer of the race participated in by young,

inexperienced or beginner runners to conduct the race in a route suitably blocked off from vehicular traffic for the

safety and security not only of the participants but the motoring public as well. Since the marathon would be run

alongside moving vehicular traffic, at the very least, Intergames ought to have seen to the constant and closer

coordination among the personnel manning the route to prevent the foreseen risks from befalling the participants.

But this it sadly failed to do.

II

The negligence of Intergames as the organizer was the proximate cause of the death of Rommel

As earlier mentioned, the CA found that Rommel, while running the marathon on Don Mariano Marcos Avenue and

after passing the Philippine Atomic Energy Commission Building, was bumped by a passenger jeepney that was

racing with a minibus and two other vehicles as if trying to crowd each other out. As such, the death of Rommel

was caused by the negligence of the jeepney driver.

Intergames staunchly insists that it was not liable, maintaining that even assuming arguendo that it was negligent,

the negligence of the jeepney driver was the proximate cause of the death of Rommel; hence, it should not be held

liable.

Did the negligence of Intergames give rise to its liability for the death of Rommel notwithstanding the negligence of

the jeepney driver?

In order for liability from negligence to arise, there must be not only proof of damage and negligence, but also

proof that the damage was the consequence of the negligence. The Court has said in Vda. de Gregorio v. Go Chong

Bing:64
x x x Negligence as a source of obligation both under the civil law and in American cases was carefully considered

and it was held:

We agree with counsel for appellant that under the Civil Code, as under the generally accepted doctrine in the

United States, the plaintiff in an action such as that under consideration, in order to establish his right to a

recovery, must establish by competent evidence:

(1) Damages to the plaintiff.

(2) Negligence by act or omission of which defendant personally or some person for whose acts it must respond,

was guilty.

(3) The connection of cause and effect between the negligence and the damage.” (Taylor vs. Manila

Electric Railroad and Light Co., supra, p. 15.)

In accordance with the decision of the Supreme Court of Spain, in order that a person may be held guilty for

damage through negligence, it is necessary that there be an act or omission on the part of the person who is to be

charged with the liability and that damage is produced by the said act or omission.65 (Emphasis supplied)

We hold that the negligence of Intergames was the proximate cause despite the intervening negligence of the

jeepney driver.

Proximate cause is “that which, in natural and continuous sequence, unbroken by any new cause, produces an

event, and without which the event would not have occurred.”66 In Vda. de Bataclan, et al. v. Medina,67 the Court,

borrowing from American Jurisprudence, has more extensively defined proximate cause thusly:

“* * * ‘that cause, which, in natural and continuous sequence, unbroken by any efficient intervening cause,

produces the injury and without which the result would not have occurred.’ And more comprehensively, ‘the

proximate legal cause is that acting first and producing the injury, either immediately or by setting other events in

motion, all constituting a natural and continuous chain of events, each having a close causal connection with its

immediate predecessor, the final event in the chain immediately effecting the injury as a natural and probable

result of the cause which first acted, under such circumstances that the person responsible for the first event

should, as an ordinarily prudent and intelligent person, have reasonable ground to expect at the moment of his act

or default that an injury to some person might probably result therefrom.”68

To be considered the proximate cause of the injury, the negligence need not be the event closest in time to the

injury; a cause is still proximate, although farther in time in relation to the injury, if the happening of it set other

foreseeable events into motion resulting ultimately in the damage.69 According to an authority on civil law:70 “A

prior and remote cause cannot be made the basis of an action, if such remote cause did nothing more than furnish

the condition or give rise to the occasion by which the injury was made possible, if there intervened between such

prior or remote cause and the injury a distinct, successive, unrelated and efficient cause, even though such injury
would not have happened but for such condition or occasion. If no damage exists in the condition except because

of the independent cause, such condition was not the proximate cause. And if an independent negligent act or

defective condition sets into operation the circumstances which result in injury because of the prior defective

condition, such act or condition is the proximate cause”

Bouvier adds:

In many cases important questions arise as to which, in the chain of acts tending to the production of a given state

of things, is to be considered the responsible cause. It is not merely distance of place or of causation that renders a

cause remote. The cause nearest in the order of causation, without any efficient concurring cause to produce the

result, may be considered the direct cause. In the course of decisions of cases in which it is necessary to

determine which of several causes is so far responsible for the happening of the act or injury

complained of, what is known as the doctrine of proximate cause is constantly resorted to in order to

ascertain whether the act, omission, or negligence of the person whom it is sought to hold liable was in

law and in fact responsible for the result which is the foundation of the action.71

xxx

The question of proximate cause is said to be determined, not by the existence or non-existence of

intervening events, but by their character and the natural connection between the original act or

omission and the injurious consequences. When the intervening cause is set in operation by the

original negligence, such negligence is still the proximate cause; x x x If the party guilty of the first act

of negligence might have anticipated the intervening cause, the connection is not broken; x x x. Any

number of causes and effects may intervene, and if they arc such as might with reasonable diligence

have been foreseen, the last result is to be considered as the proximate result. But whenever a new

cause intervenes, which is not a conscquencc of the first wrongful cause, which is not under control of

the wrongdoer, which could not have been foreseen by the exercise of reasonable diligence, and except

for which the final injurious conscquence could not have happened, then such injurious consequence

must be deemed too remote; x x x.72 (bold underscoring supplied for emphasis)

An examination of the records in accordance with the foregoing concepts supports the conclusions that the

negligence of Intergames was the proximate cause of the death of Rommel; and that the negligence of the jeepney

driver was not an efficient intervening cause.

First of all, Intergames’ negligence in not conducting the race in a road blocked off from vehicular traffic, and in not

properly coordinating the volunteer personnel manning the marathon route effectively set the stage for the injury

complained of. The submission that Intergames had previously conducted numerous safe races did not

persuasively demonstrate that it had exercised due diligence because, as the trial court pointedly observed, “[t]hey

were only lucky that no accident occurred during the previous marathon races but still the danger was there.”73
Secondly, injury to the participants arising from an unfortunate vehicular accident on the route was an event

known to and foreseeable by Intergames, which could then have been avoided if only Intergames had acted with

due diligence by undertaking the race on a blocked-off road, and if only Intergames had enforced and adopted

more efficient supervision of the race through its volunteers.

And, thirdly, the negligence of the jeepney driver, albeit an intervening cause, was not efficient enough to break

the chain of connection between the negligence of Intergames and the injurious consequence suffered by Rommel.

An intervening cause, to be considered efficient, must be “one not produced by a wrongful act or omission, but

independent of it, and adequate to bring the injurious results. Any cause intervening between the first wrongful

cause and the final injury which might reasonably have been foreseen or anticipated by the original wrongdoer is

not such an efficient intervening cause as will relieve the original wrong of its character as the proximate cause of

the final injury.”74

In fine, it was the duty of Intergames to guard Rommel against the foreseen risk, but it failed to do so.

III

The doctrine of assumption of risk had no application to Rommel

Unlike the RTC, the CA ruled that the doctrine of assumption of risk applied herein; hence, it declared Intergames

and Cosmos not liable. The CA rendered the following rationalization to buttress its ruling, to wit:

In this case, appellant Romulo Abrogar himself admitted that his son, Rommel Abrogar, surveyed the route of the

marathon and even attended a briefing before the race. Consequently, he was aware that the marathon would pass

through a national road and that the said road would not be blocked off from traffic. And considering that he was

already eighteen years of age, had voluntarily participated in the marathon, with his parents’ consent, and was well

aware of the traffic hazards along the route, he thereby assumed all the risks of the race. This is precisely why

permission from the participant’s parents, submission of a medical certificate and a waiver of all rights and causes

of action arising from the participation in the marathon which the participant or his heirs may have against

appellant Intergames were required as conditions in joining the marathon.

In the decision of the trial court, it stated that the risk mentioned in the waiver signed by Rommel Abrogar only

involved risks such as stumbling, suffering heatstroke, heart attack and other similar risks. It did not consider

vehicular accident as one of the risks included in the said waiver.

This Court does not agree. With respect to voluntary participation in a sport, the doctrine of assumption of risk

applies to any facet of the activity inherent in it and to any open and obvious condition of the place where it is

carried on. We believe that the waiver included vehicular accidents for the simple reason that it was a road race

run on public roads used by vehicles. Thus, it cannot be denied that vehicular accidents are involved. It was not a

track race which is held on an oval and insulated from vehicular traffic. In a road race, there is always the risk of
runners being hit by motor vehicles while they train or compete. That risk is inherent in the sport and known to

runners. It is a risk they assume every time they voluntarily engage in their sport.

Furthermore, where a person voluntarily participates in a lawful game or contest, he assumes the ordinary risks of

such game or contest so as to preclude recovery from the promoter or operator of the game or contest for injury or

death resulting therefrom. Proprietors of amusements or of places where sports and games are played are not

insurers of safety of the public nor of their patrons.

In Me Leod Store v. Vinson 213 Ky 667, 281 SW 799 (1926), it was held that a boy, seventeen years of age, of

ordinary intelligence and physique, who entered a race conducted by a department store, the purpose of which was

to secure guinea fowl which could be turned in for cash prizes, had assumed the ordinary risks incident thereto and

was barred from recovering against the department store for injuries suffered when, within catching distance, he

stopped to catch a guinea, and was tripped or stumbled and fell to the pavement, six or eight others falling upon

him. The court further said: “In this (the race) he was a voluntary participant. x x x The anticipated danger was as

obvious to him as it was to appellant (the department store). While not an adult, he was practically 17 years of

age, of ordinary intelligence, and perfectly able to determine the risks ordinarily incident to such games. An

ordinary boy of that age is practically as well advised as to the hazards of baseball, basketball, football, foot races

and other games of skill and endurance as is an adult x x x.”

In the case at bar, the “1st Pop Cola Junior Marathon” held on June 15, 1980 was a race the winner of which was

to represent the country in the annual Spirit of Pheidippides Marathon Classic in Greece, if he equals or breaks the

29-minute mark for the 19-km. race. Thus, Rommel Abrogar having voluntarily participated in the race, with his

parents’ consent, assumed all the risks of the race.75

The doctrine of assumption of risk means that one who voluntarily exposes himself to an obvious, known and

appreciated danger assumes the risk of injury that may result therefrom.76 It rests on the fact that the person

injured has consented to relieve the defendant of an obligation of conduct toward him and to take his chance of

injury from a known risk, and whether the former has exercised proper caution or not is immaterial. 77 In other

words, it is based on voluntary consent, express or implied, to accept danger of a known and appreciated risk; it

may sometimes include acceptance of risk arising from the defendant’s negligence, but one does not ordinarily

assume risk of any negligence which he does not know and appreciate.78 As a defense in negligence cases,

therefore, the doctrine requires the concurrence of three elements, namely: (1) the plaintiff must know that the

risk is present; (2) he must further understand its nature; and (3) his choice to incur it must be free and

voluntary.79 According to Prosser:80 “Knowledge of the risk is the watchword of assumption of risk.”

Contrary to the notion of the CA, the concurrence of the three elements was not shown to exist. Rommel could not

have assumed the risk of death when he participated in the race because death was neither a known nor normal

risk incident to running a race. Although he had surveyed the route prior to the race and should be presumed to

know that he would be running the race alongside moving vehicular traffic, such knowledge of the general danger
was not enough, for some authorities have required that the knowledge must be of the specific risk that caused the

harm to him.81 In theory, the standard to be applied is a subjective one, and should be geared to the particular

plaintiff and his situation, rather than that of the reasonable person of ordinary prudence who appears in

contributory negligence.82 He could not have appreciated the risk of being fatally struck by any moving vehicle

while running the race. Instead, he had every reason to believe that the organizer had taken adequate measures to

guard all participants against any danger from the fact that he was participating in an organized marathon. Stated

differently, nobody in his right mind, including minors like him, would have joined the marathon if he had known of

or appreciated the risk of harm or even death from vehicular accident while running in the organized running

event. Without question, a marathon route safe and free from foreseeable risks was the reasonable expectation of

every runner participating in an organized running event.

Neither was the waiver by Rommel, then a minor, an effective form of express or implied consent in the context of

the doctrine of assumption of risk. There is ample authority, cited in Prosser,83 to the effect that a person does not

comprehend the risk involved in a known situation because of his youth,84 or lack of information or

experience,85 and thus will not be taken to consent to assume the risk.

Clearly, the doctrine of assumption of risk does not apply to bar recovery by the petitioners.

IV

Cosmos is not liable for the negligence of Intergames as the organizer

Nonetheless, the CA did not err in absolving Cosmos from liability.

The sponsorship of the marathon by Cosmos was limited to financing the race. Cosmos did nothing beyond that,

and did not involve itself at all in the preparations for the actual conduct of the race. This verity was expressly

confirmed by Intergames, through Castro, Jr., who declared as follows:

COURT

q: Do you discuss all your preparation with Cosmos Bottling Company?

a: As far as the Cosmos Bottling Company (sic) was a sponsor as to the actual conduct of the race, it is

my responsibility. The conduct of the race is my responsibility. The sponsor has nothing to do as well

as its code of the race because they are not the ones running. I was the one running. The responsibility

of Cosmos was just to provide the sponsor's money.

COURT

q: They have no right to who (sic) suggest the location, the number of runners, you decide these

yourself without consulting them?

a: Yes, your honor.86


We uphold the finding by the CA that the role of Cosmos was to pursue its corporate commitment to sports

development of the youth as well as to serve the need for advertising its business. In the absence of evidence

showing that Cosmos had a hand in the organization of the race, and took part in the determination of the route for

the race and the adoption of the action plan, including the safety and security measures for the benefit of the

runners, we cannot but conclude that the requirement for the direct or immediate causal connection between the

financial sponsorship of Cosmos and the death of Rommel simply did not exist. Indeed, Cosmos’ mere sponsorship

of the race was, legally speaking, too remote to be the efficient and proximate cause of the injurious

consequences.

Damages

Article 2202 of the Civil Code lists the damages that the plaintiffs in a suit upon crimes and quasi-delicts can

recover from the defendant, viz.:

Art. 2202. In crimes and quasi-delicts, the defendant shall be liable for all damages which are the natural and

probable consequences of the act or omission complained of. It is not necessary that such damages have been

foreseen or could have reasonably been foreseen by the defendant.

Accordingly, Intergames was liable for all damages that were the natural and probable consequences of its

negligence. In its judgment, the RTC explained the award of damages in favor of the petitioners, as follows:

As borne by the evidence on record, the plaintiffs incurred medical, hospitalization and burial expenses for their son

in this aggregate amount of P28,061.65 (Exhibits “D”, “D-1” and “D-2”). In instituting this case, they have paid

their lawyer P5,000 as initial deposit, their arrangement being that they would pay attorney's fees to the extent of

10% of whatever amount would be awarded to them in this case.

For the loss of a son, it is unquestionable that plaintiffs suffered untold grief which should entitle them to recover

moral damages, and this Court believes that if only to assuage somehow their untold grief but not necessarily to

compensate them to the fullest, the nominal amount of P100,00.00 should be paid by the defendants.

For failure to adopt elementary and basic precautionary measure to insure the safety of the participants so that

sponsors and organizers of sports events should exercise utmost diligence in preventing injury to the participants

and the public as well, exemplary damages should also be paid by the defendants and this Court considers the

amount of P50,000.00.as reasonable.87

Although we will not disturb the foregoing findings and determinations, we need to add to the justification for the

grant of exemplary damages. Article 2231 of the Civil Code stipulates that exemplary damages are to be awarded

in cases of quasi-delict if the defendant acted with gross negligence. The foregoing characterization by the RTC

indicated that Intergames’ negligence was gross. We agree with the characterization. Gross negligence, according

to Mendoza v. Spouses Gomez,88 is the absence of care or diligence as to amount to a reckless disregard of the
safety of persons or property; it evinces a thoughtless disregard of consequences without exerting any effort to

avoid them. Indeed, the failure of Intergames to adopt the basic precautionary measures for the safety of the

minor participants like Rommel was in reckless disregard of their safety. Conduct is reckless when it is an extreme

departure from ordinary care, in a situation in which a high degree of danger is apparent; it must be more than

any mere mistake resulting from inexperience, excitement, or confusion, and more than mere thoughtlessness or

inadvertence, or simple inattention.89

The RTC did not recognize the right of the petitioners to recover the loss of earning capacity of Rommel. It should

have, for doing so would have conformed to jurisprudence whereby the Court has unhesitatingly allowed such

recovery in respect of children, students and other non-working or still unemployed victims. The legal basis for

doing so is Article 2206 (1) of the Civil Code, which stipulates that the defendant “shall be liable for the loss of the

earning capacity of the deceased, and the indemnity shall be paid to the heirs of the latter; such indemnity shall in

every case be assessed and awarded by the court, unless the deceased on account of permanent physical disability

not caused by the defendant, had no earning capacity at the time of his death.”

Indeed, damages for loss of earning capacity may be awarded to the heirs of a deceased non-working victim simply

because earning capacity, not necessarily actual earning, may be lost.

In Metro Manila Transit Corporation v. Court of Appeals,90 damages for loss of earning capacity were granted to the

heirs of a third-year high school student of the University of the Philippines Integrated School who had been killed

when she was hit and run over by the petitioner’s passenger bus as she crossed Katipunan Avenue in Quezon City.

The Court justified the grant in this wise:

Compensation of this nature is awarded not for loss of earnings but for loss of capacity to earn money.

Evidence must be presented that the victim, if not yet employed at the time of death, was reasonably

certain to complete training for a specific profession. In People v. Teehankee, no award of compensation for

loss of earning capacity was granted to the heirs of a college freshman because there was no sufficient evidence on

record to show that the victim would eventually become a professional pilot. But compensation should be

allowed for loss of earning capacity resulting from the death of a minor who has not yet commenced

employment or training for a specific profession if sufficient evidence is presented to establish the

amount thereof.91 (bold underscoring supplied for emphasis)

In People v. Sanchez,92 damages for loss of earning capacity was also allowed to the heirs of the victims of rape

with homicide despite the lack of sufficient evidence to establish what they would have earned had they not been

killed. The Court rationalized its judgment with the following observations:

Both Sarmenta and Gomez were senior agriculture students at UPLB, the country's leading educational institution

in agriculture. As reasonably assumed by the trial court, both victims would have graduated in due

course. Undeniably, their untimely death deprived them of their future time and earning capacity. For

these deprivation, their heirs are entitled to compensation. xxx. However, considering that Sarmenta
and Gomez would have graduated in due time from a reputable university, it would not be

unreasonable to assume that in 1993 they would have earned more than the minimum wage. All

factors considered, the Court believes that it is fair and reasonable to fix the monthly income that the

two would have earned in 1993 at P8,000.000 per month (or P96,000.00/year) and their deductible

living and other incidental expenses at P3,000.00 per month (or P36,000.00/year).93 (bold underscoring

supplied for emphasis)

In Perena v. Zarate,94 the Court fixed damages for loss of earning capacity to be paid to the heirs of the 15-year-

old high school student of Don Bosco Technical Institute killed when a moving train hit the school van ferrying him

to school while it was traversing the railroad tracks. The RTC and the CA had awarded damages for loss of earning

capacity computed on the basis of the minimum wage in effect at the time of his death. Upholding said findings,

the Court opined:

x x x, the fact that Aaron was then without a history of earnings should not be taken against his parents and in

favor of the defendants whose negligence not only cost Aaron his life and his right to work and earn money, but

also deprived his parents of their right to his presence and his services as well. x x x. Accordingly, we

emphatically hold in favor of the indemnification for Aaron's loss of earning capacity despite him

having been unemployed, because compensation of this nature is awarded not for loss of time or

earnings but for loss of the deceased’s power or ability to earn money.

The petitioners sufficiently showed that Rommel was, at the time of his untimely but much lamented death, able-

bodied, in good physical and mental state, and a student in good standing.95 It should be reasonable to assume

that Rommel would have finished his schooling and would turn out to be a useful and productive person had he not

died. Under the foregoing jurisprudence, the petitioners should be compensated for losing Rommel’s power or

ability to earn. The basis for the computation of earning capacity is not what he would have become or what he

would have wanted to be if not for his untimely death, but the minimum wage in effect at the time of his death.

The formula for this purpose is:

Net Earning Capacity = Life Expectancy x [Gross Annual Income less Necessary Living Expenses]96

Life expectancy is equivalent to 2/3 multiplied by the difference of 80 and the age of the deceased. Since Rommel

was 18 years of age at the time of his death, his life expectancy was 41 years. His projected gross annual income,

computed based on the minimum wage for workers in the non-agricultural sector in effect at the time of his

death,97 then fixed at P14.00/day, is P5,535.83. Allowing for necessary living expenses of 50% of his projected

gross annual income, his total net earning capacity is P113,484.52.

Article 2211 of the Civil Code expressly provides that interest, as a part of damages, may be awarded in crimes

and quasi-delicts at the discretion of the court. The rate of interest provided under Article 2209 of the Civil Code is

6% per annum in the absence of stipulation to the contrary. The legal interest rate of 6% per annum is to be

imposed upon the total amounts herein awarded from the time of the judgment of the RTC on May 10, 1991 until
finality of judgment.98 Moreover, pursuant to Article 221299 of the Civil Code, the legal interest rate of 6% per

annum is to be further imposed on the interest earned up to the time this judgment of the Court becomes final and

executory until its full satisfaction.100

Article 2208 of the Civil Code expressly allows the recovery of attorney’s fees and expenses of litigation when

exemplary damages have been awarded. Thus, we uphold the RTC’s allocation of attorney’s fees in favor of the

petitioners equivalent to 10% of the total amount to be recovered, inclusive of the damages for loss of earning

capacity and interests, which we consider to be reasonable under the circumstances.

WHEREFORE, the Court PARTLY AFFIRMS the decision promulgated on March 10, 2004 to the extent that it

absolved COSMOS BOTTLING COMPANY, INC. from liability; REVERSES and SETS ASIDE the decision as

to INTERGAMES, INC., and REINSTATESas to it the judgment rendered on May 10, 1991 by the Regional Trial

Court, Branch 83, in Quezon City subject to the MODIFICATIONS that INTERGAMES, INC. is ORDERED TO

PAY to the petitioners, in addition to the awards thereby allowed: (a) the sum of P113,484.52 as damages for the

loss of Rommel Abrogar’s earning capacity; (b) interest of 6% per annum on the actual damages, moral damages,

exemplary damages and loss of earning capacity reckoned from May 10, 1991 until full payment; (c) compounded

interest of 6% per annum from the finality of this decision until full payment; and (d) costs of suit.

SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 193324, July 23, 2014 - ST. LUKE’S MEDICAL CENTER, Petitioner, v. DANIEL QUEBRAL AND ST. LUKE’S
MEDICAL CENTER EMPLOYEES’ ASSOCIATION - ALLIANCE OF FILIPINO WORKERS (SLMCEA-AFW), Respondents.

FIRST DIVISION

G.R. No. 193324, July 23, 2014

ST. LUKE’S MEDICAL CENTER, Petitioner, v. DANIEL QUEBRAL AND ST. LUKE’S MEDICAL CENTER
EMPLOYEES’ ASSOCIATION - ALLIANCE OF FILIPINO WORKERS (SLMCEA-AFW), Respondents.

DECISION

VILLARAMA, JR., J.:

Before us is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended,
assailing the April 22, 2010 Decision1 and August 12, 20102 Resolution of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP
No. 108097. The appellate court affirmed the decision of the Secretary of the Department of Labor and
Employment (DOLE) finding respondent Daniel Quebral to have been illegally dismissed by petitioner St. Luke’s
Medical Center.

The antecedents of the case follow:

Respondent Daniel Quebral (Quebral) started working for petitioner on June 1, 2000 as an Executive Check-up
Coordinator. His position was later renamed to Wellness Center Assistant, whose principal duty is to promote the
Executive Check-up Program of petitioner to its target customers and generate revenue and census from corporate
clients.

As part of its customer service, petitioner provides free and/or discounted parking privileges to its
patients. Wellness Center Assistants, such as Quebral, are tasked with claiming pre-approved parking tickets from
the hospital’s Information and Concierge Section on behalf of the patients. The Parking Regulations and Conditions
stated in the Parking Validation Ticket read:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

1. This Parking Validation Ticket extends the flat rate of PHP 40.00 per 24 hours for self-driven
vehicles and PHP 65.00 per 24 hours for valet service. This privilege is strictly for confined
patients and their representative only.

2. Each patient is allowed only one (1) Parking Validation Ticket per day.

3. SLMC reserves the right to verify the identity of the Parking Validation Ticket holder.

4. Vehicles must not be parked in a manner that will obstruct passageway of other vehicles,
pedestrians, and wheelchairs.

5. SLMC is not responsible for any damage to or loss of the vehicle and/or its accessories and
articles left herein.

6. The Parking Validation Ticket is valid only for the CHBC Parking Complex and SLMC Valet Service.

7. All parking attendants have the right to refuse the tickets, which are not properly validated by
the issuing party.3 (Emphasis supplied.)

Quebral claims that on January 23, 2007, Arnel U. Ceriola, Department Manager, In-House Security of petitioner,
called his attention regarding his unpaid parking fees totaling to P1,250. His parking records show that Quebral
used the discounted parking privilege reserved for patients and their representatives for his personal use at least
20 times from December 3, 2006 to January 21, 2007. Ceriola asked Quebral as to how he was able to validate his
parking tickets when such privilege was not extended to employees. Quebral replied that he just asks from the
Concierge staff who provided him with parking tickets. He apologized to Ceriola and told him that he did not know
that he was not allowed to avail of such validation benefits. On the same day, he paid his balance to Prestige
Parking and returned to Ceriola to again apologize. According to Quebral, Ceriola accepted his apology and even
remarked, “o, nabayaran mo na pala. Ok na yon… walang problema, sige na.”4

On the same date, Ceriola sent the following memo to Victor Quiñones, Department Manager of Wellness Program
Office:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

TO : MR. VICTOR QUIÑONES


Department Manager, Wellness Program Office

FROM : Department Manager, In-house Security

RE : DAN QUEBRAL (unauthorized use of parking validation)

DATE : January 23, 2007

We received a report that one of your staff, Mr. Dan Quebral, parks his car at the CHBC building using validation
tickets supposedly for wellness patients. According to him, he is not aware that this is not allowed. He admitted
though that sometimes, he tells our concierge and information staff that the tickets are for our wellness patients.
As per latest check with Prestige Parking Inc., he should have paid P1,250.00 more as regular rate.

For your information and appropriate action. Thank you.

(sgd.)
ARNEL U. CERIOLA5

Quinoñes endorsed Quebral’s case to the Employee and Labor Relations Department (ELRD) for investigation. On
February 2, 2007, the ELRD through Ms. Roma Paje, Labor Relations Manager, issued the following Notice to
Explain and Invitation to Conference to Quebral:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

TO : MR. DANIEL S. QUEBRAL


FROM : EMPLOYEE AND LABOR RELATIONS
RE : Notice to Explain and Invitation to Conference
DATE : February 2, 2007

This is with regard to the case endorsement submitted by your Manager[,] Mr. Victor Quinoñes, Jr., wherein you
allegedly used the CHBC car parking validation tickets for personal use from December 3, 2006 to January 21,
2007 (as per parking computer record).

xxxx

As such, please explain in writing within 48 hours from receipt of this memo why no disciplinary action should be
imposed against you for possible violation of the above rule. Failure on your part to submit your explanation within
the requisite period shall mean a waiver on your part of the right to be heard.

Finally, in order to afford you ample opportunity to defend yourself, you are further required to attend Case
Conference on February 7, 2007, 9:00 am at the Orthopedic Conference Room 2nd floor Main Building. Failure on
your part to submit the required written explanation within the period specified in your Notice to Explain and to
attend the scheduled Conference shall mean waiver on your part of the right to be heard. Thus, the management
shall be constrained to decide the case based on the documents/evidence at hand.

For immediate compliance.

(sgd.)
ROMA C. PAJE
Labor Relations Manager

Noted by:

(sgd.)
LUVIE A. DE LOS REYES
ELRD, Department Manager6

In his reply7 dated February 7, 2007, Quebral stated that he did not know that employees and staff were prohibited
to get a validation ticket and all that he knew was that, to be able to get a discount on their expensive parking, he
needed to get a validation. He further stated that what he usually did was, whenever he would get off late from
the hospital, he would ask the information staff if he can get a validation. Without hesitation, they always provided
him with it. Because of this, he thought that it was alright to get a validation even if he was an employee of the
hospital. He likewise narrated what transpired on January 23, 2007 when Ceriola called his attention about his
unpaid parking fees.

Two conferences were held wherein both Quebral and representatives from the St. Luke’s Medical Center
Employees Association – Alliance of Filipino Workers (SLMCEA-AFW), the exclusive bargaining representative of
petitioner’s rank-and-file employees, were present. During the February 7, 2007 conference, Quebral reiterated
his previous explanations. He also demanded the presentation of the parking tickets for his examination and that
he be allowed to confront the witnesses.

On February 9, 2007, the Information and Concierge Associates of petitioner submitted a joint written statement
declaring among others that “[w]ith regards to Mr. Dan Quebral getting a validation ticket [from] us, we all know
that it is for their patient, that is why we give him the validated ticket. As far as we all know[,] the ticket[s] that
we issue [to] him will be used for their ECU patients.”8

On February 21, 2007, the second conference was held wherein the Information and Concierge Associates were
present. They testified that “whenever [Quebral] ask for a parking ticket validation, [he] would simply state that it
is for the ‘Wellness Program’.” They further testified that all employees of petitioner knew that the pre-validated
tickets are exclusively for patients’ use.9

On March 6, 2007 the ELRD rendered a decision10 terminating Quebral’s employment. The pertinent portion
reads:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

The claim that you “are not aware” of any policy or that the parking validation tickets are for patient’s use is but a
convenient self serving denial considering your position and tenure in the hospital. It suffices to say that your act of
claiming the tickets and saying that it is for “Wellness Program” upon inquiry of the Information and Concierge
Associates without indicating your name created a rouse to evince a degree of legitimacy. This demonstrates
instead the dishonest intent in availing the parking validation tickets. This considering the fact that the tickets itself
indicate that it is for patients use, the testimony of the Information and Concierge Associates, the fact that the
tickets were exhausted by multiple-entry use and the fact that as Wellness Program Associate you regularly use
the ticket for the convenience of the patients it is impossible to conclude that you are not aware that its sole
purpose is to provide customer delight.

The allegation that SLMC did not suffer any loss is an infantile attempt to skirt from liability. Nonetheless, it may
be worth mentioning that while no direct monies redound to the Medical Center it doesn’t mean that it is not
thereby disadvantaged. For by said act the supposed parking space intended for the convenience of the patient is
thereby deprived.

An examination of the charges, the rules, your defenses, and facts established led the Management to decide, as
we hereby decide, against your favor. We find that the above charges are valid and that you have indeed violated
Rule 1 – Act of Dishonesty, Section 18, Other Acts of Dishonesty. In light of the foregoing, your services are hereby
TERMINATED effective the closing of business hours of March 10, 2007. This, of course, is without prejudice to the
filing of any legal action or claims against you by the Medical Center for any outstanding obligations and
accountabilities.11

Quebral, through SLMCEA-AFW, appealed his dismissal in a letter12 dated March 8, 2007. He pleaded for
reconsideration of the penalty of dismissal and that the same be reduced to a three-day suspension in the interest
of substantial justice, fairness and compassion.

In a letter13 dated March 9, 2007, Fe Corazon B. Ramos-Muit, Vice-President, Human Resources Division of
petitioner, replied to Quebral’s appeal and stated therein that she directed the Department Head of the ELRD to
take action on his appeal including “re-discussions with the Division Head of Customer Affairs for any possibility of
commutation” and directed that his dismissal be temporarily held in abeyance pending final determination of the
matter.

In a letter14 dated May 18, 2007 addressed to Norberto A. Sajorda, President of SLMCEA-AFW, petitioner relayed
its decision to uphold its earlier decision dismissing Quebral effective May 22, 2007 after finding no compelling
reason to reverse the same.

SLMCEA-AFW, through Sajorda, sent two letters15 addressed to Jose F.G. Ledesma, petitioner’s President and Chief
Executive Officer, appealing Quebral’s dismissal. Thus, as part of the auxiliary review, the management looked
into the finer details of Quebral’s performance for the past 12 months preceding his dismissal and noted the
following violations he committed:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
 April 12, 2006
Written Reprimand for erroneous insertion of results of patient J. Leroy that resulted to threat of
the patient not to recommend SLMC to other managers for ECU. A Violation of Rule VII Sec. 20
(Other Acts of Gross Inefficiency and Incompetence) of SLMC Code of Discipline.

 August 2006
Counsel was given instead of 3 Days Suspension for erroneous insertion of results of patients of
Dr. A. Sibulo. A Violation of Rule VII Sec. 20 (Other Acts of Gross Inefficiency and Incompetence)
of SLMC Code of Discipline.

 September 12, 2006


3 Days Suspension was given instead of 7 Days Suspension for erroneous insertion of results of
patients C. Sablan and N. Sablan. A Violation of Rule VII Sec. 20 (Other Acts of Gross
Inefficiency and Incompetence) of SLMC Code of Discipline.
 September 13, 2006
Counseling given instead of giving penalizing based on Unit Policy. Associate failed to complete
assigned task per Standard Operating Procedure regarding confirming patients for admission for
the following day. A possible violation of Rule VII Section 7 (Failure to comply with control
procedures).16

In petitioner’s reply17 to Sajorda’s letters, it was stated that the above incidents are already indicators that the
Management has already extended its utmost consideration to Quebral not only on one occasion but in several
incidents and thus, Quebral’s dismissal is final and irrevocable.

SLMCEA-AFW then filed with the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB) on June 7, 2007 a Notice of
Preventive Mediation. Two conciliation conferences were held but both sides maintained their respective positions.

On March 16, 2009, the Secretary of Labor and Employment, after voluntary arbitration, rendered a
decision.18 The fallo reads:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered as follows:

1. The dismissal of Complainant from employment is hereby declared as illegal;

2. The act of the Complainant, while not warranting dismissal, deserves a less punitive penalty which is declared
to be suspension without pay for three (3) months. This suspension starts from the day he was dismissed from his
employment on 22 May 2007 and ends three (3) months thereafter. As such it is already deemed served; and

3. The Company is hereby ordered to immediately reinstate the Complainant to his former position without loss of
seniority rights and other privileges, and to pay his backwages, inclusive of allowances and other benefits to which
he would have been entitled had he not been dismissed, computed from 23 August 2007 up to the time of his
actual reinstatement.

x x x x19

The Secretary of Labor ruled that while there is no dispute that Quebral was guilty of violating company rules on
parking validation tickets, the extreme penalty of dismissal was too harsh. Though the penalty for the committed
infraction is subject to management discretion, the Secretary of Labor held that it is settled that in determining the
penalty imposed on erring employees, due consideration must be given to the employee’s length of service and the
number of violations he committed during his employ. It was ruled that petitioner should have considered as
mitigating circumstances Quebral’s seven-year stint, his exemplary performance as an employee as shown by his
Certificate of Recognition and Plaques of Appreciation for Excellence in External Customer Service-Frontline
Support in 2001, 2002, and 2003, as well as the fact that he has not been shown to have committed any infraction
during his tenure. Moreover, the Secretary of Labor found that the subject infraction of Quebral was not
considered serious and the implementation on the rules on parking validation tickets was lenient. Also, petitioner
did not sustain any loss due to the commission of the offense and in fact in some way benefited from it as it
assisted Quebral in the discharge of his functions.

Petitioner elevated the case to the CA via petition for review but the petition was denied in the assailed decision
and resolution. The CA agreed with the Secretary of Labor that Quebral has been a dependable and reliable
employee and thus, the penalty of dismissal is just too harsh for the offense he committed. The CA also held that
petitioner cannot use his past offenses as justification for his dismissal since it is not similar to the subject
offense. The appellate court likewise noted that the issuance of discounted parking tickets to employees is a
tolerated practice as in the of case of Dr. Yosohiro Oba, the International Patient Care Director of petitioner. The
CA ruled that to single out Quebral for violating a policy that is not strictly enforced is unjust and discriminatory.

Hence the instant petition based on the following grounds as summarized in petitioner’s memorandum:20

I. THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED SERIOUS AND REVERSIBLE ERROR WHEN IT RULED THAT
RESPONDENT’S DISMISSAL WAS ILLEGAL.

A. THERE IS MORE THAN SUFFICIENT CAUSE FOR THE DISMISSAL OF PRIVATE


RESPONDENT. THE RULE THAT THE RIGHT OF PETITIONER TO TERMINATE PRIVATE
RESPONDENT’S SERVICES SHOULD BE TEMPERED WITH COMPASSION AND
UNDERSTANDING CANNOT BE APPLIED CONSIDERING THE IMPUNITY WITH WHICH
PRIVATE RESPONDENT HAS VIOLATED PETITIONER’S RULES AND REGULATIONS.

B. PETITIONER HAD TEMPERED ITS RIGHT TO DISCIPLINE PRIVATE RESPONDENT FOR HIS
PREVIOUS VIOLATIONS, AND IT IS ALREADY OPPRESSION TO REQUIRE PETITIONER TO
ONCE AGAIN EXTEND COMPASSION AND UNDERSTANDING TO SOMEONE WHO HAS
NOT SHOWN LOYALTY AND FIDELITY TO THE INSTITUTION HE REPRESENTS.

C. PETITIONER HAS THE RIGHT TO RETAIN EMPLOYEES WHO HAVE THE FITNESS, CANDOR
AND LOYALTY IN THE PERFORMANCE OF THEIR ASSIGNED TASKS; PETITIONER
SHOULD NOT BE PLACED IN THE SITUATION OF ALWAYS LOOKING AFTER ITS BACK IN
ORDER TO ENSURE THAT NONE OF ITS EMPLOYEES ARE STABBING IT, SO TO SPEAK.

D. PETITIONER IS A MEDICAL INSTITUTION INVOLVED IN AN ENDEAVOR IMBUED WITH


PUBLIC INTEREST; IT RISES AND FALLS ON PUBLIC PERCEPTION AND TRUST. IT HAS
TO, IN TURN, BE ABLE TO TRUST ITS EMPLOYEES IN ORDER TO RENDER THE SERVICE
FOR WHICH IT WAS ESTABLISHED.

II. RESPONDENT QUEBRAL IS NOT ENTITLED TO REINSTATEMENT AND BACKWAGES.

Considering that the commission of the subject infraction by Quebral is undisputed, the primordial issue to be
resolved in the instant case is whether the penalty of dismissal is commensurate to his offense.

Petitioner argues that the penalty cannot be reduced to suspension as prayed for by the respondent union since the
instant case does not involve just one or two acts of dishonesty but 25. If it were the former, petitioner contends
that Quebral might have just been mistaken. However, considering that it is 25 times, petitioner submits that it is
already ignominy.

Petitioner also contends that Quebral’s defense that he was not aware that the parking validation tickets are for
patient’s use is a blatant lie as the parking validation ticket clearly states that it is strictly for confined patients and
their representatives only. Quebral, who has been an employee since June 2000, cannot claim that he is not aware
of the policy. Petitioner argues that knowingly violating a policy is bad enough, but not knowing your employer’s
policies despite being employed for seven years, more or less, is even worse. To further bolster said argument,
petitioner cites the joint statement submitted by the Information and Concierge Associates that when Quebral gets
a validation ticket from them, they all know that it will be for the ECU patients. Petitioner submits that it is beyond
cavil that Quebral is guilty of dishonesty which is a valid ground for termination as provided in Article 282 of
the Labor Code, as amended.

Petitioner also submits that each act of Quebral’s converting for his own use its property intended for the use of its
patients constituted fraud on his part and is a clear violation of petitioner’s Code of Discipline.

Petitioner also contends that the CA’s conclusion that Quebral has been in its employ for seven long years and has
been a dependable and reliable employee is erroneous and not based on the records of the case. It argues that in
the year preceding Quebral’s dismissal, he was guilty of several infractions and in a couple of instances, petitioner
commuted the penalties for these infractions. Thus, petitioner submits that the CA cannot oblige it to once again
be compassionate to Quebral after the latter has been given reprieve in previous violations.

Petitioner likewise argues that the CA’s statement that it is using Quebral’s previous infractions to fortify its
decision to dismiss him is a mislaid conclusion. It contends that Quebral’s 25 counts of dishonesty, standing alone,
are more than sufficient just causes for his dismissal and it need not rely on his previous infractions as “added
justifications.” What it wants to emphasize in citing prior violations is the fact that it has previously extended
compassion and understanding to Quebral by commuting penalties and hence, the CA cannot charge petitioner for
being too harsh this time. Also, petitioner submits that the CA cannot totally disregard Quebral’s previous
infractions since the totality of infractions or number of violations committed during the period of employment shall
be considered in determining the penalty to be imposed upon the erring employee.

As to CA’s conclusion that the issuance of discounted parking tickets to employees has been a tolerated practice
and that to single out Quebral by strictly enforcing it against him is unjust and discriminatory, petitioner avers that
the same is off tangent. It points out that the issuance of validated parking tickets to Mr. Yoshiro Oba, the
International Patient Director, was with the consent and approval of petitioner which cannot be said of
Quebral. Petitioner also argues that except for the courtesy extended to Mr. Oba, Quebral did not present evidence
to show that other employees were being issued validated tickets.

Petitioner insists that it exercised good faith in its management prerogative as there is no dispute that Quebral
committed 25 counts of dishonesty, to the damage and prejudice of petitioner. It also points out that the law
recognizes the right of the employer to expect from its workers not only good performance, adequate work and
diligence, but also good conduct and loyalty and it must not be compelled to continue to employ such persons
whose continuance in the service will be patently inimical to his interests.

Quebral and SLMCEA-AFW (respondents hereinafter), for their part, submit that the findings of both the CA and the
Secretary of Labor are supported by substantial evidence on record and conclusive and binding on the instant case
contrary to petitioner’s claim.

Respondents likewise insist that the supreme penalty of dismissal meted on Quebral is too harsh or highly
disproportionate to the lumped up and one-time charge of misuse of the parking validation tickets and that the
“totality of infractions” doctrine is not applicable. They further argue that had petitioner charged Quebral with 25
separate and distinct incidents of misuse of the parking validation tickets, it should have sent him 25
notices/memoranda to explain. Respondents likewise contend that the issuance of validation tickets even to non-
patients appears to be a tolerated practice, as in the case of Mr. Oba. Thus, they maintain that Quebral cannot be
seriously faulted for using these tickets and consequently meted the extreme penalty of dismissal. They submit
that there is no showing that the offense had prejudiced the operations of petitioner as there are no records of
damage sustained by the latter.

The petition is meritorious. This Court finds that the penalty of dismissal meted on Quebral is commensurate to
the offense he committed.

Quebral cannot feign ignorance of the policy limiting to patients the privilege of the use of validated parking
tickets. First, it is written on the parking ticket itself. Having used said parking tickets many times, it was
incumbent upon him to read the terms and conditions stated thereon. And second, even assuming he was not able
to read said policy, this Court agrees with petitioner that this only serves as a testament of his inefficiency in his
job as he is not aware of his employer’s policies despite being employed for 7 years. Moreover, as Wellness Center
Assistant whose task is to extend all needed assistance to the ECU patients, it is expected that he is aware of all
matters relating to patient rights and privileges.

Also, the CA’s conclusion that he has been a dependable and reliable employee and thus deserving of petitioner’s
compassion is without basis. The auxiliary review of Quebral’s employment record by petitioner’s management
which was requested by respondent union revealed violations of company rules he committed for the preceding
twelve months prior to his dismissal. And for said violations, petitioner extended consideration to Quebral by
lowering the penalty imposed on him. Had Quebral valued the considerations extended to him by his employer in
the past, he would have have been more careful in his actions. Moreover, this Court recognizes the prerogative of
an employer to prescribe rules and regulations in its business operations and its right to exact compliance with
them by its employees. As held in Family Planning Organization of the Philippines, Inc. v.
NLRC21:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

It is the employer’s prerogative to prescribe reasonable rules and regulations necessary or proper for the conduct
of its business or concern, to provide certain disciplinary measures to implement said rules and to assure that the
same be complied with. At the same time, it is one of the fundamental duties of the employee to yield obedience to
all reasonable rules, orders, and instructions of the employer, and willful or intentional disobedience thereof, as a
general rule, justifies rescission of the contract of service and the peremptory dismissal of the employee.

Furthermore, it goes without saying that the record of an employee is a relevant consideration in determining the
penalty that should be meted out on him.22 As correctly argued by petitioner, fitness for continued employment
cannot be compartmentalized into tight little cubicles of aspects of character, conduct and ability separate and
independent of each other. Thus, we cannot oblige petitioner to disregard altogether Quebral’s previous violations
when determining the penalty to be imposed on him for his latest offense as if it was the first time he violated
company rules. Moreover, Quebral has no vested right to petitioner’s compassion. Just because petitioner was
compassionate to him numerous times in the past when he violated company rules does not give him the right to
demand the same compassion this time on the ground of social justice. As this Court ruled, social justice and
equity are not magical formulas to erase the unjust acts committed by the employee against his employer.23

We also agree with petitioner that Quebral’s use of the validated parking tickets cannot be compared to the case of
Dr. Oba. The issuance of validated parking tickets to the latter was with the consent and approval of petitioner,
which are both wanting in Quebral’s case. Also, respondents failed to prove that the violation of the policy on
validation of tickets is tolerated by petitioner as they failed to present any evidence that other employees were
being issued validated tickets.

This Court, likewise, does not subscribe to respondent’s argument that since there is no showing that the offense
had prejudiced the operations of petitioner as there are no records of damage sustained by the latter he does not
deserve to be dismissed from employment. A company has the right to dismiss its employees as a measure of
self-protection.24 It need not wait for it to suffer actual damage or loss before it can rightfully dismiss an employee
who it has already found to have been dishonest. The fact that petitioner did not suffer losses from the dishonesty
of the respondent does not excuse the latter from any culpability.25 Whether he has already settled the amount he
was supposed to pay for parking if not for the validated parking tickets is of no consequence. 26 The fact remains
that he was dishonest in the performance of his duties which is a valid ground for termination of employment.

WHEREFORE, in light of the foregoing, the petition is hereby GRANTED. The April 22, 2010 Decision and August
12, 2010 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 108097 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The
dismissal of respondent Danilo Quebral is hereby declared VALID.

No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 218014, December 07, 2016 - EDDIE CORTEL Y CARNA AND YELLOW BUS LINE, INC., Petitioners, v.
CECILE GEPAYA-LIM, Respondent.

SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. 218014, December 07, 2016

EDDIE CORTEL Y CARNA AND YELLOW BUS LINE, INC., Petitioners, v. CECILE GEPAYA-LIM, Respondent.

DECISION

CARPIO, J.:

The Case

Petitioners Eddie Cortel y Carna (Cortel) and Yellow Bus Line, Inc. (Yellow Bus Line) assail the 16 October 2014
Decision1 and 21 April 2015 Resolution2 of the Court of Appeals Cagayan de Oro City in CA-G.R. CV No. 02980. The
Court of Appeals affirmed with modification the Judgment,3 dated 27 April 2012, of the Regional Trial Court of
Midsayap, Cotabato, Branch 18 (trial court), finding petitioners jointly and severally liable to the heirs of SP03
Robert C. Lim (Lim) for the latter's death.chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

The Antecedent Facts

The Court of Appeals narrated the facts as follows:cralawlawlibrary

On 29 October 2004, Cartel was driving a bus, operated by Yellow Bus Line, which was on its way from Marbel,
Koronadal to Davao City. At around 9:45 in the evening, as the bus was traversing Crossing Rubber in the
Municipality of Tupi, South Cotabato, Cortel noticed two trucks with glaring headlights coming from the opposite
direction. Cortel stated that he was driving at a speed of 40 to 50 kilometers per hour. He claimed that upon
noticing the trucks, he reduced his speed to 20 kilometers per hour. However, the bus hit a black motorcycle which
allegedly had no tail light reflectors. The impact dragged the motorcycle at a distance of three meters before it
came to a full stop. Lim, who was riding the motorcycle, was thrown upward and then slammed into the bus,
hitting the base of its right windshield wiper. The motorcycle got entangled with the broken bumper of the bus.
According to Cortel, Lim was wearing a black jacket and was riding without a helmet at the time of the accident.

Felix Larang (Larang), the bus conductor, alighted from the bus to aid Lim. Larang gave instructions to Cortel to
move back to release Lim and the motorcycle from the front bumper of the bus. Two bystanders proceeded to the
scene to assist Lim. After reversing the bus and freeing Lim and the motorcycle, Cortel drove the bus away and
went to a nearby bus station where he surrendered to authorities. Cortel claimed that he left the scene of the
incident because he feared for his life.

Respondent Cecile Gepaya-Lim, Lim's widow, filed a complaint for damages against petitioners. The case was
docketed as Civil Case No. 05-010.

During trial, SPO4 Eddie S. Orencio (SPO4 Orencio), the officer who investigated the incident, testified that Lim was
driving a DT Yamaha 125 black motorcycle when the accident took place. Cortel's bus and the motorcycle were
going in the same direction. SPO4 Orencio testified that that the bus bumped the motorcycle from behind. The
motorcycle's engine and chassis were severely damaged, while its rear rim was totally damaged by the accident.

Yellow Bus Line presented and offered in evidence photographs showing that the bus' right front windshield and
wiper were damaged. The bus' lower right side bumper was also perforated. During the preliminary conference,
Yellow Bus Line also presented Cortel's certificates showing that he attended the following seminars: (1) Basic Tire
Care Seminar; (2) Basic Tire Knowledge and Understanding Retreading; and (3) Traffic Rules and Regulations,
Defensive Driving and Road Courtesy Seminar.

However, the certificates were not offered in evidence during trial.

The Decision of the Trial Court

In its 27 April 2012 Judgment, the trial court established that Cortel was at fault. The trial court found that the bus
was running fast when it bumped the motorcycle ridden by Lim. The trial court ruled that the accident is the
proximate cause of Lim's death. The trial court also ruled that Yellow Bus Line failed to present sufficient evidence
to prove that it exercised due diligence in the selection and supervision of Cortel.

The dispositive portion of the trial court's decision reads:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary


WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court hereby renders judgment against Defendants Eddie Cortely Carna
and likewise against the owners of the Yellow Bus Line, Inc., numbered bus with Body No. A-96, and bearing Plate
No. LWE-614, with PDL No. L05-30-002730; thus pursuant to [A]rticles 2176 and 2180 of the Civil Code of the
Philippines[,] said Defendants are ordered to pay jointly and severally to the plaintiffs the following
amount:cralawlawlibrary

In favor of the heirs of Robert C. Lim represented by Cecil[]e Gepaya Lim as the surviving spouse, and with [a]
living child, the death compensation of One Hundred Fifty Thousand Pesos (P150,000.00), plus x x x[:]

a) Funeral and burial expenses of Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00);ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

b) [C]ompensation for loss of earning capacity in the amount of P100,000.00;ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

(c) x x x Damages [to] the motorcycle in the amount of [Fifteen Thousand Pesos]
(P15,000.00);ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

d) Attorney's fees of Fifteen Thousand Pesos (P15,000.00);ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

e) Costs of suit.

SO ORDERED.4
chanrobleslaw
Petitioners appealed from the trial court's decision.

The Decision of the Court of Appeals

In its 16 October 2014 Decision, the Court of Appeals applied the doctrine of res ipsa loquitor.

The Court of Appeals ruled that Lim died because of the collision between the bus driven by Cortel and the
motorcycle Lim was riding. The Court of Appeals ruled that both vehicles were driving in the same lane and were
headed towards the same direction. The Court of Appeals noted that vehicles running on highways do not normally
collide unless one of the drivers is negligent. The Court of Appeals further ruled that Cortel had exclusive control
and management of the bus he was driving. The Court of Appeals found no evidence that Lim had any contributory
negligence in the accident that resulted to his death. The Court of Appeals ruled that petitioners failed to prove that
the motorcycle had no headlights or that Lim was not wearing a helmet. The Court of Appeals stated that even if
the motorcycle was black and Lim was wearing a black jacket, these were not prohibited by traffic rules and
regulations. The Court of Appeals noted that upon impact, Lim's body was thrown upward, indicating that Cortel
was driving at high speed. The damages to the motorcycle and the bus also disproved Cortel's allegation that he
was only driving at the speed of 20 kilometers per hour.

The Court of Appeals ruled that Yellow Bus Line failed to exercise the care and diligence of a good father of a family
in its selection and supervision of its employees. The Court of Appeals ruled that the certificates presented by
Yellow Bus Line were not admissible in evidence because the police officer who allegedly signed them was not
presented before the trial court. In addition, Yellow Bus Line did not offer the certificates as evidence during trial.

The Court of Appeals modified the amount of damages awarded to the heirs of Lim. Using the formula set by this
Court in The Heirs of Poe v. Malayan Insurance Company, Inc.5 and Villa Rey Transit, Inc. v. Court of Appeals,6 the
Court of Appeals recomputed Lim's lost earning capacity, as follows:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

Life expectancy = 2/3 x [80- age of deceased at the time of death]


2/3 x (80-41]

2/3 x [39]

FORMULA – NET EARNING CAPACITY (NEC)

If:cralawlawlibrary

Age at time of death of Robert Lim = 41


Monthly Income at time of death = 13,715.00
Gross Annual Income (GAI)= [(P13,715.00) (12)] = P164,580.00
Reasonable/Necessary Living Expenses (R/NLE) – 50% of GAI = P82,290

NEC = [2/3 (80-41)] [164,580-82,290]

= [2/3 (39)] [82,290]

= [26] [82,290]

= P2,139,540.00[7]

chanrobleslaw
Thus, the Court of Appeals found that the award of 100,000 as death compensation given by the trial court to the
heirs of Lim was inadequate. However, the Court of Appeals reduced the amount of death indemnity from 150,000
to 50,000. The Court of Appeals deleted the 15,000 awarded by the trial court for the damages to the motorcycle
for absence of proof but awarded 25,000 for funeral and burial expenses. In addition, the Court of Appeals awarded
100,000 as moral damages to the heirs of Lim. The dispositive portion of the Court of Appeals' decision
reads:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
WHEREFORE, the Judgment dated 27 April 2012 of the Regional Trial Court (Branch 18), 12th Judicial Region,
Midsayap, Cotabato, is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. Defendant[]-appellants Eddie Cortel and Yellow Bus Line,
Inc. are hereby ordered to pay jointly and severally plaintiff-appellee Cecile Gepaya-Lim the
following:cralawlawlibrary

(1) Funeral and burial expenses of P25,000.00;


(2) Actual damages for loss of earning capacity of P2,139,540.00;
(3) Moral damages amounting to P100,000.00;
(4) Death indemnity of P50,000.00; and
(5) Attorney's fees of P15,000.00

After this decision becomes final and executory, interest at 12% per annum shall additionally be imposed on the
total obligation until full payment.

No costs.

SO ORDERED.8
chanrobleslaw
Petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration. The Court of Appeals denied the motion in its 21 April 2015
Resolution.

Hence, the recourse before this Court.

The Issue

Whether the Court of Appeals committed a reversible error m affirming with modifications the decision of the trial
court.

The Ruling of this Court

We deny the petition.


Petitioners want this Court to review the factual findings of both the trial court and the Court of Appeals. Petitioners
allege that the trial court and the Court of Appeals erred in concluding that the bus driven by Cortel was running
fast when the accident occurred and in applying the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur in this case.

The rule is that the factual findings of the trial court, when affirmed by the Court of Appeals, are binding and
conclusive upon this Court.9 It is also settled that questions regarding the cause of vehicular accident and the
persons responsible for it are factual questions which this Court cannot pass upon, particularly when the findings of
the trial court and the Court of Appeals are completely in accord.10 While there are exceptions to this rule, the
Court finds no justification that would make the present case fall under the exceptions.

As pointed out by the Court of Appeals, the result of the collision speaks for itself. If, indeed, the speed of the bus
was only 20 kilometers per hour as Cortel claimed, it would not bump the motorcycle traveling in the same
direction with such impact that it threw its rider upward before hitting the base of its right windshield wiper. If
Cortel was driving at 20 kilometers per hour, the bus would not drag the motorcycle for three meters after the
impact. The Court of Appeals likewise considered the damages sustained by both the motorcycle and the bus which
indicated that Cortel was driving fast at the time of the accident. As regards petitioners' allegation that Lim was
equally negligent because he was riding without a helmet and the motorcycle had no tail lights, the Court of
Appeals correctly found that it was self-serving because petitioner did not present any evidence to prove this
allegation.

We agree that res ipsa loquitur applies m this case. The Court explained this doctrine as
follows:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
While negligence is not ordinarily inferred or presumed, and while the mere happening of an accident or injury will
not generally give rise to an inference or presumption that it was due to negligence on defendant's part, under the
doctrine of res ipsa loquitur, which means, literally, the thing or transaction speaks for itself, or in one jurisdiction,
that the thing or instrumentality speaks for itself, the facts or circumstances accompanying an injury may be such
as to raise a presumption, or at least permit an inference of negligence on the part of the defendant, or some other
person who is charged with negligence.

x x x [W]here it is shown that the thing or instrumentality which caused the injury complained of was under the
control or management of the defendant, and that the occurrence resulting in the injury was such as in the
ordinary course of things would not happen if those who had its control or management used proper care, there is
sufficient evidence, or, as sometimes stated, reasonable evidence, in the absence of explanation by the defendant,
that the injury arose from or was caused by the defendant's want of care.

xxxx

The res ipsa loquitur doctrine is based in part upon the theory that the defendant in charge of the instrumentality
which causes the injury either knows the cause of the accident or has the best opportunity of ascertaining it and
that the plaintiff has no such knowledge, and therefore is compelled to allege negligence in general terms and to
rely upon the proof of the happening of the accident in order to establish negligence. The inference which the
doctrine permits is grounded upon the fact that the chief evidence of the true cause, whether culpable or innocent,
is practically accessible to the defendant but inaccessible to the injured person.11
chanrobleslaw
The elements of res ipsa loquitur are: (1) the accident is of such character as to warrant an inference that it would
not have happened except for the defendant's negligence; (2) the accident must have been caused by an agency
or instrumentality within the exclusive management or control of the person charged with the negligence
complained of; and (3) the accident must not have been due to any voluntary action or contribution on the part of
the person injured.12

In this case, Cortel had the exclusive control of the bus, including its speed. The bus and the motorcycle were
running in the same traffic direction and as such, the collision would not have happened without negligence on the
part of Cortel. It was established that the collision between the bus and the motorcycle caused Lim's death. Aside
from bare allegations that petitioners failed to prove, there was nothing to show that Lim had contributory
negligence to the accident.

The rule is when an employee causes damage due to his own negligence while performing his own duties, there
arises a presumption that his employer is negligent.13 This presumption can be rebutted only by proof of
observance by the employer of the diligence of a good father of a family in the selection and supervision of its
employees. In this case, we agree with the trial court and the Court of Appeals that Yellow Bus Line failed to prove
that it exercised due diligence of a good father of a family in the selection and supervision of its employees.
Cortel's certificates of attendance to seminars, which Yellow Bus Line did not even present as evidence in the trial
court, are not enough to prove otherwise.

We sustain the Court of Appeals in its award of loss of earning capacity and damages to respondent. The increase
in the award for loss of earning capacity is proper due to the computation of the award in accordance with the
following formula:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
Net earning capacity Life Expectancy x [Gross Annual Income- Living Expenses (50% of gross annual income)],
where life expectancy 2/3 (80 - the age of the deceased).14
chanrobleslaw
We note that the Court of Appeals clearly intended to award to respondent temperate damages amounting to
P25,000 for burial and funeral expenses, instead of the P15,000 representing the actual damage to the motorcycle
awarded by the trial court, because no evidence was presented to prove the same. However, the term "temperate
damages" was inadvertently omitted in the dispositive portion of the Court of Appeals' decision although it was
stated that the amount was for funeral and burial expenses. We reduce the interest rate to 6% per annum on all
damages awarded from the date of finality of this Decision until fully paid.

WHEREFORE, we DENY the petition. We AFFIRM with MODIFICATION the 16 October 2014 Decision and 21
April 2015 Resolution of the Court of Appeals Cagayan de Oro City in CA-G.R. CV No. 02980.
We ORDER petitioners Eddie Cortel y Carna and Yellow Bus Line, Inc. to pay jointly and severally respondent
Cecile Gepaya-Lim the following:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
(1) Award for loss of earning capacity amounting to P2,139,540;
(2) Temperate damages amounting to P25,000;
(3) Death indemnity amounting to P50,000;
(4) Moral damages amounting to P100,000; and
(5) Attorney's fees amounting to P15,000
chanrobleslaw
We impose an interest rate of 6% per annum on all damages awarded from the date of finality of this Decision until
fully paid.

SO ORDERED.ChanRob
G.R. No. 213607, January 25, 2016 - PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. GLEN PIAD Y BORI,
RENATO VILLAROSA Y PLATINO AND NILO DAVIS Y ARTIGA, Accused-Appellants.

SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. 213607, January 25, 2016

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. GLEN PIAD Y BORI, RENATO VILLAROSA Y PLATINO
AND NILO DAVIS Y ARTIGA, Accused-Appellants.

DECISION

MENDOZA, J.:

Subject of this appeal is the January 22, 2014 Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR-HC No. 04780,
which affirmed the September 24, 2009 Joint Decision2 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 164, Pasig City (RTC),
finding accused-appellant Glen Piad (Piad) guilty of violation of Sections 5 and 11, Article II of Republic
Act (R.A.) No. 9165, as amended, in Criminal Case Nos. 14086-D and 14087-D; and accused-appellants Renato
Villarosa (Villarosa), Agustin Carbo (Carbo) and Nilo Davis (Davis) all guilty of violation of Sections 13 and 14,
Article II of R.A. No. 9165 in Criminal Case Nos. 14088-D and 14089-D.

Accused-appellant Piad was charged in two (2) informations with the crimes of illegal sale of dangerous drugs
weighing 0.05 gram and illegal possession of dangerous drugs weighing 0.06 gram. While accused-appellant
Villarosa, Carbo and Davis were charged in two (2) informations with the crimes of illegal possession of dangerous
drugs during a party weighing 0.03 gram and illegal possession of drug paraphernalia during a party.

On August 8, 2005, Piad, Villarosa and Carbo were arraigned and they pleaded "Not Guilty." Davis, however, was
not arraigned because he had jumped bail.3chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

Pre-trial and trial on the merits ensued. On May 15, 2008, after Davis was arrested, he was arraigned and, with the
assistance of a counsel, pleaded "Not Guilty" to the charges against him.

Evidence of the Prosecution

The prosecution presented POl Larry Arevalo (PO1 Arevalo), PO1 Joseph Bayot (PO1 Bayot), Forensic Chemist PSI
Stella Ebuen (PSI Ebuen), PO2 Clarence Nipales (PO2 Nipales), and P/Insp. Donald Sabio (P/Insp. Sabio), as its
witnesses. Their combined testimonies tended to prove the following:

On April 23, 2005, the Special Operations Task Force, Pasig City Police Station, Pasig City, received information
from a confidential informant that a certain "Gamay," who was later identified as Piad, was selling drugs along
Ortigas Bridge, Pasig City. P/Insp. Sabio led the team, composed of POl Arevalo, POl San Agustin, POl Bayot, PO1
Danilo Pacurib, PO2 Nipales, and POl Bibit, to conduct a buy-bust operation. PO1 Arevalo was assigned as poseur-
buyer and was provided with the marked money - P150.00 in P100.00 and P50.00 peso bills. The Philippine Drug
Enforcement Agency (PDEA) issued a certificate of coordination authorizing the team to proceed with the operation.

Around 6:45 o'clock in the afternoon, the team arrived at the house of Piad in Lifehomes Subdivision, Rosario,
Pasig City. The back-up team took up position about 5 meters away from Piad's house. The confidential informant,
with PO1 Arevalo, knocked on the door. When Piad opened the door, the confidential informant introduced PO1
Arevalo as a buyer of shabu. Piad asked PO1 Arevalo how much he wanted and the latter answered P150.00.
Thereafter, Piad closed the door and returned after a few seconds.

Upon opening the door again, POl Arevalo noticed that a group of male individuals were inside the house. PO1
Arevalo handed to Piad the P150.00 marked money. In turn, Piad handed to PO1 Arevalo a small plastic sachet
containing white crystalline substance. After the transaction was completed, PO1 Arevalo immediately grabbed
Piad's right arm and introduced himself as a police officer. Piad, however, struggled to free himself. POl Arevalo
was eventually forced to enter the house amidst the struggle. The back-up team followed suit and entered the
house.

After arresting him, PO1 Arevalo asked Piad to bring out the marked money. Piad complied. POl Arevalo also asked
him about the source of the drugs he sold. Piad pulled out a metal box from his pocket and it revealed two (2)
other plastic sachets containing white crystalline substance. POl Arevalo marked all the items confiscated from Piad
at the place of the arrest. Meanwhile, the back-up team saw Villarosa, Davis and Carbo inside the house, sitting on
the floor. They were surrounded by three (3) sachets of white crystalline substance (one was heat sealed, while the
other two were unsealed), aluminum foil, a tooter and disposable lighters. The items were confiscated and were
marked by PO1 Bayot thereat.

The team brought Piad, Villarosa, Carbo, and Davis to the police headquarters. There, PO2 Pacurib, POl Bayot and
POl Arevalo executed a joint affidavit on their arrest. P/Insp. Sabio prepared the requests for laboratory
examination and drug test, which were brought by SPO1 Bayot to the Eastern Police District Crime Laboratory. PSI
Ebuen examined the confiscated items which tested positive for methamphetamine hydrochloride.

Evidence of the Defense

The defense presented Piad, her sister Maria Zennette Piad (Maria), Villarosa, Carbo, and Davis as its witnesses.
They all testified to establish the following:

On April 23, 2005, Piad, Villarosa, Carbo, and Davis were celebrating a birthday party in the house of Piad.
Between 1:00 o'clock and 2:00 o'clock in the afternoon, a tricycle and a vehicle stopped in front of the house at
Pilar Apartment, Ortigas Avenue, Pasig City. Two (2) armed men in civilian clothes alighted from the vehicle, while
another armed man alighted from the tricycle. All of them suddenly entered the house of Piad, where the accused-
appellants were having a drinking spree. Piad, Villarosa, Carbo, and Davis were then ordered to lie down on the
floor facing downwards. Thereafter, the armed men searched the house. Subsequently, the accused-appellants
were handcuffed and brought to the police station. Piad claimed that the police officers were asking P20,000.00 in
exchange for their freedom; while Carbo claimed that the officers were demanding P10,000.00 for their release.

The RTC Ruling

In its Joint Decision, dated September 24, 2009, the RTC found Piad guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crimes
of illegal sale and illegal possession of dangerous drugs, while Villarosa, Carbo and Davis were found guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of the crimes of illegal possession of dangerous drugs during parties and illegal possession of
drug paraphernalia during parties.

The RTC held that all the elements of the crime of illegal sale of drugs were established because PO1 Arevalo
handed the marked money to Piad, who, in turn, handed the plastic sachet, which was confirmed to contain 0.05
gram of shabu. The elements of the crime of illegal possession of drugs were also established because two (2)
more sachets of shabu weighing 0.06 gram were found in the metal container inside the pocket of Piad immediately
after his arrest.

As to Villarosa, Carbo and Davis, the RTC found that they committed the crime of illegal possession of drugs and
paraphernalia during a party because they were surrounded by plastic sachets containing 0.03 gram of shabu and
different drug paraphernalia when the team found them. The elements of such crimes were clearly proven because
they were in a proximate company of at least two persons and without any legal authority to possess such illicit
items.

The RTC did not give credence to the defense of denial and frame up put up by the accused because their
testimonies were inconsistent and self-serving. The dispositive portion of the decision reads:

WHEREFORE:

1. In Criminal Case No. 14086-D, the Court finds the accused Glen Piad alias Gamay guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of violation of Section 5, Article II of R.A. 9165, and hereby imposes upon him
the penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of Five Hundred Thousand Pesos (Php500,000.00)
with the accessory penalties provided for under Section 35 of said R.A. 9165.

2. In Criminal Case No. 14087-D, the Court finds the accused Glen Piad alias Gamay guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of violation of Section 11, Article II of R.A. 9165, and hereby imposes upon him
an indeterminate penalty of imprisonment from twelve (12) years and one (1) day, as minimum,
to sixteen (16) years, as maximum, and a fine of Three Hundred Thousand Pesos
(Php300,000.00) with all the accessory penalties under the law.
3. In Criminal Case No. 14088-D, their guilt having been established beyond reasonable doubt,
accused Renato Villarosa y Platino, Agustin Carbo y Pavilion and Nilo Davis y Artiga are hereby
CONVICTED of violation of Section 13, Article II of R.A. 9165 for possessing methylamphetamine
hydrochloride weighing less than five grams in the proximate company of at least two persons
without legal authority and sentenced to suffer an indeterminate penalty of imprisonment from
Twelve (12) years and one (1) day, as minimum, to Twenty (20) years as maximum, and fine of
Four Hundred Thousand Pesos (Php400,000.00) each.

4. In Criminal Case No. 14089-D their guilt having been established beyond reasonable doubt,
accused Renato Villarosa y Platino, Agustin Carbo y Pavilion and Nilo Davis y Artiga are hereby
CONVICTED of violation of Section 14, Article II of R.A. 9165 for possessing paraphernalia for
dangerous drug in the proximate company of at least two persons without legal authority and
hereby sentenced to suffer an indeterminate penalty of imprisonment from six (6) months and
one (1) day, as minimum, to four (4) years, as maximum, and fine of Fifty Thousand Pesos
(Php50,000.00) each.

HOWEVER, the four (4) plastic sachets containing white crystalline substance or shabu (Exhs. H,
H-1, H-2, and J) and the illegal drug paraphernalia (Exhs. I, K, L, M, N, O, P) are hereby ordered
turned over to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency for destruction and proper disposition.

SO ORDERED.4chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

Aggrieved, Piad, Villarosa, Carbo, and Davis filed their notices of appeal.5 Subsequently, Carbo withdrew his
appeal,6 which was granted by the CA in its Resolution,7 dated October 21, 2011.

In their Appellants' Brief,8 Piad, Villarosa and Davis argued that the chain of custody rule was not complied with
because PSI Ebuen did not testify on the condition of the confiscated items; that it was not shown how the said
items were brought before the court; and that no photograph was taken or an inventory of the seized items was
conducted.

In its Appellee's Brief,9 the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) countered that Section 21 of the Implementing
Rules and Regulations (IRR) of R.A. No. 9165 required only substantial compliance as long as the integrity and
evidentiary value of the items were preserved; and that the testimony of the police officers showed that the items
were properly handled.

The CA Ruling

In its assailed decision, dated January 22, 2014, the CA affirmed the conviction of Piad, Villarosa and Davis. The CA
held that all the elements of the crimes charged were indeed proven. As to the chain of custody, the appellate
court enumerated in detail how the prosecution was able to establish its compliance with Section 21 of R.A. No.
9165. As the chain of custody of the seized items was sufficiently established not to have been broken, then the
admissibility and credibility of the said items were appreciated. The CA disposed the appeal in this wise:

WHEREFORE, the Appeal is DENIED. The RTC Decision in Criminal Cases Nos. 14086-D, 14087-D, 14088-D and
14089-D, finding accused-appellants guilty of the crimes charged is hereby AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.10chanrobleslaw

Hence, this appeal.

In its Resolution,11 dated November 19, 2014, the Court required the parties to submit their respective
supplemental briefs, if they so desired.

In its Manifestation and Motion,12 dated January 8, 2015, the OSG manifested that it would no longer submit a
supplemental brief because its Brief for the Appellee, dated February 10, 2012, before the CA had extensively and
exhaustively discussed all the issues and arguments raised by the accused-appellants.

In their Manifestation (in lieu of Supplemental Brief),13 dated February 4, 2015, the accused-appellants manifested
that they would no longer file a supplemental brief considering that no new issues material to the case were raised.

In his Manifestation with Motion to Withdraw Appeal,14 Villarosa signified his intention to withdraw his appeal,
adding that he understood the consequences of his action. In its Resolution,15 dated April 8, 2015, the Court
granted Villarosa's motion to withdraw his appeal.
Meanwhile, in a letter, dated January 13, 2015, the Bureau of Corrections informed the Court that there was no
record of confinement of Davis in all the prison facilities of the said Bureau. In the same resolution, dated April 8,
2015, the Court required the Clerk of Court of the RTC to confirm the confinement of Davis within ten (10) days
from notice.

In her Manifestation/Compliance,16 dated May 29, 2015, the RTC Branch Clerk of Court, Atty. Rachel G.
Matalang (Atty. Matalang), reported that Davis was never committed in any detention or prison facility as he
posted bail under a surety bond from Summit Guaranty and Insurance Company, Inc. on May 6, 2005 during the
pendency of the trial; that on November 12, 2009, during the promulgation of the judgment, Davis and his counsel
appeared before the trial court and manifested that he would file a notice of appeal; that no warrant of arrest or
commitment order was issued against him; and that she could not confirm the confinement of Davis.

In its Resolution,17 dated July 8, 2015, the Court required Davis, the OSG and Summit Guaranty and Insurance
Company, Inc., to comment on the manifestation of Atty. Matalang.

In its Comment,18 dated October 16, 2015, the OSG asserted that when Davis jumped bail on August 8, 2005, the
RTC should have immediately cancelled his bailbond; that he should have been placed under custody after the
promulgation of the judgment; and that he had become a fugitive from justice who had lost his standing to appeal.

In its Manifestation,19 dated December 8, 2015, the Public Attorney's Office informed the Court that, despite
earnest efforts to locate Davis and the surety company, they were not able to determine their whereabouts; and
that his wife informed the office that Davis had received the July 8, 2015 Resolution of the Court.

The Court's Ruling

The appeal lacks merit and Davis has lost his right to appeal.

Elements of the crimes


charged were duly established
by the prosecution

After a review of the records of the case, the Court holds that Piad was properly convicted of the crime of illegal
sale of dangerous drugs. It was proven that, on April 23, 2005, the police went to his house to conduct a buy-bust
operation; that PO1 Arevalo acted as the poseur-buyer; and that when PO1 Arevalo gave the marked money to
Piad, the latter handed to him a small plastic sachet. A laboratory examination confirmed that the plastic sachet
contained 0.05 gram of shabu. Clearly, all the elements of the said crime were established.

The prosecution was also able to prove that Piad committed the crime of illegal possession of dangerous drugs.
When he was arrested in flagrante delicto, he was asked about the source of his drugs. He then brought out a
metal box, which contained two (2) more sachets. It was confirmed in a laboratory test that these sachets
contained 0.06 gram of shabu.

With respect to the crime of illegal possession of dangerous drugs during a party and the crime of illegal possession
of drug paraphernalia during a party, the prosecution also established that after the arrest of Piad, the team found
Villarosa, Carbo and Davis sitting on the floor and surrounded by one (1) heat-sealed sachet and two (2) unsealed
sachets. A laboratory report showed that these sachets contained a total of 0.03 gram of shabu. The said persons
were also found with an aluminum foil, a tooter and disposable lighters, which were considered drug paraphernalia.
As correctly held by the RTC, the elements of such crimes were proven because there was a proximate company of
at least two (2) persons without any legal authority to possess the illicit items, citing Section 14 of R.A. No.
9165.20chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

Substantial compliance with the


Chain of Custody Rule

The chain of custody requirement is essential to ensure that doubts regarding the identity of the evidence are
removed through the monitoring and tracking of the movements of the seized drugs from the accused, to the
police, to the forensic chemist, and finally to the court.21 Section 21 (a) of the Implementing Rules and Regulations
of R.A. No. 9165 provides:

(a) The apprehending officer/team having initial custody and control of the drugs shall, immediately after seizure
and confiscation, physically inventory and photograph the same in the presence of the accused or the person/s
from whom such items were confiscated and/or seized, or his/her representative or counsel, a representative from
the media and the Department of Justice (DOJ), and any elected public official who shall be required to sign the
copies of the inventory and be given a copy thereof; Provided, that the physical inventory and photograph shall be
conducted at the place where the search warrant is served; or at the nearest police station or at the nearest office
of the apprehending officer/team, whichever is practicable, in case of warrantless seizures; Provided, further,
that non-compliance with these requirements under justifiable grounds, as long as the integrity and
evidentiary value of the seized items are properly preserved by the apprehending officer/team, shall
not render void and invalid such seizures of and custody over said items. (Emphasis supplied)

Evidently, the law requires "substantial" and not necessarily "perfect adherence" as long as it can be proven that
the integrity and the evidentiar value of the seized items were preserved as the same would be utilized in
determination of the guilt or innocence of the accused.22chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

In this case, the CA meticulously assessed how the prosecution complied with the chain of custody rule. When Piad
was arrested, PO1 Arevalo marked the confiscated drugs at the crime scene. Likewise, when Villarosa, Carbo and
Davis were arrested, PO1 Bayot immediately mark the seized items at the crime scene. The items were brought to
the Pasig Ci Police Station where PO1 Bayot was designated as evidence custodial. P/Insp. Sabio then prepared the
requests for laboratory examination and drug test, which were brought by PO1 Bayot, together with the drugs, to
the Eastern Police District Crime Laboratory. PSI Ebuen, received the confiscated items for examination. The said
items tested positive for methylamphetamine hydrochloride. Based on the foregoing, the Court satisfied that there
was substantial compliance with the chain of custody rule.

Davis lost his standing to


appeal

Before conviction, bail is either a matter of right or of discretion. It is a matter of right when the offense charged is
punishable by any penalty lower than death, reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment. If the offense charged is
punishable by death, reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment, bail becomes a matter of discretion.23 In case bail is
granted, the accused must appear whenever the court requires his presence; otherwise, his bail shall be
forfeited.24chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

When a person is finally convicted by the trial court of an offense not punishable by death, reclusion perpetua, or
life imprisonment, admission to bail is discretionary. Section 5, Rule 114 of the Rules of Court provides:

Sec. 5. Bail, When Discretionary. - Upon conviction by the Regional Trial Court of an offense not punishable by
death, reclusion perpetua, or life imprisonment, admission to bail is discretionary. The application for bail may be
filed and acted upon by the trial court despite the filing of a notice of appeal, provided it has not transmitted the
original record to the appellate court.

xxx

Should the court grant the application, the accused may be allowed to continue on provisional liberty during the
pendency of the appeal under the same bail subject to the consent of the bondsman, xxx

Here, Davis was charged with the crimes of illegal possession of dangerous drugs during a party and illegal
possession of drug paraphernalia during a party. Both offenses did not have a prescribed penalty of
death, reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment, thus, bail was a matter of right. Accordingly, Davis secured a surety
bond with Summit Guaranty & Insurance Company, Inc. on May 6, 2005.

On August 8, 2005, Davis failed to appear before the RTC which considered him to have jumped bail. At that point,
the RTC should have cancelled the bailbond of Davis with Summit Guaranty & Insurance Company, Inc. Although
he was subsequently arrested and arraigned on May 15, 2008, it is alarming that no record of Davis' confinement
in any detention facility was ever found.25cralawred

When the RTC promulgated its decision for conviction, Davis and his counsel were present in the courtroom. Yet,
they did not file any motion for bail pending appeal before the RTC or the CA. Nonetheless, any motion for bail
pending appeal should have been denied because Davis violated the conditions of his previous bail.26 Necessarily,
as he previously jumped bail and no bail pending appeal was secured, the RTC should have immediately issued a
warrant of arrest against him.

In the same manner, the CA should not have entertained the appeal of Davis. Once an accused escapes from
prison or confinement, jumps bail (as in this case), or flees to a foreign country, he loses his standing in court.
Unless he surrenders or submits to the jurisdiction of the court, he is deemed to have waived any right to seek
relief from the court.27 As no such surrender was made in this case, in the eyes of the law, Davis is a fugitive from
justice and, therefore, not entitled to seek relief from the courts.

WHEREFORE, the Joint Decision, dated September 24, 2009, of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 164, Pasig City in
Criminal Case Nos. 14086-D, 14087-D, 14088-D and 14089-D is AFFIRMED in toto.
For failure to submit to this Court's jurisdiction, the appeal filed by Nilo Davis y Artiga is
deemed ABANDONED and DISMISSED. The Regional Trial Court, Branch 164, Pasig City, is hereby ORDERED to
issue a warrant of arrest for the immediate apprehension and service of sentence of Nilo Davis y Artiga.

SO ORDERED.cralawlawl
G.R. No. 191033

THE ORCHARD GOLF & COUNTRY CLUB, INC., EXEQUIEL D. ROBLES, CARLO R.H. MAGNO, CONRADO L.
BENITEZ II, VICENTE R. SANTOS, HENRY CUA LOPING, MARIZA SANTOS-TAN, TOMAS B. CLEMENTE III,
and FRANCIS C. MONTALLANA, Petitioners,
vs.
ERNESTO V. YU and MANUEL C. YUHICO, Respondents.

DECISION

PERALTA, J.:

This petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court (Rules) seeks to reverse the Resolutions
dated September 16, 20091 and January 21, 20102 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 106918, which
reconsidered and set aside its Resolution dated January 15, 20093 granting petitioners a 15-day period within
which to file a petition for review under Rule 43 of the Rules.

The present case is a continuation of Yu v. The Orchard Gold & Country Club, Inc.4 decided by this Court on March
1, 2007. For brevity, the relevant facts narrated therein are quoted as follows:

On May 28, 2000, a Sunday, [respondents] Ernesto Yu and Manuel Yuhico went to the Orchard Golf & Country Club
to play a round of golf with another member of the club. At the last minute, however, that other member informed
them that he could not play with them. Due to the "no twosome" policy of the Orchard contained in the
membership handbook prohibiting groups of less than three players from teeing off on weekends and public
holidays before 1:00 p.m., [respondents] requested management to look for another player to join them.

Because [Orchard] were unable to find their third player, [respondent] Yu tried to convince Francis Montallana,
Orchard’s assistant golf director, to allow them to play twosome, even if they had to tee off from hole no. 10 of the
Palmer golf course. Montallana refused, stating that the flights which started from the first nine holes might be
disrupted. [Respondent] Yu then shouted invectives at Montallana, at which point he told [respondent] Yuhico that
they should just tee off anyway, regardless of what management's reaction would be. [Respondents] then teed off,
without permission from Montallana. They were thus able to play, although they did so without securing a tee time
control slip before teeing off, again in disregard of a rule in the handbook. As a result of [respondents’] actions,
Montallana filed a report on the same day with the board of directors (the board).

In separate letters dated May 31, 2000, the board, through [petitioner] Clemente, requested [respondents] to
submit their written comments on Montallana’s incident report dated May 28, 2000. The reportwas submitted for
the consideration of the board.

Subsequently, on June 29, 2000, the board resolved to suspend [respondents] from July 16 to October 15, 2000,
and served notice thereof on them.

On July 11, 2000, [respondents] filed separate petitions for injunction with application for temporary restraining
order (TRO) and/or preliminary injunction with the Securities Investigation and Clearing Department (SICD) of the
Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), at that time the tribunal vested by law with jurisdiction to hear and
decide intra-corporate controversies. The cases, in which [respondents] assailed the validity of their suspension,
were docketed as SEC Case Nos. 07-00-6680 and 07-00-6681. They were eventually consolidated.

After a joint summary hearing on the aforesaid petitions, the SEC-SICD, on July 14, 2000, issued a TRO effective
for 20 days from issuance, restraining and enjoining [petitioners], their agents or representatives from
implementing or executing the suspension of [respondents].

On August 1, 2000, the SEC en banc issued its "Guidelines on Intra-Corporate Cases Pending Before the SICD and
the Commission En Banc of the Securities and Exchange Commission" (guidelines). Sections 1 and 2 of these
guidelines provided:

Section 1. Intra-corporate and suspension of payments or rehabilitation cases may still be filed with the Securities
and Exchange Commission on or before August 8, 2000. However, the parties-litigants or their counsels or
representatives shall be advised that the jurisdiction of the Commission over these cases shall be eventually
transferred to the Regional Trial Courts upon effectivity of The Securities Regulation Code by August 9, 2000.
Section 2. Prayers for temporary restraining order or injunction or suspension of payment order contained in cases
filed under the preceding section may be acted upon favorably provided that the effectivity of the corresponding
order shall only be up to August 8, 2000. Prayers for other provisional remedies shall no longer be acted upon
by the Commission. In all these cases, the parties-litigants or their counsels or representatives shall be advised
that the said cases will eventually be transferred to the regular courts by August 9, 2000. (Emphasis ours)

After hearing [respondents’] applications for preliminary injunction, the SEC-SICD issued an order dated August 2,
2000 directing the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction enjoining the individual [petitioners], their agents
and representatives from suspending [respondents], upon the latter's posting of separate bonds of P40,000. This
[respondents] did on August 4, 2000.

On August 7, 2000, the SEC-SICD issued a writ of preliminary injunction against [petitioners] directing them to
strictly observe the order dated August 2, 2000.1âwphi1

On October 31, 2000, the board held a special meeting in which it resolved to implement the June 29, 2000 order
for the suspension of [respondents] in view of the fact that the writs of injunction issued by the SICD in their
respective cases had already [elapsed] on August 8, 2000 under the SEC guidelines.

In separate letters dated December 4, 2000 addressed to each [respondent], [petitioner] Clemente informed them
that the board was implementing their suspensions.

On December 12, 2000, [respondents] filed a petition for indirect contempt against [petitioners] in the Regional
Trial Court (RTC) of Dasmariñas, Cavite, docketed as Civil Case No. 2228-00.

In an order dated December 13, 2000, the Dasmariñas, Cavite RTC, Branch 90, through Judge Dolores [L.]
Español, directed the parties to maintain the "last, actual, peaceable and uncontested state of things," effectively
restoring the writ of preliminary injunction, and also ordered [petitioners] to file their answer to the petition.
[Petitioners] did not file a motion for reconsideration but filed a petition for certiorari and prohibition with the CA,
docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 62309, contesting the propriety of the December 13, 2000 order of Judge Español.
They also prayed for the issuance of a TRO and writ of preliminary injunction.

The CA reversed the Dasmariñas, Cavite RTC in the x x x decision dated August 27, 2001.

In view of the CA's decision in CA-G.R. SP No. 62309, [petitioners] finally implemented [respondents’] suspension.

In the meantime, [respondents] filed a motion ad cautelam dated August 30, 2001 in the RTC of Imus, Cavite,
Branch 21, praying for the issuance of a TRO and/or writ of injunction to enjoin [petitioners] from implementing
the suspension orders. They alleged that neither the CA nor this Court could afford them speedy and adequate
relief, hence[,] the case in the RTC of Imus, Cavite. The case was docketed as SEC Case Nos. 001-01 and 002-01.

On September 7, 2001, the Imus, Cavite RTC issued a TRO. [Petitioners] filed a motion for reconsideration on
September [11,] 2001.

It was after the issuance of this TRO that [respondents] filed, on September 12, 2001, a motion for reconsideration
of the CA’s decision in CA-G.R. SP No. 62309. In a resolution dated October 10, 2001, the CA denied
[respondents’] motion, prompting them to elevate the matter to this Court via petition for review on certiorari,
docketed as G.R. No. 150335.

In an order dated September 21, 2001, the Imus, Cavite RTC denied [petitioners’] motion for reconsideration and
directed the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction. This prompted [petitioners] to file another petition
for certiorari in the Court of Appeals [docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 67664] which x x x issued [on March 26, 2002] a
TRO against the Imus, Cavite RTC, enjoining it from implementing the writ of preliminary injunction.

At this point, [respondents] filed their second petition in this Court, this time a special civil action for certiorari,
docketed as G.R. No. 152687, which included a prayer for the issuance of a TRO and/or the issuance of a writ of
preliminary injunction to restrain the enforcement of the CA-issued TRO.

On May 6, 2002, the Court issued a resolution consolidating G.R. No. 152687 and G.R. No. 150335.
In G.R. No. 150335, the issue for consideration [was] whether Sections 1 and 2 of the SEC guidelines dated August
1, 2000 shortened the life span of the writs of preliminary injunction issued on August 7, 2000 by the SEC-SICD in
SEC Case Nos. 07-00-6680 and 07-00-6681, thereby making them effective only until August 8, 2000.

At issue in G.R. No. 152687, on the other hand, [was] whether or not the CA committed grave abuse of discretion
amounting to lack of jurisdiction by issuing a TRO against the Imus, Cavite RTC and enjoining the implementation
of its writ of preliminary injunction against [petitioners].5

On March 1, 2007, the Court denied the petitions in G.R. Nos. 150335 and 152687. In G.R. No. 150335, it was held
that the parties were allowed to file their cases before August 8, 2000 but any provisional remedies the SEC
granted them were to be effective only until that date. Given that the SEC Order and Writ of Injunction were issued
on August 2 and 7, 2000, respectively, both were covered by the guidelines and the stated cut-off date. As to G.R.
No. 152687, We ruled that the petition became moot and academic because the TRO issued by the CA on March
26, 2002 already expired, its lifetime under Rule 58 of the Rules being only 60 days, and petitioners themselves
admitted that the CA allowed its TRO to elapse.

Meanwhile, per Order dated September 24, 2002 of the Imus RTC, SEC Case Nos. 001-01 and 002-01 were set for
pre-trial conference.6 Trial on the merits thereafter ensued.

On December 4, 2008, the Imus RTC ruled in favor of respondents. The dispositive portion of the
Decision7 ordered:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the decision of the Club’s Board of Directors suspending [respondents] Ernesto
V. Yu and Manuel C. Yuhico is hereby declared void and of no effect, and its’ (sic) enforcement permanently
enjoined. The writ of preliminary injunction is hereby declared permanent.

[Petitioners] are hereby directed to jointly and severally pay each of the [respondents] the following amounts:

(a) P2,000,000.00 as moral damages;

(b) P2,000,000.00 as exemplary damages;

(c) P500,000.00 as attorney’s fees[;] and

(d) P100,000.00 as costs of litigation.

SO ORDERED.8

Upon receiving a copy of the Imus RTC Decision on December 22, 2008, petitioners filed a Notice of Appeal
accompanied by the payment of docket fees on January 5, 2009.9 Respondents then filed an Opposition to Notice of
Appeal with Motion for Issuance of Writ of Execution,10 arguing that the December 4, 2008 Decision already
became final and executory since no petition for review under Rule 43 of the Rules was filed before the CA
pursuant to Administrative Matter No. 04-9-07-SC.

Realizing the mistake, petitioners filed on January 13, 2009 an Urgent Motion for Extension of Time to File a
Petition.11 Before the Imus RTC, they also filed a Motion to Withdraw the Notice of Appeal.12

On January 15, 2009, the CA resolved to give petitioners a 15-day period within which to file the petition,
but "[s]ubject to the timeliness of the filing of petitioners’ Urgent Motion for Extension of Time to File ‘Petition for
Review’ Under Rule 43 of the Rules of Court dated January 13, 2009."13 Afterwards, on January 21, 2009,
petitioners filed a Petition for Review.14

In the meantime, respondents filed an Opposition to Petitioners’ Urgent Motion.15 Subsequently, they also filed a
motion for reconsideration of the CA’s Resolution dated January 15, 2009.16

Before the Imus RTC, respondents’ motion for execution was granted on February 17, 2009. The trial court opined
that the proper appellate mode of review was not filed within the period prescribed by the Rules and that the CA
issued no restraining order.17 On March 2, 2009, the Writ of Execution was issued.18 Eventually, on March 30,
2009, the Sheriff received the total amount of P9,200,000.00, as evidenced by two manager’s check payable to
respondents in the amount of P4,600,000.00 each, which were turned over to respondents’ counsel.19

On September 16, 2009, the CA granted respondents’ motion for reconsideration, setting aside its January 15,
2009 Resolution. It relied on Atty. Abrenica v. Law Firm of Abrenica, Tungol & Tibayan (Atty. Abrenica)20 and Land
Bank of the Philippines v. Ascot Holdings and Equities, Inc., (LBP),21 which respondents cited in their Opposition to
the Urgent Motion and Motion for Reconsideration. Petitioners moved to reconsider,22 but it was denied on January
21, 2010; hence, this petition.

The Court initially denied the petition, but reinstated the same on October 6, 2010.23

We grant the petition.

The cases of LBP and Atty. Abrenica are inapplicable. In LBP, the Court affirmed the CA’s denial of the bank’s
motion for extension of time to file a petition for review. Examination of said case revealed that the bank filed a
motion for reconsideration of the trial court’s adverse judgment dated March 15, 2006, in violation of Section 8(3),
Rule 1 of the Interim Rules of Procedure Governing Intra-Corporate Controversies under Republic Act No. 8799. It
was held that the filing of such prohibited pleading did not toll the reglementary period to appeal the
judgment via a petition for review under Rule 43 of the Rules. Thus, the CA already lacked jurisdiction to entertain
the petition which the bank intended to file, much less to grant the motion for extension of time that was belatedly
filed on July 25, 2006.

Also, in Atty. Abrenica, We found no compelling reasons to relax the stringent application of the rules on the
grounds as follows:

First, when petitioner received the trial court’s consolidated decision on December 16, 2004, A.M. No. 04-9-07-SC
was already in effect for more than two months.

Second, petitioner had known about the new rules on the second week of January, 2005 when he received a copy
of respondents’ Opposition (To Defendant’s Notice of Appeal) dated January 6, 2005. In their opposition,
respondents specifically pointed to the applicability of A.M. No. 04-9-07-SC to the instant case.

Third, petitioner originally insisted in his Reply with Manifestation (To the Opposition to Defendant’s Notice of
Appeal) that the correct mode of appeal was a "notice of appeal."

Petitioner reiterated in his Opposition to respondents’ motion for execution dated January 14, 2005 that a notice of
appeal was the correct remedy.

Finally, petitioner filed his Motion to Admit Attached Petition for Review only on June 10, 2005, or almost eight
months from the effectivity of A.M. No. 04-9-07-SC on October 15, 2004, after he received the trial court’s Order
of May 11, 2005.24

Unlike LBP and Atty. Abrenica, petitioners in this case committed an excusable delay of merely seven (7) days.
When they received a copy of the Imus RTC Decision on December 22, 2008, they filed before the CA an Urgent
Motion for Extension of Time to File a Petition on January 13, 2009. Meantime, they exhibited their desire to
appeal the case by filing a Notice of Appeal before the Imus RTC. Upon realizing their procedural faux pax,
petitioners exerted honest and earnest effort to file the proper pleading despite the expiration of the reglementary
period. In their urgent motion, they candidly admitted that a petition for review under Rule 43 and not a notice of
appeal under Rule 41 ought to have been filed. The material dates were also indicated. Hence, the CA was fully
aware that the 15-day reglementary period already elapsed when it granted the time to file the petition.

In general, procedural rules setting the period for perfecting an appeal or filing a petition for review are inviolable
considering that appeal is not a constitutional right but merely a statutory privilege and that perfection of an appeal
in the manner and within the period permitted by law is not only mandatory but jurisdictional.25 However,
procedural rules may be waived or dispensed with in order to serve and achieve substantial justice. 26 Relaxation of
the rules may be had when the appeal, on its face, appears to be absolutely meritorious or when there are
persuasive or compelling reasons to relieve a litigant of an injustice not commensurate with the degree of
thoughtlessness in not complying with the prescribed procedure.27
Notably, under A.M. No. 04-9-07-SC (Re: Mode of Appeal in Cases Formerly Cognizable by the Securities and
Exchange Commission),28 while the petition for review under Rule 43 of the Rules should be filed within fifteen (15)
days from notice of the decision or final order of the RTC, the CA may actually grant an additional period of fifteen
(15) days within which to file the petition and a further extension of time not exceeding fifteen (15) days for the
most compelling reasons. This implies that the reglementary period is neither an impregnable nor an unyielding
rule.

Here, there is also no material prejudice to respondents had the CA allowed the filing of a petition for review. When
the Imus RTC declared as permanent the writ of preliminary injunction, the injunction became immediately
executory. Respondents’ suspension as Club members was effectively lifted; in effect, it restored their rights and
privileges unless curtailed by a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction.

More importantly, the substantive merits of the case deserve Our utmost consideration.

In the present case, Yu acknowledged that there was an offense committed.29 Similarly, Yuhico admitted that he
was aware or had prior knowledge of the Club’s "no twosome" policy as contained in the Club’s Membership
Handbook and that they teed off without the required tee time slip.30 Also, while Yu recognized telling
Montallana "kamote ka," Yuhico heard him also say that he (Montallana) is "gago."31

Respondents assert that the "no twosome" policy was relaxed by the management when a member or player would
not be prejudiced or, in the words of Yu, allowed when "maluwag."32 Yet a thorough reading of the transcript of
stenographic records (TSN) disclosed that such claim is based not on concrete examples. No specific instance as to
when and under what circumstance the supposed relaxation took place was cited. Yuhico roughly recollected two
incidents but, assuming them to be true, these happened only after May 28, 2000.33 Further, the tee pass or
control slip and the Club’s Palmer Course Card,34 which was identified by respondents’ witness, Pepito Dimabuyo,
to prove that he and another member were allowed to play twosome on June 13, 2004, a Sunday, indicated that
they were allowed to tee off only at 1:45 p.m.35 Lastly, granting, for the sake of argument, that the "no twosome"
policy had been relaxed in the past, Montallana cannot be faulted in exercising his prerogative to disallow
respondents from playing since they made no prior reservation and that there were standing flights waiting for tee
time. Per Cipriano Santos’ Report, May 28, 2000 was a relatively busy day as it had 200 registered players to
accommodate as of 8:00 a.m.

It was averred that respondents teed off without the required tee time slip based on the thinking that it was no
longer necessary since Santos, the Club’s Manager, allowed them by waving his hands when Yuhico’s caddie tried
to pick up the slip in the registration office. Such excuse is flimsy because it ignored the reality that Santos, a mere
subordinate of Montallana who already earned the ire of Yu, was practically more helpless to contain the stubborn
insistence of respondents.

Definitely, the contentions that respondents were not stopped by the management when they teed off and that
they did not cause harm to other members playing golf at the time for absence of any complaints are completely
immaterial to the fact that transgressions to existing Club rules and regulations were committed. It is highly
probable that they were tolerated so as to restore the peace and avoid further confrontation and inconvenience to
the parties involved as well as to the Club members in general.

With regard to the purported damages they incurred, respondents testified during the trial to support their
respective allegations.1âwphi1 Yuhico stated that he distanced himself from his usual group (the "Alabang Boys")
and that he became the butt of jokes of fellow golfers.36 On the other hand, Yu represented that some of his friends
in the business like Freddy Lim, a certain Atty. Benjie, and Jun Ramos started to evade or refuse to have dealings
with him after his suspension.37 Apart from these self-serving declarations, respondents presented neither
testimonial nor documentary evidence to bolster their claims. Worse, Yu even admitted that Freddy Lim and Atty.
Benjie did not tell him that his suspension was the reason why they did not want to transact with him. 38

Records reveal that respondents were given due notice and opportunity to be heard before the Board of Directors
imposed the penalty of suspension as Club members. Respondent Yu was served with the May 31, 2000
letter39signed by then Acting General Manager Tomas B. Clemente III informing that he violated the "no twosome"
policy, teed off without the required tee time slip, and uttered derogatory remarks to Montallana in front of another
member and the caddies. In response, Yu’s counsel asked for a copy of Montallana’s report and a formal hearing to
confront the complainant and all the witnesses.40 Subsequently, on June 13, 2000, Yu, through counsel, submitted
his explanation that included an admission of the "no twosome" policy.41 Finally, on September 15, 2000, Yu was
advised of the Board resolution to give him another opportunity to present his side in a meeting supposed to be
held on September 20, 2000.42 It appears, however, that Yu refused to attend.43
Likewise, respondent Yuhico was given by Clemente a letter dated May 31, 2000 informing him of violating the "no
twosome" policy and teeing off without the required tee time slip.44 After receiving the same, Yuhico called up
Clemente to hear his side.45 Like Yu, however, Yuhico later refused to attend a meeting with the Board.46

Respondents were suspended in accordance with the procedure set forth in the Club’s By-laws. There is no merit
on their insistence that their suspension is invalid on the ground that the affirmative vote of eight (8) members is
required to support a decision suspending or expelling a Club member. Both the provisions of Articles of
Incorporation47 and By-Laws48 of the Club expressly limit the number of directors to seven (7); hence, the provision
on suspension and expulsion of a member which requires the affirmative vote of eight (8) members is obviously a
result of an oversight. Former Senator Helena Z. Benitez, the Honorary Chairperson named in the Membership
Handbook, could not be included as a regular Board member since there was no evidence adduced by respondents
that she was elected as such pursuant to the Corporation Code and the By-laws of the Club or that she had the
right and authority to attend and vote in Board meetings. In addition, at the time the Board resolved to suspend
respondents, the affirmative votes of only six (6) Board members already sufficed. The testimony of Jesus A.
Liganor, who served as Assistant Corporate Secretary, that Rodrigo Francisco had not attended a single Board
meeting since 1997 remains uncontroverted.49 The Court agrees with petitioners that the Club should not be
powerless to discipline its members and be helpless against acts inimical to its interest just because one director
had been suspended and refused to take part in the management affairs.

Lastly, contrary to respondents’ position, the recommendation of the House Committee 50 to suspend a Club
member is not a pre-requisite. Section 1, Article XIV,51 not Section 2 (b), Article XI,52 of the By-Laws governs as it
outlines the procedure for the suspension of a member. Even assuming that the recommendation of the House
Committee is mandatory, respondents failed to prove, as a matter of fact, that petitioners acted in bad faith in
relying on the subject provision, which employs the permissive word "may" in reference to the power of the House
Committee to recommend anytime the suspension of a Club member.

Way different from the trial court’s findings, there is, therefore, no factual and legal basis to grant moral and
exemplary damages, attorney’s fees and costs of suit in favor of respondents. The damages suffered, if there are
any, partake of the nature of a damnum absque injuria. As elaborated in Spouses Custodio v. CA:53

x x x [T]he mere fact that the plaintiff suffered losses does not give rise to a right to recover damages. To warrant
the recovery of damages, there must be both a right of action for a legal wrong inflicted by the defendant, and
damage resulting to the plaintiff therefrom. Wrong without damage, or damage without wrong, does not constitute
a cause of action, since damages are merely part of the remedy allowed for the injury caused by a breach or
wrong.

There is a material distinction between damages and injury. Injury is the illegal invasion of a legal right; damage is
the loss, hurt, or harm which results from the injury; and damages are the recompense or compensation awarded
for the damage suffered. Thus, there can be damage without injury in those instances in which the loss or harm
was not the result of a violation of a legal duty. These situations are often called damnum absque injuria.

In order that a plaintiff may maintain an action for the injuries of which he complains, he must establish that such
injuries resulted from a breach of duty which the defendant owed to the plaintiff – a concurrence of injury to the
plaintiff and legal responsibility by the person causing it. The underlying basis for the award of tort damages is the
premise that an individual was injured in contemplation of law. Thus, there must first be the breach of some duty
and the imposition of liability for that breach before damages may be awarded; it is not sufficient to state that
there should be tort liability merely because the plaintiff suffered some pain and suffering.

Many accidents occur and many injuries are inflicted by acts or omissions which cause damage or loss to another
but which violate no legal duty to such other person, and consequently create no cause of action in his favor. In
such cases, the consequences must be borne by the injured person alone. The law affords no remedy for damages
resulting from an act which does not amount to a legal injury or wrong.

In other words, in order that the law will give redress for an act causing damage, that act must be not only hurtful,
but wrongful. There must be damnum et injuria. If, as may happen in many cases, a person sustains actual
damage, that is, harm or loss to his person or property, without sustaining any legal injury, that is, an act or
omission which the law does not deem an injury, the damage is regarded as damnum absque injuria.

xxxx

The proper exercise of a lawful right cannot constitute a legal wrong for which an action will lie, although the act
may result in damage to another, for no legal right has been invaded. One may use any lawful means to
accomplish a lawful purpose and though the means adopted may cause damage to another, no cause of action
arises in the latter’s favor. Any injury or damage occasioned thereby is damnum absque injuria. The courts can
give no redress for hardship to an individual resulting from action reasonably calculated to achieve a lawful end by
lawful means.54

"One who makes use of his own legal right does no injury. Qui jure suo utitur nullum damnum facit. If damage
results from a person's exercising his legal rights, it is damnum absque injuria."55 In this case, respondents failed
to prove by preponderance of evidence that there is fault or negligence on the part of petitioners in order to oblige
them to pay for the alleged damage sustained as a result of their suspension as Club members. Certainly,
membership in the Club is a privilege.56 Regular members are entitled to use all the facilities and privileges of the
Club, subject to its rules and regulations.57 As correctly pointed out by petitioners, the mental anguish respondents
experienced, assuming to be true, was brought upon them by themselves for deliberately and consciously violating
the rules and regulations of the Club. Considering that respondents were validly suspended, there is no reason for
the Club to compensate them. Indeed, the penalty of suspension provided for in Section 1, Article XIV of the By-
Laws is a means to protect and preserve the interest and purposes of the Club. This being so, the suspension of
respondents does not fall under any of the provisions of the Civil Code pertaining to the grant of moral and
exemplary damages, attorney’s fees, and litigation costs.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is GRANTED. The Resolutions dated September 16, 2009 and
January 21, 2010 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 106918, which reconsidered and set aside its
Resolution dated January 15, 2009, granting petitioners a fifteen-day period within which to file a petition for
review under Rule 43 of the Rules, is ANNULLED AND SET ASIDE. SEC Case Nos. 001-0l and 002-0l filed and
raffled before the Regional Trial Court, Branch 21 of Imus, Cavite are hereby DISMISSED for lack of merit.
Respondents are ORDERED TO RETURN to petitioners the total amount of P9,200,000.00 or P4,600,000.00 each,
within THIRTY (30) DAYS from the time this decision becomes final and executory. Thereafter, said amount shall
earn legal interest of six percent (6%) per annum until fully paid.

SO ORDERED.