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G.R. No. L-46585 February 8, 1988

DR. ANGELA V. GINSON, petitioner,



Before us is the recurring issue of dismissal of a government employee and challenges presented against its validity.

The facts, as found by the trial court, 1 are as follows:

On February 16, 1968, or 44 days after defendant Mayor Baldomero de la Rama assumed office as the Municipal Mayor of
Murcia, Negros Occidental, he wrote a letter to plaintiff terminating her services as Municipal Dentist of Murcia, Negros
Occidental effective February 18, 1968. (Exh. "B"). Said letter was received by the plaintiff on February 16, 1968. Said letter
reads as follows:

Please be informed that effective February 16, 1968, your service is hereby terminated, due to lack of



Plaintiff, prior and up to the time she was dismissed, had been continuously, faithfully and efficiently performing her duties as
Municipal Dentist of the Municipality of Murcia since August 1, 1964, and was receiving a salary of P200.00 per month. On the
very day she was discharged, plaintiff immediately went to the defendant Municipal Mayor Baldomero de la Rama and pleaded
that she be reinstated to the service on the ground that her tenure of office is covered by Civil Service Law and that she cannot
be removed or suspended except for cause, but defendant de la Rama blatantly refused to reinstate her. Instead she was told
and challenged to go to Court and to file a case against him and the Municipality. 2

The trial court held for the petitioner and directed the private respondents to reinstate her in office and to pay back salaries and attorney's fees. On
appeal, the respondent Court 3 found that the respondent municipality's financial condition arising from an alleged overdraft incurred during the year,
warranted the dismissal, held the same to be justified, and rendered a reversal.

The issue that confronts us, then, is one of fact: Whether or not the respondent municipality's state of finances justifies the challenged dismissal.

The general rule is that the findings of fact of the Court of Appeals are controlling on this Court. 4 The rule is, however, subject to recognized
exceptions, viz: (1) when the findings of the Court of appeals are grounded entirely on speculation, surmise, and conjecture; (2) the inference made is
manifestly mistaken; (3) the Court of Appeals committed a grave abuse of discretion; (4) its judgment is based on a misapprehension of facts; (5) it
went beyond the issues of the case and its findings contravene the admissions of the parties; (6) its findings of fact are contrary to those of the trial
court; (7) the same are conclusions without citations of specific evidence; (8) the facts set forth in the appellant's brief are not disputed by the appellee;
and (9) when the findings of fact of the Court of Appeals are not supported by the evidence or contradicted by the evidence on record. 5

We find serious contradictions characterizing the findings of the lower and the respondent courts, a development that compels us to resort to the
records ourselves. In the process, we are constrained to reject the respondent Court's findings. Accordingly, we sustain the trial court, and hold for the

The Court is convinced that the respondent municipality was financially capable of continued support to the petitioner in office. There is evidence, to
begin with, that at the time the petitioner was discharged, the Murcia treasury had existing funds to cover her salary for the month of February, 1968,
and for the succeeding months as well, until June, 1968. 6 As of February, 1968 therefore, the Municipality of Murcia had no justifiable reason to plead
insolvency. At that time, it had no excuse to effect the questioned dismissal.

There is likewise evidence that for the fiscal year 1968-1969, the respondent municipality approved an annual budget of P270,000.00, more than
double its budget of Pl54,910.00 for the fiscal year 1967-1968, or an increase of P115,090.00. We agree with the lower court that if the respondent
municipality were truly in dire financial straits, "the natural tendency is that there will be a decrease in the appropriations for the ensuing fiscal year. 7
As found furthermore by this trial court, the respondent municipality had, in the same period, approved salary increases to some thirty-one
employees. 8 This, again, negates its claims of bankruptcy.

There is evidence, finally, that the Municipality of Murcia had extended new items and appointments to a total of six employees at the time the
petitioner was removed from the office. 9

These actuations, in our opinion, are inconsistent with pretexts of insolvency.

In the premises, we reject the municipality's reliance on its alleged overdraft of P50,000.00 that allegedly led to the dismissal now assailed. We likewise
dismiss its contention that the petitioner was not removed from her position but that the termination of her services was the inevitable consequence of
the abolition of her item as municipal dentist. 10

The existence of the alleged P50,000,00-deficit was never sufficiently proven. Moreover, if this were the case, it raises disturbing inquiries. For
instance, why the salary and budget increases, and the new appointments?

It is true that abolition of office neither means removal nor separation from office and is not covered by the protection of the security of tenure clause of
the Constitution. 11 This principle, however, carries with it a caveat: That the abolition is done in good faith.12 Good faith, regrettably, is wanting in this
case. The respondents' measures subsequent to the petitioner's dismissal are, rather, indicative of bad faith.

In Cruz vs. Primicias Jr., we held:

The claim of economy effectuated through the reorganization is belied by the fact that while 72 positions were abolished, 50 of
these were actually vacant. Only 22 stations were occupied at the time of the reorganization, carrying total emoluments of
P25,538.71 per semester of which P6,120.00 per semester corresponds to the five remaining petitioners (Answer, Exh. 3-C). As
against these 22 positions suppressed by the reorganization (Executive Order No. 2),28 new positions were simultaneously
created, with a compensation of P87,600.00 per annum, P43,800.00 per semester, for confidential personnel in the office of the
Governor (Exh. Order No. 2, par. d). In addition, a Provincial Attorney and his staff (p. 2), and a Personnel Division five
members, importing P13,380.00 per semester were set up. Thus, against the suppressed items of P25,538.71, new items
carrying a total appropriation of P57,180.00 per semester (or P114,360.00 annually) were created, in addition to P8,000.00 for
casual laborers at the discretion of the Governor. Where the economy was the same excuse advanced by the preceding
administration when it attempted to eliminate civil service eligibles upon its coming into power (Ocampo, et al. vs.
Duque, supra).13

a holding we reiterate herein.

The findings of the respondent Court are moreover in contravention with its own findings in the case of the four policemen the respondents had
dismissed on the same occasion. 14 In that case, the respondent court itself dismissed the municipality's pleas of bankruptcy. To say otherwise with
respect to this case is indeed, to take inconsistent positions. While the Court of appeals, sitting as a division, is not bound to take judicial notice of
decisions of another division, the decision (in G.R. No. 50058-R) was duly brought to the attention of the respondent Court (eighth division), and there
was no reason for its obduracy.

In sum, we declare the pretended abolition of the dentist's clinic of the Municipality of Murcia to be in fact a flimsy excuse to justify the dismissal of the
petitioner, contrary to security of tenure protection of the Constitution, and is hence, null and void.

Considering, however, the lapse of time — spanning almost twenty years — since this controversy rose, and considering the probability that the
petitioner might have, in the interim, acquired a new employment, we are constrained to grant her the payment of back salaries equivalent to five (5)
years without deduction or qualification.15

We likewise order her reinstatement, subject to the condition that she has not obtained any other employment, as Murcia municipal dentist or any
position for which she is qualified by reason of civil service eligibility, and subject to the requisites of age and physical fitness. 16 We finally, the award of
attorney's fees by the lower court in the sum of P1,000.00. The private respondents' liability are declared to be joint and solidary.

WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED. The Decision appealed from is REVERSED and SET ASIDE, and a new one is hereby entered, ordering the
private respondents, the Municipality of Murcia, Negros Occidental, and the Municipal Mayor of Murcia, to:

1. REINSTATE the petitioner as municipal dentist of the Municipality of Murcia, Negros Occidental, or to any position for which
she is qualified pursuant to the Civil Service Law and other rules;

2. PAY unto her back pay equivalent to five (5) years based on her latest salary scale. Costs against the private respondents.

Republic of the Philippines


G.R. No. L-40336 October 24, 1975



Alexander H. Brillantes and Romulo R. Candoy for petitioner.

Office of the Solicitor General Estelito P. Mendoza, Assistant Solicitor General Santiago M. Kapunan and Solicitor Simfronio I. Ancheta for respondent.


Petitioner seeks the reversal of the order of the respondent Court of Appeals dated February 20, 1975.

The undisputed facts are as follows:

Wakat Diamnuan and his wife were the registered owners of one-fourth share of a parcel of land containing an area of 39.9643 hectares situated in
Sitio Cacuban, Barrio Gumatdang, Pitogon, Benguet, covered by OCT No. O-36, issued in their names and in the names of Kangi Erangyas, and the
heirs of Komising Tagle, who owned the remaining portions.

On May 11, 1968, Wakat Diamnuan and his wife sold their one-fourth share in favor of petitioner Torrijos for P7,493.00. the deed of sale, however, was
refused registration because Torrijos, who produced OCT No. O-36, did not have the copies thereof held by the other co-owners, Kangi Erangyas and
heirs of Komising Tagle.

In 1969, the entire property, together with the share of Wakat Diamnuan and his wife, was sold to Victor de Guia for P189,379.50. Hence, Torrijos
prosecuted Wakat Diamnuan for estafa before the Baguio Court of First Instance, docketed as Criminal Case No. 70 entitled "People of the Philippines
versus Wakat Diamnuan."

After trial, the trial Judge convicted the accused in a decision dated January 17, 1973 sentencing him to an imprisonment of 3 months of arresto mayor,
to pay a fine of P7,493.00 with subsidiary imprisonment, to indemnify petitioner Lamberto Torrijos in the sum of P7,493.00 and to pay the costs. The
trial Judge added as the second paragraph of the dispositive portion of the decision that "Whatever damages may have been suffered by Torrijos
before the Deed of Sale in favor of Victor de Guia was made by the accused and his co-owners may be the subject of some other action, perhaps civil,
but not in this case."

Upon motion for reconsideration filed by complainant Torrijos, in an order dated March 5, 1973, the trial court modified its decision by increasing the
indemnity in favor of Torrijos from P7,493.00 to P25,000.00 and the fine from P7,493.00 to P25,000.00..

On March 7, 1973, the accused filed a motion for the reconsideration of the order of March 5, 1973, which was denied by the court a quo in an order
dated April 11, 1973. Thereafter, the accused appealed to the Court of Appeals.

On August 5, 1973, the accused died, for which reason his counsel moved to dismiss the appeal under paragraph 1 of Article 89 of the Revised Penal
Code, which provides that the death of a convict extinguishes, not only the personal penalties, but also the "pecuniary penalties" as long as the death
occurs before final judgment.

Complainant Torrijos opposed the said motion to dismiss appeal on the ground that the term "pecuniary penalty" should not include civil liability in favor
of the offended party, which was decreed by the trial court in this case, as the civil action therefor was not reserved, much less filed separately from the
criminal action.

The respondent Court of Appeals sustained the motion, which is shared by the Solicitor General, and forth with issued the challenged order dated
February 20, 1975 dismissing the appeal.

Hence, this petition.

It should be stressed that the extinction of civil liability follows the extinction of the criminal liability under Article 89, only when the civil liability arises
from the criminal act as its only basis. Stated differently, where the civil liability does not exist independently of the criminal responsibility, the extinction
of the latter by death, ipso factoextinguishes the former, provided, of course, that death supervenes before final judgment. The said principle does not
apply in instant case wherein the civil liability springs neither solely nor originally from the crime itself but from a civil contract of purchase and sale. The
estafa or swindle existed only after the subsequent sale by the accused of the same interest in favor of Victor de Guia. There was no crime of estafa
until the accused re-sold the same property to another individual about 5 years after the first sale to Torrijos. If the accused did not comply with the sale
he executed in favor of Torrijos in 1964, after his receipt of the purchase price from Torrijos, but before the second sale to Victor de Guia in 1969, there
is no question that the accused would be merely civilly liable either through an action by Torrijos for specific performance with damages or for
rescission of contract also with damages. If rescission were pursued by the first vendee, the vendor would be liable to refund the purchase price as well
as be responsible in damages. Consequently, in the case at bar, the civil liability of the accused survives his death; because death is not a valid cause
for the extinguishment of civil obligations.

Thus, WE held that, despite the acquittal based on death for the crime of homicide or physical injuries or damage to property through reckless
imprudence, notwithstanding the absence of any reservation to file a civil action, such acquittal does not preclude the offended party from pursuing a
civil action for damages based on tort or culpa aquiliana. And the civil action based on tort or contract need not be reserved (Tan vs Standard Vacuum
Oil Co., et. al., 91 Phil. 972; Dionisio, et al. vs. Alvendia, et. al., 102 Phil. 443, 445-447; Chan vs. Yatco, L-11162, April 30,1958; Capuno vs. Pepsi
Cola, 13 SCRA 658).

Then again, Articles 19, 20 and 21 of the New Civil Code on human relations establish the civil liability of the accused in this particular case
independently of his criminal liability, despite his death before final conviction.

Article 19 directs that "every person must, in the exercise of his right and the performance of his duties, act with justice, give anymore his due, and
observe honesty and good faith." The accused in the case at bar, by executing a second sale of the property which he already sold to the offended
party, certainly did not observe honesty nor good faith, much less act with justice to the complaining witness.

Article 20 provides that "every person who, contrary to law, willfully or negligently causes damage to another, shall indemnify the latter for the same."
Certainly in deliberately selling again the same property to another person after he had sold the same to the offended party, the accused willfully or
intentionally inflicted damage on the offended party, to whom indemnification therefor shall be made by him.

Article 21 states that "any person who willfully causes loss or injury to another in a manner that is contrary to morals, good customs or public policy,
shall compensate the latter for the damage." It is patent that the act of the accused in the case at bar in alienating the same property which he already
sold to the complainant, has violated all the rules of morality and good customs. Hence, he should be answerable to the offended party for the injury
thus caused to him. Even if the moral wrong or injury does not constitute a violation of the statute, his civil liability under this article subsists (Velayo vs.
Shell Co., 100 Phil. 186). In the instant case, the wrong committed by the accused is a breach of statutory as well as moral law, for there was deceit
perpetrated on both the first and second vendees.

Consequently, while the death of the accused here inextinguished his criminal liability including fine, his civil liability based on the laws of human
relations aforecited, remains.

Moreover, in "People of the Philippine, plaintiff and appellee. Nicolas Manuel, aggrieved or offended party-appellant, vs. Celestino Coloma, defendant
and appellee, "WE ruled that a criminal case may be reopened in order that the offended party can prove damages, although the decision therein
convicting the accused had already become final and made no award of the damages upon the ground that the information failed to allege any
damages suffered; or the aggrieved party may appeal from an unsatisfactory award, as long as he did not reserve his right to file a separate civil action
or has not waived his right to civil indemnity arising from the offense (105 Phil. 1287-1288; see also People vs. Rodriguez, 97 Phil. 349; People vs.
Ursua, 60 Phil. 252; People vs. Celorico, 67 Phil. 185). In said Coloma case, Chief Justice, then Associate Justice, Roberto Concepcion, stated the
rationale, thus:

... every criminal case involves two actions, one criminal and another civil. From a judgment convicting the accused, two appeal
may, accordingly, be taken. The accused may seek a review of said judgment, as regards both actions. Similarly, the
complainant may appeal, with respect only to the civil action, either because the lower court has refused or failed to award
damages, or because the award made is unsatisfactory to him. The right of either to appeal or not to appeal, in the event of
conviction of the accused, is not dependent upon the other. The complainant may not, by expressing his conformity to the
award of damages, prevent the accused from appealing, either from said award or, from the judgment of conviction. Neither
may the accused, by acquiescing thereto, prevent the complainant from appealing therefrom, insofar as the civil liability is
concerned. Upon the other hand, an appeal by the complainant, with respect to the aforementioned civil liability, would not
impose upon the accused the legal obligation to appeal. He may choose not to appeal from the judgment of conviction, and,
hence, the same may become final and executory, and may be fully executed, without prejudice to the aforementioned appeal
taken by the complainant. In the language of this Court, in People vs. Ursua (60 Phil. 252, 254-255):

The right of the injured persons in an offense to take part in its prosecution and to appeal for purposes of
the civil liability of the accused (section 107, General Orders No. 58), necessarily implies that such right
is protected in the same manner as the right of the accused to his defense. If the accused has the right
within fifteen days to appeal from the judgment of conviction, the offended party should have the right
within the same period to appeal before so much of the judgment as is prejudicial to him, and his appeal
should not be made dependent on that of the accused. If upon appeal by the accused the court
altogether loses its jurisdiction over the case, the offended party would be deprived of his right to appeal,
although fifteen days have not yet elapsed from the date of the judgment, if the accused files his appeal
before the expiration of said period. Therefore, if the court, independently of the appeal of the accused,
has jurisdiction, within fifteen days from the date of the judgment, to allow the appeal of the offended
party, it also has jurisdiction to pass upon the motion for reconsideration filed by the private prosecution
in connection with the civil liability of the accused.

The case of People vs. Rodriguez (decided on July 29, 1955) is, even more, in point. The facts therein were: On March 24,
1952, Rodriguez was convicted of abduction with consent and sentenced accordingly. Thereupon, he commenced to serve the
sentence. Three days later, the complainant moved that he be ordered to indemnify her. On April 5, the court granted this
motion and ordered Rodriguez to pay her P1,000.00, with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency. On May 7, the
corresponding writ of execution was issued, and on May 12, the sheriff levied upon a house of the defendant, who,
subsequently, asked the court to set aside its order on April 5 and said writ of execution. This petition was granted on August 9
upon the ground that the judgment rendered on March 24, 1952 became final on that date, he having immediately begun to
serve his sentence, and that, hence, the court had no jurisdiction to enter the order of April 5, granting indemnity to the offended
party. In a unanimous decision, penned by Mr. Justice Padilla, we held, after quoting from People vs. Ursua, supra, that the trial
court had retained its jurisdiction over the civil phase of the case, despite service of the penalty meted out to the accused, and
that no error had been committed, in the order of April 5,1952, in ordering him to indemnify the offended party in the amount of
P1,000.00, before the expiration of the fifteen (15) days period provided for the appeal.

Referring now to the issue raised by the appeal of complainant herein, it will be recalled that, in order to justify the absence of
an award for damages in its decision of conviction, the lower court said therein that "the information failed to allege any
damages suffered." This was the very reason by the lower court in People vs. Celorico (67 Phil. 185, 186), in refusing to allow
the prosecution to prove damages, which was eventually declared erroneous, for the reason that:

"Every person criminally liable for a felony is also civilly liable (Art. 100, Revised Penal Code). The civil
liability of the accused is determined in the criminal action, unless the injured party expressly waives
such liability or reserves his right to have civil damages determined in a separate action. (Art. 112,
Spanish Code of Criminal Procedure in relation to sec. 107 of General Orders No. 58; vide, also, U.S.
vs. Heery, 25 Phil. 600, and cases therein cited.) Here, there was no waiver or reservation of civil
liability, and evidence should have been allowed to establish the extent of the injuries by the offended
party and to recover the same, if proven." (Emphasis ours.)

To repeat, the offended parties in the Coloma and Rodriguez cases were allowed to appeal despite the fact that the decision of conviction had already
become final and had been executed, either because the accused had fully served the sentence or was then serving sentence; and the names of the
offended parties were included in the title of said cases.

In the case at bar, there is greater reason to allow the appeal to proceed with respect to the civil liability of the accused as the judgment of conviction
did not become final by reason of the appeal of the accused, who died during the pendency of the appeal.

Finally, Section 21 of Rule 3 of the Revised Rules of Court, provides that if defendant dies before the final judgment in the Court of First Instance, an
action for the recovery of money, debt or interest thereon "shall be dismissed to be prosecuted in the manner specially provided in these rules,"
meaning the claim should be presented in the testate or intestate proceedings over the estate of the deceased. The implication is that if death
supervenes after the judgment of the Court of First Instance but pending appeal in the appellate court, the action for the recovery of money may not be
dismissed. In such case, the name of the offended party shall be included in the title of the case as plaintiff-appellee and the legal representatives or
the heirs of the deceased accused should be substituted as defendants-appellants.

Consequently, the appeal in the case at bar should proceed with respect to the right of petitioner herein as offended party in the criminal case to
recover the civil liability in the amount of P25,000.00 awarded by the trial court.


Teehankee, Actg. (Chairman), Aquino and Martin, JJ., concur.

Muñoz Palma, J., concurs in the result.