Republic of the Philippines
G.R. No. L-13114             August 29, 1961
ELENITA LEDESMA SILVA, ET AL., plaintiffs-appellants,
ESTHER PERALTA, defendant-appellee.
E.B. Garcia Law Offices and Ledesma, Puno Guytingco and Antonio & Associates for plaintiffs-appellants.
Quijano, Abellera, Santos Corrales & Nitrorreda for defendant-appellee.
R E S O L U T I O N
REYES, J.B.L., J.:
Appellants spouses Saturnino Silva and Elenita LedesmaSilva pray for reconsideration of this Court's decision of November 25, 1960, claiming that —
(1) Appellant Elenita Silva should be awarded moral damages for Esther Peralta's unauthorized use of the designation of "Mrs. Esther Silva";
(2) The award of pecuniary damages against appellant Saturnino Silva is unwarranted by the facts and the law.
It is contended that the prohibition imposed upon appellee Esther Peralta from representing herself, directly or indirectly, as the wife of Saturnino Silva should result in an award of moral damages in favor of appellant Elenita Ledesma, whose exclusive right to the appellation is recognized by the decision.
This argument misapprehends the bias of the decision. Esther Peralta was forbidden from representing herself as Mrs. Saturnino Silva for the reason that it was proved in this case that she was not legally married to him, and because he is now lawfully married to Elenita Ledesma. But an award of damages in the latter's favor would require a further finding that the assumption of the disputed status by Esther Peralta was made in bad faith or through culpable negligence and no such finding has been made in the decision. The facts are that the Esther in good faith regarded herself as Saturnino's lawful wife, and that the man himself led her into this belief prior to his desertion. That later on, unknown to Esther, Silva should have married his co-appellant in the United States is not sufficient to impose upon Esther any liability for damages or to destroy her original good faith, there being no proof that the existence of a valid marriage between Saturnino and Elenita was adequately driven home to Esther before this case was instituted. That the two appellants Silva were living together as husband and wife was certainly not sufficient proof, considering Saturnino Silva's past history and conduct. How was appellee to know that Saturnino's connection with Elenita Ledesma was any more legitimate than his previous one with appellee herself?
Moreover, the trial court found Elenita Silva's claim for damages not adequately proved, and we have not found in the record any justification to depart from that finding.
As to the award of damages against Saturnino Silva, it is to be noted that while the latter's liability was extra-contractual in origin, still, under the Civil Code of 1889, the damages resulting from a tort are measured in the same manner as those due from a contractual debtor in bad faith, since he must answer for such damages, whether he had foreseen them or not, just as he must indemnify not only for dumnum emergens but also for lucrum cessans, as required by Article 1106. Article 1902 of the 1889 Civil Code of Spain formulated no standard for measuring quasidelictual damages, the article merely prescribing that the guilty party "shall be liable for the damages so done". This indefiniteness led modern civil law writers to hold that the standards set in Articles 1106 and 1107, place in the general rules on obligations, "rigen por igual para las contractuales y las extra contractuales, las preestablecidas y las que broten ex-lege de actos ilicitos". (Roces, Notesto Fisher, "Los Daños Civiles y su Reparacion," (1927). Since liability for damages arises in either case from a breach of a pre-existing obligation (to behave without fault or negligence in case of quasi-delicts, and, in case of contracts, to observe the conduct required by the stipulation),it is logical to conclude with Planiol that "La responsabilidad contractual y la extra contractual tienen el mismo fundamento, por lo que se hallan sujetas en principio a identicas regalas" (6 Planiol-Ripert, Derecho Civil, p. 529,sec. 378). Giorgi is of the same opinion (5 Teoria de Obligaciones, pp. 133, 207-208). So is de Cossio y Corral("El Dolo en el Derecho Civil", pp. 132-133):
Pero si ello es asi, resulta claro que la aproximacionentre esta clase de culpa y la contractual, es cada dia mayor,hasta el extremo de que, segun hemos antes indicado solamente se pueden señalar diferencias accessorias, y muchas veces aparentes entre una y otra. En primer termino, porque el conceptode culpa contractual se extiende no solo a las obligacionesnacidas ex contractu, sino, en general, a todas aquellas preexistentes entre las partes a la realidad del acto dañoso (obligaciones legales). de otra parte, porque si bien consideramoslas cosas, la responsabilidad llamada extracontractual, deriva siempre del quebrantamiento de un deber general, implicitamentereconocido por la ley, cual es el de que todos deben actuar socialmente con la debida diligencia, evitando causar dano a los demas, y una dercho que todo ciudadano tine, correlativamente,a no ser da_¤_ado en su patrimonio y bienes por la conducta dolosa o negligente de los demas. En tal sentido, habria siempre entre el autor del daño y la victima, una relacion juridica,constituida por este derecho y aquel deber.
Este idea de unidad entre ambas instituciones se traduce en que las pretendidadas diferencias en order a la extension de la indemnizacion, en ambos casos, no puedan defenderse a la vista de los preceptos de nuestro Derecho positivo. En efectono contiene el Capitulo II del Titulo XVI del Libro IV de nuestroCodigo civil norma alguna referente a la extension de la indemnizacion que en cada caso haya de prestarse, lo que nosobliga forzosamente a acudir a las normas general contenidasen el Capitulo II, del Titulo I de dicho libro, IV, relativeo a los "efectos de los obligaciones", que ninguna razon peermite limitar.a naturaleza contractual, ya que el articulo 1.101 hable genericamente de obligaciones el 1.102, de "todas las obligaciones";el 1.103, de toda clase de obligaciones", y en ninguno de los articulos subsifuientes se hace referencia a una clase especial de obligaciones, sino a todas en general.
Que las disposiciones de este Capitulo son aplicables en loscasos de culpa extracontractual, es doctrina constantemente reconocida, por la jurisprudencia del Tribunal Supremo. Asi,en la sentencia de 14 de diciembre de 1894, concretandose a losarticulos 1.101, 1.103 y 1.104, afirma que son de caracter generaly applicables a toda clase de obligaciones, no ofreciendocontradiccion con las especiales de los articulos 1.902 y 1.903; la sentencia de 15 de enero de 1902, permite interpretar los articulos1.902, t 1.903 por los 1.103 y 1.106, a los efectos de determinar los elementos que han de entrar en la indemnizacion.La misma doctrina se mantiene en la senencia de 2 de diciembrede 1946, y en otras muchas que puedieramos aducir.
Whether or not the damages awarded to appellee are a natural and direct consequence of Silva's deceitful maneuvers in making love to appellee, and inducing her to yield to his advances and live with him as his wife (when Silva knew all the time that he could not marry Esther Peralta because of his undissolved marriage to an Australian woman, a prior wedlock that he concealed from appellee), is a question of appreciation. It is clear that Esther Peralta would not have consented to the liaison had there been no concealment of Silva's previous marriage, or that the birth of the child was a direct result of this connection. That Esther had to support the child because Silva abandoned her before it was born is likewise patent upon the record, and we can not see how said appellant can be excused from liability therefor.
Silva's seduction and subsequent abandonment of appellee and his illegitimate child were likewise the direct cause for the filling of the support case in Manila, and in order to prosecute the same, appellee had to quit her employment in Davao. While the case could have been filed in Davao, we do not believe that this error in selecting a more favorable venue (due to her unfamiliarity with the technicalities of the law) should be allowed to neutralized the appellant Silva's responsibility as the primary causative factor of the prejudice and damage suffered by appellee.
It is argued that the maintenance of the child can not be considered as an element of damage because the child's case for support was dismissed. This contention fails to take into account the action there was for support as an acknowledged natural child, and that under the Civil Code of 1889 (the law in force when the child was born), the right of natural children to be supported by their father depended exclusively on the recognition by the father of his paternity; the rule being that —
the mere fact of birth gave no legal right to the child, and imposed no legal duty upon the father, except, perhaps, in cases arising under the criminal law.. . . The father was not, prior to the Civil Code, and is not now, bound to recognize his natural son by reason of the mere fact that he is the father. . . . But as to the father the question is, and always has been, Has he performed any acts which indicate his intention to recognize the child as his?" (Buenaventura vs. Urbano, 5 Phil., pp. 2-3).
It follows that in said suit, the real issue was whether the child had been duly recognized, the support being a mere consequence of the recognition. Therefore, the failure of the child's action for support did not adjudge that he was not the defendant's child, but that the defendant never recognized him as such. That the decision of the Court of Appeal (CA-G.R. No. 24532-R) rejecting the child's action did not declare him without right to support under all circumstances can be seen from the following statement in the decision:
The proofs so far found in the record may possibly warrant the filing of an action for compulsory recognition, under paragraphs 3 and 4 of Art. 283, but there was no action presented to that effect.
Plainly, the issues and parties being different, the result of the child's action can not constitute res judicata with regard to the mother's claim for damages against the father on account of the amounts she was compelled to spend for the maintenance of their child. On the contrary, the very fact that the child was not allowed to collect support from the father (appellant therein) merely emphasizes the account of his birth and rearing, which, in turn, was a direct consequence of appellant's tortious conduct. Since Esther Peralta had expressly that she had to support the child (Record of Appeal, p. 27, in fine),and had prayed for such relief "as may be deemed just and equitable in the premises", there is no reason why her expenses for the child's maintenance should not be taken into account.
Appellants submit that the damages allowed for maintenance of the son should be limited to P600.00 a year, because the income tax law allows only that much deduction for each child. We do not believe that income tax deductions constitute a reasonable basis for an award of damages, since they are fixed an entirely different purpose (to arrive at the net taxable income) and merely represent the amount that the state is willing to exempt from taxation. At that, it should be noted that the deductible amount has been lately increased to P1,000.00 per annum. But even at P600.00 per annum, the damage suffered by appellee on this count, from 1945 to 1960, already amount to around P9,000.00 a year, to which must be added the loss of appellee's salary as executive of the Girl Scouts in Davao; so that the P15,000.00 damages awarded by the court below is by no means excessive, as already held in our decision in chief.
Appellants also contend that the claim for pecuniary damages has prescribed, because they date back to 1945. Suffice it to note that the defense of prescription was not invoked by appellants against the claim for pecuniary damages, and this defense must be regarded as waived in relation to the same. Appellant's reply to the appellee's first counterclaim in her second amended answer (which was for actual or pecuniary damages) read as follows (Answer to Counterclaim, Rec. App. p. 33):
1. — That plaintiff is without knowledge or information sufficient to to form a belief as to the truth of the allegations continued under paragraphs 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 of the first counterclaim and, therefore, specifically denies the same.
The defense of prescription was actually interposed only against the second counterclaim, in this wise:
1. — That the cause of action alleged in the second counterclaim has already prescribed more than ten years having already elapsed. (Answer to Counterclaim, Rec. App., p. 34).
The second counterclaim referred to was for damages due to "mental torture, anguish and hurt feelings, all to her damage in the amount of P250,000." (Rec. App. p. 28).Upon the other hand, our own award for moral damages was based, not on the deceit practiced by Silva in securing Esther's assent to live maritally with him, but on his subsequent harassment of her in 1945, by filing suit against her in different provinces and otherwise applying pressure to cause her to abandon her child's case. As this cause of action arose less than three years before the present action was filed, the defense of prescription is rendered untenable against it, for the limitation period had not yet expired when the suit was brought.
WHEREFORE, the motion for reconsideration is denied.
Bengzon, C.J., Padilla, Labrador, Concepcion, Barrera, Paredes and Dizon, JJ., concur.
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