Republic of the Philippines

Supreme Court

Manila

 

 

FIRST DIVISION

 

 

VALLACAR TRANSIT, INC.,

                        Petitioner,

 

 

 

 

 

-  versus  -

 

 

 

 

 

JOCELYN CATUBIG,

                        Respondent.

 

G.R. No. 175512

 

Present:

 

CORONA, C.J.,

       Chairperson,     

VELASCO, JR.,

LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,

PERALTA,* and

PEREZ, JJ.

 

 

Promulgated:

 

May 30, 2011

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D E C I S I O N

 

 

LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.:

 

 

For review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court is the Decision[1] dated November 17, 2005 and the Resolution[2] dated November 16, 2006 of the Court Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 66815, which modified the Decision[3] dated January 26, 2000 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 30 of Dumaguete City, in Civil Case No. 11360, an action for recovery of damages based on Article 2180, in relation to Article 2176, of the Civil Code, filed by respondent Jocelyn Catubig against petitioner Vallacar Transit, Inc.  While the RTC dismissed respondent’s claim for damages, the Court of Appeals granted the same.    

 

The undisputed facts are as follows:

 

Petitioner is engaged in the business of transportation and the franchise owner of a Ceres Bulilit bus with Plate No. T-0604-1348.  Quirino C. Cabanilla (Cabanilla) is employed as a regular bus driver of petitioner. 

 

On January 27, 1994, respondent’s husband, Quintin Catubig, Jr. (Catubig), was on his way home from Dumaguete City riding in tandem on a motorcycle with his employee, Teddy Emperado (Emperado).  Catubig was the one driving the motorcycle.  While approaching a curve at kilometers 59 and 60, Catubig tried to overtake a slow moving ten-wheeler cargo truck by crossing-over to the opposite lane, which was then being traversed by the Ceres Bulilit bus driven by Cabanilla, headed for the opposite direction.  When the two vehicles collided, Catubig and Emperado were thrown from the motorcycle.  Catubig died on the spot where he was thrown, while Emperado died while being rushed to the hospital. 

 

On February 1, 1994, Cabanilla was charged with reckless imprudence resulting in double homicide in Criminal Case No. M-15-94 before the Municipal Circuit Trial Court (MCTC) of Manjuyod-Bindoy-Ayungon of the Province of Negros Oriental.  After preliminary investigation, the MCTC issued a Resolution on December 22, 1994, dismissing the criminal charge against Cabanilla.  It found that Cabanilla was not criminally liable for the deaths of Catubig and Emperado, because there was no negligence, not even contributory, on Cabanilla’s part.

 

Thereafter, respondent filed before the RTC on July 19, 1995 a Complaint for Damages against petitioner, seeking actual, moral, and exemplary damages, in the total amount of P484,000.00, for the death of her husband, Catubig, based on Article 2180, in relation to Article 2176, of the Civil Code.  Respondent alleged that petitioner is civilly liable because the latter’s employee driver, Cabanilla, was reckless and negligent in driving the bus which collided with Catubig’s motorcycle.

 

Petitioner, in its Answer with Counterclaim, contended that the proximate cause of the vehicular collision, which resulted in the deaths of Catubig and Emperado, was the sole negligence of Catubig when he imprudently overtook another vehicle at a curve and traversed the opposite lane of the road.  As a special and affirmative defense, petitioner asked for the dismissal of respondent’s complaint for not being verified and/or for failure to state a cause of action, as there was no allegation that petitioner was negligent in the selection or supervision of its employee driver.

 

In the Pre-Trial Order[4] dated June 10, 1997, the parties stipulated that the primary issue for trial was whether or not petitioner should be held liable for Catubig’s death.  Trial then ensued. 

 

Police Officer (PO) 2 Robert B. Elnas (Elnas),[5] Emilio Espiritu (Espiritu),[6] Dr. Norberto Baldado, Jr. (Dr. Baldado),[7] Peter Cadimas (Cadimas),[8] and respondent[9] herself testified in support of respondent’s complaint. 

 

PO2 Elnas conducted an investigation of the collision incident.  According to PO2 Elnas, the bus was running fast, at a speed of 100 kilometers per hour, when it collided with the motorcycle which was trying to overtake a truck.  The collision occurred on the lane of the bus.  Catubig was flung 21 meters away, and Emperado, 11 meters away, from the point of impact.  The motorcycle was totaled; the chassis broke into three parts, and the front wheel and the steering wheel with the shock absorbers were found 26 meters and 38 meters, respectively, from the collision point.  In contrast, only the front bumper of the bus suffered damage.

 

Cadimas personally witnessed the collision of the bus and the motorcycle.  He recalled that he was then waiting for a ride to Dumaguete City and saw the Ceres Bulilit bus making a turn at a curve.  Cadimas signaled the said bus to halt but it was running fast.  Cadimas also recollected that there was a cargo truck running slow in the opposite direction of the bus.  Cadimas next heard a thud and saw that the bus already collided with a motorcycle.

 

Espiritu was the photographer who took photographs of the scene of the accident.  He identified the five photographs which he had taken of Catubig lying on the ground, bloodied; broken parts of the motorcycle; and the truck which Catubig tried to overtake. 

 

Dr. Baldado was the medico-legal doctor who conducted the post-mortem examination of Catubig’s body.  He reported that Catubig suffered from the following injuries: laceration and fracture of the right leg; laceration and fracture of the left elbow; multiple abrasions in the abdominal area, left anterior chest wall, posterior right arm, and at the back of the left scapular area; and contusion-hematoma just above the neck.  Dr. Baldado confirmed that Catubig was already dead when the latter was brought to the hospital, and that the vehicular accident could have caused Catubig’s instantaneous death.

 

Respondent herself testified to substantiate the amount of damages she was trying to recover from petitioner for Catubig’s death, such as Catubig’s earning capacity; expenses incurred for the wake and burial of Catubig, as well as of Emperado; the cost of the motorcycle; and the costs of the legal services and fees respondent had incurred.

 

Respondent’s documentary exhibits consisted of her and Catubig’s Marriage Contract dated August 21, 1982, their two children’s Certificate of Live Births, Catubig’s College Diploma dated March 24, 1983, the list and receipts of the expenses for Catubig’s burial, the sketch of the collision site prepared by PO2 Elnas, the excerpts from the police blotter, the photographs of the collision,[10] and the Post Mortem Report[11] on Catubig’s cadaver prepared by Dr. Baldado. 

 

In an Order[12] dated October 6, 1998, the RTC admitted all of respondent’s aforementioned evidence.

 

On the other hand, Rosie C. Amahit (Amahit)[13] and Nunally Maypa (Maypa)[14] took the witness stand for petitioner. 

 

Amahit was a Court Stenographer at the MCTC who took the transcript of stenographic notes (TSN) in Criminal Case No. M-15-94 against Cabanilla.  Amahit verified that the document being presented by the defense in the present case was a true and correct copy of the TSN of the preliminary investigation held in Criminal Case No. M-15-94 on May 25, 1994, and another document was a duplicate original of the MCTC Resolution dated December 22, 1994 dismissing Criminal Case No. M-15-94.

 

Maypa is the Administrative and Personnel Manager at the Dumaguete branch of petitioner.  He started working for petitioner on September 22, 1990 as a clerk at the Human Resources Development Department at the Central Office of petitioner in Bacolod City.  Sometime in November 1993, he became an Administrative Assistant at the Dumaguete branch of petitioner; and in August 1995, he was promoted to his current position at the same branch.

 

While he was still an Administrative Assistant, Maypa was responsible for the hiring of personnel including drivers and conductors.  Maypa explained that to be hired as a driver, an applicant should be 35 to 45 years old, have at least five years experience in driving big trucks, submit police, court, and medical clearances, and possess all the necessary requirements for driving a motor vehicle of more than 4,500 kilograms in gross weight such as a professional driver’s license with a restriction code of 3.  The applicant should also pass the initial interview, the actual driving and maintenance skills tests, and a written psychological examination involving defensive driving techniques.  Upon passing these examinations, the applicant still had to go through a 15-day familiarization of the bus and road conditions before being deployed for work.  Maypa, however, admitted that at the time of his appointment as Administrative Assistant at the Dumaguete branch, Cabanilla was already an employee driver of petitioner. 

 

Maypa further explained the investigation and grievance procedure followed by petitioner in cases of vehicular accidents involving the latter’s employee drivers.  Maypa related that Cabanilla had been put on preventive suspension following the vehicular accident on January 27, 1994 involving the bus Cabanilla was driving and the motorcycle carrying Catubig and Emperado.  Following an internal investigation of said accident conducted by petitioner, Cabanilla was declared not guilty of causing the same, for he had not been negligent.     

 

Lastly, Maypa recounted the expenses petitioner incurred as a result of the present litigation.

 

The documentary exhibits of petitioner consisted of the TSN of the preliminary investigation in Criminal Case No. M-15-94 held on May 25, 1994 before the MCTC of Manjuyod-Bindoy-Ayungon of the Province of Negros Oriental; Resolution dated December 22, 1994 of the MCTC in the same case; and the Minutes dated February 17, 1994 of the Grievance Proceeding conducted by petitioner involving Cabanilla.[15] 

 

The RTC, in its Order[16] dated November 12, 1999, admitted all the evidence presented by petitioner.

 

On January 26, 2000, the RTC promulgated its Decision favoring petitioner.  Based on the sketch prepared by PO2 Elnas, which showed that “the point of impact x x x occurred beyond the center lane near a curve within the lane of the Ceres bus[;]”[17] plus, the testimonies of PO2 Elnas and Cadimas that the motorcycle recklessly tried to overtake a truck near a curve and encroached the opposite lane of the road, the RTC ruled that the proximate cause of the collision of the bus and motorcycle was the negligence of the driver of the motorcycle, Catubig.  The RTC, moreover, was convinced through the testimony of Maypa, the Administrative and Personnel Manager of the Dumaguete branch of petitioner, that petitioner had exercised due diligence in the selection and supervision of its employee drivers, including Cabanilla.  

 

After trial, the RTC concluded:

 

WHEREFORE, finding preponderance of evidence in favor of the [herein petitioner] that the [herein respondent’s] husband is the reckless and negligent driver and not the driver of the [petitioner], the above-entitled case is hereby ordered dismissed.

 

[Petitioner’s] counterclaim is also dismissed for lack of merit.[18]

 

 

Respondent appealed to the Court of Appeals. In its Decision dated November 17, 2005, the appellate court held that both Catubig and Cabanilla were negligent in driving their respective vehicles.  Catubig, on one hand, failed to use reasonable care for his own safety and ignored the hazard when he tried to overtake a truck at a curve.  Cabanilla, on the other hand, was running his vehicle at a high speed of 100 kilometers per hour.  The Court of Appeals also brushed aside the defense of petitioner that it exercised the degree of diligence exacted by law in the conduct of its business.  Maypa was not in a position to testify on the procedures followed by petitioner in hiring Cabanilla as an employee driver considering that Cabanilla was hired a year before Maypa assumed his post at the Dumaguete branch of petitioner.

 

Thus, the Court of Appeals decreed:

 

WHEREFORE, based on the foregoing, the assailed decision of the trial court is modified.  We rule that [herein petitioner] is equally liable for the accident in question which led to the deaths of Quintin Catubig, Jr. and Teddy Emperado and hereby award to the heirs of Quintin Catubig, Jr. the amount [of] P250,000.00 as full compensation for the death of the latter.[19]

 

 

The Court of Appeals denied the motion for reconsideration of petitioner in a Resolution dated November 16, 2006.

 

Hence, the instant Petition for Review.

 

Petitioner asserts that respondent’s complaint for damages should be dismissed for the latter’s failure to verify the same.  The certification against forum shopping attached to the complaint, signed by respondent, is not a valid substitute for respondent’s verification that she “has read the pleading and that the allegations therein are true and correct of her personal knowledge or based on authentic records.”[20]  Petitioner cited jurisprudence in which the Court ruled that a pleading lacking proper verification is treated as an unsigned pleading, which produces no legal effect under Section 3, Rule 7 of the Rules of Court.

 

Petitioner also denies any vicarious or imputed liability under Article 2180, in relation to Article 2176, of the Civil Code.  According to petitioner, respondent failed to prove the culpability of Cabanilla, the employee driver of petitioner.  There are already two trial court decisions (i.e., the Resolution dated December 22, 1994 of the MCTC of Manjuyod-Bindoy-Ayungon of the Province of Negros Oriental in Criminal Case No. M-15-94 and the   Decision dated January 26, 2000 of the RTC in the instant civil suit) explicitly ruling that the proximate cause of the collision was Catubig’s reckless and negligent act.  Thus, without the fault or negligence of its employee driver, no liability at all could be imputed upon petitioner.

 

Petitioner additionally argues, without conceding any fault or liability, that the award by the Court of Appeals in respondent’s favor of the lump sum amount of P250,000.00 as total death indemnity lacks factual and legal basis.  Respondent’s evidence to prove actual or compensatory damages are all self-serving, which are either inadmissible in evidence or devoid of probative value.  The award of moral and exemplary damages is likewise contrary to the ruling of the appellate court that Catubig should be equally held liable for his own death.

 

Respondent maintains that the Court of Appeals correctly adjudged petitioner to be liable for Catubig’s death and that the appellate court had already duly passed upon all the issues raised in the petition at bar.

 

 The petition is meritorious.

 

At the outset, we find no procedural defect that would have warranted the outright dismissal of respondent’s complaint. 

 

Respondent filed her complaint for damages against petitioner on July 19, 1995, when the 1964 Rules of Court was still in effect.  Rule 7, Section 6 of the 1964 Rules of Court provided:

 

Sec. 6. Verification.—A pleading is verified only by an affidavit stating that the person verifying has read the pleading and that the allegations thereof are true of his own knowledge.

 

Verifications based on "information and belief," or upon "knowledge, information and belief," shall be deemed insufficient.

 

 

On July 1, 1997, the new rules on civil procedure took effect.  The foregoing provision was carried on, with a few amendments, as Rule 7, Section 4 of the 1997 Rules of Court, viz:

 

SEC. 4. Verification. – Except when otherwise specifically required by law or rule, pleadings need not be under oath, verified or accompanied by affidavit.

 

A pleading is verified by an affidavit that the affiant has read the pleading and that the allegations therein are true and correct of his knowledge and belief.

 

A pleading required to be verified which contains a verification based on “information and belief,” or upon “knowledge, information and belief,” or lacks a proper verification, shall be treated as an unsigned pleading.”

 

 

The same provision was again amended by A.M. No. 00-2-10, which became effective on May 1, 2000.  It now reads:

 

SEC. 4. Verification. - Except when otherwise specifically required by law or rule, pleadings need not be under oath, verified or accompanied by affidavit. 

 

A pleading is verified by an affidavit that the affiant has read the pleading and that the allegations therein are true and correct of his personal knowledge or based on authentic records. 

 

A pleading required to be verified which contains a verification based on “information and belief” or upon “knowledge, information and belief,” or lacks a proper verification, shall be treated as an unsigned pleading.

 

 

The 1997 Rules of Court, even prior to its amendment by A.M. No. 00-2-10, clearly provides that a pleading lacking proper verification is to be treated as an unsigned pleading which produces no legal effect.  However, it also just as clearly states that “[e]xcept when otherwise specifically required by law or rule, pleadings need not be under oath, verified or accompanied by affidavit.”  No such law or rule specifically requires that respondent’s complaint for damages should have been verified.  

 

Although parties would often submit a joint verification and certificate against forum shopping, the two are different. 

 

In Pajuyo v. Court of Appeals,[21] we already pointed out that:

 

A party’s failure to sign the certification against forum shopping is different from the party’s failure to sign personally the verification.  The certificate of non-forum shopping must be signed by the party, and not by counsel.  The certification of counsel renders the petition defective.

 

On the other hand, the requirement on verification of a pleading is a formal and not a jurisdictional requisite.  It is intended simply to secure an assurance that what are alleged in the pleading are true and correct and not the product of the imagination or a matter of speculation, and that the pleading is filed in good faith.  The party need not sign the verification.  A party’s representative, lawyer or any person who personally knows the truth of the facts alleged in the pleading may sign the verification.[22]

 

 

In the case before us, we stress that as a general rule, a pleading need not be verified, unless there is a law or rule specifically requiring the same.  Examples of pleadings that require verification are: (1) all pleadings filed in civil cases under the 1991 Revised Rules on Summary Procedure; (2) petition for review from the Regional Trial Court to the Supreme Court raising only questions of law under Rule 41, Section 2; (3) petition for review of the decision of the Regional Trial Court to the Court of Appeals under Rule 42, Section 1; (4) petition for review from quasi-judicial bodies to the Court of Appeals under Rule 43, Section 5; (5) petition for review before the Supreme Court under Rule 45, Section 1; (6) petition for annulment of judgments or final orders and resolutions under Rule 47, Section 4; (7) complaint for injunction under Rule 58, Section 4; (8) application for preliminary injunction or temporary restraining order under Rule 58, Section 4; (9)  application for appointment of a receiver under Rule 59, Section 1; (10) application for support pendente lite under Rule 61, Section 1; (11) petition for certiorari against the judgments, final orders or resolutions of constitutional commissions under Rule 64, Section 2; (12) petition for certiorari, prohibition, and mandamus under Rule 65, Sections 1 to 3; (13) petition for quo warranto under Rule 66, Section 1; (14) complaint for expropriation under Rule 67, Section 1; (15) petition for indirect contempt under Rule 71, Section 4, all from the 1997 Rules of Court; (16) all complaints or petitions involving intra-corporate controversies under the Interim Rules of Procedure on Intra-Corporate Controversies; (17) complaint or petition for rehabilitation and suspension of payment under the Interim Rules on Corporate Rehabilitation; and (18) petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriages and annulment of voidable marriages as well as petition for summary proceedings under the Family Code.

 

In contrast, all complaints, petitions, applications, and other initiatory pleadings must be accompanied by a certificate against forum shopping, first prescribed by Administrative Circular No. 04-94, which took effect on April 1, 1994, then later on by Rule 7, Section 5 of the 1997 Rules of Court.  It is not disputed herein that respondent’s complaint for damages was accompanied by such a certificate.

 

In addition, verification, like in most cases required by the rules of procedure, is a formal, not jurisdictional, requirement, and mainly intended to secure an assurance that matters which are alleged are done in good faith or are true and correct and not of mere speculation.  When circumstances warrant, the court may simply order the correction of unverified pleadings or act on it and waive strict compliance with the rules in order that the ends of justice may thereby be served.[23] 

 

We agree with petitioner, nonetheless, that respondent was unable to prove imputable negligence on the part of petitioner.

 

Prefatorily, we restate the time honored principle that in a petition for review under Rule 45, only questions of law may be raised.  It is not our function to analyze or weigh all over again evidence already considered in the proceedings below, our jurisdiction is limited to reviewing only errors of law that may have been committed by the lower court.  The resolution of factual issues is the function of lower courts, whose findings on these matters are received with respect.  A question of law which we may pass upon must not involve an examination of the probative value of the evidence presented by the litigants.[24] 

 

The above rule, however, admits of certain exceptions.  The findings of fact of the Court of Appeals are generally conclusive but may be reviewed when: (1) the factual findings of the Court of Appeals and the trial court are contradictory; (2) the findings are grounded entirely on speculation, surmises or conjectures; (3) the inference made by the Court of Appeals from its findings of fact is manifestly mistaken, absurd or impossible; (4) there is grave abuse of discretion in the appreciation of facts; (5) the appellate court, in making its findings, goes beyond the issues of the case and such findings are contrary to the admissions of both appellant and appellee; (6) the judgment of the Court of Appeals is premised on a misapprehension of facts; (7) the Court of Appeals fails to notice certain relevant facts which, if properly considered, will justify a different conclusion; and (8) the findings of fact of the Court of Appeals are contrary to those of the trial court or are mere conclusions without citation of specific evidence, or where the facts set forth by the petitioner are not disputed by respondent, or where the findings of fact of the Court of Appeals are premised on the absence of evidence but are contradicted by the evidence on record.[25]  

 

The issue of negligence is basically factual.[26]  Evidently, in this case, the RTC and the Court of Appeals have contradictory factual findings: the former found that Catubig alone was negligent, while the latter adjudged that both Catubig and petitioner were negligent.

 

Respondent based her claim for damages on Article 2180, in relation to Article 2176, of the Civil Code, which read:

 

Art. 2176.  Whoever by act or omission causes damage to another, there being fault or negligence, is obliged to pay for the damage done.  Such fault or negligence, if there is no pre-existing contractual relation between the parties, is called a quasi-delict and is governed by the provisions of this Chapter.     

 

Art. 2180.  The obligation imposed by Article 2176 is demandable not only for one’s own acts or omissions, but also for those persons for whom one is responsible.

 

x x x x

 

Employers shall be liable for the damages caused by their employees and household helpers acting within the scope of their assigned tasks, even though the former are not engaged in any business or industry.

 

x x x x

 

The responsibility treated of in this article shall cease when the persons herein mentioned prove that they observed all the diligence of a good father of a family to prevent damage.

 

 

There is merit in the argument of the petitioner that Article 2180 of the Civil Code – imputing fault or negligence on the part of the employer for the fault or negligence of its employee – does not apply to petitioner since the fault or negligence of its employee driver, Cabanilla, which would have made the latter liable for quasi-delict under Article 2176 of the Civil Code, has never been established by respondent.  To the contrary, the totality of the evidence presented during trial shows that the proximate cause of the collision of the bus and motorcycle is attributable solely to the negligence of the driver of the motorcycle, Catubig.  

 

Proximate cause is defined as 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 ordinary 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.[27]

 

The RTC concisely articulated and aptly concluded that Catubig’s overtaking of a slow-moving truck ahead of him, while approaching a curve on the highway, was the immediate and proximate cause of the collision which led to his own death, to wit:

 

Based on the evidence on record, it is crystal clear that the immediate and proximate cause of the collision is the reckless and negligent act of Quintin Catubig, Jr. and not because the Ceres Bus was running very fast.  Even if the Ceres Bus is running very fast on its lane, it could not have caused the collision if not for the fact that Quintin Catubig, Jr. tried to overtake a cargo truck and encroached on the lane traversed by the Ceres Bus while approaching a curve.  As the driver of the motorcycle, Quintin Catubig, Jr. has not observed reasonable care and caution in driving his motorcycle which an ordinary prudent driver would have done under the circumstances.  Recklessness on the part of Quintin Catubig, Jr. is evident when he tried to overtake a cargo truck while approaching a curve in Barangay Donggo-an, Bolisong, Manjuyod, Negros Oriental.  Overtaking is not allowed while approaching a curve in the highway (Section 41(b), Republic Act [No.] 4136, as amended).  Passing another vehicle proceeding on the same direction should only be resorted to by a driver if the highway is free from incoming vehicle to permit such overtaking to be made in safety (Section 41(a), Republic Act [No.] 4136).  The collision happened because of the recklessness and carelessness of [herein respondent’s] husband who was overtaking a cargo truck while approaching a curve.  Overtaking another vehicle while approaching a curve constitute reckless driving penalized not only under Section 48 of Republic Act [No.] 4136 but also under Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code.

 

The Court commiserate with the [respondent] for the untimely death of her husband.  However, the Court as dispenser of justice has to apply the law based on the facts of the case.  Not having proved by preponderance of evidence that the proximate cause of the collision is the negligence of the driver of the Ceres bus, this Court has no other option but to dismiss this case.[28] (Emphases supplied.)

 

 

The testimonies of prosecution witnesses Cadimas and PO2 Elnas that Cabanilla was driving the bus at a reckless speed when the collision occurred lack probative value. 

 

We are unable to establish the actual speed of the bus from Cadimas’s testimony for he merely stated that the bus did not stop when he tried to flag it down because it was “running very fast.”[29]        

 

PO2 Elnas, on the other hand, made inconsistent statements as to the actual speed of the bus at the time of the collision.  During the preliminary investigation in Criminal Case No. M-15-94 before the MCTC, PO2 Elnas refused to give testimony as to the speed of either the bus or the motorcycle at the time of the collision and an opinion as to who was at fault.[30]  But during the trial of the present case before the RTC, PO2 Elnas claimed that he was told by Cabanilla that the latter was driving the bus at the speed of around 100 kilometers per hour.[31]  

 

As the RTC noted, Cadimas and PO2 Elnas both pointed out that the motorcycle encroached the lane of the bus when it tried to overtake, while nearing a curve, a truck ahead of it, consistent with the fact that the point of impact actually happened within the lane traversed by the bus.  It would be more reasonable to assume then that it was Catubig who was driving his motorcycle at high speed because to overtake the truck ahead of him, he necessarily had to drive faster than the truck.  Catubig should have also avoided overtaking the vehicle ahead of him as the curvature on the road could have obstructed his vision of the oncoming vehicles from the opposite lane.

 

The evidence shows that the driver of the bus, Cabanilla, was driving his vehicle along the proper lane, while the driver of the motorcycle, Catubig, had overtaken a vehicle ahead of him as he was approaching a curvature on the road, in disregard of the provision of the law on reckless driving, at the risk of his life and that of his employee, Emperado.

 

The presumption that employers are negligent under Article 2180 of the Civil Code flows from the negligence of their employees.[32]  Having adjudged that the immediate and proximate cause of the collision resulting in Catubig’s death was his own negligence, and there was no fault or negligence on Cabanilla’s part, then such presumption of fault or negligence on the part of petitioner, as Cabanilla’s employer, does not even arise.  Thus, it is not even necessary to delve into the defense of petitioner that it exercised due diligence in the selection and supervision of Cabanilla as its employee driver.

 

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is GRANTED.  The Decision dated November 17, 2005 and Resolution dated November 16, 2006 of the Court Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 66815 are SET ASIDE and the Decision dated January 26, 2000 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 30 of Dumaguete City, dismissing  Civil Case No. 11360 is REINSTATED.

 

SO ORDERED.

 

 

 

 

 

                                                 TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO

                                       Associate Justice

 

 

 

 

 

 

WE CONCUR:

 

 

 

 

 

RENATO C. CORONA

Chief Justice

Chairperson

 

 

 

 

 

 

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.

Associate Justice

DIOSDADO M. PERALTA

Associate Justice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ

Associate Justice

 

 

 

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, I certify that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court’s Division.

 

 

 

RENATO C. CORONA
Chief Justice

 



*               Per Special Order No. 994 dated May 27, 2011.

[1]               Rollo, pp. 58-68; penned by Associate Justice Enrico A. Lanzanas with Associate Justices Mercedes Gozo-Dadole and Pampio A. Abarintos, concurring.

[2]               Id. at 70-71.

[3]               Id. at 85-102.

[4]               Records, pp. 69-70.

[5]               TSN, August 19, 1997.

[6]               TSN, December 9, 1997, pp. 1-14.

[7]               Id. at 14-22.

[8]               TSN, August 18, 1998.

[9]               TSN, July 28, 1997.

[10]             Records, pp. 119-147.

[11]             Id. at 7.

[12]             Id. at 153.

[13]             TSN, October 20, 1998.

[14]             TSN, December 7, 1998 and December 17, 1998.

[15]             Records, pp. 192-215.

[16]             Id. at 222.

[17]             Id. at 90.

[18]             Rollo, p. 102.

[19]             Id. at 67-68.

[20]             Id. at 23.

[21]             G.R. No. 146364, June 3, 2004, 430 SCRA 492.

[22]             Id. at 508-509.

[23]             Jimenez vda. De Gabriel v. Court of Appeals, 332 Phil. 157, 165 (1996).

[24]             Land Bank of the Philippines v. Monet’s Export and Manufacturing Corporation, 493 Phil. 327, 338 (2005).

[25]             Id. at 338-339.

[26]             Pestaño v. Sumayang, 400 Phil. 740, 749 (2000).

[27]             Ramos v. C.O.L. Realty Corporation, G.R. No. 184905, August 28, 2009, 597 SCRA 526, 535-536.

[28]             Rollo, p. 101.

[29]             TSN, August 18, 1998, p. 3.

[30]             Excerpts from the TSN dated May 25, 1994, in Criminal Case No. M-15-94, are as follows:

Q             (To the witness) The sketch which you made is only a representation of what you actually saw at the place of the incident, is that true?

A             Yes, your Honor.

Q             You cannot therefore testify as to the speed of the two (2) vehicles at the time that they collided?

A             Yes, your Honor.

Q             You can’t also form an opinion as to who was at fault, is that correct?

A             Yes. (Records, p. 205.)

[31]             Pertinent portion of TSN dated August 19, 1997, pp. 21-22, are quoted as follows,:

                Q:            Did you ask the driver of the Ceres bus its speed immediately before the collision?

                A:            Yes.

                Q:            What was the answer of the driver of the Ceres bus?

A:            As far as I could remember, he was [running] very fast, a speed of around 100 kilometers per hour.

Q:            That is the speed of the Ceres bus?

A:            Yes.

Q:            Why is it that that is not reflected in your police blotter?

A:            Because we were busy with the deceased persons and the sketching of the place of the incident.

               

[32]             McKee v. Intermediate Appellate Court, G.R. No. 68102, July 16, 1992, 211 SCRA 517, 544.