Duty to act with Justice, Observe Honesty and Good Faith Llorente v. Sandiganbayan Facts: Llorente, then municipal mayor of Zamboanga del Norte was charged with violation of Sec. 3[e] of Republic Act No. 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. According to the information: he “did then and there, wilfully, unlawfully and criminally with evident bad faith refuse to sign and approve the payrolls and vouchers representing the payments of the salaries and other emoluments of Leticia G. Fuertes, without just valid cause and without due process of law, thereby causing undue injury to the said Leticia G. Fuertes.” While admitting some delays in the payment of the complainant’s claims, petitioner sought to prove the defense of good faith -- that the withholding of payment was due to her failure to submit the required money and property clearance, and to the Sangguniang Bayan’s delayed enactment of a supplemental budget to cover the claims. He adds that such delays did not result in “undue injury” to complainant.
Respondent Court held that the delay or withholding of complainant’s salaries and emoluments was unreasonable and caused complainant undue injury. Being then the sole breadwinner in their family, the withholding of her salaries caused her difficulties in meeting her family’s financial obligations like paying for the tuition fees of her four children.
ISSUE Did petitioner not act in good faith in refusing to immediately sign the vouchers and implement the compromise agreement until the Sangguniang Bayan had enacted the appropriation ordinance and until Mrs. Fuertes submitted the clearance from the Municipality of Pinan, Zamboanga del Norte? NO. PETITION IS GRANTED.
HELD Respondent Court cannot shift the blame on the petitioner, when it was the complainant who failed to submit the required clearance. This requirement, which the complainant disregarded, was even printed at the back of the very vouchers sought to be approved. As assistant municipal treasurer, she ought to know that this is a condition for the payment of her claims. Also, given the lack of corresponding appropriation ordinance and certification of availability of funds for such purpose, petitioner had the duty not to sign the vouchers.
As chief executive of the municipality Llorente could not have approved the voucher for the payment of complainant’s salaries under Sec. 344, Local Government Code of 1991. The petitioner’s failure to approve the complainant’s vouchers was due to some legal obstacles, and not entirely without reason. Thus, evident bad faith cannot be completely imputed to him.
“Bad faith does not simply connote bad judgment or negligence; it imputes a dishonest purpose or some moral obliquity and conscious doing of a wrong; a breach of sworn duty through some motive or intent or ill will; it partakes of the nature of fraud. It contemplates a state of mind affirmatively operating with furtive design or some motive of self interest or ill will for ulterior purposes. Evident bad faith connotes a manifest deliberate intent on the part of the accused to do wrong or cause damage.”
Actions for Breach of promise to marry Bunag v. CA
Facts: Conrado Bunag, Jr. brought Zenaida Cirilo to a motel where they had sexual intercourse. Later that evening, said Bunag brought Cirilo to the house of his grandmother in Las Piñas, Metro Manila, where they lived together as husband and wife for 21 days. Soon, Bunag and Cirilo filed their respective applications for a marriage license with the Office of the Local Civil Registrar of Bacoor, Cavite. However, Bunag left Cirilo and soon filed an affidavit withdrawing his application for a marriage license.
Cirilo claims that she was abducted and raped. One of the cases she filed was a suit for damages based on a breach of a promise to marry. The trial court decided in her favor. This was affirmed by the CA.
Issue:Should damages be awarded based on a breach of a promise to marry?
In this jurisdiction, we adhere to the time-honored rule that an action for breach of promise to marry has no standing in the civil law, apart from the right to recover money or property advanced by the plaintiff upon the faith of such promise. Generally, therefore, a breach of promise to marry per se is not actionable, except where the plaintiff has actually incurred expenses for the wedding and the necessary incidents thereof.
In this case however, moral damages were awarded based on art. 21 of the Civil Code which states that any person who wilfully causes loss or injury to another in a manner that is contrary to morals, good customs or public policy shall compensate the latter for moral damages. As such, the act of Bunag forcibly abducting Cirilo and having carnal knowledge with her against her will, and thereafter promising to marry her in order to escape criminal liability, only to thereafter renege on such promise after cohabiting with her for twenty-one days, irremissibly constitute acts contrary to morals and good customs.
Article 21 was adopted to remedy the countless gaps in the statutes which leave so many victims of moral wrongs helpless even though they have actually suffered material and moral injury, and is intended to vouchsafe adequate legal remedy for that untold number of moral wrongs which is impossible for human foresight to specifically provide for in the statutes. Thus, the damages awarded to Cirilo were proper.
12. Baksh vs. Court of Appeals (219 SCRA 115) Facts: Baksh, an Iranian citizen, courted respondent Gonzales. She accepted his love on the condition that they will get married, so he promised her that he will marry her. Gonzales’ parents made preparations by looking for pigs and chickens, inviting friends and relatives and contracting sponsors. Without getting married, Baksh and Gonzales lived together. Gonzales’ ‘cherry got popped.’ Thereafter, Baksh began maltreating Gonzales and eventually told her that he no longer wanted to marry her and that he was already married to another woman. Gonzales filed a complaint for damages.
Issue: W/N Article 21 of the New Civil Code is applicable such that damages may be awarded?
Held: Yes! Article 21 applies! SC said that Article 21 is designed to expand the concept of torts or quasi-delict by granting adequate legal remedy for the untold moral wrongs which are impossible for human foresight to specifically enumerate and punish in the statute books.
Where a man’s promise to marry is the proximate cause of the acceptance of his love by a woman and his representation to fulfil that promise thereafter become the proximate cause of the giving of herself unto him in a sexual congress, proof that he had, in reality, no intention of marrying her and that the promise was only a subtle scheme or deceptive device to entice or inveigle her to accept him and to obtain her consent to the sexual act, could justify the award of damages pursuant to Article 21 not because of such promise to marry but because of the fraud and deceit behind it and the wilful injury to her honor and reputation which followed thereafter. It is essential however, that such injury should have been committed in a manner contrary to morals, good customs, or public policy.
Unjust Enrichment at the expense of others 13. GARCIA V PHILIPPINE AIRLINES FACTS: Petitioners Juanito Garcia and Alberto Dumago are employees of PAL who have been dismissed after being caught in the act of sniffing shabu in the toolroom. Garcia et al filed an illegal dismissal case against PAL before the Labor Arbiter (LA). The LA ruled in favor of Garcia et al and ordered PAL to immediately reinstate petitioners. On appeal to the NLRC by PAL, the decision of the LA was reversed. Meanwhile, the LA issued a Notice of Garnishment the Writ of Execution for the reinstatement aspect of its decision. When PAL tried to enjoin the reinstatement and garnishment, NLRC affirmed such Notice and Writ but suspended and referred the action to the Rehabilitation Receiver of PAL which at that time was undergoing rehabilitation receivership. However, when PAL manifested that SEC had approved its exit from the rehabilitation, SC resolved to entertain the issue of whether PAL should pay backwages to the Garcia et al from the time the LA ordered their reinstatement up to the time the NLRC reversed the findings of the LA
ISSUE: Whether or not compelling PAL to pay backwages despite the fact that the NLRC ruled in its favor on appeal constitutes unjust enrichment
HELD: NO. the social justice principles of labor law outweigh or render inapplicable the civil law doctrine of unjust enrichment. According to article 223 of the Labor Code, the order of reinstatement of the labor arbiter is immediately executor even pending appeal. The reinstatement may be actual or payroll reinstatement at the option of the employer. HOWEVER, in this case, PAL is excused from complying with the obligation to reinstate Garcia et al either actually or otherwise because while the case was before the LA and the NLRC, it was under rehabilitation. It is basic in corporate rehabilitation that all actions against a corporation undergoing rehabilitation is ipso jure suspended. This includes labor actions. True, the implementation of the reinstatement order is a ministerial duty of the LA unless it is restrained by a higher court. In this case, the injunction partook the nature of suspension of action by legislative fiat i.e. law on corporate rehabilitation. This is equally effective as when the injunction was issued by a higher court.
Liability of public officers 14. Aberca v Ver (1988) Ver, et al, are members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. They conducted raids against the houses of the petitioners (Aberca, etc), claiming that they were communists. In doing so, Ver, et al, used spurious judicial search warrants. Ver, et al, took the personal belongings of the petitioners and even arrested some of them without warrants.
Aberca, et al, sued for damages. Ver, et al, claim that they are immune from suit.
Issue: Can Aberca recover damages?
Held: Yes, under Art 32 of the Civil Code, public officials and private citizens can be held liable for damages for infringing upon the rights of others.
Art 32 provides a sanction to the deeply cherished rights and freedoms enshrined in the Constitution. No man may seek to violate those sacred rights with impunity. In times of great upheaval or of social and political stress, when the temptation is strongest to yield to the law of force rather than the force of law, it is necessary to remind ourselves that certain basic rights and liberties are immutable and cannot be sacrificed to the transient needs or imperious demands of the ruling power. The rule of law must prevail, or else liberty will perish.
Article 32 of the Civil Code which renders any public officer or employee or any private individual liable in damages for violating the Constitutional rights and liberties of another, as enumerated therein, does not exempt the respondents from responsibility. Only judges are excluded from liability under the said article, provided their acts or omissions do not constitute a violation of the Penal Code or other penal statute.
15. Tabuena v. Sandiganbayan, Feb. 17 1997 Facts: Tabuena, Gen. Manager of the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA), was instructed by Pres. Marcos to pay directly to the president’s office and in cash what the MIAA owes the Phil. National Construction Corp. (PNCC) in the amount of P55 million. The order was done both through phone and through a Presidential Memorandum, received through Gimenez, Marcos’ private secretary. With the help of the Asst. Gen. Manager, Dabao, and Acting Manager of the Financial Services Department, Peralta (they were the ones authorized to make withdrawals), Tabuena was able to release the amount of P55 million by means of 3 withdrawals. The money was delivered to the president’s office through Gimenez.
Cases were filed against Tabuena and Peralta in the Sandiganbayan, charging them of malversation (Dabao was still at large). SB convicted them, saying that MIAA did not have any outstanding obligations to the PNCC. Tabuena and Peralta appealed to the SC, alleging the defense of good faith.
Issue: Whether or not Tabuena and Peralta criminally liable?
Held: NO. The withdrawals were ordered by Pres. Marcos himself, first through phone, and then through a Pres. Memorandum. Even though Tabuena and Peralta had both thought that the disbursements were “out of the ordinary” and “not based on normal procedures”, they both had no choice but to follow such order. Marcos was undeniably their superior, being President of the Phil. who exercised control over government agencies like the MIAA and PNCC. Marcos has a say in matters involving inter-government agency affairs and transactions, such as directing payment of liability of one entity to another and the manner in which it should be carried out. As a recipient of such kind of directive coming from the highest official of the land, good faith should be read on their compliance, without hesitation nor any question, with the Marcos Memorandum. They are entitled to the justifying circumstance of “Any person who acts in obedience to an order issued by a superior for some lawful purpose.”
However, Tabuena though acting in good faith, should still be administratively or civilly liable. The disbursements were made out of the ordinary and not based on normal procedures. True, the deviation was inevitable under the circumstances that Tabuena was in. He did not have the luxury of time to observe all auditing procedures considering the fact that the Memorandum called for his “immediate compliance.” Be that as it may, Tabuena surely cannot escape responsibility for such omission.
Sandiganbayan decision REVERSED.
Independent Civil Actions and Prejudicial Questions Abunado v. People FACTS: This case involves BIGAMY
September, 1967 – Abunado marries Narcisa
1988 – Narcisa leaves for work in Japan
1992 – Narcisa returns to the Philippines upon finding out that her husband is having an extra-marital affair and has left her conjugal home. She found out that her husband had contracted a second marriage with Zenaida Binas on January 1989.
1995 – A bigamy case was filed against Abunado
Abunados defense: petitioner claims that his petition for annulment/declaration of nullity of marriage was a prejudicial question, hence, the proceedings in the bigamy case should have been suspended during the pendency of the annulment case. Petitioner, in fact, eventually obtained a judicial declaration of nullity of his marriage to Narcisa on October 29, 1999.
ISSUE: Is the petition for annulment or declaration of nullity a prejudicial question?
HELD: NO it is not. A prejudicial question has been defined as one based on a fact distinct and separate from the crime but so intimately connected with it that it determines the guilt or innocence of the accused, and for it to suspend the criminal action, it must appear not only that said case involves facts intimately related to those upon which the criminal prosecution would be based but also that in the resolution of the issue or issues raised in the civil case, the guilt or innocence of the accused would necessarily be determined. The rationale behind the principle of suspending a criminal case in view of a prejudicial question is to avoid two conflicting decisions.
The subsequent judicial declaration of the nullity of the first marriage was immaterial because prior to the declaration of nullity, the crime had already been consummated. Moreover, petitioner’s assertion would only delay the prosecution of bigamy cases considering that an accused could simply file a petition to declare his previous marriage void and invoke the pendency of that action as a prejudicial question in the criminal case. We cannot allow that.
The outcome of the civil case for annulment of petitioner’s marriage to Narcisa had no bearing upon the determination of petitioner’s innocence or guilt in the criminal case for bigamy, because all that is required for the charge of bigamy to prosper is that the first marriage be subsisting at the time the second marriage is contracted.
Thus, under the law, a marriage, even one which is void or voidable, shall be deemed valid until declared otherwise in a judicial proceeding. In this case, even if petitioner eventually obtained a declaration that his first marriage was void ab initio, the point is, both the first and the second marriage were subsisting before the first marriage was annulled.
COJUANGCO vs. PALMA FACTS: The complainant Eduardo Cojuangco is a client of ACCRA, who assigned the case to Atty. Palma, the respondent. The former hired the latter as his personal counsel for his business. Atty. Palma becomes very close to the family of Cojuangco, and he dines and goes with them abroad. He even tutored, complainant’s 22-year old daughter Maria Luisa Cojuangco (Lisa).
On June 22, 1982, respondent married Lisa in Hongkong without the knowledge of the complainant and despite the facts that the former is already married and with three (3) children. Complainant sends his two sons to persuade Lisa to go home with them, which she did. In the celebration of respondent’s marriage with Lisa he misrepresented himself as a bachelor. On August 24, 1982, complainant filed with the Court of First Instance, a petition for declaration of nullity of the marriage and which was granted. Subsequently complainant filed a disbarment complaint on the ground of grave abuse and betrayal of the trust and confidence reposed in him.
Respondent in his answer filed a motion to dismiss for lack of cause of action. As he contends that complaint fails to allege acts constituting deceit, malpractice, gross misconduct or violation of his lawyer’s oath.
ISSUE: WON respondent’s acts constitute deceit, malpractice, gross misconduct in office, grossly immoral conduct and violation of his oath as a lawyer that would warrant his disbarment. YES!
There is no question that respondent as a lawyer, is well versed in the law, fully well that in marrying Maria Luisa he was entering into a bigamous marriage defined and penalized under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code. The respondent betrayed the trust reposed in him by complainant. He was treated as part of the family and was allowed to tutor Maria Luisa. For the foregoing reasons, it is submitted that respondent committed grossly immoral conduct and violation of his oath as a lawyer, and it is recommended that respondent be suspended from the practice of law for a period of three (3) years and which later lessen to one (1) year. According to IBP:“At the outset, it must be stressed that the law profession does not prescribe a dichotomy of standards among its members. There is no distinction as to whether the transgression is committed in the lawyers professional capacity or in his private life. This is because a lawyer may not divide his personality so as to be an attorney at one time and a mere citizen at another. Thus, not only his professional activities but even his private life, insofar as the latter may reflect unfavorably upon the good name and prestige of the profession and the courts, may at any time be the subject of inquiry on the part of the proper authorities.”Professional competency alone does not make a lawyer a worthy member of the Bar. Good moral character is always an indispensable requirement. The interdict upon lawyers, as inscribed in Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, is that they shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.
Reyes v. Pearlbank Securities - July 30, 2008 Facts: Reyes is the Vice-President of Wincorp, a corporation that arranges and brokers loans of its clients, one of whom is Pearlbank Securities.
Sometime before this case, investors or lenders made demands on Pearlbank to pay several loans that were brokered by Wincorp. The investors alleged that they weren’t able to collect on their outstanding credits with Wincorp because Pearlbank didn’t pay. Apparently, Pearlbank alleges that it did not have any outstanding loans that WINCORP brokered. Thus Pearlbank investigated on these alleged debts.
Pearlbank demanded from Wincorp a full and accurate accounting of the identities and investments of the lenders and the alleged debts of Pearlbank with supporting records and documents. Wincorp did not respond to this demand.
Pearlbank instituted a case with the SEC, now pending with the RTC (bec. of that law which transferred jurisdiction with the RTCs, for “full and accurate accounting of investments and alleged loan obligations of Pearlbank.”
Pearlbank, through its treasurer, also filed complaints with the DOJ against officers of Wincorp, one of them was Reyes, for falsification of commercial and private documents.
The DOJ filed the criminal case with the MTC. Later, however, DOJ uSec Merciditas Gutierrez ordered the withdrawal of the Informations. This decision was reversed by the DOJ Sec., thus the case proceeded.
Reyes filed a petition for certiorari with the CA, where he raised, among others, that the SEC case is a prejudicial question to the criminal case for falsification. CA denied certiorari thus criminal case proceeds.
Issue: Is the SEC case a prejudicial question that has to be resolved before the criminal case for falsification may proceed? NO.
Ruling: SC affirms CA. Case proceeds.
A prejudicial question is defined as one which arises in a case the resolution of which is a logical antecedent of the issue involved therein, and the cognizance of which pertains to another tribunal. The prejudicial question must be determinative of the case before the court, but the jurisdiction to try and resolve the question must be lodged in another court or tribunal. It is a question based on a fact distinct and separate from the crime, but so intimately connected with it that it determines the guilt or innocence of the accused; and for it to suspend the criminal action, it must appear not only that said case involves facts intimately related to those upon which the criminal prosecution would be based, but also that in the resolution of the issue or issues raised in the civil case, the guilt or innocence of the accused would necessarily be determined.
It comes into play generally in a situation in which a civil action and a criminal action are both pending and there exists in the former an issue which must be preemptively resolved before the criminal action may proceed, because howsoever the issue raised in the civil action is resolved would be determinative juris et de jure of the guilt or innocence of the accused in the criminal case.
The rationale behind the principle of prejudicial question is to avoid two conflicting decisions. The elements of a prejudicial question are: (a) the previously instituted civil action involves an issue similar or intimately related to the issue raised in the subsequent criminal action, and (b) the resolution of such issue determines whether or not the criminal action may proceed.
If the resolution of the issue in the civil action will not determine the criminal responsibility of the accused in the criminal action based on the same facts, or there is no necessity that the civil case be determined first before taking up the criminal case, therefore, the civil case does not involve a prejudicial question. Neither is there a prejudicial question if the civil and the criminal action can, according to law, proceed independently of each other.
One of the issues taken in the SEC case is whether Pearlbank has outstanding loans with Wincorp. However, a finding that Pearlbank indeed has outstanding debts will not totally absolve Reyes of any criminal liability, in other words, its not an absolute defense. Since, what is determinative in the Falsification case is whether there really were falsified documents.