G.R. No. 199886, December 03, 2014
CAGAYAN II ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE, INC., REPRESENTED BY ITS MANAGER AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, GABRIEL A. TORDESILLAS, Petitioner, v. ALLAN RAPANAN AND MARY GINE TANGONAN, Respondents.
D E C I S I O N
VILLARAMA, JR., J.:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the present appeal is GRANTED. The assailed decision dated December 9, 2002 of the Regional Trial Court of Appari, Cagayan, Branch 10 in Civil Case No. 10-305 is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE and a NEW ONE ENTERED holding the defendant-appellee CAGEL[C]O II liable for quasi-delict which resulted in the death of Camilo Tangonan and the physical injuries of Allan Rapanan, and ordering the payment of 50% of the following damages, except the attorney’s fees which should be borne by the defendant-appellant:chanroblesvirtuallawlibraryIn ruling against petitioner, the CA found that despite the different versions of how the incident occurred, one fact was consistent – the protruding or dangling CAGELCO wire to which the victims were strangled or trapped. It likewise ruled that the police blotter and medical certificates together with the testimony of one of the passengers of the motorcycle, respondent Rapanan, was able to establish the truth of the allegations of respondents – all of which were not controverted by petitioner. The appellate court held that clearly, the cause of the mishap which claimed the life of Camilo and injured Rapanan was the dangling wire which struck them. Without the dangling wire which struck the victims, the CA held that they would not have fallen down and sustained injuries. The CA found that if petitioner had not been negligent in maintaining its facilities, and making sure that every facility needing repairs had been repaired, the mishap could have been prevented.
To the plaintiff-appellant Allan Rapanan:1. temperate damages in the amount of P10,000.00; andTo the legal heirs of the deceased Camilo Tangonan:
2. moral damages in the amount of P50,000.00;1. indemnity for death in the amount of P50,000.00;To both the plaintiff-appellant Allan Rapanan and the legal heirs of the deceased Camilo Tangonan:
2. indemnity for loss of earning capacity in the amount of P1,062,000.00;
3. temperate damages in the amount of P20,000.00; and
[4.] moral damages in the amount of P50,000.00.1. exemplary damages in the amount [of] P50,000.00; andSO ORDERED.10
2. attorney’s fees amounting to 20% of the total amount adjudged.
Thus, there are two main issues that need to be resolved by this Court: (1) Was petitioner’s negligence in maintenance of its facilities the proximate cause of the death of Camilo and the injuries of Rapanan? and (2) In the event that petitioner’s negligence is found to be the proximate cause of the accident, should damages be awarded in favor of Camilo’s heirs even if they were not impleaded?
- THE CONCLUSION OF THE COURT OF APPEALS THAT PETITIONER WAS NEGLIGENT IN THE MAINTENANCE OF ITS POWER LINES IS MANIFESTLY ABSURD AND PREMISED ON A SERIOUS MISAPPREHENSION OF FACTS.
- THE COURT OF APPEALS DISREGARDED THE EVIDENCE ON RECORD AND COMMITTED SERIOUS MISAPPREHENSION OF FACTS AND GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION WHEN IT CONCLUDED THAT THE CAUSE OF THE MISHAP WAS A DANGLING ELECTRIC WIRE THAT STRUCK AND WOUND UPON THE VICTIMS.
- THE COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY ERRED AND COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION IN AWARDING DAMAGES TO THE HEIRS OF CAMILO TANGONAN NOTWITHSTANDING THE FACT THAT THEY WERE NEVER IMPLEADED AS PARTIES TO THE ACTION.
- ASSUMING, FOR ARGUMENT’S SAKE, THAT THE PETITIONER CAN BE HELD LIABLE FOR THE MISHAP, DAMAGES AND ATTORNEY’S FEES COULD NOT BE AWARDED TO THE HEIRS OF CAMILO TANGONAN; AND THE AWARD OF MORAL, TEMPERATE AND EXEMPLARY DAMAGES, AS WELL AS ATTORNEY’S FEES, TO ALLAN RAPANAN IS WITHOUT BASIS.11
x x x xThus, there is no negligence on the part of petitioner that was allegedly the proximate cause of Camilo’s death and Rapanan’s injuries. From the testimonies of petitioner’s employees and the excerpt from the police blotter, this Court can reasonably conclude that, at the time of that fatal mishap, said wires were quietly sitting on the shoulder of the road, far enough from the concrete portion so as not to pose any threat to passing motor vehicles and even pedestrians. Hence, if the victims of the mishap were strangled by said wires, it can only mean that either the motorcycle careened towards the shoulder or even more likely, since the police found the motorcycle not on the shoulder but still on the road, that the three passengers were thrown off from the motorcycle to the shoulder of the road and caught up with the wires. As to how that happened cannot be blamed on petitioner but should be attributed to Camilo’s over speeding as concluded by the police after it investigated the mishap. SPO2 Tactac, in his testimony, explained how they made such conclusion:
TEAM LED BY SPO2 PEDRO R TACTAC JUMPED OFF AND PROCEEDED TO BRGY MADDALERO, BUGUEY, CAGAYAN TO CONDUCT INVEST AT THE SAID VEHICULAR ACCIDENT AT THE SAME PLACE AND RET STN WITH THE REPT THAT ON OR ABOUT 8:45 PM 31 OCTOBER 98 ONE MOTORCYCLE SUZUKI X4 WITH TEMPORARY PLATE NUMBER 14592 DRIVEN BY ONE CAMILO TANGONAN y ROSETE 21 years old, MARRIED, DRIVER AND A RESIDENT OF BRGY MASI, STA TERESITA, CAGAYAN (DEAD ON THE SPOT) AND TWO COMPANIONS EDWIN COLOMA y MABANAG, 23 YEARS OLD, MARRIED, DRIVER AND A RESIDENT OF MASI AND ALLAN RAFANAN y GUILLERMO, 19 YEARS OLD, SINGLE, CONDUCTOR AND A RESIDENT OF BRGY BUYUN STA TERESITA CAGAYAN WAS ACCIDENTALLY TRAPPED BY A PROTRUDING CAGELCO WIRE AT THE SHOULDER OF THE ROAD WHILE THEY WERE BOUND TO STA TERESITA FROM APARRI THIS PROVINCE DUE TO THE OVER SPEED OF MOTOR VEHICLE THE WIRE STRANGLED THE NECK OF THE VICTIMS WHICH CAUSED THE INSTANTANEOUS DEATH OF THE DRIVER, CAMILO TANGONAN AND ABRASIONS ON DIFFERENT PARTS OF THE BODY OF THE TWO OTHER VICTIMS THE SAID TWO OTHER VICTIMS WERE BROUGHT TO ALFONSO ENRILE HOSPITAL, GONZAGA, CAGAYAN FOR MEDICAL TREATMENT.14 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
The foregoing shows that the motorcycle was probably running too fast that it lost control and started tilting and sliding eventually which made its foot rest cause the skid mark on the road. Therefore, the mishap already occurred even while they were on the road and away from petitioner’s electric wires and was not caused by the latter as alleged by respondents. It just so happened that after the motorcycle tilted and slid, the passengers were thrown off to the shoulder where the electric wires were. This Court hence agrees with the trial court that the proximate cause of the mishap was the negligence of Camilo. Had Camilo driven the motorcycle at an average speed, the three passengers would not have been thrown off from the vehicle towards the shoulder and eventually strangulated by the electric wires sitting thereon. Moreover, it was also negligent of Camilo to have allowed two persons to ride with him and for Rapanan to ride with them when the maximum number of passengers of a motorcycle is two including the driver. This most likely even aggravated the situation because the motorcycle was overloaded which made it harder to drive and control. When the plaintiff’s own negligence was the immediate and proximate cause of his injury, he cannot recover damages.16chanrobleslaw
ATTY. TUMARU: Q: x x x My question is, you said that the motor vehicle was overspeeding, when you went to the place, what made you conclude that the motor vehicle where the three rode which caused the death of Camilo Tangonan, was overspeeding? Please explain that before this court[.] ATTY. RAPANAN: Incompetent, you honor. COURT: Answer. A: I stated in the police blotter over speeding when we went to investigate. We reflected in the report/police blotter that there was over speeding because of the skid mark that lasted up to 30 meters from the start to the place where the motorcycle fell, sir. Q: In this skid mark that you have seen, at the point of the start of the skid mark to the place where you found the motor vehicle, where was the motor vehicle that time? A: It was at the road, sir. Q: What road? A: At the edge of the cemented pavement, sir. Q: Where was the victim found? ATTY. RAPANAN: Immaterial, your honor. COURT: Sustained. ATTY. TUMARU: Q: And did you try to investigate what was the cause [of death] of the victim? ATTY. RAPANAN: Incompetent, your honor. ATTY. TUMARU: Q: Per your investigation, did you find out the cause of death of the victim and the others (sic)? A: There was abrasion at the neck of the victim, sir. COURT: Q: Who among the victims? A: The driver Camilo Tangonan, sir. Q: What about the two others? A: When we arrived at the scene, the two companions of the victim were brought to the Gonzaga Alfonso Ponce Enrile hospital by the PNP of Sta. Teresita police station, sir. x x x x ATTY. RAPANAN: Q: Do you know that a motorcycle is provided with the speedometer? A: Yes, sir. Q: When you arrived at the scene, you no longer bother yourself to see the speedometer of the motorcycle, is that correct? ATTY. TUMARU: Incompetent, your honor. COURT: Answer. A: I did not bother to see the speedometer, sir. Q: You only conclude in saying that the driver of the motorcycle was running his motorcycle in a very speed[y] manner because of the skid mark measuring 30 meters, you did not include that in your report? ATTY. TUMARU: The document is the best evidence, your honor. ATTY. RAPANAN: This is a new matter, your honor. COURT: Answer. A: We saw the skid mark so we concluded that there was an over speeding due to the skid mark, sir. Q: Do you know that a skid on the surface of a cemented road shows that something happened to the motorcycle o[r] its [d]river? ATTY. TUMARU: That calls for an opinion, your honor. COURT: Answer. A: There was an accident, sir. Q: Do you know that when a vehicle even if running with slow speed if a driver suddenly applied a break, there was always a skid mark on the road? A: It is the footrest of the motorcycle that caused the skid mark, sir. COURT: Q: Which is which now, you found a skid mark of the tire and footrest or only the skid mark of the footrest? A: The footrest, sir. Q: How do you know that the skid mark was caused by the footrest? A: Because the skid mark was caused by the footrest because the place where the motorcycle fell (sic), the footrest was still pointing [to] the skid mark [on] the cemented road, sir.15
* Designated additional member per Special Order No. 1896 dated November 28, 2014.
1Rollo, pp. 19-43. Penned by Associate Justice Amelita G. Tolentino with Associate Justices Ramon R. Garcia and Samuel H. Gaerlan concurring.
2 Records, pp. 3-7.
3 Id. at 16-18.
4 TSN, May 16, 2001, pp. 3-14; TSN, June 21, 2001, pp. 4-11; TSN, June 26, 2001, pp. 4-17.
5 TSN, June 26, 2001, pp. 18-42.
6 TSN, September 20, 2001, pp. 2-33.
7 TSN, December 11, 2001, pp. 2-13.
8 Id. at 14-37; TSN, January 24, 2002, pp. 2-42; TSN, May 16, 2002, pp. 3-16.
9 Records, pp. 175-185. Penned by Presiding Judge Antonio N. Laggui.
10Rollo, pp. 41-42.
11 Id. at 62.
12Guillang v. Bedania, 606 Phil. 57, 69 (2009).
13Dela Llana v. Biong, G.R. No. 182356, December 4, 2013, p. 7.
14 Records, p. 153.
15 TSN, December 11, 2001, pp. 5-12.
16 CIVIL CODE, Art. 2179.