x x x On March 25, 1992, Continental Enterprises, Ltd. loaded on board the vessel M/V "Hui Yang," at Bedi Bunder, India, a shipment of Indian Soya Bean Meal, for transportation and delivery to Manila, with plaintiff [herein respondent] as consignee/notify party. The said shipment is said to weigh 1,100 metric tons and covered by Bill of Lading No. BEDI 4 dated March 25, 1992 (Exhibit A; also Exhibit I). The vessel is owned and operated by defendant Conti-Feed, with defendant [herein petitioner] Wallem as its ship agent.
The subject cargo is part of the entire shipment of Indian Soya Bean Meal/India Rapeseed Meal loaded in bulk on board the said vessel for delivery to several consignees. Among the consignees were San Miguel Corporation and Vitarich Corporation, including the herein plaintiff (Exhibit A; Exhibits 1 to 6; TSN, p. 13, June 28, 1996).
On April 11, 1992, the said vessel, M/V "Hui Yang" arrived at the port of Manila, Pier 7 South Harbor. Thereafter, the shipment was discharged and transferred into the custody of the receiving barges, the NorthFront-333 and NorthFront-444. The offloading of the shipment went on until April 15, 1992 and was handled by [Ocean Terminal Services, Inc.] OTSI using its own manpower and equipment and without the participation of the crew members of the vessel. All throughout the entire period of unloading operation, good and fair weather condition prevailed.
At the instance of the plaintiff, a cargo check of the subject shipment was made by one Lorenzo Bituin of Erne Maritime and Allied Services, Co. Inc., who noted a shortage in the shipment which was placed at 80.467 metric tons based on draft survey made on the NorthFront-33 and NorthFront-444 showing that the quantity of cargo unloaded from the vessel was only 1019.53 metric tons. Thus, per the bill of lading, there was an estimated shortage of 80.467.
Upon discovery thereof, the vessel chief officer was immediately notified of the said short shipment by the cargo surveyor, who accordingly issued the corresponding Certificate of Discharge dated April 15, 1992 (Exhibit D). The survey conducted and the resultant findings thereon are embodied in the Report of Superintendence dated April 21, 1992 (Exhibits C to C-2) and in the Barge Survey Report both submitted by Lorenzo Bituin (Exhibits C-3 and C-4). As testified to by Lorenzo Bituin, this alleged shortage of 80.467 metric tons was arrived at using the draft survey method which calls for the measurement of the light and loaded condition of the barge in relation to the weight of the water supposedly displaced.4
WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE and another one entered ordering defendants-appellees Conti-Feed and Maritime Pvt. Ltd. and Wallem Philippines Shipping, Inc., to pay the sum representing the value of the 80.467 metric tons of Indian Soya Beans shortdelivered, with legal interest from the time the judgment becomes final until full payment, plus attorney's fees and expenses of litigation of P10,000.00, as well as the cost of suit.
WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE and another one entered ordering defendants-appellees Conti-Feed and Maritime Pvt. Ltd. and Wallem Shipping, Inc., to pay the sum of $19,070.06 representing the value of the 80.467 metric tons of Indian Soya Beans shortdelivered, with legal interest from the time the judgment becomes final until full payment, plus attorney's fees and expenses of litigation of P10,000.00, as well as the costs of suit.
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN APPLYING THE PRESUMPTION OF NEGLIGENCE UNDER ARTICLE 1735 OF THE CIVIL CODE. THIS PROVISION DOES NOT APPLY IN THIS CASE BECAUSE THERE WAS NO LOSS OR SHORTAGE OR SHORTDELIVERY.
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN GIVING DUE COURSE TO THE CASE CONSIDERING THAT:A. THE CLAIM WAS ALREADY TIME-BARRED WHEN THE CASE WAS FILED AGAINST HEREIN PETITIONER ON 8 MAY 1993, AS PROVIDED IN SECTION 3 (6) OF THE COGSA. THE ONE-YEAR PRESCRIPTIVE PERIOD COMMENCED ON 15 APRIL 1992 WHEN THE SUBJECT SHIPMENT WAS DELIVERED TO PRIVATE RESPONDENT AND LAPSED ON 15 APRIL 1993; AND
B. [RESPONDENT] WAIVED ITS RIGHT OF ACTION WHEN IT DID NOT GIVE A WRITTEN NOTICE OF LOSS TO THE PETITIONER WITHIN THREE (3) DAYS FROM DISCHARGE OF THE SUBJECT SHIPMENT AS PROVIDED IN SECTION 3 (6) OF THE COGSA.
IN THE REMOTE POSSIBILITY OF LOSS OR SHORTAGE OR SHORTDELIVERY, THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN IMPUTING NEGLIGENCE AGAINST THE PETITIONER WHICH WAS NOT RESPONSIBLE IN LOADING AND/OR DISCHARGING THE SUBJECT SHIPMENT.
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN GRANTING [RESPONDENT'S] MOTION FOR A MORE DEFINITE DISPOSITIVE PORTION WITHOUT STATING IN THE DECISION, THE LEGAL BASES FOR DOING SO.
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN GRANTING THE MOTION FOR A MORE DEFINITE DISPOSITIVE PORTION BECAUSE [RESPONDENT] FILED SAID MOTION MORE THAN FIFTEEN (15) DAYS AFTER [RESPONDENT] RECEIVED THE DECISION OF THE COURT OF APPEALS. THE COURT OF APPEALS FURTHER ERRED IN INSERTING A DEFINITE MONETARY VALUE OF THE ALLEGED SHORTAGE BECAUSE THERE WAS NO FACTUAL FINDING, BOTH IN THE TRIAL COURT AND IN THE COURT OF APPEALS, AS TO THE SPECIFIC AMOUNT OF THE ALLEGED SHORTDELIVERED CARGO.16
Unless notice of loss or damage and the general nature of such loss or damage be given in writing to the carrier or his agent at the port of discharge or at the time of the removal of the goods into the custody of the person entitled to delivery thereof under the contract of carriage, such removal shall be prima facie evidence of the delivery by the carrier of the goods as described in the bill of lading. If the loss or damage is not apparent, the notice must be given within three days of delivery.
Said notice of loss or damage may be endorsed upon the receipt for the goods given by the person taking delivery thereof.
The notice in writing need not be given if the state of the goods has at the time of their receipt been the subject of joint survey or inspection.
In any event, the carrier and the ship shall be discharged from all liability in respect of loss or damage unless suit is brought within one year after delivery of the goods or the date when the goods should have been delivered; Provided, That, if a notice of loss or damage, either apparent or concealed, is not given as provided for in this section, that fact shall not affect or prejudice the right of the shipper to bring suit within one year after the delivery of the goods or the date when the goods should have been delivered.
In the case of any actual or apprehended loss or damage, the carrier and the receiver shall give all reasonable facilities to each other for inspecting and tallying the goods.
Inasmuch as neither the Civil Code nor the Code of Commerce states a specific prescriptive period on the matter, the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act (COGSA) -- which provides for a one-year period of limitation on claims for loss of, or damage to, cargoes sustained during transit -- may be applied suppletorily to the case at bar.20
1 Penned by Associate Justice Jose L. Sabio, Jr., with Associate Justices B.A. Adefuin-de la Cruz and Hakim S. Abdulwahid, concurring; rollo, pp. 110-123.
2 Rollo, pp. 157-158.
3 Records, pp. 533-538.
4 Id. at 534-535.
5 Id. at 1.
6 Id. at 37.
7 Id. at 50.
8 Id. at 164.
9 Id. at 18-20.
10 Id. at 67-73.
11 Rollo, pp. 66-71.
12 Id. at 122.
13 CA rollo, pp. 185-194.
14 Id. at 217-223.
15 Id. at 231-232.
16 Rollo, pp. 13-14.
17 Loadstar Shipping Co., Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 373 Phil. 976, 989 (1999).
18 Belgian Overseas Chartering and Shipping N.V. v. Philippine First Insurance Co., Inc., 432 Phil. 567, 585 (2002).
19 Supra note 17.
21 See Complaint, records, p. 1.
22 Republic v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 119292, July 31, 1998, 293 SCRA 440, 466.
23 Verzosa v. Court of Appeals, G.R. Nos. 119511-13, November 24, 1998, 299 SCRA 100, 111; Sunga v. Commission on Elections, G.R. No. 125629, March 25, 1998, 288 SCRA 76, 85.
24 Seno v. Mangubat, G.R. No. L-44339, December 2, 1987, 156 SCRA 113, 122; Republic v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. Nos. 112708-09, March 29, 1996, 255 SCRA 438, 490.
25 G.R. No. L-25266, January 15, 1975, 62 SCRA 11.