G.R. No. L-50127-28, 30 March 1979
Eugenio Jose, a registered owner and operator of the passenger jeepney involved in an accident of collision with a freight train of the PNR that took place in November 1969 resulted in the 7 deaths and 5 physical injuries of its passengers. That time, Eugenio was married to Socorro but had been cohabiting with Rosalia Arroyo, defendant-appellant for 16 years as husband and wife. Trial court decision rendered them jointly and severally liable to pay damages to the heir of the deceased, Victor Juaniza. A motion was prayed for by Rosalia for the decision to be reconsidered.
Whether or not Eugenio and Rosalia are co-owners of the jeepney.
No. Eugenio and Rosalia are not co-owners of the jeepney.
It has been consistently ruled by this Court that the co-ownership contemplated in Article 144 of the Civil Code requires that the man and the woman living together must not in any way be incapacitated to contract marriage. It is settled in our jurisprudence that only the registered owner of a public service vehicle is responsible for damages that may arise from consequences incident to its operation, or maybe caused to any of the passengers therein.
Since Eugenio Jose is legally married to Socorro Ramos, there is an impediment for him to contract marriage with Rosalia Arroyo. Under the afore-cited provision of the Civil Code, Arroyo cannot be a co-owner of the jeepney. The jeepney belongs to the conjugal partnership of Jose and his legal wife. There is therefore no basis for the liability of Arroyo for damages arising from the death of, and physical injuries suffered by, the passengers of the jeepney which figured in the collision. Rosalia Arroyo, who is not the registered owner of the jeepney can neither be liable for damages caused by its operation.
* Case digest by Frillin M. Lomosad, LLB-1, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2017-2018