G.R. No. 88539, 26 October 1993
Petitioner Kue Cuison is a sole proprietorship engaged in the purchase and sale of newsprint, bond paper and scrap, with places of business at Baesa, Quezon City, and Sto. Cristo, Binondo, Manila. Private respondent Valiant Investment Associates, on the other hand, is a partnership duly organized and existing under the laws of the Philippines with business address at Kalookan City.
From December 4, 1979 to February 15, 1980, private respondent delivered various kinds of paper products amounting to P297,487.30 to a certain Lilian Tan of LT Trading. The deliveries were made by respondent pursuant to orders allegedly placed by Tiu Huy Tiac who was then employed in the Binondo office of petitioner. It was likewise pursuant to Tiac’s instructions that the merchandise was delivered to Lilian Tan. Upon delivery, Lilian Tan paid for the merchandise by issuing several checks payable to cash at the specific request of Tiu Huy Tiac.
In turn, Tiac issued nine (9) postdated checks to private respondent as payment for the paper products. Unfortunately, sad checks were later dishonored by the drawee bank.
Thereafter, private respondent made several demands upon petitioner to pay for the merchandise in question, claiming that Tiu Huy Tiac was duly authorized by petitioner as the manager of his Binondo office, to enter into the questioned transactions with private respondent and Lilian Tan. Petitioner denied any involvement in the transaction entered into by Tiu Huy Tiac and refused to pay private respondent the amount corresponding to the selling price of the subject merchandise.
Left with no recourse, private respondent filed an action against petitioner for the collection of P297,487.30 representing the price of the merchandise. After due hearing, the trial court dismissed the complaint against petitioner for lack of merit. On appeal, however, the decision of the trial court was modified, but was in effect reversed by the Court of Appeals. Hence, this appeal.
Whether or not Tiu Huy Tiac possessed the required authority from petitioner sufficient to hold the latter liable for the disputed transaction?
As to the merits of the case, it is a well-established rule that one who clothes another with apparent authority as his agent and holds him out to the public as such cannot be permitted to deny the authority of such person to act as his agent, to the prejudice of innocent third parties dealing with such person in good faith and in the honest belief that he is what he appears to be (Macke, et al, v. Camps, 7 Phil. 553 (1907]; Philippine National Bank. v Court of Appeals, 94 SCRA 357 ). From the facts and the evidence on record, there is no doubt that this rule obtains. The petition must therefore fail.
It is evident from the records that by his own acts and admission, petitioner held out Tiu Huy Tiac to the public as the manager of his store in Sto. Cristo, Binondo, Manila. More particularly, petitioner explicitly introduced Tiu Huy Tiac to Bernardino Villanueva, respondent’s manager, as his (petitioner’s) branch manager as testified to by Bernardino Villanueva. Secondly, Lilian Tan, who has been doing business with petitioner for quite a while, also testified that she knew Tiu Huy Tiac to be the manager of petitioner’s Sto. Cristo, Binondo branch. This general perception of Tiu Huy Tiac as the manager of petitioner’s Sto. Cristo store is even made manifest by the fact that Tiu Huy Tiac is known in the community to be the “kinakapatid” (godbrother) of petitioner. In fact, even petitioner admitted his close relationship with Tiu Huy Tiac when he said that they are “like brothers” (Rollo, p. 54). There was thus no reason for anybody especially those transacting business with petitioner to even doubt the authority of Tiu Huy Tiac as his manager in the Sto. Cristo Binondo branch.
But of even greater weight than any of these testimonies, is petitioner’s categorical admission on the witness stand that Tiu Huy Tiac was the manager of his store in Sto. Cristo, Binondo, Such admission, spontaneous no doubt, and standing alone, is sufficient to negate all the denials made by petitioner regarding the capacity of Tiu Huy Tiac to enter into the transaction in question. Furthermore, consistent with and as an obvious indication of the fact that Tiu Huy Tiac was the manager of the Sto. Cristo branch, three (3) months after Tiu Huy Tiac left petitioner’s employ, petitioner even sent, communications to its customers notifying them that Tiu Huy Tiac is no longer connected with petitioner’s business. Such undertaking spoke unmistakenly of Tiu Huy Tiac’s valuable position as petitioner’s manager than any uttered disclaimer. More than anything else, this act taken together with the declaration of petitioner in open court amount to admissions under Rule 130 Section 22 of the Rules of Court, to wit : “The act, declaration or omission of a party as to a relevant fact may be given in evidence against him.” For well-settled is the rule that “a man’s acts, conduct, and declaration, wherever made, if voluntary, are admissible against him, for the reason that it is fair to presume that they correspond with the truth, and it is his fault if they do not. If a man’s extrajudicial admissions are admissible against him, there seems to be no reason why his admissions made in open court, under oath, should not be accepted against him.”
Moreover, petitioner’s unexplained delay in disowning the transactions entered into by Tiu Huy Tiac despite several attempts made by respondent to collect the amount from him, proved all the more that petitioner was aware of the questioned commission was tantamount to an admission by silence under Rule 130 Section 23 of the Rules of Court, thus: “Any act or declaration made in the presence of and within the observation of a party who does or says nothing when the act or declaration is such as naturally to call for action or comment if not true, may be given in evidence against him.”
All of these point to the fact that at the time of the transaction Tiu Huy Tiac was admittedly the manager of petitioner’s store in Sto. Cristo, Binondo. Consequently, the transaction in question as well as the concomitant obligation is valid and binding upon petitioner. By his representations, petitioner is now estopped from disclaiming liability for the transaction entered by Tiu Huy Tiac on his behalf.
Tiu Huy Tiac, therefore, by petitioner’s own representations and manifestations, became an agent of petitioner by estoppel, an admission or representation is rendered conclusive upon the person making it, and cannot be denied or disproved as against the person relying thereon (Article 1431, Civil Code of the Philippines). A party cannot be allowed to go back on his own acts and representations to the prejudice of the other party who, in good faith, relied upon them (Philippine National Bank v. Intermediate Appellate Court, et al., 189 SCRA 680 ).
Taken in this light,. petitioner is liable for the transaction entered into by Tiu Huy Tiac on his behalf. Thus, even when the agent has exceeded his authority, the principal is solidarily liable with the agent if the former allowed the latter to fact as though he had full powers (Article 1911 Civil Code), as in the case at bar.
*Case digest by Mary Tweetie Antonette G. Semprun, JD – 4, Andres Bonifacio College, SY 2019 – 2020