G.R. No. 142943, 3 April 2002
November 10, 1972, herein private respondent, Restituto Tobias, a purchasing agent and administrative assistant to the engineering operations manager, discovered fictitious purchases and other fraudulent transactions, which caused Globe Mackay Cable and Radio Corp loss of several thousands of pesos. He reported it to his immediate superior Eduardo T. Ferraren and to the Executive Vice President and General Manager Herbert Hendry. A day after the report, Hendry told Tobias that he was number one suspect and ordered him one week forced leave. When Tobias returned to work after said leave, Hendry called him a “crook” and a “swindler”, ordered him to take a lie detector test, and to submit specimen of his handwriting, signature and initials for police investigation. Moreover, petitioners hired a private investigator. Private investigation was still incomplete; the lie detector tests yielded negative results; reports from Manila police investigators and from the Metro Manila Police Chief Document Examiner are in favor of Tobias. Petitioners filed with the Fiscal’s Office of Manila a total of six (6) criminal cases against private respondent Tobias, but were dismissed.
Tobias received a notice of termination of his employment from petitioners in January 1973, effective December 1972. He sought employment with the Republic Telephone Company (RETELCO); but Hendry wrote a letter to RETELCO stating that Tobias was dismissed by Globe Mackay due to dishonesty. Tobias, then, filed a civil case for damages anchored on alleged unlawful, malicious, oppressive, and abusive acts of petitioners. The Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch IX, through Judge Manuel T. Reyes rendered judgment in favor of private respondent, ordering petitioners to pay him eighty thousand pesos (P80,000.00) as actual damages, two hundred thousand pesos (P200,000.00) as moral damages, twenty thousand pesos (P20,000.00) as exemplary damages, thirty thousand pesos (P30,000.00) as attorney’s fees, and costs; hence, this petition for review on certiorari.
Whether or not Globe Mackay should be held liable for the failure of the delivery of the cablegram.
Yes. Globe Mackay should be held liable, and should be corrected for public good since the company is a quasi-public corporation with duties to the general public and is liable to any member of the public to whom it owes a duty for damages proximately flowing from a violation of that duty.
Article 19 provides that: “Every person must, in the exercise of his rights and in the performance of his duties, act with justice, give everyone his due, and observe honesty and good faith”. This article, known to contain what is commonly referred to as the principle of abuse of rights, sets certain standards which must be observed not only in the exercise of one’s rights but also in the performance of one’s duties. These standards are the following: to act with justice; to give everyone his due; and to observe honesty and good faith. The law, therefore, recognizes a primordial limitation on all rights; that in their exercise, the norms of human conduct set forth in Article 19 must be observed.
The Court, after examining the record and considering certain significant circumstances, finds that all petitioners have indeed abused the right that they invoke, causing damage to private respondent and for which the latter must now be indemnified: when Hendry told Tobias to just confess or else the company would file a hundred more cases against him until he landed in jail; his (Hendry) scornful remarks about Filipinos (“You Filipinos cannot be trusted.”) as well as against Tobias (“crook”, and “swindler”); the writing of a letter to RETELCO stating that Tobias was dismissed by Globe Mackay due to dishonesty; and the filing of six criminal cases by petitioners against private respondent. All these reveal that petitioners are motivated by malicious and unlawful intent to harass, oppress, and cause damage to private respondent. The imputation of guilt without basis and the pattern of harassment during the investigations of Tobias transgress the standards of human conduct set forth in Article 19 of the Civil Code.
* Case digest by Vera L. Nataa, LLB-1, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2017-2018