GR. No. 131621, 28 September 1999
Loadstar received on board its M/V “Cherokee” goods for shipment from Manila to Nasipit, Agusan del Norte. However, the vessel, along with its cargo, sank off Limawasa Island resulting to the total loss of its shipment. The consignee made a claim with Loadstar however, the latter ignored the same, denying liability for the loss of the shipper’s goods and that the sinking off its vessel was due to force majeure. Loadstar submits that the vessel was a private carrier because it was not issued a certificate of public convenience, it did not have a regular trip or schedule or a fixed route, and there was only “one shipper, one consignee for a special cargo.”
MIC, insurer of said cargo, argues that while it is true that the vessel had on board only the cargo of wood products for delivery to one consignee, it was also carrying passengers as part of its regular business. Moreover, the bills of lading in this case made no mention of any charter party but only a statement that the vessel was a “general cargo.” Neither was there any “special arrangement” between Loadstar and the shipper regarding the shipment of the cargo. The singular fact that the vessel was carrying a particular type of cargo for one shipper is not sufficient to convert the vessel into a private carrier.
Whether or not M/V Cherokee is a private carrier.
No. We hold that Loadstar is a common carrier. It is not necessary that the carrier be issued a certificate of public convenience, and this public character is not altered by the fact that the carriage of the goods in question was periodic, occasional, episodic, or unscheduled.
The records do not disclose that the M/V Cherokee, on the date in question, undertook to carry a special cargo or was chartered to a special person only. There was no charter party. The bills of lading failed to show any special arrangement, but only a general provision to the effect that the M/V Cherokee was a “general cargo carrier.” Further, the bare fact that the vessel was carrying a particular type off cargo for one shipper, which appears to be purely coincidental, is not reason enough to convert the vessel from a common to a private carrier, especially where, as in this case, it was shown that the vessel was also carrying passengers.
*Case digest by Sol Christian C. Sayre, LLB-IV, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2018-2019