3 catch-all laws on "daños"


According to Aquino (2005), citing 6 Reyes and Puno 157 as primary authority, the Philippines has a broad concept of torts, so much so that it includes civil liability arising from criminal liability, and our laws include the following torts which are also considered so in other jurisdictions such as in the United States:

[1] Defamation. This is also covered by our penal laws on libel and slander;
[2] Fraud. This is also be covered by our penal laws on estafa;
[3] Physical injuries. This is also covered by our penal laws on physical injuries, murder, homicide and others;
[4] Violation of constitutional rights. Certain constitutional rights are also protected by the Revised Penal Code (Act No. 3815) such as the law on arbitrary detention and, among others, Republic Act (RA) No. 7438;
[5] Negligence. Reckless imprudence, if resulting in homicide, damage to property or physical injuries, is also a crime under Article 365 of the Penal Code;
[6] Interference with contractual relations. This happens when one person induces another to violate the latter's obligation under a contract with a third person;
[7] Violation of privacy;
[8] Malicious prosecution;
[9] Product liability. There is a strict tort liability for injury caused by manufacturers;
[10] Strict liability for possession of animals. This applies to the possessor, not the owner, of the animal;
[11] Abuse of right (Article 19 below); and
[12] Acts which violate good morals and customs. (Article 21 below).

Article 19. 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.

Article 20. Every person who, contrary to law, wilfully or negligently causes damage to another, shall indemnify the latter for the same.

Article 21. Any person who wilfully causes loss or injury to another in a manner that is contrary to morals, good customs or public policy shall compensate the latter for the damage
.
(New Civil Code of the Philippines) These provisions introduce the broad and challenging field of torts law.

The Code Commission, tasked with the drafting of the present (New) Civil Code of the Philippines, had the intention to adopt the expanded common law concept of intentional and unintentional tort. The above catch-all provisions on abuse of rights and damages (daños), according to Aquino (2005), are proof of such intent. Even Eduardo P. Caguioa (Comments and Cases on Civil Law, Vol. I, p. 29) agrees that Articles 19, 20 and 21 enlarge the concept of tortious acts and embody in Philippine law the Anglo-American concept of tort.

The principle of abuse of rights is enshrined in Article 19 of the Civil Code. This provision of law sets standards which must be observed in the exercise of one’s rights as well as in the performance of its duties, to wit: to act with justice; give everyone his due; and observe honesty and good faith.

In Globe Mackay Cable and Radio Corporation v. Court of Appeals, it was elucidated that while Article 19 lays down a rule of conduct for the government of human relations and for the maintenance of social order, it DOES NOT provide a remedy for its violation. Generally, an action for damages under either Article 20 or Article 21 would be proper. In fact, Article 19 is a corrective legal provision which sought to make clear what was not in the Old Code.

The Supreme Court further explained that one of the more notable innovations of the New Civil Code is the codification of some basic principles that are to be observed for the rightful relationship between human beings and for the stability of the social order. The framers of the Code, seeking to remedy the defect of the old Code which merely stated the effects of the law, but failed to draw out its spirit, incorporated certain fundamental precepts which were designed to indicate certain norms that spring from the fountain of good conscience and which were also meant to serve as guides for human conduct that should run as golden threads through society, to the end that law may approach its supreme ideal, which is the sway and dominance of justice. (Report on the Code Commission on the Proposed Civil Code of the Philippines, p. 39) Foremost among these principles is that pronounced in Article 19 which 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.

Notice the words used in the law: justice, due, honesty and good faith. These are foundations of a civilized society.
Article 19, 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. A right, though by itself legal because recognized or granted by law as such, may nevertheless become the source of some illegality. When a right is exercised in a manner which does not conform with the norms enshrined in Article 19 and results in damage to another, a legal wrong is thereby committed for which the wrongdoer must be held responsible. However, while Article 19 lays down a rule of conduct for the government of human relations and for the maintenance of social order, it DOES NOT provide a remedy for its violation. Generally, an action for damages for abuse of rights should be based on either Article 20 or Article 21.

Article 20 provides that every person who, contrary to law, willfully or negligently causes damage to another shall indemnify the latter for the same. It speaks of the general sanctions of all other provisions of law which do not especially provide for its own sanction. When a right is exercised in a manner which does not conform to the standards set forth in the said provision and results in damage to another, a legal wrong is thereby committed for which the wrongdoer must be responsible. Thus, if the provision does not provide a remedy for its violation, an action for damages under either Article 20 or Article 21 of the Civil Code would be proper. In short, Article 20 is a catch-all remedial provision (adjective law) against the commission of a legal wrong if law is silent on such remedy.

Article 20 is the general sanction for all other provisions of law which do not especially provide their own sanction and is a provision broad enough to cover all legal wrongs which do not constitute violations of contract. (Albenson Enterprises Corp. vs. Court of Appeals, 217 SCRA 16 [1993]) This means that, if a contract is involved, the general rule is to resort to such contract's provisions to determine the proper remedy and penalty for any breach thereof.

Article 19 is the general rule which governs the conduct of human relations. By itself, it is NOT the basis of an actionable tort. Article 19 describes the degree of care required so that an actionable tort may arise when it is alleged together with Article 20 or Article 21.

Article 20 concerns violations of existing law as basis for an injury. It allows recovery should the act have been willful or negligent. "Willful" may refer to the INTENTION to do the act and the desire to achieve the outcome which is considered by the plaintiff in tort action as injurious. "Negligence" may refer to a situation where the act was consciously done but WITHOUT INTENDING THE RESULT which the plaintiff considers as injurious.

Article 21, on the other hand, concerns injuries that may be caused by acts which are not necessarily proscribed by law. This article requires that the act be WILLFUL, that is, that there was an intention to do the act and a desire to achieve the outcome. In cases under Article 21, the legal issues revolve around whether such outcome should be considered a legal injury on the part of the plaintiff or whether the commission of the act was done in violation of the standards of care required in Article 19. (G.R. No. 175540. April 7, 2014)

According to Aquino (2005), Articles 19, 20 and 21 of Civil Code are catch-all provisions that serve as basis of any imaginable tort action. Under the Anglo-American law, each tort is usually named and defined. On the other hand, Articles 19, 20 and 21 of the New Civil Code provide for general concepts that make persons liable for every conceivable wrongful acts.

Articles 19, 20, and 21 lay down the general duty owed to every person not to cause harm either willfully or negligently. They are laws on human relations that were intended to expand the concept of torts in the Philippines by granting adequate legal remedy for the untold number of moral wrongs which is impossible for human foresight to specifically provide in the statutes. (G.R. No. L-27155. May 18, 1978) In PNB v. CA, for example, it was held that a corporation is civilly liable in the same manner as natural persons for torts, because, generally speaking, the rules governing the liability of a principal or master for a tort committed by an agent or servant are the same whether the principal or master be a natural person or a corporation, and whether the servant or agent be a natural or artificial person. In other words, what the Supreme Court merely pointed out in said case is that torts law need not define specifically which acts or which actors are tortious or liable for tort. At any rate, civil law is not governed by the criminal law principle of nullum crimen sine lege.

Because of this broadened concept of tort in the Philippines, Aquino (2005) emphasizes that the law now affords relief against novel forms of misconduct when necessary and appropriate. It is now difficult to conceive of any malevolent exercise of a right which could not be checked by the application of these articles.

The discussion above is based on an outline by Aquino (2005) on torts and damages. His books are available in fine bookstores nationwide. SOURCE: Aquino (2005). Torts and Damages By Timoteo B. Aquino, Professor of Law. Philippine Copyright, 2005. ISBN-13: 978-971-23-3991-2. ISBN-10: 971-23-3991-2. Rex Books Store. https://www.rexestore.com/cloth-bound/1666-torts-and-damages-clothbound-.html

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