Is car driver automatically liable even if death fault of rider?

It is common knowledge in the Philippines that the police usually arrest and level charges against a car driver even if the crash is the fault of the motorcycle rider. For example, in many cases, a motorcycle rider overshoots in a curve, thereby crashing into a car, causing the rider's death. In most cases, because there is death, the police usually charge the driver of the car even though logic dictates that it is not his/her fault.

Outraged by this, netizens usually say, "Unfair talaga ang batas sa Pilipinas! [Philippine laws are indeed unfair!]" However, people should know that this is not the law in the Philippines.The practice of police officers in leveling charges and arresting the car driver is out of fear of retaliation or criticism from the public or the family members of the deceased rider. The usual thinking is that the person who died is the victim of the incident. This is entirely wrong.

Under Article 2176 of the New Civil Code of the Philippines, whoever by act or omission causes damage to another, there being fault or negligence, is obliged to pay for the damage done. Such fault or negligence, if there is no pre-existing contractual relation between the parties, is called a quasi-delict. On the other hand, under Act No. 3815, also known as the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines, any person who, by reckless imprudence, shall commit any act which, had it been intentional, would constitute a grave felony, shall suffer the penalty of arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its minimum period; if it would have constituted a less grave felony, the penalty of arresto mayor in its minimum and medium periods shall be imposed. (Article 365)

Hence, taking into account Article 2176 and Article 365 as mentioned above, it is the person at fault or the person who acted negligently who should be arrested and charged. In the above example, the car driver is the victim, not the tortfeasor or the perpetrator.

It is not healthy to the justice system for the police officers to simply charge and/or arrest the car driver for the simple and convenient excuse that they wish to evade flak from the public or the deceased's family members. As enforcers of the law, they have the power to determine probable cause under Section 5 of Rule 113 of the Rules of Court (Criminal Procedure).