528 Phil. 341
CALLEJO, SR., J.:
It prayed that, after due proceedings, judgment be rendered in its favor, as follows:VIG.R. No. 161722That on December 23, 1991, Plaintiff leased from Alternative Defendant ANGEL MIRANDA the premises just adverted to, for a period of FIFTEEN (15) years, commencing on February 1, 1992 and to expire on January 31, 2007, as evidenced by the Contract of Lease x x x ;VIIThat by the terms of said lease agreement, Plaintiff was to pay to Alternative ANGEL MIRANDA rentals in the sum of THIRTY THOUSAND PESOS (P30,000) per month, with SIXTY THOUSAND PESOS (P60,000) as deposit, and THIRTY THOUSAND PESOS (P30,000) as advance rental, all of which were complied with by Plaintiff;VIIIThat in accordance with the same agreement, Plaintiff was authorized to introduce into the premises such improvements as it may find necessary;IXThat Plaintiff took possession of the leased premises and moved thereto its equipments (sic), machineries, appliances, supplies and kindred items, as well as certain construction materials necessary for the repairs and improvement of the facilities therein; that, as a matter of fact, Plaintiff had already commenced the construction of roofs over the concrete structures in the leased premises;XThat, furthermore, Plaintiff secured from the proper authorities all the needful licenses and permits for its construction and business activities;XIThat on January 27, 1992, Alternative Defendant FLORENDA MIRANDA, in her behalf and in representation of Alternative Defendant EMECO, and in the company of armed men, forcibly evicted Plaintiff from the premises, not only stopping the construction works being performed in the premises, but also physically bringing out Plaintiff's equipment, machineries, and other personalities (sic) of the leased realty;XIIThat the Alternative Defendants just named did the acts just described under the claim that the premises are either owned by Alternative Defendant FLORENDA MIRANDA or that the same are covered by [a] still existing lease agreement by and between Alternative Defendants, the latter claim being evidenced by the Contract of Lease x x x;XIIIThat regardless of the validity of either claim on the part of Alternative Defendants FLORENDA MIRANDA and EMECO, the same cannot be pleaded in derogation of Plaintiff's possessory rights over the premises, for the reason that the realty in question is covered by a torrens certificate in the name of Alternative Defendant ANGEL MIRANDA on which document third parties have a legally-authorized right to rely (in the first instance), and that in order to evict Plaintiff from the premises, proper ejectment proceedings would have to be instituted (in the second instance);XIVThat under the law, Alternative Defendant ANGEL MIRANDA has the obligation to keep and maintain Plaintiff in peaceful possession of the leased premises, which obligation said defendant failed to observe and discharge;XVThat as a result of the forcible eviction of Plaintiff from the leased property, it suffered damages not only in terms of destruction and/or impairment of its machineries, equipments (sic), appliances, personalities, supplies and materials, but also in terms of lost profits and business opportunities, besmirched reputation, administrative cost overruns, tarnished goodwill and impairment of credit facilities, the total pecuniary value of which amounts to not less than TWO MILLION PESOS (P2,000,000);
On June 25, 1992, Angel and petitioner, as plaintiffs, filed a separate complaint for ejectment against Florenda before the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of Bacoor, Cavite, docketed as Civil Case No. 1265. After due proceedings, the court rendered judgment on July 2, 1993, ordering the eviction of Florenda and all those claiming the property in her behalf. The decision was appealed to the RTC. However, for failure to pay a supersedeas bond, the decision was executed and Florenda was evicted from the property.
- That upon due notice and hearing, a writ of preliminary mandatory injunction issue, restoring Plaintiff to the possession of the premises in question;
- That after trial, judgment issue directing Alternative Defendants, singly or collectively, and any person or persons claiming right under them to surrender possession of the leased premises to Plaintiff;
- That either Defendant, or all of them, be condemned to pay to Plaintiff the sum of TWO MILLION PESOS (P2,000,000) by way of actual, compensatory, and moral damages;
- That either Defendant, or all of them, be condemned to pay attorney's fees and litigation expenses in the sum earlier set forth; and
- That either Defendant, or all of them, be condemned to pay the costs of this suit;
- OTHER RELIEFS and remedies as are just and equitable under the premises are likewise prayed for.
THE LOWER COURT GRIEVOUSLY ERRED IN FAILING TO AWARD DAMAGES IN FAVOR OF PLAINTIFF BY DISMISSING THE CASE DESPITE ITS CLEAR FACTUAL FINDINGS THAT THE LATTER IS ENTITLED TO DAMAGES PRAYED FOR IN THE COMPLAINT.It maintained that the trial court erred in dismissing its complaint on the ground of litis pendentia and in not ordering Angel Miranda to reimburse the P360,000.00 it had paid as rentals for the property.I
THE DISMISSAL OF THE COMPLAINT ON THE GROUND OF "LITIS PENDENTIA" IS DEVOID OF ANY FACTUAL AND LEGAL BASIS.II
IN THE SAME VEIN, THE AWARD OF DAMAGES IN THE PRESENT CASE WOULD NOT PRE-EMPT ANY DECISION THAT MIGHT BE RENDERED IN THE "PENDING CASES."
WHEREFORE, the judgment appealed from is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE and a new one entered dismissing the complaint with prejudice against Angel Miranda and ordering Florenda Miranda to pay G.Q. Garments, Inc. the amount of:The appellate court absolved Angel of any liability due to the absence of evidence showing that he had participated, directly or indirectly, in the looting of GQ Garment's properties and in forcibly ejecting the latter from the premises in question. While under Article 1654, paragraph 3, of the New Civil Code, a lessor is obliged to maintain the lessee in peaceful and adequate enjoyment of the lease for the entire duration of the contract, the law, however, does not apply to him since the unlawful acts were caused by a third person or an intruder. Under Article 1664, he is not obliged to answer for a mere act of trespass which a third person may cause on the use of the thing leased, but the lessee shall have a direct action against the intruder.
- P300,000.00 as and for nominal damages;
- P200,000.00 as and for attorney's fees; and
- To pay the costs of suit.
THE HONORABLE COURT ERRONEOUSLY HELD THAT THE LOSS OF THE ARTICLES VALUED AT P9,960,000.00 WAS NOT PROVED BY EVIDENCE.Petitioner filed a motion for the reconsideration of the decision, claiming that it adduced proof that it sustained actual damages. It claimed that Angel was liable for damages against it for disturbance in law. It was not just "a mere act of trespass," since Florenda claimed to have a prior contract of lease with Angel and by virtue of a supposedly legal judicial order, Florenda questioned its (GQ Garment's) right to enjoy the property and deprived it of possession thereof. Besides, Angel filed an ejectment suit and an action for the nullity of the contract of lease against Florenda only after it was dispossessed of the subject property.II
THE HONORABLE COURT ERRED IN NOT FINDING DEFENDANT-APPELLANT ANGEL MIRANDA LIABLE TO HEREIN PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT.
Petitioner asserts that it adduced preponderant evidence that it sustained actual damages when its equipment and machineries were destroyed, and that such damaged property is valued at P10,000,000.00. It points out that aside from respondent Florenda Miranda's testimony, it also adduced in evidence photographs of the damaged property. Respondent Angel Miranda failed to adduce any evidence to rebut the same. Petitioner also avers that the damages it suffered was not merely an act of trespass but a disturbance in law for which respondent Angel Miranda is liable. He violated its right, as lessee; hence, he is liable for damages under Article 1654(3) of the New Civil Code. To buttress its claim, petitioner cites the ruling of this Court in De la Cruz vs. Seminary of Manila. It insists that respondent Angel Miranda should pay actual damages of P10,000,000.00 and P360,000.00 it had paid to him by way of reimbursement, and prays that the Court render judgment as follows:I.WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED A MANIFEST ERROR IN AWARDING DAMAGES TO THE PETITIONER WAY BELOW THAT PRAYED FOR IN THE COMPLAINT, THUS, TOTALLY DISREGARDING THE EVIDENCE ON RECORD.II.WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY ERRED IN NOT FINDING THAT RESPONDENT ANGEL MIRANDA SHOULD LIKEWISE BE HELD LIABLE FOR DAMAGES TO THE PETITIONER.
Other reliefs just and equitable under the premises are likewise prayed for.
- Respondents Florenda Miranda and Angel Miranda to pay petitioner, jointly and severally, actual damages in the sum of P10,000,000.00;
- Respondent Florenda Miranda to pay petitioner exemplary damages in the amount to be determined by the Honorable Court;
- Respondent Angel Miranda to reimburse petitioner the amount of P360,000.00 plus interest at 12% per annum from the time the complaint was filed until the same is fully paid;
- Respondent Angel Miranda to pay petitioner moral, exemplary, temperate and nominal damages for breach of his warranty in the Contract of Lease;
- Respondents to pay attorney's fees and the costs of suit.
Considering the above provisions of the law, there is no question that defendant-appellee Florenda Miranda and/or EMECO should be held accountable for the damage sustained by plaintiff-appellant due to their willful and wanton disregard of the lease rights of plaintiff-appellant over the property in question. However, we find that the alleged loss of articles, machinery and equipment in the total sum of P9,960,000.00 was not proven by clear and convincing evidence. Other than the bare testimony of Mr. Wilson Kho and the witnesses he presented, there was no poof as to the existence of these items prior to the taking over of Florenda over the property in question. The listing of lost items contained in plaintiff-appellant's Exhibits "I" and "I-1" is self-serving considering that no inventory was made on the said items prior to its delivery to the premises in question and that no receipt or proof of acquisition of these listed items were presented during the trial of the case.Under Article 2199 of the New Civil Code, actual damages include all the natural and probable consequences of the act or omission complained of, classified as one (1) for the loss of what a person already possesses (daño emergente) and the other, for the failure to receive, as a benefit, that which would have pertained to him (lucro cesante). As expostulated by the Court:
Under Article 2199 of the Civil Code, actual or compensatory damages are those awarded in satisfaction of, or in recompense for, loss or injury sustained. They proceed from a sense of natural justice and are designed to repair the wrong that has been done, to compensate for the injury inflicted and not to impose a penalty. In actions based on torts or quasi-delicts, actual damages include all the natural and probable consequences of the act or omission complained of. There are two kinds of actual or compensatory damages: one is the loss of what a person already possesses, (daño emergente), and the other is the failure to receive as a benefit that which would have pertained to him (lucro cesante) (citations omitted).The burden of proof is on the party who will be defeated if no evidence is presented on either side. His burden is to establish his case by preponderance of evidence which means that the evidence, as whole, adduced by one side, is superior to that of the other. Actual damages are not presumed. The claimant must prove the actual amount of loss with a reasonable degree of certainty premised upon competent proof and on the best evidence obtainable. He must point out specific facts that could afford a basis for measuring whatever compensatory or actual damages are borne. Actual damages cannot be anchored on mere surmises, speculations or conjectures. As the Court declared:
As stated at the outset, to enable an injured party to recover actual or compensatory damages, he is required to prove the actual amount of loss with reasonable degree of certainty premised upon competent proof and on the best evidence available. The burden of proof is on the party who would be defeated if no evidence would be presented on either side. He must establish his case by a preponderance of evidence which means that the evidence, as a whole, adduced by one side is superior to that of the other. In other words, damages cannot be presumed and courts, in making an award must point out specific facts that could afford a basis for measuring whatever compensatory or actual damages are borne.The claimants are not, however, mandated to prove damages in any specific or certain amount in order to recover damages for a substantial amount. When the existence of a loss is established, absolute certainty as to its amount is not required. The amount of the damages should be determined with reasonable certainty. The law does not require that the amount fixed be absolute or beyond conjectural possibilities. The ascertainment of the amount of damages should be by the plainest, easiest and most accurate measure which will do justice in the premises.
ATTY. QUIJANO:No other proof was adduced to establish the value or price of the equipment, machineries and valuables taken by respondent Florenda Miranda, as well as the damage to petitioner's building. The bare claim of Kho that the petitioner sustained actual damages in the amount of
Q. You said defendant Miranda looted all your items, machinery and other valuables inside the premises, do you have a list of those which you claimed to [have] been lost and stolen from the premises?
A. We have a partial list of the equipment and materials lost.
May we request that the list be marked as Exhibits I and I-1, respectively.
The first page represents the items lost on January 27 and the second page, items lost in the middle of March up the (sic) of June.
Mark it. x x x .x x x x x x x x x
Q. Considering that you have been forcibly evicted from the premises, what did you do?
A. We seek (sic) the services of M .R. Pamaran Law Office.
Q. And do you have any arrangement with said office?
A. The agreement is P200,000.00 plus P2,000.00 per appearance, damaged equipment and loss is P10,000,000.00 and the actual items lost is more than P10,000,000.00 plus construction materials, P11,000,000.00.
Q. The actual damage is P10,000,000.00?
A. P10,000,000.00, including the building x x x.
(TSN dated 10 July 1992, pp. 26-28, bold ours)
ATTY. QUIJANO:With this admission, Florenda Miranda is clearly liable for damages to the equipment, machineries and building of petitioner.
Q. When you went to the premises in question, you found out that there were already some construction going on?
A. Construction? Not construction but there [were] some machineries inside but not installed.x x x x x x x x x
Q. There [were] purlins and trusses already in the '?
A. No, in the latter part only.x x x x x x x x x
Q. You said that you did not throw their equipment but just pulled it out and transferred it to another lot. How long did it take you to transfer
A. The first one it took us one day to be able to pull out or get outside, I think six or nine machineries and then it was stopped.
Q. How did you bring it out?
A. By means of forklift.
Q. So, you hired a forklift?
A. Yes, Sir.x x x x x x x x x
Q. Are all the machineries pulled out?
A. On the first time, it wasn't because it was stopped x x x so it took us another, I think a month or weeks also before we could hire another trucking firm.
Q. You mean this truck was hired by Mr. Kho and not by you?
A. No, by me.x x x x x x x x x
Q. So, you hired this truck to pull all these machineries out?
A. Yes. x x x (TSN dated 11 June 1993, pp. 20-23 before the RTC, Cavite, emphasis ours)
Art. 1654. The lessor is obliged:Under the provision, a lessor is obliged to maintain petitioner's peaceful and adequate enjoyment of the premises for the entire duration of the lease. In case of noncompliance with these obligations, the lessee may ask for the rescission of the lease contract and indemnification for damages or only the latter, allowing the contract to remain in force.
(1) To deliver the thing which is the object of the contract in such a condition as to render it fit for the use intended;
(2) To make on the same during the lease all the necessary repairs in order to keep it suitable for the use to which it has been devoted, unless there is a stipulation to the contrary;
(3) To maintain the less in the peaceful and adequate enjoyment of the lease for the entire duration of the contract.