PNOC Shipping and Transport vs CA

Posted: March 24, 2017 in Uncategorized

PNOC Shipping and Transport vs CA

FACTS

While the fishing boat `M/V MARIA EFIGENIA owned by plaintiff was navigating in the vicinity of Fortune Island in Nasugbu, Batangas, on its way to Navotas, Metro Manila, said fishing boat was hit by the LSCO tanker Petroparcel causing the former to sink.

The Board of Marine Inquiry conducted an investigation of this marine accident, the Commandant of the Philippine Coast Guard, rendered a decision finding the cause of the accident to be the reckless and imprudent manner in which Edgardo Doruelo navigated the LSCO Petroparcel and declared the latter vessel at fault. Defendant Luzon Stevedoring Corporation (LUSTEVECO), executed in favor of PNOC Shipping and Transport Corporation a Deed of Transfer involving several tankers, tugboats, barges and pumping stations, among which was the LSCO Petroparcel.

Defendant PNOC STC again entered into an Agreement of Transfer with co-defendant Lusteveco whereby all the business properties and other assets appertaining to the tanker and bulk oil departments including the motor tanker LSCO Petroparcel of defendant Lusteveco were sold to PNOC STC. The aforesaid agreement stipulates, among others, that PNOC-STC assumes, without qualifications, all obligations arising from and by virtue of all rights it obtained over the LSCO `Petroparcel.

Another agreement between defendant LUSTEVECO and PNOC-STC was executed wherein Board of Marine Inquiry Case No. 332 (involving the sea accident of 21 September 1977) was specifically identified and assumed by the latter. The decision of Board of Marine Inquiry was affirmed by the Ministry of National Defense, in its decision dismissing the appeal of Capt. Edgardo Doruelo and Chief mate Anthony Estenzo of LSCO `Petroparcel.

LSCO `Petroparcel is presently owned and operated by PNOC-STC and likewise Capt. Edgardo Doruelo is still in their employ. As a result of the sinking of M/V Maria Efigenia caused by the reckless and imprudent manner in which LSCO Petroparcel was navigated by defendant Doruelo, plaintiff suffered actual damages by the loss of its fishing nets, boat equipments (sic) and cargoes, which went down with the ship when it sank the replacement value of which should be left to the sound discretion of t the Honorable Court.

The lower court held that the prevailing replacement value of the fishing boat and all its equipment would regularly increase at 30% every year from the date the quotations were given.

CA affirmed the decision in toto.

 

ISSUE

Whether the trial court erred in not basing award on the actual value of the vessel and its equipment at the time of loss in 1977.

 

RULING

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 (dao emergente), and the other is the failure to receive as a benefit that which would have pertained to him (lucro cesante).

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.

In this case, actual damages were proven through the sole testimony of private respondents general manager and certain pieces of documentary evidence. Except for Exhibit B where the value of the 1,050 baeras of fish were pegged at their September 1977 value when the collision happened, the pieces of documentary evidence proffered by private respondent with respect to items and equipment lost show similar items and equipment with corresponding prices in early 1987 or approximately ten (10) years after the collision. Noticeably, petitioner did not object to the exhibits in terms of the time index for valuation of the lost goods and equipment. In objecting to the same pieces of evidence, petitioner commented that these were not duly authenticated and that the witness (Del Rosario) did not have personal knowledge on the contents of the writings and neither was he an expert on the subjects thereof. Clearly ignoring petitioners objections to the exhibits, the lower court admitted these pieces of evidence and gave them due weight to arrive at the award of P6,438,048.00 as actual damages.

A party is entitled to adequate compensation only for such pecuniary loss actually suffered and duly proved. Indeed, basic is the rule that to recover actual damages, the amount of loss must not only be capable of proof but must actually be proven with a reasonable degree of certainty, premised upon competent proof or best evidence obtainable of the actual amount thereof. The claimant is duty-bound to point out specific facts that afford a basis for measuring whatever compensatory damages are borne. A court cannot merely rely on speculations, conjectures, or guesswork as to the fact and amount of damages as well as hearsay or uncorroborated testimony whose truth is suspect

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s