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RepublicofthePhilippines
SUPREMECOURT
Manila
THIRDDIVISION
G.R.No.74761November6,1990
NATIVIDADV.ANDAMOandEMMANUELR.ANDAMO,petitioners,
vs.
INTERMEDIATEAPPELLATECOURT(FirstCivilCasesDivision)andMISSIONARIESOFOURLADYOFLA
SALETTE,INC.,respondents.
LopeE.Adrianoforpetitioners.
PadillaLawOfficeforprivaterespondent.

FERNAN,C.J.:
Thepivotalissueinthispetitionforcertiorari,prohibitionandmandamusiswhetheracorporation,whichhasbuilt
throughitsagents,waterpaths,waterconductorsandcontrivanceswithinitsland,therebycausinginundationand
damagetoanadjacentland,canbeheldcivillyliablefordamagesunderArticles2176and2177oftheCivilCode
onquasidelictssuchthattheresultingcivilcasecanproceedindependentlyofthecriminalcase.
Theantecedentfactsareasfollows:
PetitionerspousesEmmanuelandNatividadAndamoaretheownersofaparceloflandsituatedinBiga(Biluso)
Silang, Cavite which is adjacent to that of private respondent, Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette, Inc., a
religiouscorporation.
Within the land of respondent corporation, waterpaths and contrivances, including an artificial lake, were
constructed, which allegedly inundated and eroded petitioners' land, caused a young man to drown, damaged
petitioners'cropsandplants,washedawaycostlyfences,endangeredthelivesofpetitionersandtheirlaborers
duringrainyandstormyseasons,andexposedplantsandotherimprovementstodestruction.
In July 1982, petitioners instituted a criminal action, docketed as Criminal Case No. TG90782, before the
Regional Trial Court of Cavite, Branch 4 (Tagaytay City), against Efren Musngi, Orlando Sapuay and Rutillo
Mallillin, officers and directors of herein respondent corporation, for destruction by means of inundation under
Article324oftheRevisedPenalCode.
Subsequently,onFebruary22,1983,petitionersfiledanotheractionagainstrespondentcorporation,thistimea
civilcase,docketedasCivilCaseNo.TG748,fordamageswithprayerfortheissuanceofawritofpreliminary
injunctionbeforethesamecourt.1
OnMarch11,1983,respondentcorporationfileditsanswertothecomplaintandoppositiontotheissuanceofa
writofpreliminaryinjunction.Hearingswereconductedincludingocularinspectionsontheland.However,onApril
26,1984,thetrialcourt,actingonrespondentcorporation'smotiontodismissorsuspendthecivilaction,issued
anordersuspendingfurtherhearingsinCivilCaseNo,TG748untilafterjudgmentintherelatedCriminalCase
No.TG90782.
Resolvingrespondentcorporation'smotiontodismissfiledonJune22,1984,thetrialcourtissuedonAugust27,
1984thedisputedorderdismissingCivilCaseNo.TG748forlackofjurisdiction,asthecriminalcasewhichwas
institutedaheadofthecivilcasewasstillunresolved.SaidorderwasanchoredontheprovisionofSection3(a),
RuleIIIoftheRulesofCourtwhichprovidesthat"criminalandcivilactionsarisingfromthesameoffensemaybe
institutedseparately,butafterthecriminalactionhasbeencommencedthecivilactioncannotbeinstituteduntil
finaljudgmenthasbeenrenderedinthecriminalaction."2

PetitionersappealedfromthatordertotheIntermediateAppellateCourt.3
OnFebruary17,1986,respondentAppellateCourt,FirstCivilCasesDivision,promulgatedadecision 4 affirming
thequestionedorderofthetrialcourt. 5AmotionforreconsiderationfiledbypetitionerswasdeniedbytheAppellateCourt
initsresolutiondatedMay19,1986.6

DirectlyatissueistheproprietyofthedismissalofCivilCaseNo.TG748inaccordancewithSection3(a)ofRule
111oftheRulesofCourt.PetitionerscontendthatthetrialcourtandtheAppellateCourterredindismissingCivil
CaseNo.TG748sinceitispredicatedonaquasidelict.Petitionershaveraisedavalidpoint.
It is axiomatic that the nature of an action filed in court is determined by the facts alleged in the complaint as
constituting the cause of action. 7 The purpose of an action or suit and the law to govern it, including the period of
prescription,istobedeterminednotbytheclaimofthepartyfilingtheaction,madeinhisargumentorbrief,butratherby
thecomplaintitself,itsallegationsandprayerforrelief. 8Thenatureofanactionisnotnecessarilydeterminedorcontrolled
byitstitleorheadingbutthebodyofthepleadingorcomplaintitself.Toavoidpossibledenialofsubstantialjusticedueto
legal technicalities, pleadings as well as remedial laws should be liberally construed so that the litigants may have ample
opportunitytoprovetheirrespectiveclaims.9

Quotedhereunderarethepertinentportionsofpetitioners'complaintinCivilCaseNo.TG748:
4)Thatwithindefendant'sland,likewiselocatedatBiga(Biluso),Silang,Cavite,adjacentontheright
side of the aforesaid land of plaintiffs, defendant constructed waterpaths starting from the middle
rightportionthereofleadingtoabigholeoropening,alsoconstructedbydefendant,thruthelower
portionofitsconcretehollowblocksfencesituatedontherightsideofitscementedgatefrontingthe
provincial highway, and connected by defendant to a man height interconnected cement culverts
whichwerealsoconstructedandlainbydefendantcrosswisebeneaththetipofthesaidcemented
gate,theleftendofthesaidinterconnectedculvertsagainconnectedbydefendanttoabigholeor
opening thru the lower portion of the same concrete hollowblocks fence on the left side of the said
cementedgate,whichholeoropeningislikewiseconnectedbydefendanttothecementedmouthof
a big canal, also constructed by defendant, which runs northward towards a big hole or opening
which was also built by defendant thru the lower portion of its concrete hollowblocks fence which
separates the land of plaintiffs from that of defendant (and which serves as the exitpoint of the
floodwatercomingfromthelandofdefendant,andatthesametime,theentrancepointofthesame
floodwatertothelandofplaintiffs,yearafteryear,duringrainyorstormyseasons.
5) That moreover, on the middleleft portion of its land just beside the land of plaintiffs, defendant
alsoconstructedanartificiallake,thebaseofwhichissoil,whichutilizesthewaterbeingchanneled
thereto from its water system thru interconnected galvanized iron pipes (No. 2) and complimented
byrainwaterduringrainyorstormyseasons,somuchsothatthewaterbelowitseepsinto,andthe
excesswateraboveitinundates,portionsoftheadjoininglandofplaintiffs.
6)Thatasaresultoftheinundationbroughtaboutbydefendant'saforementionedwaterconductors,
contrivancesandmanipulators,ayoungmanwasdrownedtodeath,whilehereinplaintiffssuffered
andwillcontinuetosuffer,asfollows:
a) Portions of the land of plaintiffs were eroded and converted to deep, wide and long
canals,suchthatthesamecannolongerbeplantedtoanycroporplant.
b)Costlyfencesconstructedbyplaintiffswere,onseveraloccasions,washedaway.
c)Duringrainyandstormyseasonsthelivesofplaintiffsandtheirlaborersarealwaysin
danger.
d)Plantsandotherimprovementsonotherportionsofthelandofplaintiffsareexposed
todestruction....10
A careful examination of the aforequoted complaint shows that the civil action is one under Articles 2176 and
2177oftheCivilCodeonquasidelicts.Alltheelementsofaquasidelictarepresent,towit:(a)damagessuffered
bytheplaintiff,(b)faultornegligenceofthedefendant,orsomeotherpersonforwhoseactshemustrespond
and (c) the connection of cause and effect between the fault or negligence of the defendant and the damages
incurredbytheplaintiff.11
Clearly,frompetitioner'scomplaint,thewaterpathsandcontrivancesbuiltbyrespondentcorporationarealleged
tohaveinundatedthelandofpetitioners.Thereistherefore,anassertionofacausalconnectionbetweentheact
ofbuildingthesewaterpathsandthedamagesustainedbypetitioners.Suchactionifprovenconstitutesfaultor
negligencewhichmaybethebasisfortherecoveryofdamages.

InthecaseofSamsonvs.Dionisio, 12 the Court applied Article 1902, now Article 2176 of the Civil Code and held that
"anypersonwhowithoutdueauthorityconstructsabankordike,stoppingthefloworcommunicationbetweenacreekora
lakeandariver,therebycausinglossanddamagestoathirdpartywho,liketherestoftheresidents,isentitledtotheuse
and enjoyment of the stream or lake, shall be liable to the payment of an indemnity for loss and damages to the injured
party.

Whilethepropertyinvolvedinthecitedcasebelongedtothepublicdomainandthepropertysubjectoftheinstant
case is privately owned, the fact remains that petitioners' complaint sufficiently alleges that petitioners have
sustained and will continue to sustain damage due to the waterpaths and contrivances built by respondent
corporation. Indeed, the recitals of the complaint, the alleged presence of damage to the petitioners, the act or
omission of respondent corporation supposedly constituting fault or negligence, and the causal connection
between the act and the damage, with no preexisting contractual obligation between the parties make a clear
caseofaquasidelictorculpaaquiliana.
Itmustbestressedthattheuseofone'spropertyisnotwithoutlimitations.Article431oftheCivilCodeprovides
that"theownerofathingcannotmakeusethereofinsuchamannerastoinjuretherightsofathirdperson."SIC
UTERE TUO UT ALIENUM NON LAEDAS. Moreover, adjoining landowners have mutual and reciprocal duties
whichrequirethateachmustusehisownlandinareasonablemannersoasnottoinfringeupontherightsand
interests of others. Although we recognize the right of an owner to build structures on his land, such structures
mustbesoconstructedandmaintainedusingallreasonablecaresothattheycannotbedangeroustoadjoining
landownersandcanwithstandtheusualandexpectedforcesofnature.Ifthestructurescauseinjuryordamage
toanadjoininglandownerorathirdperson,thelattercanclaimindemnificationfortheinjuryordamagesuffered.
Article 2176 of the Civil Code imposes a civil liability on a person for damage caused by his act or omission
constitutingfaultornegligence,thus:
Article2176.Whoeverbyactoromissioncausesdamagetoanother,therebeingfaultornegligence,
isobligedtopayforthedamagedone.Suchfaultornegligence,ifthereisnopreexistingcontractual
relationbetweentheparties,iscalledaquasidelictandisgovernedbytheprovisionsofthischapter.
Article2176,wheneveritrefersto"faultornegligence",coversnotonlyacts"notpunishablebylaw"butalsoacts
criminal in character, whether intentional and voluntary or negligent. Consequently, a separate civil action lies
against the offender in a criminal act, whether or not he is criminally prosecuted and found guilty or acquitted,
provided that the offended party is not allowed, (if the tortfeasor is actually charged also criminally), to recover
damagesonbothscores,andwouldbeentitledinsucheventualityonlytothebiggerawardofthetwo,assuming
theawardsmadeinthetwocasesvary.13
ThedistinctnessofquasidelictaisshowninArticle2177oftheCivilCode,whichstates:
Article2177.Responsibilityforfaultornegligenceundertheprecedingarticleisentirelyseparateand
distinct from the civil liability arising from negligence under the Penal Code. But the plaintiff cannot
recoverdamagestwiceforthesameactoromissionofthedefendant.
AccordingtotheReportoftheCodeCommission"theforegoingprovisionthoughatfirstsightstartling,isnotso
novel or extraordinary when we consider the exact nature of criminal and civil negligence. The former is a
violationofthecriminallaw,whilethelatterisadistinctandindependentnegligence,whichisa"culpaaquiliana"
or quasidelict, of ancient origin, having always had its own foundation and individuality, separate from criminal
negligence.Suchdistinctionbetweencriminalnegligenceand"culpaextracontractual"or"cuasidelito"hasbeen
sustainedbydecisionsoftheSupremeCourtofSpain...14
InthecaseofCastillovs.CourtofAppeals, 15 this Court held that a quasidelict or culpa aquiliana is a separate legal
institutionundertheCivilCodewithasubstantivityallitsown,andindividualitythatisentirelyapartandindependentfroma
delictorcrimeadistinctionexistsbetweenthecivilliabilityarisingfromacrimeandtheresponsibilityforquasidelictsor
culpa extracontractual. The same negligence causing damages may produce civil liability arising from a crime under the
PenalCode,orcreateanactionforquasidelictsorculpaextracontractualundertheCivilCode.Therefore,theacquittalor
convictioninthecriminalcaseisentirelyirrelevantinthecivilcase,unless,ofcourse,intheeventofanacquittalwherethe
courthasdeclaredthatthefactfromwhichthecivilactionarosedidnotexist,inwhichcasetheextinctionofthecriminal
liabilitywouldcarrywithittheextinctionofthecivilliability.

InAzucena vs. Potenciano, 16 the Court declared that in quasidelicts, "(t)he civil action is entirely independent of the
criminal case according to Articles 33 and 2177 of the Civil Code. There can be no logical conclusion than this, for to
subordinate the civil action contemplated in the said articles to the result of the criminal prosecution whether it be
convictionoracquittalwouldrendermeaninglesstheindependentcharacterofthecivilactionandtheclearinjunctionin
Article31,thathisactionmayproceedindependentlyofthecriminalproceedingsandregardlessoftheresultofthelatter."

WHEREFORE,theassaileddecisiondatedFebruary17,1986ofthethenIntermediateAppellateCourtaffirming
theorderofdismissaloftheRegionalTrialCourtofCavite,Branch18(TagaytayCity)datedAugust17,1984is

hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The trial court is ordered to reinstate Civil Case No. TG748 entitled
"NatividadV.AndamoandEmmanuelR.Andamovs.MissionariesofOurLadyofLaSaletteInc."andtoproceed
with the hearing of the case with dispatch. This decision is immediately executory. Costs against respondent
corporation.
SOORDERED.
Gutierrez,Jr.andBidin,JJ.,concur.
Feliciano,J.,isonleave.

Footnotes
1Rollo.pp.2730.
2Rollo,p.33.
3ACG.R.CVNo.04340.
4ThroughAssociateJusticeMa.RosarioQuetulioLosa,ponente,withPresidingJusticeRamonG.
Gaviola,Jr.,andAssociateJusticesEduardoP.CaguioaandLeonorInesLuciano,concurring.
5Rollo,pp.1624.
6Rollo,p.26.
7Republicv.Estenzo,G.R.No.L35512,February29,1988,158SCRA282AlgerElectric,Inc.vs.
CourtofAppeals,G.R.No.L34298,February28,1985,135SCRA3PaperIndustriesCorporation
ofthePhilippinesvs.IntermediateAppellateCourt,G.R.No.71375,June18,1987,151SCRA161.
8DeTaveravs.PhilippineTuberculosisSociety,Inc.,G.R.No.L48928,February25,1982,112
SCRA243.
9Dominguezvs.Lee,G.R.No.7496061,November27,1987,155SCRA703.
10Rollo,pp.2728.
11Taylorvs.ManilaElectricCompany,16Phil.8VergaravsCourtofAppeals,G.R.No.77679,
September30,1987,154SCRA564.
1211Phil538(1908).
13Viratavs.Ochoa,G.R.No.L46179,January31,1978,81SCRA472.
14ReportoftheCodeCommissionontheProposedCivilCodeofthePhilippines,January26,1948,
p.162.
15G.R.No.48541,August21,1989,176SCRA591.
16No.L14028,June30,1962,5SCRA468,470471.
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