Spouses Fontanilla vs Maliaman Case Digest – GR No L-55963, December 1, 1989

Spouses Fontanilla vs Maliaman Case Digest

Spouses Fontanilla vs Maliaman Case Digest


A vehicle owned and operated by the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) driven officially by its regular driver bumped a bicycle ridden by Francisco, son of petitioners. The boy eventually died in the hospital.

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Whether NIA is a government corporation



Functions and activities of the government which are “governmental‘ in character make the State immune from tort liability. Corporations on the other hand may be liable for the torts of agents within the scope of their employment. NIA is a government corporation with a juridical personality and not a mere agency of the government

Since it is a corporate body performing non-governmental functions, it now becomes liable for the damage caused by the accident resulting from the tortious acts of its driver employee.

NIA is directed to pay the petitioners for the death, hospitalization, burial, moral and exemplary damages, and attorney’s fees.

Evidently, there was negligence in the supervision of the driver for the reason that they were traveling at a high speed within the city limits and yet the supervisor of the group, Ely Salonga, failed to caution and make the driver observe the proper and allowed speed limit within the city. Under the situation, such negligence is further aggravated by their desire to reach their destination without even checking whether or not the vehicle suffered damage from the object it bumped, thus showing imprudence and recklessness on the part of both the driver and the supervisor in the group.

Significantly, this Court has ruled that even if the employer can prove the diligence in the selection and supervision (the latter aspect has not been established herein) of the employee, still if he ratifies the wrongful acts, or take no step to avert further damage, the employer would still be liable. (Maxion vs. Manila Railroad Co., 44 Phil. 597).

Thus, too, in the case of Vda. de Bonifacio vs. B.L.T. Bus Co. (L-26810, August 31, 1970, 34 SCRA 618), this Court held that a driver should be especially watchful in anticipation of others who may be using the highway, and his failure to keep a proper lookout for reasons and objects in the line to be traversed constitutes negligence.

Considering the foregoing, respondent NIA is hereby directed to pay herein petitioners-spouses the amounts of P12,000.00 for the death of Francisco Fontanilla; P3,389.00 for hospitalization and burial expenses of the aforenamed deceased; P30,000.00 as moral damages; P8,000.00 as exemplary damages and attorney’s fees of 20% of the total award.

Spouses Fontanilla vs Maliaman Case Digest

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