by Merlie Villarina Tanching

FELIX NATE v. MANILA RAILROAD COMPANY, GR No. 11730, 1917-03-24

Facts:

This is an appeal from a judgment of the Court of First Instance in favor of the plaintiff for the sum of P120, the value of a caraballa killed by the defendant's train.

On March 22, 1913, a locomotive inspector who was in charge of the company's machine shops at San Fabian, Pangasinan, after repairing a locomotive, took it out on the track to test it, and while out in the country, the animal, having strayed on the track, was killed. The... negligence relied upon and which forms the basis of the judgment under review is the omission of the railroad company to fence its tracks on both sides. The trial court held that:

"It being an indisputable fact that the said law (of November 23, 1877) is in force in the Philippine Islands, the obligation of the railroad company to inclose its tracks is absolute; that being so, the company is obliged to repair the damage caused by its negligence in... failing to comply with the said obligation (Civil Code, articles 1902 and 1903)."

There was promulgated on November 23, 1877, a law essentially the same as that of June 3, 1855, and on September 8, 1878, regulations for the execution of the law of 1877 were enacted. This law and these regulations continued in force in the Philippine Islands until the... relinquishment of the Spanish sovereignty. Upon American occupation of the Philippine Islands, General Merritt issued on August 13, 1898, a proclamation wherein it was "ordered that the municipal laws, such as affect private rights of persons and property, regulate local... institutions and provide for the punishment of crime, shall be considered as continuing in force." Among the laws which were thus continued in force is that of November 23, 1877.

"Considering that the fact found in the judgment appealed from, to wit, that the complainant's cow ventured upon the track of the Sanlucar de Barrameda Railroad and was run over and killed by a train, constitutes the misdemeanor provided for by art. 2 of the law of November

23, 1877, which prohibits the entry and grazing of cattle on railroad tracks, acts penalized in art. 24 thereof; and

"Considering that the question of,whether or not the track was fenced in is not to be considered in applying the foregoing provisions to the case at bar, because the obligation imposed on the railroad companies by article 8 of the said law is not, according to this article,... enforceable until the proper resolution is passed in each case; and even though it were, it would not relieve a person from responsibility who, through carelessness or neglect, allowed cattle to enter upon another person's property, thereby inviting dangers which the law tried... to forestall in order to insure the safety of the lives and interests of such persons as use this method of transportation, as held by this court in similar cases; and

"Considering, in view of the foregoing reasons, that the error of law assigned to the judgment appealed from was incurred and that the legal infractions that serve as grounds for the appeal were committed;

Issues:

"First. Until regulations and instructions are issued for the execution of this decree and for the operation and good order of the railways in the Philippines, similar provisions in force in the Peninsula shall be provisionally observed as far as compatible and not... inconsistent with the special legislation of said Islands.

"Second. General provisions which may be issued regarding railways in the Philippines shall be binding upon all concessionaries."

"The owners or drivers of vehicles, horses, or cattle, may not, even for the purpose of entering or leaving adjoining lands, cross railroads, except at the points fixed for that purpose. This prohibition also includes muleteers, drivers of carriages, shepherds or cattlemen... who permit their horses or cattle to roam at large and who graze them on lands adjoining the railroads."

Ruling:

"We therefore adjudge and decree that the appeal taken by the CompaƱia de Ferrocarriles Andaluces from the said judgment should be and is hereby sustained and the said judgment reversed and annulled. The costs of the appeal shall be de officio. The amount of... the deposit made by the procurador shall be returned to him, and this decision and the order to be rendered immediately hereafter shall be communicated to the trial court of the district of Santiago de Jeres de la Frontera for the purposes required by law."

For the foregoing reasons the judgment is reversed, without costs. So ordered.

Principles:

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