Navarro-Banaria v. Banaria

 Navarro-Banaria v. Banaria, 

G.R. No. 217806, 

July 28, 2020


A right, though by itself legal because recognized or granted by law as such, may

nevertheless become the source of some illegality. When a right is exercised in a

manner which does not conform with the norms enshrined in Article 19 and results in

damage to another, a legal wrong is thereby committed for which the wrongdoer must

be held responsible.


An action for damages was filed by the respondents (siblings, children and

grandchildren of Pascasio) against Adelaida Navaro-Banaria for allegedly failing,

deliberately with bad faith and malice, and despite numerous reminders, to keep her

word and honor her promise of bringing her husband, Pascasio to his 90th Grand

Birthday Celebration which was prepared, planned, and paid for by respondents.

According to the respondents, Pascasio’s non-appearance to such event caused loss

and injury to them as they had planned such grand event for almost a year and have

spent a relatively huge amount for such celebration - that in addition to such, some of

the respondents also flew all the way from the US just to be able to attend the

celebration; that to the dismay of the respondents as well as their 200 guests, Pascasio

was nowhere to be found in his 90th birthday celebration; and most of all, that

respondents, being worried that something untoward might have happened to their

father, went to the nearest police station to report Pascasio as a missing person after

the latter and Adelaida have not been seen or heard for more than 24 hours. And when

the respondents were finally able to find Adelaida, they asked her why Pascasio was

not able to attend the birthday celebration. Adelaida reasoned that Pascasio did not

want to go to the party. When asked why Adelaida broke her commitment to bring

Pascasio to the party, Adelaida uttered the words, "I am the wife." Thus, the complaint

for damages was filed by respondents against Adelaida.

In response, Adelaida rebutted the allegations of the respondents by saying that she

was not privy to the respondents' planned birthday celebration for Pascasio; and that

she deemed it wise to spare Pascasio of the embarrassment and humiliation of

defecating and urinating without regard to the people around him brought about by his

advanced age.

The RTC ruled in favor of the respondents and ordered Adelaida to pay the

respondents' travel expenses, actual damages, moral damages, exemplary damages,

and attorney's fees. The CA affirmed with modification (with regard to the award for

damages) the ruling of the RTC that Adelaida violated Articles 19 and 21 of the Civil

Code regarding Human Relations.


Whether or not the Court of Appeals erred in ruling that Adelaida violated Articles 19

and 21 of the Civil Code regarding Human Relations.


No, the CA did not err. Article 19 of the Civil Code provides that “every person in the

exercise of his rights and in the performance of his duties must act with justice, give

everyone his due, and observe honesty and good faith”; consequently, when Article 19

is violated, an action for damages is proper under either Article 20 or 21 of the same

Code. The elements of an abuse of rights under Article 19 are: (1) there is a legal right

or duty; (2) which is exercised in bad faith; (3) for the sole intent of prejudicing or

injuring another.

In the case at bar, while it is true that Adelaida, as the legal wife and guardian of

Pascasio, has the right to decide on the latter’s affairs including the celebration of his

90th birthday, such right, however, must be exercised within the standards of conduct

enunciated in Article 19 of the Civil Code, in other words such right must be exercised

with honesty and good faith. The facts of the case, however, show that Adelaida,

despite fully knowing that the respondents spent a considerable amount of time, money

and effort to make the event possible and despite having known and been constantly

reminded of the event, she deliberately and intentionally failed, despite having the

opportunity to do so, to contact the respondents and inform the latter of her decision

that they would not attend the said event or that they will not be able to come; neither

did she state the reason for Pascasio’s non-attendance. The least that Adelaida could

have done was to inform the respondents immediately of any unforeseen circumstance

that would hinder its success and to avert any further damage or injury to the

respondents. Moreover, considering that numerous guests were invited and have

confirmed their attendance, she placed the respondents in a very embarrassing

situation. It is to be noted that Adelaida also failed to contact the respondents when they

returned to Manila. All in all, the foregoing shows that Adelaida intentionally failed to

bring Pascasio to the birthday celebration prepared by the respondents thus violating

Article 19 of the Civil Code on the principle of abuse of right. Hence, for failure of

Adelaida to observe good faith in the exercise of her right as the wife of Pascasio

thereby causing loss and injury on to the respondents, the latter must be compensated

by way of damages pursuant to Article 21 of the Civil Code.

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