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39. Jimenez v.

City of Manila (1987)


J. Paras
By P.R. Manalo
Facts
Petitioner Bernardino Jimenez bought bagoong in the Sta. Ana Public Market on a rainy day. It was flooded by
ankle-deep and dirty rainwater. When petitioner turned around, he stepped on an uncovered drainange opening,
causing a 4-inch rusty nail to penetrate his leg. Petitioner fell sick and was unable to supervise his bus business
for a long time. He sued the City of Manila and Asiatic Integrated Corp. as administrator of the said public
market. The trial court sentenced the City of Manila and Asiatic solidarily liable for damages. On appeal, the
CA modified and held that only Asiatic is liable. Hence this petition. HELDCity of Manila liable under
article 2189 of the Civil Code.
Argument
The City of Manila argues that it cannot be held liable because under the Management and Operating Contract
with Asiatic, the latter assumed sole responsibility for damages which may be suffered by third persons for any
cause attributable to it.
The City of Manila also argues that under the Revised Charter of Manila, it shall not be liable or held for
damages or injuries to persons or property arising from the failure of the Mayor, the Municipal Board, or any
other City Officer, to enforce the provisions of this chapter, or any other law or ordinance, or from negligence
of said Mayor, Municipal Board, or any other officers while enforcing or attempting to enforce said
provisions.
Issue
Whether the City of Manila is liable for the injuries suffered by the petitioner despite the contract and the
Revised Charter of Manila.
Held
Yes.
1. The Revised Charter of Manila establishes a general rule regulating the liability of the City of Manila for
"damages or injury to persons or property arising from the failure of city officers" to enforce the provisions of
said Act, "or any other law or ordinance or from negligence" of the City "Mayor, Municipal Board, or other
officers while enforcing or attempting to enforce said provisions."
On the other hand, Art. 2189 of the Civil Code provides that Provinces, cities and municipalities shall be
liable for damages for the death of, or injuries suffered by any person by reason of defective conditions of
roads, streets, bridges, public buildings and other public works under their control or supervision.
The said article constitutes a particular prescription making "provinces, cities and municipalities ... liable for
damages for the death of, or injury suffered by any person by reason" specifically "of the defective
condition of roads, streets, bridges, public buildings, and other public works under their control or
supervision." In other words the Revised Charter of Manila refers to liability arising from negligence, in
general, regardless of the object, thereof, while Article 2189 of the Civil Code governs liability due to
"defective streets, public buildings and other public works" in particular and is therefore decisive on this
specific case.

Under article 2189, it is not necessary for the liability therein established to attach, that the defective public
works belong to the province, city or municipality from which responsibility is exacted. What said article
requires is that the province, city or municipality has either "control or supervision" over the public building in
question.
2. The City of Manila, per the contract, remained in control of Asiatic, hence the former must be held liable for
petitioners injuries.
The fact of supervision and control of the City over subject public market was admitted by Mayor Ramon
Bagatsing in his letter to Secretary of Finance Cesar Virata.
In fact, the City of Manila employed a market master for the Sta. Ana Public Market whose primary duty is to
take direct supervision and control of that particular market, more specifically, to check the safety of the place
for the public.
3. On defense:
As a defense against liability on the basis of a quasi-delict, one must have exercised the diligence of a
good father of a family. (Art. 1173 of the Civil Code).
There is no argument that it is the duty of the City of Manila to exercise reasonable care to keep the
public market reasonably safe for people frequenting the place for their marketing needs.
While it may be conceded that the fulfillment of such duties is extremely difficult during storms and
floods, it must however, be admitted that ordinary precautions could have been taken during good
weather to minimize the dangers to life and limb under those difficult circumstances.
For instance, the drainage hole could have been placed under the stalls instead of on the passage
ways. Even more important is the fact, that the City should have seen to it that the openings were
covered. Sadly, the evidence indicates that long before petitioner fell into the opening, it was already
uncovered, and five (5) months after the incident happened, the opening was still uncovered. Moreo
ver, while there are findings that during floods the vendors remove the iron grills to hasten the flow of
water, there is no showing that such practice has ever been prohibited, much less penalized by the City
of Manila. Neither was it shown that any sign had been placed thereabouts to warn passersby of the
impending danger.
To recapitulate, it appears evident that the City of Manila is likewise liable for damages under Article
2189 of the Civil Code, respondent City having retained control and supervision over the Sta. Ana
Public Market and as tort-feasor under Article 2176 of the Civil Code on quasi-delicts
Petitioner had the right to assume that there were no openings in the middle of the passageways and
if any, that they were adequately covered. Had the opening been covered, petitioner could not have
fallen into it. Thus the negligence of the City of Manila is the proximate cause of the injury suffered,
the City is therefore liable for the injury suffered by the petitioner.
Respondent City of Manila and Asiatic Integrated Corporation being joint tort-feasors are solidarily
liable under Article 2194 of the Civil Code.
Dispositive
The judgment is modified. The City of Manila and Asiatic are solidarily liable.