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Insurance Case Digest: Heirs of Loreto C. Maramag v Maramag (2009)

G.R. No. 181132              June 5, 2009
Lessons Applicable: To whom insurance proceeds payable (Insurance)

FACTS:
  • Loreto Maramag designated as beneficiary his concubine Eva de Guzman Maramag
  • Vicenta Maramag and Odessa, Karl Brian, and Trisha Angelie (heirs of Loreto Maramag) and his concubine Eva de Guzman Maramag, also suspected in the killing of Loreto and his illegitimate children are claiming for his insurance.
    • Vicenta alleges that Eva is disqualified from claiming
  • RTC: Granted - civil code does NOT apply
  • CA: dismissed the case for lack of jurisdiction for filing beyond reglementary period
ISSUE: W/N Eva can claim even though prohibited under the civil code against donation

HELD: YES. Petition is DENIED. 
  • Any person who is forbidden from receiving any donation under Article 739 cannot be named beneficiary of a life insurance policy of the person who cannot make any donation to him
    • If a concubine is made the beneficiary, it is believed that the insurance contract will still remain valid, but the indemnity must go to the legal heirs and not to the concubine, for evidently, what is prohibited under Art. 2012 is the naming of the improper beneficiary. 
  • SECTION 53. The insurance proceeds shall be applied exclusively to the proper interest of the person in whose name or for whose benefit it is made unless otherwise specified in the policy.
    • GR: only persons entitled to claim the insurance proceeds are either the insured, if still alive; or the beneficiary, if the insured is already deceased, upon the maturation of the policy.
    • EX: situation where the insurance contract was intended to benefit third persons who are not parties to the same in the form of favorable stipulations or indemnity. In such a case, third parties may directly sue and claim from the insurer
  • It is only in cases where the insured has not designated any beneficiary, or when the designated beneficiary is disqualified by law to receive the proceeds, that the insurance policy proceeds shall redound to the benefit of the estate of the insured

Jurisprudence: G.R. No. 181132

THIRD DIVISION
G.R. No. 181132               June 5, 2009
HEIRS OF LORETO C. MARAMAG, represented by surviving spouse VICENTA PANGILINAN MARAMAG,Petitioners,
vs.
EVA VERNA DE GUZMAN MARAMAG, ODESSA DE GUZMAN MARAMAG, KARL BRIAN DE GUZMAN MARAMAG, TRISHA ANGELIE MARAMAG, THE INSULAR LIFE ASSURANCE COMPANY, LTD., and GREAT PACIFIC LIFE ASSURANCE CORPORATION, Respondents.
D E C I S I O N
NACHURA, J.:
This is a petition1 for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules, seeking to reverse and set aside the Resolution2dated January 8, 2008 of the Court of Appeals (CA), in CA-G.R. CV No. 85948, dismissing petitioners’ appeal for lack of jurisdiction.
The case stems from a petition3 filed against respondents with the Regional Trial Court, Branch 29, for revocation and/or reduction of insurance proceeds for being void and/or inofficious, with prayer for a temporary restraining order (TRO) and a writ of preliminary injunction.
The petition alleged that: (1) petitioners were the legitimate wife and children of Loreto Maramag (Loreto), while respondents were Loreto’s illegitimate family; (2) Eva de Guzman Maramag (Eva) was a concubine of Loreto and a suspect in the killing of the latter, thus, she is disqualified to receive any proceeds from his insurance policies from Insular Life Assurance Company, Ltd. (Insular)4 and Great Pacific Life Assurance Corporation (Grepalife);5 (3) the illegitimate children of Loreto—Odessa, Karl Brian, and Trisha Angelie—were entitled only to one-half of the legitime of the legitimate children, thus, the proceeds released to Odessa and those to be released to Karl Brian and Trisha Angelie were inofficious and should be reduced; and (4) petitioners could not be deprived of their legitimes, which should be satisfied first.
In support of the prayer for TRO and writ of preliminary injunction, petitioners alleged, among others, that part of the insurance proceeds had already been released in favor of Odessa, while the rest of the proceeds are to be released in favor of Karl Brian and Trisha Angelie, both minors, upon the appointment of their legal guardian. Petitioners also prayed for the total amount of P320,000.00 as actual litigation expenses and attorney’s fees.
In answer,6 Insular admitted that Loreto misrepresented Eva as his legitimate wife and Odessa, Karl Brian, and Trisha Angelie as his legitimate children, and that they filed their claims for the insurance proceeds of the insurance policies; that when it ascertained that Eva was not the legal wife of Loreto, it disqualified her as a beneficiary and divided the proceeds among Odessa, Karl Brian, and Trisha Angelie, as the remaining designated beneficiaries; and that it released Odessa’s share as she was of age, but withheld the release of the shares of minors Karl Brian and Trisha Angelie pending submission of letters of guardianship. Insular alleged that the complaint or petition failed to state a cause of action insofar as it sought to declare as void the designation of Eva as beneficiary, because Loreto revoked her designation as such in Policy No. A001544070 and it disqualified her in Policy No. A001693029; and insofar as it sought to declare as inofficious the shares of Odessa, Karl Brian, and Trisha Angelie, considering that no settlement of Loreto’s estate had been filed nor had the respective shares of the heirs been determined. Insular further claimed that it was bound to honor the insurance policies designating the children of Loreto with Eva as beneficiaries pursuant to Section 53 of the Insurance Code.
In its own answer7 with compulsory counterclaim, Grepalife alleged that Eva was not designated as an insurance policy beneficiary; that the claims filed by Odessa, Karl Brian, and Trisha Angelie were denied because Loreto was ineligible for insurance due to a misrepresentation in his application form that he was born on December 10, 1936 and, thus, not more than 65 years old when he signed it in September 2001; that the case was premature, there being no claim filed by the legitimate family of Loreto; and that the law on succession does not apply where the designation of insurance beneficiaries is clear.
As the whereabouts of Eva, Odessa, Karl Brian, and Trisha Angelie were not known to petitioners, summons by publication was resorted to. Still, the illegitimate family of Loreto failed to file their answer. Hence, the trial court, upon motion of petitioners, declared them in default in its Order dated May 7, 2004.
During the pre-trial on July 28, 2004, both Insular and Grepalife moved that the issues raised in their respective answers be resolved first. The trial court ordered petitioners to comment within 15 days.
In their comment, petitioners alleged that the issue raised by Insular and Grepalife was purely legal – whether the complaint itself was proper or not – and that the designation of a beneficiary is an act of liberality or a donation and, therefore, subject to the provisions of Articles 7528 and 7729 of the Civil Code.
In reply, both Insular and Grepalife countered that the insurance proceeds belong exclusively to the designated beneficiaries in the policies, not to the estate or to the heirs of the insured. Grepalife also reiterated that it had disqualified Eva as a beneficiary when it ascertained that Loreto was legally married to Vicenta Pangilinan Maramag.
On September 21, 2004, the trial court issued a Resolution, the dispositive portion of which reads –
WHEREFORE, the motion to dismiss incorporated in the answer of defendants Insular Life and Grepalife is granted with respect to defendants Odessa, Karl Brian and Trisha Maramag. The action shall proceed with respect to the other defendants Eva Verna de Guzman, Insular Life and Grepalife.
SO ORDERED.10
In so ruling, the trial court ratiocinated thus –
Art. 2011 of the Civil Code provides that the contract of insurance is governed by the (sic) special laws. Matters not expressly provided for in such special laws shall be regulated by this Code. The principal law on insurance is the Insurance Code, as amended. Only in case of deficiency in the Insurance Code that the Civil Code may be resorted to. (Enriquez v. Sun Life Assurance Co., 41 Phil. 269.)
The Insurance Code, as amended, contains a provision regarding to whom the insurance proceeds shall be paid. It is very clear under Sec. 53 thereof that the insurance proceeds shall be applied exclusively to the proper interest of the person in whose name or for whose benefit it is made, unless otherwise specified in the policy. Since the defendants are the ones named as the primary beneficiary (sic) in the insurances (sic) taken by the deceased Loreto C. Maramag and there is no showing that herein plaintiffs were also included as beneficiary (sic) therein the insurance proceeds shall exclusively be paid to them. This is because the beneficiary has a vested right to the indemnity, unless the insured reserves the right to change the beneficiary. (Grecio v. Sunlife Assurance Co. of Canada, 48 Phil. [sic] 63).
Neither could the plaintiffs invoked (sic) the law on donations or the rules on testamentary succession in order to defeat the right of herein defendants to collect the insurance indemnity. The beneficiary in a contract of insurance is not the donee spoken in the law of donation. The rules on testamentary succession cannot apply here, for the insurance indemnity does not partake of a donation. As such, the insurance indemnity cannot be considered as an advance of the inheritance which can be subject to collation (Del Val v. Del Val, 29 Phil. 534). In the case of Southern Luzon Employees’ Association v. Juanita Golpeo, et al., the Honorable Supreme Court made the following pronouncements[:]
"With the finding of the trial court that the proceeds to the Life Insurance Policy belongs exclusively to the defendant as his individual and separate property, we agree that the proceeds of an insurance policy belong exclusively to the beneficiary and not to the estate of the person whose life was insured, and that such proceeds are the separate and individual property of the beneficiary and not of the heirs of the person whose life was insured, is the doctrine in America. We believe that the same doctrine obtains in these Islands by virtue of Section 428 of the Code of Commerce x x x."
In [the] light of the above pronouncements, it is very clear that the plaintiffs has (sic) no sufficient cause of action against defendants Odessa, Karl Brian and Trisha Angelie Maramag for the reduction and/or declaration of inofficiousness of donation as primary beneficiary (sic) in the insurances (sic) of the late Loreto C. Maramag.
However, herein plaintiffs are not totally bereft of any cause of action. One of the named beneficiary (sic) in the insurances (sic) taken by the late Loreto C. Maramag is his concubine Eva Verna De Guzman. Any person who is forbidden from receiving any donation under Article 739 cannot be named beneficiary of a life insurance policy of the person who cannot make any donation to him, according to said article (Art. 2012, Civil Code). If a concubine is made the beneficiary, it is believed that the insurance contract will still remain valid, but the indemnity must go to the legal heirs and not to the concubine, for evidently, what is prohibited under Art. 2012 is the naming of the improper beneficiary. In such case, the action for the declaration of nullity may be brought by the spouse of the donor or donee, and the guilt of the donor and donee may be proved by preponderance of evidence in the same action (Comment of Edgardo L. Paras, Civil Code of the Philippines, page 897). Since the designation of defendant Eva Verna de Guzman as one of the primary beneficiary (sic) in the insurances (sic) taken by the late Loreto C. Maramag is void under Art. 739 of the Civil Code, the insurance indemnity that should be paid to her must go to the legal heirs of the deceased which this court may properly take cognizance as the action for the declaration for the nullity of a void donation falls within the general jurisdiction of this Court.11
Insular12 and Grepalife13 filed their respective motions for reconsideration, arguing, in the main, that the petition failed to state a cause of action. Insular further averred that the proceeds were divided among the three children as the remaining named beneficiaries. Grepalife, for its part, also alleged that the premiums paid had already been refunded.
Petitioners, in their comment, reiterated their earlier arguments and posited that whether the complaint may be dismissed for failure to state a cause of action must be determined solely on the basis of the allegations in the complaint, such that the defenses of Insular and Grepalife would be better threshed out during trial.1avvphi1
On June 16, 2005, the trial court issued a Resolution, disposing, as follows:
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing disquisitions, the Motions for Reconsideration filed by defendants Grepalife and Insular Life are hereby GRANTED. Accordingly, the portion of the Resolution of this Court dated 21 September 2004 which ordered the prosecution of the case against defendant Eva Verna De Guzman, Grepalife and Insular Life is hereby SET ASIDE, and the case against them is hereby ordered DISMISSED.
SO ORDERED.14
In granting the motions for reconsideration of Insular and Grepalife, the trial court considered the allegations of Insular that Loreto revoked the designation of Eva in one policy and that Insular disqualified her as a beneficiary in the other policy such that the entire proceeds would be paid to the illegitimate children of Loreto with Eva pursuant to Section 53 of the Insurance Code. It ruled that it is only in cases where there are no beneficiaries designated, or when the only designated beneficiary is disqualified, that the proceeds should be paid to the estate of the insured. As to the claim that the proceeds to be paid to Loreto’s illegitimate children should be reduced based on the rules on legitime, the trial court held that the distribution of the insurance proceeds is governed primarily by the Insurance Code, and the provisions of the Civil Code are irrelevant and inapplicable. With respect to the Grepalife policy, the trial court noted that Eva was never designated as a beneficiary, but only Odessa, Karl Brian, and Trisha Angelie; thus, it upheld the dismissal of the case as to the illegitimate children. It further held that the matter of Loreto’s misrepresentation was premature; the appropriate action may be filed only upon denial of the claim of the named beneficiaries for the insurance proceeds by Grepalife.
Petitioners appealed the June 16, 2005 Resolution to the CA, but it dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction, holding that the decision of the trial court dismissing the complaint for failure to state a cause of action involved a pure question of law. The appellate court also noted that petitioners did not file within the reglementary period a motion for reconsideration of the trial court’s Resolution, dated September 21, 2004, dismissing the complaint as against Odessa, Karl Brian, and Trisha Angelie; thus, the said Resolution had already attained finality.
Hence, this petition raising the following issues:
a. In determining the merits of a motion to dismiss for failure to state a cause of action, may the Court consider matters which were not alleged in the Complaint, particularly the defenses put up by the defendants in their Answer?
b. In granting a motion for reconsideration of a motion to dismiss for failure to state a cause of action, did not the Regional Trial Court engage in the examination and determination of what were the facts and their probative value, or the truth thereof, when it premised the dismissal on allegations of the defendants in their answer – which had not been proven?
c. x x x (A)re the members of the legitimate family entitled to the proceeds of the insurance for the concubine?15
In essence, petitioners posit that their petition before the trial court should not have been dismissed for failure to state a cause of action because the finding that Eva was either disqualified as a beneficiary by the insurance companies or that her designation was revoked by Loreto, hypothetically admitted as true, was raised only in the answers and motions for reconsideration of both Insular and Grepalife. They argue that for a motion to dismiss to prosper on that ground, only the allegations in the complaint should be considered. They further contend that, even assuming Insular disqualified Eva as a beneficiary, her share should not have been distributed to her children with Loreto but, instead, awarded to them, being the legitimate heirs of the insured deceased, in accordance with law and jurisprudence.
The petition should be denied.
The grant of the motion to dismiss was based on the trial court’s finding that the petition failed to state a cause of action, as provided in Rule 16, Section 1(g), of the Rules of Court, which reads –
SECTION 1. Grounds. – Within the time for but before filing the answer to the complaint or pleading asserting a claim, a motion to dismiss may be made on any of the following grounds:
x x x x
(g) That the pleading asserting the claim states no cause of action.
A cause of action is the act or omission by which a party violates a right of another.16 A complaint states a cause of action when it contains the three (3) elements of a cause of action—(1) the legal right of the plaintiff; (2) the correlative obligation of the defendant; and (3) the act or omission of the defendant in violation of the legal right. If any of these elements is absent, the complaint becomes vulnerable to a motion to dismiss on the ground of failure to state a cause of action.17
When a motion to dismiss is premised on this ground, the ruling thereon should be based only on the facts alleged in the complaint. The court must resolve the issue on the strength of such allegations, assuming them to be true. The test of sufficiency of a cause of action rests on whether, hypothetically admitting the facts alleged in the complaint to be true, the court can render a valid judgment upon the same, in accordance with the prayer in the complaint. This is the general rule.
However, this rule is subject to well-recognized exceptions, such that there is no hypothetical admission of the veracity of the allegations if:
1. the falsity of the allegations is subject to judicial notice;
2. such allegations are legally impossible;
3. the allegations refer to facts which are inadmissible in evidence;
4. by the record or document in the pleading, the allegations appear unfounded; or
5. there is evidence which has been presented to the court by stipulation of the parties or in the course of the hearings related to the case.18
In this case, it is clear from the petition filed before the trial court that, although petitioners are the legitimate heirs of Loreto, they were not named as beneficiaries in the insurance policies issued by Insular and Grepalife. The basis of petitioners’ claim is that Eva, being a concubine of Loreto and a suspect in his murder, is disqualified from being designated as beneficiary of the insurance policies, and that Eva’s children with Loreto, being illegitimate children, are entitled to a lesser share of the proceeds of the policies. They also argued that pursuant to Section 12 of the Insurance Code,19 Eva’s share in the proceeds should be forfeited in their favor, the former having brought about the death of Loreto. Thus, they prayed that the share of Eva and portions of the shares of Loreto’s illegitimate children should be awarded to them, being the legitimate heirs of Loreto entitled to their respective legitimes.
It is evident from the face of the complaint that petitioners are not entitled to a favorable judgment in light of Article 2011 of the Civil Code which expressly provides that insurance contracts shall be governed by special laws, i.e., the Insurance Code. Section 53 of the Insurance Code states—
SECTION 53. The insurance proceeds shall be applied exclusively to the proper interest of the person in whose name or for whose benefit it is made unless otherwise specified in the policy.
Pursuant thereto, it is obvious that the only persons entitled to claim the insurance proceeds are either the insured, if still alive; or the beneficiary, if the insured is already deceased, upon the maturation of the policy.20 The exception to this rule is a situation where the insurance contract was intended to benefit third persons who are not parties to the same in the form of favorable stipulations or indemnity. In such a case, third parties may directly sue and claim from the insurer.21
Petitioners are third parties to the insurance contracts with Insular and Grepalife and, thus, are not entitled to the proceeds thereof. Accordingly, respondents Insular and Grepalife have no legal obligation to turn over the insurance proceeds to petitioners. The revocation of Eva as a beneficiary in one policy and her disqualification as such in another are of no moment considering that the designation of the illegitimate children as beneficiaries in Loreto’s insurance policies remains valid. Because no legal proscription exists in naming as beneficiaries the children of illicit relationships by the insured,22 the shares of Eva in the insurance proceeds, whether forfeited by the court in view of the prohibition on donations under Article 739 of the Civil Code or by the insurers themselves for reasons based on the insurance contracts, must be awarded to the said illegitimate children, the designated beneficiaries, to the exclusion of petitioners. It is only in cases where the insured has not designated any beneficiary,23 or when the designated beneficiary is disqualified by law to receive the proceeds,24 that the insurance policy proceeds shall redound to the benefit of the estate of the insured.
In this regard, the assailed June 16, 2005 Resolution of the trial court should be upheld. In the same light, the Decision of the CA dated January 8, 2008 should be sustained. Indeed, the appellate court had no jurisdiction to take cognizance of the appeal; the issue of failure to state a cause of action is a question of law and not of fact, there being no findings of fact in the first place.25
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED for lack of merit. Costs against petitioners.
SO ORDERED.
ANTONIO EDUARDO B. NACHURA
Associate Justice
WE CONCUR:
CONSUELO YNARES-SANTIAGO
Associate Justice
Chairperson
ANTONIO T. CARPIO*
Associate Justice RENATO C. CORONA**
Associate Justice
DIOSDADO M. PERALTA
Associate Justice
A T T E S T A T I O N
I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision were reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court’s Division.
CONSUELO YNARES-SANTIAGO
Associate Justice
Chairperson, Third Division
C E R T I F I C A T I O N
Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution and the Division Chairperson's Attestation, I certify that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court’s Division.
REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice

Footnotes
* Additional member in lieu of Associate Justice Conchita Carpio Morales per Special Order No. 646 dated May 15, 2009.
** Additional member in lieu of Associate Justice Minita V. Chico-Nazario per Special Order No. 631 dated April 29, 2009.
1 Rollo, pp. 11-36.
2 Penned by Associate Justice Marina L. Buzon, with Associate Justices Rosmari D. Carandang and Mariflor P. Punzalan Castillo, concurring; id. at 37-52.
3 Rollo, pp. 59-64.
4 Two Life Insurance plans with Policy Nos. A001544070, for the sum of P1,500,000.00; and 1643029, for the sum of P500,000.00.
5 Two Pension Plans with Policy Nos. PTLIG 1000326-0000, with a maturity value of P1,000,000.00; and PTLIG 1000344-0000, with a maturity value of P500,000.00; and a Memorial Plan with Policy No. M0109-159064-0000 with plan value of P50,000.00.
6 Cited in the January 8, 2008 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 85948; rollo, pp. 40-41.
7 Id. at 40.
8 ART. 752. The provisions of Article 750 notwithstanding, no person may give or receive, by way of donation, more than he may give or receive by will.
ART. 750. The donation may comprehend all the present property of the donor, or part thereof, provided he reserves, in full ownership or in usufruct, sufficient means for the support of himself, and of all relatives who, at the time of the acceptance of the donation, are by law entitled to be supported by the donor. Without such reservation, the donation shall be reduced on petition of any person affected.
9 ART. 772. Only those who at the time of the donor’s death have a right to the legitime and their heirs and successors in interest may ask for the reduction of inofficious donations.
Those referred to in the preceding paragraph cannot renounce their right during the lifetime of the donor, either by express declaration, or by consenting to the donation.
The donees, devisees and legatees, who are not entitled to the legitime and the creditors of the deceased can neither ask for the reduction nor avail themselves thereof.
10 Rollo, pp. 42-43.
11 Id. at 43-45.
12 Id. at 65-72.
13 Id. at 73-80.
14 Id. at 46-47.
15 Id. at 20-21.
16 RULES ON CIVIL PROCEDURE, Rule 2, Sec. 2.
17 Bank of America NT&SA v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 120135, March 31, 2003, 400 SCRA 156, 167.
18 Perkin Elmer Singapore Pte Ltd. v. Dakila Trading Corporation, G.R. No. 172242, August 14, 2007, 530 SCRA 170; China Road and Bridge Corporation v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 137898, December 15, 2000, 348 SCRA 401, 409, 412; Dabuco v. Court of Appeals, 379 Phil. 939 (2000); Peltan Dev., Inc. v. CA, 336 Phil. 824 (1997); City of Cebu v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 109173, July 5, 1996, 258 SCRA 175, 182-184; United States of America v. Reyes, G.R. No. 79253, March 1, 1993, 219 SCRA 192; Santiago v. Pioneer Savings & Loan Bank, No. L-77502, January 15, 1988, 157 SCRA 100; Marcopper Mining Corporation v. Garcia, No. L-55935, July 30, 1986, 143 SCRA 178, 187-189; Tan v. Director of Forestry, No. L-24548, October 27, 1983, 125 SCRA 302, 315.
19 SECTION 12. The interest of a beneficiary in a life insurance policy shall be forfeited when the beneficiary is the principal, accomplice, or accessory in willfully bringing about the death of the insured; in which event, the nearest relative of the insured shall receive the proceeds of said insurance if not otherwise disqualified.
20 Southern Luzon Employees’ Ass. v. Golpeo, et al., 96 Phil. 83, 86 (1954), citing Del Val v. Del Val, 29 Phil. 534, 540-541 (1915).
21 Coquila v. Fieldmen’s Insurance Co., Inc., No. L-23276, November 29, 1968, 26 SCRA 178, 181; Guingon v. Del Monte, No. L-22042, August 17, 1967, 20 SCRA 1043.
22 Southern Luzon Employees’ Ass. v. Golpeo, et al., supra note 20, at 87-88.
23 Vda. de Consuegra v. Government Service Insurance System, No. L-28093, January 30, 1971, 37 SCRA 315.
24 The Insular Life Assurance Company, Ltd. v. Ebrado, No. L-44059, October 28, 1977, 80 SCRA 181.
25 China Road and Bridge Corporation v. Court of Appeals, supra note 18, at 409-410.

Insurance Case Digest: Filipinas Compania de Seguros v. Christern Henefeld and Co. (1951)

G.R. No. L-2294             May 25, 1951
Lessons Applicable: Disqualification: Public Enemy (Insurance)

FACTS:
  • October 1, 1941: Christern Huenefeld and co., inc. (Christern), a company whose major stockholders are German, paid P1M and obtained a fire policy from Filipinas Cia. de Seguros (Filipinas)
  • December 10, 1941: U.S. declared a war against Germany
  • February 27, 1942 (during the japanese occupation): the building and insured merchandise were burned
    • their claimed from Filipinas and the salvage goods were auctioned for P92,650 who refused since Christen was organized under the Philippine laws, it was under American jurisdiction which is an enemy of the Germans
  • April 9, 1943: The Director of Bureau of Financing ordered Filipinas to pay the P92,650 to Christen and it did. 
  • Filipinas filed with the CFI the P92,650 paid to Christern
  • CA affirmed CFI: dismissed the action
  • Filed a petition for certiorari
ISSUE: W/N Christern is a public enemy and therefore ceased to be insured

HELD: YES. Ordered to pay Filipinas P77,208.33, Philippine currency, less the amount of the premium, in Philippine currency, that should be returned by the Filipinas  for the unexpired term of the policy in question, beginning December 11, 1941
  • Philippine Insurance Law (Act No. 2427, as amended,) in section 8, provides that "anyone except a public enemy may be insured
  • Effect of war, generally. — All intercourse between citizens of belligerent powers which is inconsistent with a state of war is prohibited by the law of nations. Such prohibition includes all negotiations, commerce, or trading with the enemy; all acts which will increase, or tend to increase, its income or resources; all acts of voluntary submission to it; or receiving its protection; also all acts concerning the transmission of money or goods; and all contracts relating thereto are thereby nullified. It further prohibits insurance upon trade with or by the enemy, upon the life or lives of aliens engaged in service with the enemy; this for the reason that the subjects of one country cannot be permitted to lend their assistance to protect by insurance the commerce or property of belligerent, alien subjects, or to do anything detrimental too their country's interest. The purpose of war is to cripple the power and exhaust the resources of the enemy, and it is inconsistent that one country should destroy its enemy's property and repay in insurance the value of what has been so destroyed, or that it should in such manner increase the resources of the enemy, or render it aid, and the commencement of war determines, for like reasons, all trading intercourse with the enemy, which prior thereto may have been lawful. All individuals therefore, who compose the belligerent powers, exist, as to each other, in a state of utter exclusion, and are public enemies
  • In the case of an ordinary fire policy, which grants insurance only from year, or for some other specified term it is plain that when the parties become alien enemies, the contractual tie is broken and the contractual rights of the parties, so far as not vested.
  • However, elementary rules of justice (in the absence of specific provision in the Insurance Law) require that the premium paid by the respondent for the period covered by its policy from December 11, 1941, should be returned by the petitioner 

Jurisprudence: G.R. No. L-2294

EN BANC
G.R. No. L-2294             May 25, 1951
FILIPINAS COMPAƑIA DE SEGUROS, petitioner,
vs.
CHRISTERN, HUENEFELD and CO., INC., respondent.
Ramirez and Ortigas for petitioner.
Ewald Huenefeld for respondent.
PARAS, C.J.:
On October 1, 1941, the respondent corporation, Christern Huenefeld, & Co., Inc., after payment of corresponding premium, obtained from the petitioner ,Filipinas Cia. de Seguros, fire policy No. 29333 in the sum of P1000,000, covering merchandise contained in a building located at No. 711 Roman Street, Binondo Manila. On February 27, 1942, or during the Japanese military occupation, the building and insured merchandise were burned. In due time the respondent submitted to the petitioner its claim under the policy. The salvage goods were sold at public auction and, after deducting their value, the total loss suffered by the respondent was fixed at P92,650. The petitioner refused to pay the claim on the ground that the policy in favor of the respondent had ceased to be in force on the date the United States declared war against Germany, the respondent Corporation (though organized under and by virtue of the laws of the Philippines) being controlled by the German subjects and the petitioner being a company under American jurisdiction when said policy was issued on October 1, 1941. The petitioner, however, in pursuance of the order of the Director of Bureau of Financing, Philippine Executive Commission, dated April 9, 1943, paid to the respondent the sum of P92,650 on April 19, 1943.
The present action was filed on August 6, 1946, in the Court of First Instance of Manila for the purpose of recovering from the respondent the sum of P92,650 above mentioned. The theory of the petitioner is that the insured merchandise were burned up after the policy issued in 1941 in favor of the respondent corporation has ceased to be effective because of the outbreak of the war between the United States and Germany on December 10, 1941, and that the payment made by the petitioner to the respondent corporation during the Japanese military occupation was under pressure. After trial, the Court of First Instance of Manila dismissed the action without pronouncement as to costs. Upon appeal to the Court of Appeals, the judgment of the Court of First Instance of Manila was affirmed, with costs. The case is now before us on appeal by certiorari from the decision of the Court of Appeals.
The Court of Appeals overruled the contention of the petitioner that the respondent corporation became an enemy when the United States declared war against Germany, relying on English and American cases which held that a corporation is a citizen of the country or state by and under the laws of which it was created or organized. It rejected the theory that nationality of private corporation is determine by the character or citizenship of its controlling stockholders.
There is no question that majority of the stockholders of the respondent corporation were German subjects. This being so, we have to rule that said respondent became an enemy corporation upon the outbreak of the war between the United States and Germany. The English and American cases relied upon by the Court of Appeals have lost their force in view of the latest decision of the Supreme Court of the United States in Clark vs. Uebersee Finanz Korporation, decided on December 8, 1947, 92 Law. Ed. Advance Opinions, No. 4, pp. 148-153, in which the controls test has been adopted. In "Enemy Corporation" by Martin Domke, a paper presented to the Second International Conference of the Legal Profession held at the Hague (Netherlands) in August. 1948 the following enlightening passages appear:
Since World War I, the determination of enemy nationality of corporations has been discussion in many countries, belligerent and neutral. A corporation was subject to enemy legislation when it was controlled by enemies, namely managed under the influence of individuals or corporations, themselves considered as enemies. It was the English courts which first the Daimler case applied this new concept of "piercing the corporate veil," which was adopted by the peace of Treaties of 1919 and the Mixed Arbitral established after the First World War.
The United States of America did not adopt the control test during the First World War. Courts refused to recognized the concept whereby American-registered corporations could be considered as enemies and thus subject to domestic legislation and administrative measures regarding enemy property.
World War II revived the problem again. It was known that German and other enemy interests were cloaked by domestic corporation structure. It was not only by legal ownership of shares that a material influence could be exercised on the management of the corporation but also by long term loans and other factual situations. For that reason, legislation on enemy property enacted in various countries during World War II adopted by statutory provisions to the control test and determined, to various degrees, the incidents of control. Court decisions were rendered on the basis of such newly enacted statutory provisions in determining enemy character of domestic corporation.
The United States did not, in the amendments of the Trading with the Enemy Act during the last war, include as did other legislations the applications of the control test and again, as in World War I, courts refused to apply this concept whereby the enemy character of an American or neutral-registered corporation is determined by the enemy nationality of the controlling stockholders.
Measures of blocking foreign funds, the so called freezing regulations, and other administrative practice in the treatment of foreign-owned property in the United States allowed to large degree the determination of enemy interest in domestic corporations and thus the application of the control test. Court decisions sanctioned such administrative practice enacted under the First War Powers Act of 1941, and more recently, on December 8, 1947, the Supreme Court of the United States definitely approved of the control theory. In Clark vs. Uebersee Finanz Korporation, A. G., dealing with a Swiss corporation allegedly controlled by German interest, the Court: "The property of all foreign interest was placed within the reach of the vesting power (of the Alien Property Custodian) not to appropriate friendly or neutral assets but to reach enemy interest which masqueraded under those innocent fronts. . . . The power of seizure and vesting was extended to all property of any foreign country or national so that no innocent appearing device could become a Trojan horse."
It becomes unnecessary, therefore, to dwell at length on the authorities cited in support of the appealed decision. However, we may add that, in Haw Pia vs. China Banking Corporation,* 45 Off Gaz., (Supp. 9) 299, we already held that China Banking Corporation came within the meaning of the word "enemy" as used in the Trading with the Enemy Acts of civilized countries not only because it was incorporated under the laws of an enemy country but because it was controlled by enemies.
The Philippine Insurance Law (Act No. 2427, as amended,) in section 8, provides that "anyone except a public enemy may be insured." It stands to reason that an insurance policy ceases to be allowable as soon as an insured becomes a public enemy.
Effect of war, generally. — All intercourse between citizens of belligerent powers which is inconsistent with a state of war is prohibited by the law of nations. Such prohibition includes all negotiations, commerce, or trading with the enemy; all acts which will increase, or tend to increase, its income or resources; all acts of voluntary submission to it; or receiving its protection; also all acts concerning the transmission of money or goods; and all contracts relating thereto are thereby nullified. It further prohibits insurance upon trade with or by the enemy, upon the life or lives of aliens engaged in service with the enemy; this for the reason that the subjects of one country cannot be permitted to lend their assistance to protect by insurance the commerce or property of belligerent, alien subjects, or to do anything detrimental too their country's interest. The purpose of war is to cripple the power and exhaust the resources of the enemy, and it is inconsistent that one country should destroy its enemy's property and repay in insurance the value of what has been so destroyed, or that it should in such manner increase the resources of the enemy, or render it aid, and the commencement of war determines, for like reasons, all trading intercourse with the enemy, which prior thereto may have been lawful. All individuals therefore, who compose the belligerent powers, exist, as to each other, in a state of utter exclusion, and are public enemies. (6 Couch, Cyc. of Ins. Law, pp. 5352-5353.)
In the case of an ordinary fire policy, which grants insurance only from year, or for some other specified term it is plain that when the parties become alien enemies, the contractual tie is broken and the contractual rights of the parties, so far as not vested. lost. (Vance, the Law on Insurance, Sec. 44, p. 112.)
The respondent having become an enemy corporation on December 10, 1941, the insurance policy issued in its favor on October 1, 1941, by the petitioner (a Philippine corporation) had ceased to be valid and enforcible, and since the insured goods were burned after December 10, 1941, and during the war, the respondent was not entitled to any indemnity under said policy from the petitioner. However, elementary rules of justice (in the absence of specific provision in the Insurance Law) require that the premium paid by the respondent for the period covered by its policy from December 11, 1941, should be returned by the petitioner.
The Court of Appeals, in deciding the case, stated that the main issue hinges on the question of whether the policy in question became null and void upon the declaration of war between the United States and Germany on December 10, 1941, and its judgment in favor of the respondent corporation was predicated on its conclusion that the policy did not cease to be in force. The Court of Appeals necessarily assumed that, even if the payment by the petitioner to the respondent was involuntary, its action is not tenable in view of the ruling on the validity of the policy. As a matter of fact, the Court of Appeals held that "any intimidation resorted to by the appellee was not unjust but the exercise of its lawful right to claim for and received the payment of the insurance policy," and that the ruling of the Bureau of Financing to the effect that "the appellee was entitled to payment from the appellant was, well founded." Factually, there can be no doubt that the Director of the Bureau of Financing, in ordering the petitioner to pay the claim of the respondent, merely obeyed the instruction of the Japanese Military Administration, as may be seen from the following: "In view of the findings and conclusion of this office contained in its decision on Administrative Case dated February 9, 1943 copy of which was sent to your office and the concurrence therein of the Financial Department of the Japanese Military Administration, and following the instruction of said authority, you are hereby ordered to pay the claim of Messrs. Christern, Huenefeld & Co., Inc. The payment of said claim, however, should be made by means of crossed check." (Emphasis supplied.)
It results that the petitioner is entitled to recover what paid to the respondent under the circumstances on this case. However, the petitioner will be entitled to recover only the equivalent, in actual Philippines currency of P92,650 paid on April 19, 1943, in accordance with the rate fixed in the Ballantyne scale.
Wherefore, the appealed decision is hereby reversed and the respondent corporation is ordered to pay to the petitioner the sum of P77,208.33, Philippine currency, less the amount of the premium, in Philippine currency, that should be returned by the petitioner for the unexpired term of the policy in question, beginning December 11, 1941. Without costs. So ordered.
Feria, Pablo, Bengzon, Tuason, Montemayor, Jugo and Bautista Angelo, JJ., concur.

Footnotes
* 80 Phil., 604.

Insurance Case Digest: Fortune Insurance and Surety Co., Inc. v. CA (1995)

G.R. No. 115278 May 23, 1995
Lessons Applicable: Stipulations Cannot Be Segregated (Insurance)

FACTS:
  • Producers Bank of the Philippines insured with Fortune Insurance and Surety Co. P725,000 which was lost during a robbery of Producer's armored vehicle while it was in transit from Pasay City City to its Makati head office.  
  • The armored car was driven by Benjamin Magalong Y de Vera, escorted by Security Guard Saturnino Atiga Y Rosete.
  • After an investigation conducted by the Pasay police authorities, the driver Magalong and guard Atiga were charged, together with Edelmer Bantigue Y Eulalio, Reynaldo Aquino and John Doe, with violation of P.D. 532 (Anti-Highway Robbery Law)
  • Upon claiming, Fortune refused stating that it is not liable since under the general exceptions of the policy:
    • any loss caused by any dishonest, fraudulent or criminal act of the insured or any officer, employee, partner, director, trustee or authorized representative of the Insured whether acting alone or in conjunction with others. . . .
  • RTC: favored Producers Bank since Driver and Security Guard were merely assigned
  • CA: Affirmed RTC  
ISSUE: W/N the driver and security guard are employees under the general exception

HELD: YES. Petition is granted.
    • It is clear to us that insofar as Fortune is concerned, it was its intention to exclude and exempt from protection and coverage losses arising from dishonest, fraudulent, or criminal acts of persons granted or having unrestricted access to Producers' money or payroll. When it used then the term "employee," it must have had in mind any person who qualifies as such as generally and universally understood, or jurisprudentially established in the light of the four standards in the determination of the employer-employee relationship, 21 or as statutorily declared even in a limited sense as in the case of Article 106 of the Labor Code which considers the employees under a "labor-only" contract as employees of the party employing them and not of the party who supplied them to the employer
    • Producers entrusted the three with the specific duty to safely transfer the money to its head office, with Alampay to be responsible for its custody in transit; Magalong to drive the armored vehicle which would carry the money; and Atiga to provide the needed security for the money, the vehicle, and his two other companions.
    • A "representative" is defined as one who represents or stands in the place of another; one who represents others or another in a special capacity, as an agent, and is interchangeable with "agent."

    Jurisprudence: G.R. No. 115278

    FIRST DIVISION
    G.R. No. 115278  May 23, 1995

    FORTUNE INSURANCE AND SURETY CO., INC., petitioner,
    vs.
    COURT OF APPEALS and PRODUCERS BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.



    DAVIDE, JR., J.:

    The fundamental legal issue raised in this petition for review on certiorari is whether the petitioner is liable under the Money, Security, and Payroll Robbery policy it issued to the private respondent or whether recovery thereunder is precluded under the general exceptions clause thereof. Both the trial court and the Court of Appeals held that there should be recovery. The petitioner contends otherwise.

    This case began with the filing with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati, Metro Manila, by private respondent Producers Bank of the Philippines (hereinafter Producers) against petitioner Fortune Insurance and Surety Co., Inc. (hereinafter Fortune) of a complaint for recovery of the sum of P725,000.00 under the policy issued by Fortune. The sum was allegedly lost during a robbery of Producer's armored vehicle while it was in transit to transfer the money from its Pasay City Branch to its head office in Makati. The case was docketed as Civil Case No. 1817 and assigned to Branch 146 thereof.

    After joinder of issues, the parties asked the trial court to render judgment based on the following stipulation of facts:

    1.     The plaintiff was insured by the defendants and an insurance policy was issued, the duplicate original of which is hereto attached as Exhibit "A";

    2.     An armored car of the plaintiff, while in the process of transferring cash in the sum of P725,000.00 under the custody of its teller, Maribeth Alampay, from its Pasay Branch to its Head Office at 8737 Paseo de Roxas, Makati, Metro Manila on June 29, 1987, was robbed of the said cash. The robbery took place while the armored car was traveling along Taft Avenue in Pasay City;

    3.     The said armored car was driven by Benjamin Magalong Y de Vera, escorted by Security Guard Saturnino Atiga Y Rosete. Driver Magalong was assigned by PRC Management Systems with the plaintiff by virtue of an Agreement executed on August 7, 1983, a duplicate original copy of which is hereto attached as Exhibit "B";

    4.     The Security Guard Atiga was assigned by Unicorn Security Services, Inc. with the plaintiff by virtue of a contract of Security Service executed on October 25, 1982, a duplicate original copy of which is hereto attached as Exhibit "C";

    5.     After an investigation conducted by the Pasay police authorities, the driver Magalong and guard Atiga were charged, together with Edelmer Bantigue Y Eulalio, Reynaldo Aquino and John Doe, with violation of P.D. 532 (Anti-Highway Robbery Law) before the Fiscal of Pasay City. A copy of the complaint is hereto attached as Exhibit "D";

    6.     The Fiscal of Pasay City then filed an information charging the aforesaid persons with the said crime before Branch 112 of the Regional Trial Court of Pasay City. A copy of the said information is hereto attached as Exhibit "E." The case is still being tried as of this date;

    7.     Demands were made by the plaintiff upon the defendant to pay the amount of the loss of P725,000.00, but the latter refused to pay as the loss is excluded from the coverage of the insurance policy, attached hereto as Exhibit "A," specifically under page 1 thereof, "General Exceptions" Section (b), which is marked as Exhibit "A-1," and which reads as follows:

    GENERAL EXCEPTIONS

    The company shall not be liable under this policy in report of

    xxx   xxx  xxx

    (b)    any loss caused by any dishonest, fraudulent or criminal act of the insured or any officer, employee, partner, director, trustee or authorized representative of the Insured whether acting alone or in conjunction with others. . . .

    8.     The plaintiff opposes the contention of the defendant and contends that Atiga and Magalong are not its "officer, employee, . . . trustee or authorized representative . . . at the time of the robbery. 1

    On 26 April 1990, the trial court rendered its decision in favor of Producers. The dispositive portion thereof reads as follows:

    WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court finds for plaintiff and against defendant, and

    (a)    orders defendant to pay plaintiff the net amount of P540,000.00 as liability under Policy No. 0207 (as mitigated by the P40,000.00 special clause deduction and by the recovered sum of P145,000.00), with interest thereon at the legal rate, until fully paid;

    (b)    orders defendant to pay plaintiff the sum of P30,000.00 as and for attorney's fees; and

    (c)    orders defendant to pay costs of suit.

    All other claims and counterclaims are accordingly dismissed forthwith.

    SO ORDERED. 2

    The trial court ruled that Magalong and Atiga were not employees or representatives of Producers. It Said:

    The Court is satisfied that plaintiff may not be said to have selected and engaged Magalong and Atiga, their services as armored car driver and as security guard having been merely offered by PRC Management and by Unicorn Security and which latter firms assigned them to plaintiff. The wages and salaries of both Magalong and Atiga are presumably paid by their respective firms, which alone wields the power to dismiss them. Magalong and Atiga are assigned to plaintiff in fulfillment of agreements to provide driving services and property protection as such — in a context which does not impress the Court as translating into plaintiff's power to control the conduct of any assigned driver or security guard, beyond perhaps entitling plaintiff to request are replacement for such driver guard. The finding is accordingly compelled that neither Magalong nor Atiga were plaintiff's "employees" in avoidance of defendant's liability under the policy, particularly the general exceptions therein embodied.

    Neither is the Court prepared to accept the proposition that driver Magalong and guard Atiga were the "authorized representatives" of plaintiff. They were merely an assigned armored car driver and security guard, respectively, for the June 29, 1987 money transfer from plaintiff's Pasay Branch to its Makati Head Office. Quite plainly — it was teller Maribeth Alampay who had "custody" of the P725,000.00 cash being transferred along a specified money route, and hence plaintiff's then designated "messenger" adverted to in the policy. 3

    Fortune appealed this decision to the Court of Appeals which docketed the case as CA-G.R. CV No. 32946. In its decision 4 promulgated on 3 May 1994, it affirmed in toto the appealed decision.

    The Court of Appeals agreed with the conclusion of the trial court that Magalong and Atiga were neither employees nor authorized representatives of Producers and ratiocinated as follows:

    A policy or contract of insurance is to be construed liberally in favor of the insured and strictly against the insurance company (New Life Enterprises vs. Court of Appeals, 207 SCRA 669; Sun Insurance Office, Ltd. vs. Court of Appeals, 211 SCRA 554). Contracts of insurance, like other contracts, are to be construed according to the sense and meaning of the terms which the parties themselves have used. If such terms are clear and unambiguous, they must be taken and understood in their plain, ordinary and popular sense (New Life Enterprises Case, supra, p. 676; Sun Insurance Office, Ltd. vs. Court of Appeals, 195 SCRA 193).

    The language used by defendant-appellant in the above quoted stipulation is plain, ordinary and simple. No other interpretation is necessary. The word "employee" must be taken to mean in the ordinary sense.

    The Labor Code is a special law specifically dealing with/and specifically designed to protect labor and therefore its definition as to employer-employee relationships insofar as the application/enforcement of said Code is concerned must necessarily be inapplicable to an insurance contract which defendant-appellant itself had formulated. Had it intended to apply the Labor Code in defining what the word "employee" refers to, it must/should have so stated expressly in the insurance policy.

    Said driver and security guard cannot be considered as employees of plaintiff-appellee bank because it has no power to hire or to dismiss said driver and security guard under the contracts (Exhs. 8 and C) except only to ask for their replacements from the contractors. 5

    On 20 June 1994, Fortune filed this petition for review on certiorari. It alleges that the trial court and the Court of Appeals erred in holding it liable under the insurance policy because the loss falls within the general exceptions clause considering that driver Magalong and security guard Atiga were Producers' authorized representatives or employees in the transfer of the money and payroll from its branch office in Pasay City to its head office in Makati.

    According to Fortune, when Producers commissioned a guard and a driver to transfer its funds from one branch to another, they effectively and necessarily became its authorized representatives in the care and custody of the money. Assuming that they could not be considered authorized representatives, they were, nevertheless, employees of Producers. It asserts that the existence of an employer-employee relationship "is determined by law and being such, it cannot be the subject of agreement." Thus, if there was in reality an employer-employee relationship between Producers, on the one hand, and Magalong and Atiga, on the other, the provisions in the contracts of Producers with PRC Management System for Magalong and with Unicorn Security Services for Atiga which state that Producers is not their employer and that it is absolved from any liability as an employer, would not obliterate the relationship.

    Fortune points out that an employer-employee relationship depends upon four standards: (1) the manner of selection and engagement of the putative employee; (2) the mode of payment of wages; (3) the presence or absence of a power to dismiss; and (4) the presence and absence of a power to control the putative employee's conduct. Of the four, the right-of-control test has been held to be the decisive factor. 6 It asserts that the power of control over Magalong and Atiga was vested in and exercised by Producers. Fortune further insists that PRC Management System and Unicorn Security Services are but "labor-only" contractors under Article 106 of the Labor Code which provides:

    Art. 106.    Contractor or subcontractor. — There is "labor-only" contracting where the person supplying workers to an employer does not have substantial capital or investment in the form of tools, equipment, machineries, work premises, among others, and the workers recruited and placed by such persons are performing activities which are directly related to the principal business of such employer. In such cases, the person or intermediary shall be considered merely as an agent of the employer who shall be responsible to the workers in the same manner and extent as if the latter were directly employed by him.

    Fortune thus contends that Magalong and Atiga were employees of Producers, following the ruling in International Timber Corp. vs. NLRC 7 that a finding that a contractor is a "labor-only" contractor is equivalent to a finding that there is an employer-employee relationship between the owner of the project and the employees of the "labor-only" contractor.

    On the other hand, Producers contends that Magalong and Atiga were not its employees since it had nothing to do with their selection and engagement, the payment of their wages, their dismissal, and the control of their conduct. Producers argued that the rule in International Timber Corp. is not applicable to all cases but only when it becomes necessary to prevent any violation or circumvention of the Labor Code, a social legislation whose provisions may set aside contracts entered into by parties in order to give protection to the working man.

    Producers further asseverates that what should be applied is the rule in American President Lines vs. Clave, 8 to wit:

    In determining the existence of employer-employee relationship, the following elements are generally considered, namely: (1) the selection and engagement of the employee; (2) the payment of wages; (3) the power of dismissal; and (4) the power to control the employee's conduct.

    Since under Producers' contract with PRC Management Systems it is the latter which assigned Magalong as the driver of Producers' armored car and was responsible for his faithful discharge of his duties and responsibilities, and since Producers paid the monthly compensation of P1,400.00 per driver to PRC Management Systems and not to Magalong, it is clear that Magalong was not Producers' employee. As to Atiga, Producers relies on the provision of its contract with Unicorn Security Services which provides that the guards of the latter "are in no sense employees of the CLIENT."

    There is merit in this petition.

    It should be noted that the insurance policy entered into by the parties is a theft or robbery insurance policy which is a form of casualty insurance. Section 174 of the Insurance Code provides:

    Sec. 174.   Casualty insurance is insurance covering loss or liability arising from accident or mishap, excluding certain types of loss which by law or custom are considered as falling exclusively within the scope of insurance such as fire or marine. It includes, but is not limited to, employer's liability insurance, public liability insurance, motor vehicle liability insurance, plate glass insurance, burglary and theft insurance, personal accident and health insurance as written by non-life insurance companies, and other substantially similar kinds of insurance. (emphases supplied)

    Except with respect to compulsory motor vehicle liability insurance, the Insurance Code contains no other provisions applicable to casualty insurance or to robbery insurance in particular. These contracts are, therefore, governed by the general provisions applicable to all types of insurance. Outside of these, the rights and obligations of the parties must be determined by the terms of their contract, taking into consideration its purpose and always in accordance with the general principles of insurance law. 9

    It has been aptly observed that in burglary, robbery, and theft insurance, "the opportunity to defraud the insurer — the moral hazard — is so great that insurers have found it necessary to fill up their policies with countless restrictions, many designed to reduce this hazard. Seldom does the insurer assume the risk of all losses due to the hazards insured against." 10 Persons frequently excluded under such provisions are those in the insured's service and employment. 11 The purpose of the exception is to guard against liability should the theft be committed by one having unrestricted access to the property. 12 In such cases, the terms specifying the excluded classes are to be given their meaning as understood in common speech. 13 The terms "service" and "employment" are generally associated with the idea of selection, control, and compensation. 14

    A contract of insurance is a contract of adhesion, thus any ambiguity therein should be resolved against the insurer, 15 or it should be construed liberally in favor of the insured and strictly against the insurer. 16 Limitations of liability should be regarded with extreme jealousy and must be construed
    in such a way, as to preclude the insurer from non-compliance with its obligation. 17 It goes without saying then that if the terms of the contract are clear and unambiguous, there is no room for construction and such terms cannot be enlarged or diminished by judicial construction. 18

    An insurance contract is a contract of indemnity upon the terms and conditions specified therein. 19 It is settled that the terms of the policy constitute the measure of the insurer's liability. 20 In the absence of statutory prohibition to the contrary, insurance companies have the same rights as individuals to limit their liability and to impose whatever conditions they deem best upon their obligations not inconsistent with public policy.

    With the foregoing principles in mind, it may now be asked whether Magalong and Atiga qualify as employees or authorized representatives of Producers under paragraph (b) of the general exceptions clause of the policy which, for easy reference, is again quoted:

    GENERAL EXCEPTIONS

    The company shall not be liable under this policy in respect of

    xxx   xxx  xxx

    (b)    any loss caused by any dishonest, fraudulent or criminal act of the insured or any officer, employee, partner, director, trustee or authorized representative of the Insured whether acting alone or in conjunction with others. . . . (emphases supplied)

    There is marked disagreement between the parties on the correct meaning of the terms "employee" and "authorized representatives."

    It is clear to us that insofar as Fortune is concerned, it was its intention to exclude and exempt from protection and coverage losses arising from dishonest, fraudulent, or criminal acts of persons granted or having unrestricted access to Producers' money or payroll. When it used then the term "employee," it must have had in mind any person who qualifies as such as generally and universally understood, or jurisprudentially established in the light of the four standards in the determination of the employer-employee relationship, 21 or as statutorily declared even in a limited sense as in the case of Article 106 of the Labor Code which considers the employees under a "labor-only" contract as employees of the party employing them and not of the party who supplied them to the employer. 22

    Fortune claims that Producers' contracts with PRC Management Systems and Unicorn Security Services are "labor-only" contracts.

    Producers, however, insists that by the express terms thereof, it is not the employer of Magalong. Notwithstanding such express assumption of PRC Management Systems and Unicorn Security Services that the drivers and the security guards each shall supply to Producers are not the latter's employees, it may, in fact, be that it is because the contracts are, indeed, "labor-only" contracts. Whether they are is, in the light of the criteria provided for in Article 106 of the Labor Code, a question of fact. Since the parties opted to submit the case for judgment on the basis of their stipulation of facts which are strictly limited to the insurance policy, the contracts with PRC Management Systems and Unicorn Security Services, the complaint for violation of P.D. No. 532, and the information therefor filed by the City Fiscal of Pasay City, there is a paucity of evidence as to whether the contracts between Producers and PRC Management Systems and Unicorn Security Services are "labor-only" contracts.

    But even granting for the sake of argument that these contracts were not "labor-only" contracts, and PRC Management Systems and Unicorn Security Services were truly independent contractors, we are satisfied that Magalong and Atiga were, in respect of the transfer of Producer's money from its Pasay City branch to its head office in Makati, its "authorized representatives" who served as such with its teller Maribeth Alampay. Howsoever viewed, Producers entrusted the three with the specific duty to safely transfer the money to its head office, with Alampay to be responsible for its custody in transit; Magalong to drive the armored vehicle which would carry the money; and Atiga to provide the needed security for the money, the vehicle, and his two other companions. In short, for these particular tasks, the three acted as agents of Producers. A "representative" is defined as one who represents or stands in the place of another; one who represents others or another in a special capacity, as an agent, and is interchangeable with "agent." 23

    In view of the foregoing, Fortune is exempt from liability under the general exceptions clause of the insurance policy.

    WHEREFORE , the instant petition is hereby GRANTED. The decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 32946 dated 3 May 1994 as well as that of Branch 146 of the Regional Trial Court of Makati in Civil Case No. 1817 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The complaint in Civil Case No. 1817 is DISMISSED.

    No pronouncement as to costs.

    SO ORDERED.

    Bellosillo and Kapunan, JJ., concur.

    Padilla, J., took no part.

    Quiason, J., is on leave.



    Footnotes

    1      Rollo, 46-47 (emphases supplied).

    2      Id., 8.

    3      Rollo, 10-11.

    4      Annex "A" of Petition; Id., 45-53. Per Austria-Martinez, A., J., with Marigomen, A. and Reyes, R., JJ., concurring.

    5      Rollo, 51-52.

    6      Citing in the Petition, Broadway Motors, Inc. vs. NLRC, 156 SCRA 522 [1987], and in the Memorandum, Vallum Security Services vs. NLRC, 224 SCRA 781 [1993].

    7      169 SCRA 341 [1989].

    8      114 SCRA 832 [1982].

    9      MARIA CLARA M. CAMPOS, Insurance, 1983 ed., 199.

    10     WILLIAM B. VANCE, Handbook on the Law of Insurance, 3rd ed. by Buist M. Andersen [1951], 1014.

    11     Bowling vs. Hamblen County Motor Co., 66 S.W. 2d 229, 16 Tenn. App. 52.

    12     Barret vs. Commercial Standard Ins. Co., Tex. Civ. App., 145 S.W. 2d 315.

    13     Ledvinka vs. Home Ins. Co. of New York, 115 A. 596, 139 Md. 434, 19 A.L.R. 167.

    14     Id.; Gulf Finance & Securities Co. vs. National Fire Ins. Co., 7 La. App. 8.

    15     CAMPOS, op. cit., 22.

    16     Verendia vs. Court of Appeals, 217 SCRA 417 [1993].

    17     CAMPOS, op. cit., 13.

    18     43 Am Jur 2d Insurance § 271 [1982].

    19     Stokes vs. Malayan Insurance, 127 SCRA 766 [1984].

    20     Paramount Insurance Corp. vs. Japzon, 211 SCRA 879 [1992].

    21     See Broadway Motors, Inc. vs. NLRC, supra note 6; Canlubang Security Agency Corp. vs. NLRC, 216 SCRA 280 [1992]; Vallum Security Services vs. NLRC, supra note 6; and Villuga vs. NLRC, 225 SCRA 537 [1993].

    22     See International Timber Corp. vs. NLRC, supra note 7; Baguio vs. NLRC, 202 SCRA 465 [1965].

    23     Black's Law Dictionary, Fifth ed., 1170.

    Insurance Case Digest: Misamis Lumber Corp. v. Capital Ins. and Surety Co., Inc. (1966)

    G.R. No. L-21380             May 20, 1966
    Lessons Applicable: Judicial Construction Cannot Alter Terms (Insurance)

    FACTS:
    • Misamis Lumber Corporation (Misamis), formerly Lanao Timber Mills, Inc., insured its Ford Falcon motor car with Capital Insurance & Surety Company (Capital)
    • November 25, 1961 11 pm: The car broke when it hit a hollow block lying alongside the water hole which the driver did not see because the on-coming car did not dim its light
      • The car was towed and repaired by Morosi Motors costing P302.27 
    • November 29, 1961: After the repairs were made, Misamis made a report to Capital who only admits liability of P150
    • CFI: paragraph 4 of the policy is clear and specific and leaves no room for interpretation that the repair liability is limited to P150
    ISSUE: W/N Misamis is entitled to an amount exceeding P150

    HELD: NO.
    • insurance contract may be rather onerous (one-sided) but that in itself does not justify the abrogation of its express terms, terms which the insured accepted or adhered to and which is the law between the contracting parties

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