Award of damages

Award of damages

This Court will now endeavor to end, once and for all, the confusion as to the proper award of damages in criminal cases where the imposable penalty for the crime is reclusion perpetua or death. As a rule, the Court awards three kinds of damages in these types of criminal cases: civil indemnity and moral and exemplary damages. We shall discuss all three.

First, civil indemnity ex delicto is the indemnity authorized in our criminal law for the offended party, in the amount authorized by the prevailing judicial policy and apart from other proven actual damages, which itself is equivalent to actual or compensatory damages in civil law. This award stems from Art. 100 of the RPC which states, “Every person criminally liable for a felony is also civilly liable.”

Civil liability ex delicto may come in the form of restitution, reparation, and indemnification. Restitution is defined as the compensation for loss; it is full or partial compensation paid by a criminal to a victim ordered as part of a criminal sentence or as a condition for probation. Likewise, reparation and indemnification are similarly defined as the compensation for an injury, wrong, loss, or damage sustained. Clearly, all of these correspond to actual or compensatory damages defined under the Civil Code.

The other kinds of damages, i.e., moral and exemplary or corrective damages, have altogether different jural foundations.

The second type of damages the Court awards are moral damages, which are also compensatory in nature. Del Mundo v. Court of Appeals explained the nature and purpose of moral damages, viz:

Moral damages, upon the other hand, may be awarded to compensate one for manifold injuries such as physical suffering, mental anguish, serious anxiety, besmirched reputation, wounded feelings and social humiliation. These damages must be understood to be in the concept of grants, not punitive or corrective in nature, calculated to compensate the claimant for the injury suffered. Although incapable of exactness and no proof of pecuniary loss is necessary in order that moral damages may be awarded, the amount of indemnity being left to the discretion of the court, it is imperative, nevertheless, that (1) injury must have been suffered by the claimant, and (2) such injury must have sprung from any of the cases expressed in Article 2219 and Article 2220 of the Civil Code. (Emphasis supplied.)

Similarly, in American jurisprudence, moral damages are treated as “compensatory damages awarded for mental pain and suffering or mental anguish resulting from a wrong.” They may also be considered and allowed “for resulting pain and suffering, and for humiliation, indignity, and vexation suffered by the plaintiff as result of his or her assailant’s conduct, as well as the factors of provocation, the reasonableness of the force used, the attendant humiliating circumstances, the sex of the victim, [and] mental distress.”

The rationale for awarding moral damages has been explained in Lambert v. Heirs of Rey Castillon: “[T]he award of moral damages is aimed at a restoration, within the limits possible, of the spiritual status quo ante; and therefore, it must be proportionate to the suffering inflicted.”

And lastly, the Court awards exemplary damages as provided for in Arts. 2229 and 2230 of the Civil Code, viz:

Art. 2229. Exemplary or corrective damages are imposed, by way of example or correction for the public good, in addition to the moral, temperate, liquidated or compensatory damages.


Art. 2230. In criminal offenses, exemplary damages as a part of the civil liability may be imposed when the crime was committed with one or more aggravating circumstances. Such damages are separate and distinct from fines and shall be paid to the offended party.



Clearly, as a general rule, exemplary damages are only imposed in criminal offenses when the crime was committed with one or more aggravating circumstances, be they generic or qualifying. However, there have been instances wherein exemplary damages were awarded despite the lack of an aggravating circumstance. This led the Court to clarify this confusion in People v. Dalisay, where it categorically stated that exemplary damages may be awarded, not only in the presence of an aggravating circumstance, but also where the circumstances of the case show the highly reprehensible or outrageous conduct of the offender, to wit:

Prior to the effectivity of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, courts generally awarded exemplary damages in criminal cases when an aggravating circumstance, whether ordinary or qualifying, had been proven to have attended the commission of the crime, even if the same was not alleged in the information. This is in accordance with the aforesaid Article 2230. However, with the promulgation of the Revised Rules, courts no longer consider the aggravating circumstances not alleged and proven in the determination of the penalty and in the award of damages. Thus, even if an aggravating circumstance has been proven, but was not alleged, courts will not award exemplary damages. x x x

x x x x

Nevertheless, People v. Catubig laid down the principle that courts may still award exemplary damages based on the aforementioned Article 2230, even if the aggravating circumstance has not been alleged, so long as it has been proven, in criminal cases instituted before the effectivity of the Revised Rules which remained pending thereafter. Catubig reasoned that the retroactive application of the Revised Rules should not adversely affect the vested rights of the private offended party.

Thus, we find, in our body of jurisprudence, criminal cases, especially those involving rape, dichotomized: one awarding exemplary damages, even if an aggravating circumstance attending the commission of the crime had not been sufficiently alleged but was consequently proven in the light of Catubig; and another awarding exemplary damages only if an aggravating circumstance has both been alleged and proven following the Revised Rules. Among those in the first set are People v. Laciste, People v. Victor, People v. Orilla, People v. Calongui, People v. Magbanua, People of the Philippines v. Heracleo Abello y Fortada, People of the Philippines v. Jaime Cadag Jimenez, and People of the Philippines v. Julio Manalili. And in the second set are People v. Llave, People of the Philippines v. Dante Gragasin y Par, and People of the Philippines v. Edwin Mejia. Again, the difference between the two sets rests on when the criminal case was instituted, either before or after the effectivity of the Revised Rules.

x x x x

Nevertheless, by focusing only on Article 2230 as the legal basis for the grant of exemplary damages — taking into account simply the attendance of an aggravating circumstance in the commission of a crime, courts have lost sight of the very reason why exemplary damages are awarded. Catubig is enlightening on this point, thus —

Also known as “punitive” or “vindictive” damages, exemplary or corrective damages are intended to serve as a deterrent to serious wrong doings, and as a vindication of undue sufferings and wanton invasion of the rights of an injured or a punishment for those guilty of outrageous conduct. These terms are generally, but not always, used interchangeably. In common law, there is preference in the use of exemplary damages when the award is to account for injury to feelings and for the sense of indignity and humiliation suffered by a person as a result of an injury that has been maliciously and wantonly inflicted, the theory being that there should be compensation for the hurt caused by the highly reprehensible conduct of the defendant — associated with such circumstances as willfulness, wantonness, malice, gross negligence or recklessness, oppression, insult or fraud or gross fraud — that intensifies the injury. The terms punitive or vindictive damages are often used to refer to those species of damages that may be awarded against a person to punish him for his outrageous conduct. In either case, these damages are intended in good measure to deter the wrongdoer and others like him from similar conduct in the future.

Being corrective in nature, exemplary damages, therefore, can be awarded, not only in the presence of an aggravating circumstance, but also where the circumstances of the case show the highly reprehensible or outrageous conduct of the offender. In much the same way as Article 2230 prescribes an instance when exemplary damages may be awarded, Article 2229, the main provision, lays down the very basis of the award. Thus, in People v. Matrimonio, the Court imposed exemplary damages to deter other fathers with perverse tendencies or aberrant sexual behavior from sexually abusing their own daughters. Also, in People v. Cristobal, the Court awarded exemplary damages on account of the moral corruption, perversity and wickedness of the accused in sexually assaulting a pregnant married woman. Recently, in People of the Philippines v. Cristino Cañada, People of the Philippines v. Pepito Neverio and The People of the Philippines v. Lorenzo Layco, Sr., the Court awarded exemplary damages to set a public example, to serve as deterrent to elders who abuse and corrupt the youth, and to protect the latter from sexual abuse.

It must be noted that, in the said cases, the Court used as basis Article 2229, rather than Article 2230, to justify the award of exemplary damages. Indeed, to borrow Justice Carpio Morales’ words in her separate opinion in People of the Philippines v. Dante Gragasin y Par, “[t]he application of Article 2230 of the Civil Code strictissimi juris in such cases, as in the present one, defeats the underlying public policy behind the award of exemplary damages — to set a public example or correction for the public good.”


Interest on damages

When death occurs due to a crime, the following may be recovered: (1) civil indemnity ex delicto for the death of the victim; (2) actual or compensatory damages; (3) moral damages; (4) exemplary damages; (5) attorney’s fees and expenses of litigation; and (6) interest, in proper cases. In People v. Tubongbanua, interest at the rate of six percent (6%) was ordered to be applied on the award of damages. This rule would be subsequently applied by the Court in several cases such as Mendoza v. People, People v. Buban, People v. Guevarra, and People v. Regalario. Thus, we likewise adopt this rule in the instant case. Interest of six percent (6%) per annum should be imposed on the award of civil indemnity and all damages, i.e., actual or compensatory damages, moral damages and exemplary damages, from the date of finality of judgment until fully paid.


About Erineus

Born on December 28, 1965, Surallah, South Cotabato, Southern Mindanao, Philippines.
This entry was posted in Civil Law, Torts and Damages and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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