January 17, 2005
In Dec 1989, FBN radio broadcasters Rima and Alegre exposed various alleged complaints against AMEC. The alleged expose included complaints that students who passed will repeat again if some of them failed, that some courses are not recognized by DECS, and that AMEC is a dumping ground for “rejects”. Claiming that the broadcasts were defamatory, AMEC and its Dean, filed a complaint for damages against FBNI and the broadcasters.
RTC Legazpi held FBN and broadcaster Alegre liable for libel, except Rima. CA affirmed with modification and held that Rima is solidarily liable with FBN and Alegre. CA denied Ago’s claim for damages and atty fees because libelous remarks were directed against AMEC, and not against Dean Ago.
FBN appealed to SC, and contended that AMEC is not entitled to moral damages because it is a corporation.
Are corporations or juridical persons entitled to moral damages? Yes under Article 2219 of the Civil Code.
A juridical person is generally not entitled to moral damages because, unlike a natural person, it cannot experience physical suffering or such sentiments as wounded feelings, serious anxiety, mental anguish, or moral shock.
Nevertheless, AMEC’s claim for moral damages falls under item 7 of Article 2219 of the Civil Code. This provision expressly authorizes the recovery of moral damages in cases of libel, slander or any other form of defamation.
Where libel is libelous per se, the law implies damages but such damages must be reasonable.