G.R. No. 1791. November 07, 1905

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5 Phil. 210

[ G.R. No. 1791. November 07, 1905 ]




This is an action brought by the plaintiff for salary alleged to be
due him from the defendant company under a contract of hiring. The net
amount sued for is $327.25, plus $5,000 claimed as damages.

On December 23, 1902, plaintiff was employed to work in the Batan
mines. The defendant company denied the allegations of the complaint
and set up the following counterclaim: For 225 Spanish pesetas remitted
by draft to plaintiffs family in Spain at the latter’s request; $124
for groceries drawn by plaintiff from the company’s supply store in
Batan; $49.80 for a transportation ticket furnished the plaintiff from
Manila to Batan and return; $10 in cash delivered to plaintiff prior to
his departure for Batan; and $2,000 for damages incurred by the company
on account of plaintiff’s misconduct and his violation of the terms of
the contract.

The complaint alleges that “the defendant company has not
delivered to plaintiff more than 124 pesos’ worth of groceries and 225
Spanish pesetas, representing three months’ salary at the rate of 75
pesetas per month, which the company remitted by draft to plaintiff’s
family in Spain at the latter’s request.”
Plaintiff in his
testimony said that prior to his departure for the Batan mines he
received 22 Spanish dollars, and also 10 Spanish dollars on account of
services, for which he was requested to sign the receipt marked
“Exhibit A” appearing on page 67 of the bill of exceptions. So that the
first, second, and fourth items of the counterclaim stand admitted by
the plaintiff.

Plaintiff has failed to establish his claim for damages in the sum
of 5,000 pesos or any other sum, and there is no proof that the
contract referred to in the complaint has been violated.

The wages due the plaintiff under his contract of hiring do not
appear to have been paid him by the defendant company. But such failure
to pay on the part of the company was not due to a breach of contract
on its part, but to the fact that plaintiff, being dissatisfied with an
adjustment of salary due him in accordance with the terms of the
contract shown him, as well as with other provisions thereof,
discontinued his work, returned to Manila, and rescinded said contract.

This contract according to plaintiff’s contention must be considered
as having been rescinded since March 13, 1903, when he called at the
office of the company and expressed his desire to terminate his
contract, to which, so far as the record shows, the company made no
objection. This contention of the plaintiff is not controverted by
counsel for defendant.

The whole case rests upon the question as to what was the nature of
the contract executed by the parties. Defendant claims that the
contract entered into between them is the one appearing on pages 66 and
67 of the bill of exceptions, which was introduced by plaintiff without
objection on the part of the defendant. Plaintiff, however, contends
that this was not the contract entered into between the parties on the
22d or 23d day of December, 1902.

As to the actual terms of the contract there is no proof other than
plaintiff’s uncorroborated testimony with the exception of certain
indirect evidence, which has but little weight and which will be
considered later.

The contract referred to as having been introduced by defendant over
plaintiff’s objection, contains the following stipulations: (a)
That the “Compania Minas de Carbon de Batan” agreed to pay to Emilio
Bueno for his services as a miner the sum of 4 pesos per day, Mexican
currency, from the date of his arrival at Canalaga and until the other
miners reached there from Spain; (b) that upon the arrival of
said miners Bueno was to receive the same compensation as the others,
provided his services continued to be satisfactory; (c) that
Emilio Bueno consented to work in said mines for the aforesaid
compensation from the date of his arrival at Canalaga and until the
other Spanish miners arrived, from which time his wages were to be the
same as those paid to the others; (d) that his traveling expenses to Canalaga were to be defrayed by the company; and (e) that plaintiff was to pay for his own maintenance.

The agreement which plaintiff claims to have been made between
defendant company and himself differs from the terms of the contract
above set forth, in that (1) the wages were to be at the rate of 120
Spanish dollars per month; (2) that out of said sum, 15 Spanish dollars
were to be remitted by draft monthly to plaintiff’s family in Spain;
(3) that the company was to pay plaintiff’s transportation expenses,
including those of his return to Spain at the expiration of his
contract, or sooner if required by plaintiff’s illness or through any
default on the part of defendant company; (4) that the company was to
furnish him with quarters, medicines, and medical attendance, and (5)
that the company was to sell him, at Manila prices, such articles of
goods as it kept in stock at the mines.

The last contract to which reference has been made is not supported
by the evidence. We thought that the other contract would throw some
light upon this question in view of the fact that Geronimo Abella, the
company’s secretary, testified that a copy of the same had been sent to
the manager of the mines on the same boat which carried the plaintiff
to Canalaga (p. 37 of the bill of exceptions), and in view of the
further fact that Eduardo Hernandez de Lorenzo, manager of the company,
and a witness for plaintiff, in reply to the question: “During the
time that you were at the mines, did you receive a copy of what
purports to be a contract between the Compania Minas de Batan and
Emilio Bueno,
” he answered, “Yes, I received it inclosed in a letter delivered by Bueno to Mr. Pasquin during my absence” (p. 39 of the bill of exceptions). But this same witness on cross-examination testified that such was his impression because he had been so informed.

It does not appear, therefore, that the contract under which the
plaintiff was to work was sent on the same boat upon which he was a
passenger nor that he had from the outset, full knowledge of the terms
of the contract alleged by the defendant company to have been entered
into. This same witness Abella testified further that he had drawn the
contract for Emilio Bueno in accordance with instructions received from
Jacinto Gil. When asked what these instructions were, he said that “plaintiff
was to receive 4 pesos for work actually done (this differs from the
provision contained in the document introduced in evidence) and
traveling expenses to the mines; and to work under the terms and
conditions agreed upon with the other miners who were expected to
arrive from Spain
(this is not so stated in the document.)”

In view of these circumstances it can not be said that the terms of
the contract as alleged by either party have been satisfactorily
established. With respect to the contract contended for by the
defendant company, upon which this action is based, there seems to be a
favorable circumstance in its support namely, the fact that the
defendant remitted monthly to plaintiff’s family in Spain 15 pesos in
Spanish currency. But as has already been said, this is not a
sufficient indication that the contract contended for by plaintiff was
the one actually entered into between the parties.

What, in our opinion, has been conclusively proven is (1) that there
was a contract of hiring between plaintiff and defendant; (2) that
according to the testimony of the witness Emeterio Arteagabeitia the
other four miners received 4 pesos each per day, the same as Emilio
Bueno, with the exception of the Spanish miners who received 9 Spanish
pesetas per day (p. 45 of the bill of exceptions); and (3) that the
said contract took effect on the 23rd of December, 1902, and was
terminated March 13, 1903.

The counterclaim for damages can not be sustained. The testimony of
the witness Arteagabeitia is very uncertain as to the sinking of one of
the shafts at the mine, and the damages caused thereby. If the
statement of this witness upon this point is true it would appear that
the accident occurred after Bueno’s departure. The witness stated that
his belief that Bueno was responsible for the accident was based upon a
statement to that effect made to him by another miner.

Nor can the defendant recover the amount of the round trip ticket
furnished to plaintiff as set up in the counterclaim. All that
plaintiff can recover is wages due him at the rate of 4 pesos per day.
There is no proof as to which of the parties violated the contract. The
witness Arteagabeitia, in a letter dated March 1, 1903, reported to the
company that Bueno was coming to Manila, and recommended that he be not
sent back to Batan. The contract was therefore considered in force
until its cancellation on March 13, 1903. Consequently, Emilio Bueno is
entitled to wages from the 23d of December, 1902, until the 13th of
March, 1903, at the rate of 4 pesos, Mexican, per day, making a total
of 324 pesos, from which there should be deducted the three items of
the counterclaim referred to amounting to 220 pesos, Mexican currency,
leaving a balance of 103.40 pesos in plaintiff’s favor.

It is therefore the judgment of this court that the defendant
company pay to the plaintiff in this case the sum of 103.40 pesos,
Mexican currency, or its equivalent in Philippine currency, each party
to pay its own costs in both instances. After the expiration of twenty
days from the date hereof let judgment be entered accordingly, and the
case remanded to the Court of First Instance for execution. So ordered.

Torres, Mapa, Johnson, and Carson, JJ., concur.

Date created: April 28, 2014


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