Republic of the Philippines
G.R. No. 110340 - May 28, 2001
WESTERN SHIPY ARD SERVICES, INC., Petitioner, v. COURT OF APPEALS and SANTIAGO LIGHTERAGE CORPORATION, respondent.
What is before the Court is an appeal1 from the resolution of the Court of Appeals2 amending its earlier decision3 which resolution reduced the amount awarded by the court for payment for services4 rendered by petitioner Western Shipyard Services, Inc. (hereafter, "WSSI") on a cargo vessel that respondent Santiago Lighterage Corp. (hereafter, "SLC") owned and which reversed the decision of the Regional Trial Court, branch 113, Pasay City.5
SLC was the owner of a 229-foot general cargo vessel, known as "Dinky," which had an actual value of four million pesos (P4,000,000.00).6
On February 14, 1983, SLC entered into a contract of services with WSSI for the conversion of "Dinky" into an LCT, to be known as "Loadmaster" which involved the lengthening of the ship to 268 feet, the extension of the vessel's moulded breath to 54 feet and moulded depth to 14 feet.7
In accordance with the contract of services, SLC paid WSSI two hundred thousand pesos (P200,000.00).8
On or about February 28, 1983, the vessel was docked at WSSI's shipyard.9
Under the contract of services, completion and delivery to SLC of the renovated vessel shall be within one hundred thirty (130) calendar days from the docking of the vessel and WSSI had the obligation to pat demurrage to SLC in the amount of P10,000.00, a day for everyday of delay beyond the 130 calendar day period.10
On January 30, 1986, SLC filed with the Regional Trial Court, Pasay City a complaint against WSSI for "rescission of contract with damages and replevin."11 SLC alleged that: First, even after repeated demands, WSSI defaulted on its commitment to deliver the vessel to SLC after the stipulated period. Second, WSSI violated the terms and conditions of the "contract of services," with respect to the scope of work to be accomplished and the quality thereof. Third, the vessel has been in the continued possession of WSSI and has suffered deterioration due to exposure to the element; and Fourth, due to the delay or demurrage incurred by WSSI, SLC has suffered unrealized profits the non-operation of the vessel at the minimum rate of four hundred thousand pesos (P400,000.00) a month.12
Apparently there were two contracts for services, Annex "A" attached to SLC's complaint and Annex "I" attached to WSSI's answer. Doubt existed as to which of the two contracts was to be applied. A perusal of the two contracts of services show that they essentially have the same provisions except for the following, quoted verbatim:13
On April 25, 1990, after trial, the trial court rendered decision reasoning that both contracts were prepared by WSSI, hence, the contracts shall be interpreted against it, as it caused the obscurity.14 Prescinding from this, the trial court held that Annex "A" shall govern. The trial court then rescinded the contract and ordered WSSI to pay SLC liquidated damages, attorney's fees and costs. The trial court found that the contract of services provided for a period of one hundred thirty (130) calendar days from the time of the docking of the vessel to its complete reconstruction and renovation and that WSSI had the obligation to renovate it within the time stipulated, its failure to do so constituted a breach thereof. We quote the dispositive portion of the decision:15
In time, WSSI appealed to the Court of Appeals.16 WSSI argued that the trial court erred in ruling that Annex "A" governs.
On February 7, 1992, contrary to the ruling of the trial court, the Court of Appeals promulgated its decision ruling that there was nothing obscure or ambiguous about the two contracts, hence, there was no justification for construing them against WSSI. According to the Court of Appeals, the trial court had the duty to determine which of the two contracts expressed the parties' true intentions.17 Examining the transcripts of the testimonies of witnesses and documents, the Court of Appeals held that Annex "1" superseded Annex "A" and that SLC was to be faulted for the delay.18 The Court of Appeals decided thus:19
On February 29, 1992, SLC moved for reconsideration of the afore-quoted decision questioning the amounts granted by the Court of Appeals to WSSI.20
On January 28, 1993, after re-examining the evidence, the Court of Appeals issued a resolution amending its decision of February 7, 1992, effectively reducing the amounts to be awarded to WSSI, to wit;21
On February 23, 1993, petitioner filed with the Court of Appeals a motion for reconsideration of the aforementioned resolution.22
On May 14, 1993, the Court of Appeals denied petitioner's motion for reconsideration.23
Hence, this appeal.24
In this appeal, we are asked to resolve: First, whether or not the reduction by the Court of Appeals of the fees to cover services rendered by WSSI from P1,253,498.88 to P1,067,228.73 is justified; and Second, whether the Court of Appeals erred in deleting the award for work accomplished by WSSI on the LCT Placer.25
The Court's Ruling
The Petition is not meritorious. At the outset, we note that the petition raises pure questions of fact.
Under Rule 45, Section 1 of the 1997 Revised Rules of Civil Procedure:
The Supreme Court is not at trier of facts.27 Questions that may be entertained in a petition for certiorari must not involve an examination of the probative value of the evidence presented by the litigations.28
A question of law exists when doubt or difference arises as to what is pertaining law given a certain state of facts. On the other hand, there is a question of fact when doubt arises as to the truth or falsity of the alleged facts.29
WSSI casts doubt on the factual findings of the Court of Appeals, stating that the Court of Appeals "drew incorrect conclusions from the evidence extant on the records," and that "this misapprehension of facts led it to misapply the law and therefore, committed reversible error."30 The rules prevent WSSI from arguing as such.
When the factual findings of the Court of Appeals are supported by substantial evidence, they are conclusive and binding on the parties.31 "Substantial evidence" is that amount of relevant evidence which a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to justify the conclusion.32 we find that substantial evidence supports the finding of the Court of Appeals.
Neither do the records show that the Court of Appeals' reduction of the amounts originally awarded was based on speculation, surmises or conjectures, hence, the factual findings in support of the reduction can not distrubed.33
WHEREFORE, finding no reversible error in the resolution appealed from, the petition is DISMISSED. The resolution of the Court of Appeals promulgated on January 28, 1993 is AFFIRMED in toto.
Davide, Jr., Puno, Kapunan, Ynares-Santiago, JJ: concur.
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