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CA affirms ruling for Philharbor to pay moral damages

THE Court of Appeals (CA) has affirmed a ruling that ordered Philharbor Ferries and Port Services, Inc. to pay its former chief operating officer (COO) P300,000 in moral damages P200,000 in exemplary damages and P100,000 in lawyer fees.

The tribunal imposed a 6% legal interest in addition to the previous damages and lawyer fees imposed on Philharbor.

In a 24-page decision dated Dec. 19, the CA Fifth Division said the firm failed to prove that its former executive Francis C. Carlos acted in bad faith in directing its corporate affairs.

“As correctly found by the RTC, the records are bereft of any evidence that he acted in bad faith, with gross or inexcusable negligence, or that he acted outside the scope of his authority as COO,” according to the ruling written by Associate Justice Jennifer Joy C. Ong.

The tribunal added that the firm’s filing of a civil action against the COO harmed his reputation in the shipping and maritime industry.

Mr. Carlos had responsibilities including planning and controlling the company’s day-to-day activities, and strategic planning in achieving its operational and financial goals.

He was also authorized by Philharbor to approve capital expenses for the repair and maintenance of its ships.

The COO, who was hired in 2002, filed for his optional retirement from the firm in 2009.

The case stemmed from Philharbor’s claim that Mr. Carlos acted negligently in approving certain capital projects expenses that “caused damage and prejudice” to the firm.

The Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 276 ruled in 2018 that the shipping company did not present evidence that showed Mr. Carlos’ supposed negligence and that he acted outside his authority as COO.

“Its (Philharbor’s) sweeping accusations and unfounded imputations against Francis, without even determining what specifically injurious transactions were due to his supposed negligence, militates against any finding by this court that this case was filed with purely legitimate motives,” the appellate court said. — John Victor D. Ordoñez

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