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Jul 29, 2008

G.R. No. 170928, September 11, 2007

  • Unjust enrichment: Article 22, CC recognizes the principle that one may not enrich himself at the expense of another.
  • Form of "enrichment:" Enrichment of the defendant consists in every patrimonial, physical, or moral advantage, so long as it is appreciable in money


This is a complaint for reimbursement of training costs filed by PAL against its pilot, Almario.

Almario was initially hired as a Boeing 747 Systems Engineer. Later on, he successfully bid for the higher position of Airbus 300 First Officer, for which he was given additional training at PAL’s expense. After completing the course, Almario served as A-300 First Officer of PAL but after eight months of service, he tendered his resignation for “personal reasons.”

PAL then wrote him a letter, stating that they invested heavily on his professional training on the basis that he continue to serve the Company for a definite period of time which is approximately 3 yrs. In short, PAL wanted Almario to reconsider his resignation, otherwise they would be compelled to ask reimbursement for the training costs from him. Despite this, Almario pushed through with his resignation. Hence, a reimbursement case was filed.

In the lower court, PAL invoked the existence of an innominate contract of do ut facias (I give that you may do) with Almario in that by spending for his training, he would render service to it until the costs of training were recovered in at least 3 yrs. They based the period of “3 yrs” to a decision of the Secretary of Labor concerning PAL’s CBA with its employee-union.

For his part, Almario denied the existence of any agreement with PAL that he would render service to it for three years after his training, failing which he would reimburse the training costs. The lower court ruled in favor of Almario. On appeal, CA found Almario liable under the CBA and under Article 22 of the Civil Code.

Hence this appeal.


  • Whether or not Almario is obliged to reimburse the costs incurred by PAL for his training


The petition fails.

The rationale of the three-year period is the prohibitive training costs. At an earlier time, when the CBA between PAL and its employees were still negotiated, the Secretary of Labor basically ruled that PAL should be allowed a return on investment for their pilots’ training expenses. Thus, the provisions that pilots 57 years of age shall be frozen and pilots less than 57, provided they have previously qualified in any company’s turbo-jet aircraft, shall be permitted to occupy any position in the company’s turbo-jet fleet, were incorporated in later incarnations of the CBA.

When Almario took the training course, he was about 39 yrs old, 21 yrs away from the retirement age of 60. Hence, with the maturity, expertise and experience he gained from the training course, he was expected to serve PAL for at least three yrs to offset “the prohibitive costs” thereof.

Article 22 of the Civil Code applies.

This provision on unjust enrichment recognizes the principle that one may not enrich himself at the expense of another.

Enrichment of the defendant consists in every patrimonial, physical, or moral advantage, so long as it is appreciable in money. It may consist of some positive pecuniary value incorporated into the patrimony of the defendant, such as: (1) the enjoyment of a thing belonging to the plaintiff; (2) the benefits from service rendered by the plaintiff to the defendant; (3) the acquisition of a right, whether real or personal; (4) the increase of value of property of the defendant; (5) the improvement of a right of the defendant, such as the acquisition of a right of preference; (6) the recognition of the existence of a right in the defendant; and (7) the improvement of the conditions of life of the defendant.

The enrichment of the defendant must have a correlative prejudice, disadvantage, or injury to the plaintiff. This prejudice may consist, not only of the loss of property or the deprivation of its enjoyment, but also of non-payment of compensation for a prestation or service rendered to the defendant without intent to donate on the part of the plaintiff, or the failure to acquire something which the latter would have obtained. The injury to the plaintiff, however, need not be the cause of the enrichment of the defendant. It is enough that there be some relation between them, that the enrichment of the defendant would not have been produced had it not been for the fact from which the injury to the plaintiff is derived.

In the present case, PAL invested for the training of Almario on the expectation that they may recover by availing of Almario’s services for at least three years. This expectation was not fully realized, however, due to Almario’s resignation after only eight months of service following the completion of his training course. He cannot, therefore, refuse to reimburse the costs of training without violating the principle of unjust enrichment.


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