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Feb 9, 2010

G.R. No. 84698, Jan. 4, 1992

  • School's responsibility in loco parentis over its own students: the harm or negligent act must be committed by its students against another student, not by an outsider
  • General rule on the application of quasi-delict: no pre-existing contract between the parties


Carlitos Bautista, a third-year commerce student of PSBA, was stabbed to death while on the second-floor premises of the school. The assailants were not members of the schools’ academic community but were elements from outside the school. The parents of Carlitos filed a civil action against the school authorities, alleging them negligent, reckless and with failure to take security precautions, means and methods before, during and after the attack on the victim. The appellate court found in their favor, primarily anchoring its decision on the law of quasi-delicts.

Hence, the petition.

  • Whether or not the appellate court was correct in deciding the case based on Article 2180 (in loco parentis)
  • Whether or not the application of the law on quasi-delict is proper when there is a pre-existing contract


The SC did not agree with the premises of the CA’s ruling. Article 2180, in conjunction with Article 2176 of the Civil Code, establishes the rule in in loco parentis. It had been stressed that the law (Article 2180) plainly provides that the damage should have been caused or inflicted by pupils or students of the educational institution sought to be held liable for the acts of its pupils or students while in its custody. However, this material situation does not exist in the present case for, as earlier indicated, the assailants of Carlitos were not students of PSBA, for whose acts the school could have been made liable.


It does not necessarily follow. When an academic institution accepts students for enrollment, there is established a contract between them, resulting in bilateral obligations which both parties are bound to comply with. Moreover, there is that “built-in” obligation to provide students with an atmosphere that promotes or assists in attaining its primary undertaking of imparting knowledge. The school must ensure that adequate steps are taken to maintain peace and order within the campus premises and to prevent the breakdown thereof.

Because the circumstances of the present case evince a contractual relation between PSBA and Carlitos, the rules on quasi-delict do not really govern. However, the mere fact that a person is bound to another by contract does not relieve him from extra-contractual liability to such person. When such a contractual relation exists the obligor may break the contract under such conditions that the same act which constitutes a breach of the contract would have constituted the source of an extra-contractual obligation had no contract existed between the parties. Art. 21 of the Civil Code comes to mind, so that should the act which breaches a contract be done in bad faith and violative of Art. 21, then there is a cause to view the act as constituting a quasi-delict.

In the present case, there is no finding that the contract between the school and Carlitos had been breached thru the former’s negligence in providing proper security measures.


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