Here are the pertinent provisions of the Civil Code of the Philippines on Quasi-Delicts (Torts).
Art. 2179. When the plaintiff’s own negligence was the immediate and proximate cause of his injury, he cannot recover damages. But if his negligence was only contributory, the immediate and proximate cause of the injury being the defendant’s lack of due care, the plaintiff may recover damages, but the courts shall mitigate the damages to be awarded. (n)
Art. 2189. Provinces, cities and municipalities shall be liable for damages for the death of, or injuries suffered by, any person by reason of the defective condition of roads, streets, bridges, public buildings, and other public works under their control or supervision. (n)
Please pay particular attention to the phrase “under their control or supervision”.
The flooded roads are being supervised by the local government and they are under its control – it can barricade these unsafe roads anytime. Or it could put up signs that a particular road is no longer passable. Its duty of care is raised to a higher level precisely because of the storm and the chances of more roads getting flooded and the motorists driving through them who would presume that these roads are safe, constitute unnecessary risks to motorists. A risk that the city can easily addressed by inspecting its roads after the storm and inform the motorists of their dangerous conditions.
Metro Manila roads get flooded even on ordinary rains, but these roads remain passable. Immediately after storms, these roads are flooded but most roads remain passable.
Here Mr. Lao, as most motorists do, would presume that this flooded street would still be passable. He was misled driving unto it because of the absence of policemen to direct the motorists to safer roads or for the failure of the city to put up signs warning motorists that that particular road was not passable anymore.
You see, there are lots of factual and legal refinements in this situation, but many of us have failed to appreciate these refinements and started jumping up and down on the web like chimpanzees on steroid.
BTW, UP College of law has an aptitude test before you are allowed to walk in its grand corridors. I wonder how many of those who were criticizing Mr. Lao can possibly pass this entrance exam as a benchmark of their own intelligence.