Bar Q & A, Remedial Law

Bar Exam 2016 Suggested Answers in Remedial Law by the UP Law Complex

I

State at least five (5) civil cases that fall under the exclusive original jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Courts (RTC’s). (5%)

SUGGESTED ANSWER

The Regional Trial Courts inter alia shall exercise exclusive original jurisdiction in the following civil cases:

(1) In all civil actions in which the subject of the litigation is incapable of pecuniary estimation;

(2) In all civil actions which involve the title to, or possession of, real property, or any interest therein, where the assessed value of the property involved exceeds Twenty thousand pesos (P20,000,00) or, for civil actions in Metro Manila, where such value exceeds Fifty thousand pesos (P50,000.00) except actions for forcible entry into and unlawful detainer of lands or buildings, original jurisdiction over which is conferred upon the Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts;

(3) In all actions in admiralty and maritime jurisdiction where the demand or claim exceeds Three hundred thousand pesos (P300,000.00) or, in Metro Manila, where such demand or claim exceeds Four hundred thousand pesos (P400,000.00);

(4) In all matters of probate, both testate and intestate, where the gross value of the estate exceeds Three hundred thousand pesos (P300,000.00) or, in probate matters in Metro Manila, where such gross value exceeds Four Hundred thousand pesos (P400,000.00);

(5) In all actions involving the contract of marriage and marital relations;

(6) In all cases not within the exclusive jurisdiction of any court, tribunal, person or body exercising jurisdiction of any court, tribunal, person or body exercising judicial or quasi-judicial functions;

(7) in all civil actions and special proceedings falling within the exclusive original jurisdiction of a Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court and of the Court of Agrarian Relations as now provided by law; and

(8) In all other cases in which the demand, exclusive of interest, damages of whatever kind, attorney’s fees litigation expenses, and costs or the value of the property in controversy exceeds Three hundred thousand pesos (P300,000.00) or, in such other cases in Metro Manila, where the demand exclusive of the above-mentioned items exceeds Four Hundred thousand pesos (P400,000,00)” (Section 1, Section 19 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, otherwise known as the “Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980).

II

Briefly explain the procedure on “Interrogatories to Parties” under Rule 25 and state the effect of failure to serve written interrogatories. (2.5%)

(B) Briefly explain the procedure on “Admission by Adverse Party” under Rule 26 and the effect of failure to file and serve the request. (2.5%)

SUGGESTED ANSWER

(A) PROCEDURE

1 Any party desiring to elicit material and relevant facts from any adverse parties shall file and serve upon the latter written interrogatories to be answered by the party served or, if the party served is a public or private corporation or a partnership or association, by any officer thereof competent to testify in its behalf (Section 1, Rule 25, Rules of Court).

2. The interrogatories shall be answered fully in writing and shall be signed and sworn to by the person making them. The party upon whom the interrogatories have been served shall file and serve a copy of the answers on the party submitting the interrogatories within fifteen (15) days after service thereof, unless the court on motion and for good cause shown, extends or shortens the time (Section 2, Rule 25, Rules of Court).

3. Objections to any interrogatories may be presented to the court

within ten (10) days after service thereof, with notice as in case of a motion; and answers shall be deferred until the objections are resolved, which shall be at as early a time as is practicable (Section 3. Rule 25, Rules of Court).

Should a party fail to file and serve written interrogatories on adverse party, he cannot compel the latter to give testimony in one court or to give deposition pending appeal, unless allowed by the court for good cause shown and to prevent a failure of justice (Section 6. Rule 25, Rules of Court; Spouses Vicente Afulugencia and Leticia Afulugencia v. Metropolitan Bank & Trust Co., et al., G.R. No. 185145 February 5, 2014).

(B) PROCEDURE

1. At any time after issues have been joined, a party may file and serve upon any party a written request for the admission by the latter of the genuineness of any material and relevant document described in and exhibited with the request or of the truth of any material and relevant matter of fact set forth in the request. Copies of the documents shall be delivered with the request unless copies have already been furnished (Section 1, Rule 26, Rules of Court).

2. Each of the matters of which an admission is requested shall be deemed admitted unless, within a period designated in the request, which shall not be less than fifteen (15) days after service thereof, or within such further time as the court may allow on motion, the party to whom the request directed files and serves upon the party requesting the admission a sworn statement either denying specifically the matters of which an admission is requested or setting forth in detail the reasons why he cannot truthfully either admit or deny those matters.

3. Objections to any request for admission shall be submitted to the court by the party requested within the period for and prior to the filing of his sworn statement as contemplated in the preceding paragraph and his compliance therewith shall be deferred until such obligations are resolved, which resolution shall be made as early as practicable (Section 2, Rule 26, Rules of Court).

4. Any admission made by a party pursuant to such request is for the purpose of the pending action only and shall not constitute an admission by him for any other purpose nor may the same be used against him in any other proceeding (Section 3, Rule 26). Unless otherwise allowed by the court for good cause shown and to prevent a failure of justice a party who fails to file and serve a request for admission on the adverse party of material and relevant facts at issue which are, or ought to be, within the personal knowledge of the latter, shall not be permitted to present evidence on such facts (emphasis supplied] (Section 5, Rule 26, Rules of Court).

III

What are the contents of a judicial affidavit? (5%)

SUGGESTED ANSWER

A judicial affidavit shall be prepared in the language known to the witness and, if not in English or Filipino, accompanied by a translation in English or Filipino, and shall contain the following: (a) The name, age, residence or business address, and occupation of the witness; (b) The name and address of the lawyer who conducts or supervises the examination of the witness and the place where the examination is being held; (c) A statement that the witness is answering the questions asked of him, fully conscious that he does so under oath, and that he may face criminal liability for false testimony or perjury; (d) Questions asked of the witness and his corresponding answers, consecutively numbered, that: (1) Show the circumstances under which the witness acquired the facts upon which he testifies; (2) Elicit from him those facts which are relevant to the issues that the case presents; and (3) Identify the attached documentary and object evidence and establish their authenticity in accordance with the Rules of Court; (e) The signature of the witness over his printed name; and (f) A jurat with the signature of the notary public who administers the oath or an officer who is authorized by law to administer the same (Section 3, A.M. No. 12-8-8 SC, Judicial Affidavit Rule).

IV.

Eduardo a resident of the City of Manila, filed before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila a complaint for the annulment of a Deed of Real Estate Mortgage he signed in favor of Galaxy Bank (Galaxy), and the consequent foreclosure and auction sale on his mortgaged Makati prop erty, Galaxy filed a Motion to Dismiss on the ground of improper venue alleging that the complaint should be filed with the RTC of Makati since the complaint involves the ownership and possession of Eduardo’s lot. Resolve the motion with reasons. (5%)

SUGGESTED ANSWER

The Motion to dismiss should be granted. An action for nullification of the mortgage documents and foreclosure of the mortgaged property is a real action that affects the title to the property; thus, venue of the real action is before the court having jurisdiction over the territory in which the property lies (Jimmy T. Go v. United Coconut Planters Bank, G.R. No. 156187, November 11, 2004; Chua v. Total Office Products & Services, G.R. No. 152808, September 30, 2005).

In Fortune Motors v. Court of Appeals (G.R. No. 112191, February 7, 1997), the Supreme Court also held that an action to annul a foreclosure sale of a real estate mortgage is no different from an action to annul a private sale of real property. While it is true that petitioner does not directly seek the recovery of title or possession of the property in question, his action for annulment of sale and his claim for damages are closely intertwined with the issue of ownership of the building which, under the law, is considered immovable property, the recovery of which is petitioner’s primary objective.

The prevalent doctrine is that an action for the annulment or rescission of a sale of real property does not operate to efface the fundamental and prime objective and nature of the case, which is to recover said real property. It is a real action (Paglaum Management & Development Corporation v. Union Bank of the Philippines, G.R. No. 179018, June 18, 2012).

Being a real action, it shall be commenced and tried in the proper court which has jurisdiction over the area where the real property involved. or a portion thereof, is situated (Section 1, Rule 4, Rules of Court). The complaint should be filed in the RTC of Makati where the mortgaged property is situated.

ALTERNATIVE ANSWER

The motion to dismiss should be denied. An action for the annulment of a real estate mortgage is a personal action, which may be commenced and tried where the defendant or any of the defendants resides or may be found, or where the plaintiff or any of the plaintiffs resides or may be found, at the election of plaintiff (Sec. 2, Rule 4, Rules of Court; Chua v. Total Office Products & Services, G.R. No. 152808, September 30, 2005; Orbeta v. Orbeta, G.R. No. 166837, November 27, 2006). Since the plaintiff resides in Manila, the complaint was properly filed in RTC of Manila.

V.

(A) What is the “most important witness” rule pursuant to the 2004 Guidelines of Pre-trial and Use of Deposition-Discovery Measures? Explain. (2.5%)

(B) What is the “one day examination of witness” rule pursuant to the said 2004 Guidelines? Explain. (2.5%)

SUGGESTED ANSWER

(A) Under A.M. No. 03-1-09-SC or the “2004 Guidelines of Pre-trial and Use of Deposition-Discovery Measures,” in civil cases where no amicable settlement was reached by the parties, the trial judge is directed to determine the most important witnesses and limit the number of such witnesses to be heard. The court shall also require the parties and/or counsels to submit the names, addresses and contact numbers of the witnesses to be summoned by subpoena. The facts to be proven by each witness and the approximate number of hours per witness shall also be fixed by the trial judge (Section (1)(A) (5) (i) of A.M. No. 03-01-09-SC or the “2004 Guidelines of Pre-trial and Use of Deposition-Discovery Measures”, July 13, 2004).

(B) The rule requires that a witness has to be fully examined in one (1) day only. This rule shall be strictly adhered to subject to the courts’ discretion during trial on whether or not to extend the direct and/ or cross-examination for justifiable reasons. On the last hearing day allotted for each party, he is required to make his formal offer of evidence after the presentation of his last witness and the opposing party is required to immediately interpose his objection thereto. Thereafter, the judge shall make the ruling on the offer of evidence in open court, but the judge has the discretion to allow the offer of evidence in writing in conformity with Section 35, Rule 132 (Section (1)(A)(5)(i) of A.M. No. 03-01-09-SC or the “2004 Guidelines of Pre-trial and Use of Deposition-Discovery Measures”, July 13, 2004).

VI.

Pedro and luan are residents of Barangay Ifurug, Municipality of Dupac, Mountain Province. Pedro owes Juan the amount of P50,000.00. Due to non-payment, Juan brought his complaint to the Council of Elders of said barangay which implements the bodong justice system. Both appeared before the council where they verbally agreed that Pedro will pay in installments on specific due dates. Pedro reneged on his promise. Juan filed a complaint for sum of money before the Municipal Trial Court (MTC). Pedro filed a Motion to Dismiss on the ground that the case did not pass through the barangay conciliation under R.A. No. 7160 and that the RTC, not the MTC, has jurisdiction. In his opposition, Juan argued that the intervention of the Council of Elders is substantial compliance with the requirement of R.A. No. 7160 and the claim of P50,000.00 is clearly within the jurisdiction of the MTC. As MTC judge, rule on the motion and explain. (5%)

SUGGESTED ANSWER

The Motion to Dismiss should be denied. As a general rule, no complaint involving any matter within the authority of the Lupon shall be instituted or filed directly in court for adjudication unless there has been a confrontation between the parties in the barangay and no settlement was reached (Section 412(a) of Republic Act No. 7160; April Martinez, v. Rodolfo G. Martinez, G.R. No. 162084, June 28, 2005). However, in barangays where majority of the inhabitants are members of indigenous cultural communities, local systems of settling disputes through their councils of datus or lders shall be recognized without prejudice to the applicable provisions of e Local Government Code (Sections 399, R.A. 7160). As a consequence, customs and traditions of indigenous cultural communities shall be ned in settling disputes between members of the cultural communities (Sections 412, R.A. 7160), thus, the confrontation between Pedro and Juan before the Council of Elders of their barangay is sufficient compliance with the precondition for filing the case in court under Section 412 of R.A. No. 7160 (Zamora v. Heirs of Izquierdo, G.R. No. 146195, November 18, 2004).

Be that as it may, it is well-settled that the mode of enforcement of an amicable settlement under the Katarungan Pambarangay Law does not rule out the right of rescission under Art. 2041 of the Civil Code (Crisanta Miguel v. Montanez, G.R. No. 191336, January 25, 2014). Accordingly, when Juan filed a complaint for sum of money in the MTC, he is deemed to have rescinded the compromise agreement reached before the Council of Elders of the barangay. Henceforth, Pedro is incorrect in alleging that the RTC, not the MTC, has jurisdiction over Juan’s claim. Considering that the claim is only for P50,000.00, the case is within the exclusive jurisdiction of the MTC under B.P. Blg. 129 and may proceed pursuant to A.M. No. 08-8-7-SC or the “Rules of Procedure for Small Claims Cases.” Notably, a motion to dismiss is among the prohibited pleadings under Section 14(a) of said rules. Similarly, Juan’s claim of P50,000.00 may be governed by the 1991 Rules on Summary Procedure which clearly falls within the jurisdiction of the MTC, ergo, the motion to dismiss based on lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter should be denied (Section 19 (a), 1991 Rules on Summary Procedure).

VII

Spouses Marlon and Edith have three (3) children ages, 15, 12 and 7, who are studying at public schools. They have combined gross monthly income 0f P30,000.00 and they stay in an apartment in Manila with a monthly rent of P5,000.00. The monthly minimum wage per employee in Metro Manila does not exceed P13,000.00. They do not own any real property. The spouses want to collect a loan of P25,000.00 from Jojo but do not have the money to pay the filing fees.

(A) Would the spouses qualify as indigent litigants under Section 19, Rule 141 on Legal Fees? (2.5%)]

(B) If the spouses do not qualify under Rule 141, what other remedy can they avail of under the rules to exempt them from paying the filing fees? (2.5)

SUGGESTED ANSWER

(A) No. Spouses Marlon and Edith would not qualify as indigent litigants. Under Section 19 of Rule 141, Indigent litigants include those (a) whose gross income and that of their immediate family do not exceed an amount double the monthly minimum wage of an employee; and (b) who do not own real property with a fair market value as stated in the current tax declaration of more than three hundred thousand (P300,000.00) pesos, shall be exempt from payment of legal fees (Section 19 of Rule 141, Administrative Matter No. 04-2-04-SC, August 16, 2004; Algura v. Local Government Unit of the City of Naga, G.R. No. 150135, October 30, 2006). Here, the spouses combined gross monthly income of P30,000.00 exceeds the limit provided by Section 19, Rule 141; accordingly, the spouses do not qualify as indigent litigants.

(B) The spouses can avail the following remedies under the rules in order to be exempted from the payment of the filing fees:

  1. If the applicant for exemption meets the salary and property requirements under Section 19 of Rule 141, then the grant of the application is mandatory. On the other hand, when the application does not satisfy one or both requirements, then the application should not be denied outright; instead, the court should apply the “indigency test” under Section 21 of Rule 3 and use its sound discretion in determining the merits of the prayer for exemption (Algura v. Local Government Unit of the City of Naga, G.R. No. 150135, October 30, 2006). Hence, the spouses may be authorized to litigate as indigents if the court, upon an ex parte application and hearing, is satisfied that they do not have money or property sufficient and available for food, shelter, and basic necessities for themselves and their family (Rule 3, Sec. 21, Rules of Court; Re: Query of Mr. Roger Prioreschi, A.M. No. 09-6-9-SC, August 19, 2009).

2. The Spouses can also file a motion to sue as indigent under the Rules of Procedure on Small Claims. The Motion shall be referred to the Executive Judge for immediate action in case of multi-sala courts. If the motion is granted by the Executive Judge, the case shall be raffled off or assigned to the court designated to hear small claims cases. If the motion is denied, the plaintiff shall be given five (5) days within which to pay the docket fees, otherwise, the case shall be dismissed without prejudice. In no case shall a party, even if declared an indi gent, be exempt from the payment of the P1,000.00 fee for service of summons and processes (Section 10, A.M. No. 08-8-7-SC, 2016 Rules of Procedure for Small Claims Cases).

3. The spouses may also claim exemption from payment of legal fees by seeking the help of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines pursuant to A.M. No. 08-11-7-SC (IRR), Rule on the Exemption from the Payment of Legal Fees of the Clients of the National Committee on Legal Aid and of the Legal Aid Offices in the Local Chapters of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines

VIII

Juan sued Roberto for specific performance. Roberto knew that Juan was going to file the case so he went out of town and temporarily stayed in another city to avoid service of summons. Juan engaged the service of Sheriff Matinik to serve the summons but when the latter went to the residence of Roberto, he was told by the caretaker thereof that his employer no longer resides at the house. The caretaker is a high school graduate and is the godson of Roberto. Believing the caretaker’s story to be true, Sheriff Matinik left a copy of the summons and complaint with the caretaker. Was there a valid substituted service of summons? Discuss the requirements for a valid service of summons. (5%)

SUGGESTED ANSWER

No. There was no valid substituted service of summons. In an action strictly in personam, personal service on the defendant is the preferred mode of service, that is, by handing a copy of the summons to the defendant in person. If defendant, for excusable reasons, cannot be served with the summons within a reasonable period, then substituted service can be resorted to. While substituted service of summons is permitted, it is extraordinary in character and in derogation of the usual method of Service; hence, it must faithfully and strictly comply with the prescribed requirements and circumstances authorized by the rules. Compliance with the rules regarding the service of summons is as important as the issue of due process for the Court to acquire jurisdiction. For the presumption of regularity in the performance of official duty to apply, the Sheriff’s Return must show that serious efforts or attempts were exerted to personally serve the summons and that said efforts failed. These facts must be specifically narrated in the Return. It must clearly show that the substituted service must be made on a person of suitable age and discretion living in the dwelling or residence of defendant; otherwise, the Return is flawed and the presumption cannot be availed of. The Supreme Court laid down the requirements as follows:

1. Impossibility of prompt personal service, i.e., the party relying on substituted service or the sheriff must show that defendant cannot be served promptly or there is impossibility of prompt service within a reasonable time, Reasonable time being “so much time as is necessary under the circumstances for a reasonably prudent and diligent man to do, conveniently, what the contract or duty requires that should be done, having a regard for the rights and possibility of loss, if any..] to the other party”. Moreover, it must be indicated therein that the sheriff has made several attempts at personal service for at least three (3) times on at least two (2) different dates.

2. Specific details in the return, i.e., the sheriff must describe in the Return of Summons the facts and circumstances surrounding the attempted personal service.

3. Substituted service effected on a person of suitable age and discretion residing at defendant’s house or residence; or on a competent person in charge of defendant’s office or regular place of business (Ma. Imelda M. Manotoc v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 130974 August 16, 2006).

IX

(A) Is the buyer in the auction sale arising from an extra-judicial foreclosure entitled to a writ of possession even before the expiration of the redemption period? If so, what is the action to be taken? (1%)

(B) After the period of redemption has lapsed and the title to the lot is consolidated in the name of the auction buyer, is he entitled to the writ of possession as a matter of right? If so, what is the action to be taken? (2%)

(C) Suppose that after the title to the lot has been consolidated in the name of the auction buyer, said buyer sold the lot to a third party without first getting a writ of possession. Can the transferee exercise the right of the auction buyer and claim that it is a ministerial duty of the court to issue a writ of possession in his favor? Briefly explain. (2%)

SUGGESTED ANSWER

(A) Yes, the buyer in the auction sale is entitled to a writ of possession even before the expiration of the redemption period upon the filing of the ex parte petition for issuance of a writ of possession and posting of the appropriate bond. Under Section 7 of Act No. 3135, as amended, the writ of possession may be issued to the purchaser in a foreclosure sale either within the one-year redemption period upon the filing of a bond, or after the lapse of the redemption period, without need of a bond (LZK Holdings and Development Corporation v. Planters Development Bank, G.R. No. 167998, April 27, 2007). Stated otherwise, Section 7 of Act No. 3135, as amended, also refers situation wherein the purchaser seeks possession of the foreclosed property during the 12-month period for redemption. Hence, upon the purchaser’s filing of the ex parte petition and posting of the appropriate bond, the RTC shall, as a matter of course, order the issuance of the writ of possession in favor of the purchaser (Spouses Nicasio Marquez and Anita J. Marquez v. Spouses Carlito Alindog and Carmen Alindog, G.R. No. 184045, January 22, 2014; Spouses Jose Gatuslao and Ermila Gatuslao v. Leo Ray Yanson, G.R. No. 191540, January 21, 2015).

(B) Yes, the auction buyer is entitled to a writ of possession as a matter of right. It is settled that the buyer in a foreclosure sale becomes the absolute owner of the property purchased if it is not redeemed within a period of one year after the registration of the certificate of sale. He is, therefore, entitled to the possession of the property and can demand it at any time following the consolidation of ownership in his name and the issuance to him of a new transfer certificate of title. In such a case, the bond required in Section 7 of Act No. 3135 is no longer necessary. Possession of the land then becomes an absolute right of the purchaser as confirmed owner. Upon proper application and proof of title, the issuance of the writ of possession becomes a ministerial duty of the court (LZK Holdings and Development Corporation v. Planters Development Bank, G.R. No. 167998, April 27, 2007; Spouses Nicasio C. Marquez and Anita J. Marquez v. Spouses Carlito Alindog and Carmen Alindog, G.R. No. 184045, January 22, 2014; Spouses Jose Gatuslao and Ermila Gatuslao v. Leo Ray Yanson, G.R. No. 191540, January 21, 2015).

(C) Yes. The transferee can exercise the right of the auction buyer. A transferee or successor-in-interest of the auction buyer by virtue of the contract of sale between them, is considered to have stepped into the shoes of the auction buyer. As such, the transferee is necessarily entitled to avail of the provisions of Section 7 of Act 3135, as amended, as if he is the auction buyer (Spouses Jose Gatuslao and Ermila Gatuslao v. Leo Ray Yonson, G.R. No. 191540, January 21, 2015), When the lot purchased at a foreclosure sale is in turn sold or transferred, the right to the possession thereof, along with all other rights of ownership, transfers to its new owner (Spouses Gallent v. Velasquez, G.R. No. 203949, April 6, 2016), ergo, it is a ministerial duty of the court to issue a writ of possession in favor of the transferee of the auction buyer.

X

Hannibal, Donna, Florence and Joel, concerned residents of Laguna de Bay, filed a complaint of mandamus against the Laguna Lake Development Authority, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Interior and Local Government, Department of Agriculture, Department of Budget, and Philippine National Police before the RTC of Laguna alleging that the continued neglect of defendants in performing their duties has resulted in serious deterioration of the water quality of the lake and the degradation of the marine life in the lake. The plaintiffs prayed that said government agencies be ordered to clean up Laguna de Bay and restore its water quality to Class C waters as prescribed by Presidential Decree 1152, otherwise known as the Philippine Environment Code. Defendants raise the defense that the cleanup of the lake is not a ministerial function and they cannot be compelled by mandamus to perform the same. The RTC of Laguna rendered a decision declaring that it is the duty of the agencies to clean up Laguna de Bay and issued a permanent writ of mandamus ordering said agencies to perform their duties prescribed by law relating to the cleanup of Laguna de Bay.

(A) Is the RTC correct in issuing the writ of mandamus? Explain. (2.5%)

(B) What is the writ of continuing mandamus? (2.5%)

SUGGESTED ANSWER

(A) Yes, the RTC is correct in issuing the writ of mandamus. Generally, the writ of mandamus lies to require the execution; of a ministerial duty. While the implementation of the Government agencies mandated tasks may entail a decision-making process, the enforcement of the law or the very act of doing what the law exacts to be done is ministerial in nature and may be compelled by mandamus.

Here, the duty to clean up Laguna lake and restore its water quality to Class C is required not only by Presidential Decree No. 1152, otherwise known as the Philippine Environment Code, but also in its charter. It is, thus, ministerial in nature and can be compelled by mandamus.

Accordingly, the RTC may issue a writ of continuing mandamus directing any agency or instrumentality of the government or officer thereof to perform an act or series of acts decreed by final judgment which shall remain effective until the judgment is fully satisfied (Metropolitan Manila Development Authority v. Concerned Residents of Manila Bay, G.R. Nos. 171947-48, December 18, 2008).

(B) A writ of continuing mandamus is a writ issued when any agency or instrumentality of the government or officer thereof unlawfully neglects the performance of an act which the law specifically enjoins as a duty resulting from an office, trust or station in connection with the enforcement or violation of an environmental law rule or regulation or a right therein, or unlawfully excludes another from the use or enjoyment of such right and there is no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law, the person aggrieved thereby may file a verified petition in the proper court, alleging the facts with certainty, attaching thereto supporting evidence, specifying that the petition concerns an environmental law, rule or regulation, and praying that judgment be rendered commanding the respondent to do an act or series of acts until the judgment is fully satisfied, and to pay damages sustained by the petitioner by reason of the malicious neglect to perform the duties of the respondent, under the law, rules or regulations. The petition shall also contain a sworn certification of non-forum shopping (A.M. No. 09-6-8-SC also known as Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases).

A Writ of Continuing mandamus is a writ issued by a court in an environmental case directing any agency or instrumentality of the government or officer thereof to perform an act or series of acts decreed by final judgment which shall remain effective until judgment is fully satisfied (Section 7, Rule 8, A.M. No. 09-6-8-SC also known as Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases).

XI

Miguel filed a Complaint for damages against Jose, who denied liability and filed a Motion to Dismiss on the ground of failure to state a cause of action. In an Order received by Jose on January 5, 2015, the trial court denied the Motion to Dismiss. On February 4, 2015, Jose sought reconsideration of that Order through a Motion for Reconsideration. Miguel opposed the Motion for Reconsideration on the ground that it was filed out of time. Jose countered that the 15-day rule under Section 1 of Rule 52 does not apply where the Order sought to be reconsidered is an interlocutory order that does not attain finality. Is Jose correct? Explain. (5%)

SUGGESTED ANSWER

No. Jose is not correct. While Jose’s reliance on Section 1 of Rule 52 is misplaced because the said Rule applies only to cases pending before the Court of Appeals, his argument that the fifteen day rule does not apply because the order sought to be reconsidered is an interlocutory order that has basis in jurisprudence. In Denso Philippines, Inc. v. The Intermediate Appellate Court (G.R. No. 75000. February 27, 1987), the Supreme Court held that a motion for reconsideration of an interlocutory order is not subject to the usual limiting fifteen-day period of appeal prescribed for final judgments and orders. Be that as it may, since the motion for reconsideration is a condition sine qua non for the filing of a petition for certiorari which is the appropriate remedy, the same can be filed not later than sixty (60) days from notice of the denial of the motion to dismiss; otherwise, a legal aberration would ensue where a party who has merely 60 days from notice of an adverse interlocutory order to interpose a special civil action for certiorari would be allowed a longer period to move for reconsideration of such order.

Consequently, since Jose’s motion for reconsideration was filed 31 days after he received the order denying his motion to dismiss, the same was still filed on time.

ANOTHER SUGGESTED ANSWER

No. Jose is not correct. Rule 52 applies only to motions for reconsideration of judgments or final resolutions of the Court of Appeals in appealed cases. This case, however, involves proceedings before the trial court. Under Section 1, Rule 37 of the Rules of Court, the period to file a motion for reconsideration shall be within the period for taking an appeal, which under Section 3, Rule 41, should be made within fifteen (15) days from notice of the assailed order. Applying the foregoing, Jose should have filed his motion for reconsideration within 15 days from January 5, 2015, or until January 20, 2015. Clearly, Jose’s motion for reconsideration was filed out of time.

XII

Tailors Toto, Nelson and Yenyen filed a special civil action for certiorari under Rule 65 from an adverse decision of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) on the complaint for illegal dismissal against Empire Textile Corporation. They were terminated on the ground that they failed to meet the prescribed production quota at least four (4) times. The NLRC, decision was assailed in a special civil action under Rule 65 before the Court of Appeals (CA). In the verification and certification against forum shopping, only Toto signed the verification and certification, while Atty. Arman signed for Nelson. Empire filed a motion to dismiss on the ground of defective verification and certification. Decide with reasons. (5%)

SUGGESTED ANSWER

The motion to dismiss should be granted. The verification and certification of non-forum shopping were not signed by all the petitioners. There was no showing that Toto nor Atty. Arman were duly authorized by the other petitioners through a special power of attorney to sign on their behalf; hence, the motion to dismiss should be granted.

ANOTHER SUGGESTED ANSWER

The motion to dismiss should be denied, because there is substantial compliance of the requirements of the rules. Verification is not a jurisdictional but merely a formal requirement which the court may motu proprio direct a party to comply with ar correct, as the case may be. On the other hand, regarding the certificate of non-forum shopping, the general rule is that all the petitioners or plaintiffs in a case should sign it. However, the Supreme Court has time and again stressed that the rules on forum shopping, which were designed to promote the orderly administration of justice, do not interdict substantial compliance with its provisions under justifiable circumstances. As ruled by the Court, the signature of any of the principal petitioners or principal parties, would constitute a substantial compliance with the rule on verification and certification of non-forum shopping. And should there exist a commonality of interest among the parties, or where the parties filed the case as a collective, raising only one common cause of action or presenting a common defense, then the signature of one of the petitioners or complainants, acting as representative, is sufficient compliance (Irene Marcos-Araneta v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 154096, August 22, 2008). Evidently, since there is a commonality of interest among Tailors Toto, Nelson and Yenyen, there is substantial compliance with the rules on verification and certification against forum shopping, when Toto signed the verification and certification, and Atty. Arman signed the same for Nelson.

XIII

The officers of “Ang Kapaligiran ay Alagaan, Inc.” engaged your services to file an action against ABC Mining Corporation which is engaged in mining operations in Sta. Cruz, Marinduque. ABC used highly toxic chemicals in extracting gold. ABC’s toxic mine tailings were accidentally released from its storage dams and were discharged into the rivers of said town. The mine tailings found their way to Calancan Bay allegedly to the waters of nearby Romblon and Quezon. The damage to the crops and loss of earnings were estimated at P1 Billion. Damage to the environment is estimated at P1 Billion. As a lawyer for the organization, you are requested to explain the advantages derived from a petition for writ of kalikasan before the Supreme Court over a complaint for damages before the RTC of Marinduque or vice-versa. What action will you recommend? Explain. (5%)

SUGGESTED ANSWER

As a lawyer for the organization, I would recommend the filing of a petition for issuance of a Writ of Kalikasan. The Writ of Kalikasan is a remedy available to a natural or juridical person, entity authorized by law, people’s organization, non-governmental organization, or any public interest group accredited by or registered with any government agency, on behalf of persons whose constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology is violated, or threatened with violation by an unlawful act or omission of a public official or employee, or private individual or entity, involving environmental damage of such magnitude as to prejudice the life, health or property of inhabitants in two or more cities or provinces (Section 1 of Rule 7, A.M. No. 09-6-8-SC also known as Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases).

The following reliefs may be included under the writ of kalikasan: (a) Directing respondent to permanently cease and desist from committing acts or neglecting the performance of a duty in violation of environmental laws resulting in environmental destruction or damage; (b) Directing the respondent public official, government agency, private person or entity to protect, preserve, rehabilitate or restore the environment; (c) Directing the respondent public official, government agency, private person or entity to monitor strict compliance with the decision and orders of the court; (d) Directing the respondent public official, government agency, or private person or entity to make periodic reports on the execution of the final judgment; and (e) Such other reliefs which relate to the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology or to the protection, preservation, rehabilitation or restoration of the environment, except the award of damages to individual petitioner (Sec. 15, Rule 7. Ibid).

The rules also provide interim reliefs in favor of the petitioner upon filing a verified motion, namely: (i) Ocular inspection; or (ii) Production or inspection of documents or things (Sec. 12, Rule 7, A.M. No. 09-6-8-SC also known as Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases).

Additionally, the petition for Writ of Kalikasan is more advantageous compared to a complaint for damages before the RTC because it may be filed directly with the Supreme Court or with any of the stations of the Court of Appeals. Unlike a complaint for damages before the RTC which can only be filed by a real-party-in-interest as defined in Rule 3(2) of the Rules of Court, the rule on locus standi is relaxed in petitions for Writ of Kalikasan which allows the petition to be filed by parties as citizen suit. In addition, any of the following may file a petition for Writ of Kalikasan: (a) natural or juridical person; (b) entity authorized by law; or (c) POs, NGOs or any public interest group accredited by or registered with any government agency on behalf of persons whose constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology is violated (Sec. 1, Rule 7, A.M. No. 09-6-8-SC). Besides, the petition for Writ of Kalikasan is exempted from the payment of docket fees.

From the foregoing, it is clear that filing a petition for Writ of Kalikasan would be the best remedy to address all the environmental problems caused by the release of the toxic waste to the waters of Romblon and Quezon without the burden of paying docket fees. After all, the filing of a petition for the issuance of the Writ of Kalikasan shall not preclude the filing of separate civil, criminal or administrative actions; thus, the organization can later file a complaint for damages with the Regional Trial Court, should they desire to do so. At any rate, the rules provide that judgment must be rendered within sixty (60) days from the time the petition is submitted for decision which expedites the proceedings significantly considering the urgency of the situation in the instant case. As lawyer for the organization I would recommend, therefore, the filing of a petition for a Writ of Kalikasan with the Supreme Court.

XIV

Pedro, the principal witness in a criminal case, testified and completed his testimony on direct examination in 2015. Due to several postponements by the accused, grounded on his recurring illness, which were all granted by the judge, the cross-examination of Pedro was finally set on October 15, 2016. Before the said date, Pedro died. The accused moved to expunge Pedro’s testimony on the ground that it violates his right of confrontation and the right to cross-examine the witness. The prosecution opposed the motion and asked Pedro’s testimony on direct examination be admitted as evidence. Is the motion meritorious? Explain. (5%)

SUGGESTED ANSWER

The Motion is meritorious. The cross-examination of a witness is an absolute right, not a mere privilege, of the party against whom he is called. With regard to the accused, it is a right guaranteed by the fundamental law as part of due process. Article III, Sec. 14, par. (2), of the 1987 Constitution specifically mandates that “the accused shall enjoy the right to meet the witnesses face to face,” and Rule 115, Sec. 1, par. (f), of the 2000 Rules of Criminal Procedure enjoins that in all criminal prosecutions the accused shall be entitled to confront and cross-examine the witnesses against him at the trial. Accordingly, the testimony of a witness given on direct examination should be stricken off the record where there was no adequate opportunity for cross-examination (People v. Fernando Monjey Rosario, G.R. No. 146689, September 27, 2002).

In People v. Manchetti (G.R. No. L-48883, August 6, 1980), the Supreme Court also held that if a party is deprived of the opportunity of cross examination without fault on his part, as in the case of the illness and death of a witness after direct examination, he is entitled to have the direct testimony stricken from the records. Since the accused was deprived of an opportunity to cross examine the witness without fault on his part, the motion to expunge is meritorious.

ANOTHER SUGGESTED ANSWER

The Motion is not meritorious. The right of a party to confront and cross-examine opposing witnesses in a judicial litigation is a personal one which may be waived, expressly or impliedly, by conduct amounting to a renunciation of the right of cross-examination. Where a party has had the opportunity to cross-examine a witness but failed to avail himself of it, he necessarily forfeits the right to cross-examine and the testimony given on direct examination of the witness will be received or allowed to remain in the record. The conduct of a party which may be construed as an implied waiver of the right to cross-examine may take various forms. The common basic principle underlying the application of the rule on implied waiver is that the party was given the opportunity to confront and cross-examine an opposing witness but failed to take advantage of it for reasons attributable to himself alone (People of the Philippines v. Adones Abatayao, G.R. No. 139456, July 7, 2004). Under the Doctrine of incomplete testimony, the direct testimony of a witness who dies before conclusion of the cross-examination can be stricken only insofar as not covered by the cross-examination (Curtice v. West, 2 NYS 507,50 Hun 47, affirmed 24 N.E. 1099, 121 N.Y. 696), and that a referee has no power to strike the examination of a witness on his failure to appear for cross-examination where a good excuse is given (People v. Hon. Alberto V. Seneris, G.R. No. L-48883 August 6, 1980). At any rate, the accused may be deemed to have waived his right to confront and cross-examine the witness when he asked the postponements of the hearing for several times; therefore, the direct testimony of a witness who died before the conclusion of the cross-examination should not be expunged from the records.

XV

Chika sued Gringo, a Venezuelan, for a sum of money. The Metropolitan Trial Court of Manila (MeTC) rendered a decision ordering Gringo to pay Chika P50,000.00 plus legal interest. During its pendency of the appeal before the RTC, Gringo died of acute hemorrhagic pancreatitis. Atty. Perfecto, counsel of Gringo, filed a manifestation attaching the death certificate of Gringo and informing the RTC that he cannot substitute the heirs since Gringo did not disclose any information of his family. As counsel for Chika, what remedy can you recommend to your client so that the case can move forward and she can eventually recover her money? Explain. (5%)

SUGGESTED ANSWER

As counsel for Chika, I would recommend that she immediately procure the appointment of an executor or administrator for the estate of Gringo. Section 16, Rule 3 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure provides that if no legal representative is named by the counsel for the deceased party, or if the one so named shall fail to appear within the specified period, the court may order the opposing party, within a specified time, to procure the appointment of an executor or administrator for the estate of the deceased, and the latter shall immediately appear for and on behalf of the deceased. The court charges in procuring such appointment, if defrayed by the opposing party, may be recovered as costs. After the appointment of an executor or administrator, the action shall be allowed to continue until entry of final judgment. A favorable judgment obtained by the plaintiff therein shall be enforced in the manner especially provided in these Rules for prosecuting claims against the estate of a deceased person (Section 20, Rule 3, Rules of Court).

ANOTHER SUGGESTED ANSWER

As counsel for Chika, I would recommend the filing of the money judgment as a claim against the estate of Gringo. Under Section 20. Rule 3 of the Rules of Court, when the action is on recovery of money arising from contract, express or implied, and the defendant dies before entry of final judgment in the court in which the action was pending at the time of such death, it shall not be dismissed but shall instead be allowed to continue until entry of final judgment. A favorable judgment obtained by the plaintiff therein shall be enforced in the manner especially provided in these Rules for prosecuting claims against the estate of a deceased person. Relative thereto, Section 5, Rule 86 of the Rules of Court provides that all claims for money against the decedent, arising from contract, express or implied, whether the same be due, not due, or contingent, all claims for funeral expenses and expenses for the last sickness of the decedent, and judgment for money against the decedent, must be filed within the time limited in the notice; otherwise they are barred forever.

Accordingly, I would recommend the filing of the money judgment as a claim against the estate of Gringo.

XVI

Under Section 5, Rule 113 a warrantless arrest is allowed when an offense has just been committed and the peace officer has probable cause to believe, based on his personal knowledge of facts or circumstances, that the person to be arrested has committed it. A policeman approaches you for advice and asks you how he will execute a warrantless arrest against a murderer who escaped after killing a person. The policeman arrived two (2) hours after the killing and a certain Max was allegedly the killer per information given by a witness. He asks you to clarify the following:

(A) How long after the commission of the crime can he still execute the warrantless arrest? (2.5%)

(B) What does “personal knowledge of the facts and circumstances that the person to be arrested committed it” mean? (2.5%)

SUGGESTED ANSWER

(A) In executing a warrantless arrest under Section 5, Rule 113, the Supreme Court held that the requirement that an offense has just been committed means that there must be a large measure of immediacy between the time the offense was committed and the time of the arrest (Joey M. Pestilos v. Moreno Generoso, G.R. No. 182601, November 10, 2014). If there was an appreciable lapse of time between the arrest and the commission of the crime, a warrant of arrest must be secured. In any case, personal knowledge by the arresting officer is an indispensable requirement to the validity of a valid warrantless arrest. The exact period varies on a case to case basis. In People v. Gerente (G.R. Nos. 95847-48, March 10, 1993), the Supreme Court ruled that a warrantless arrest was validly executed upon therein accused three (3) hours after the commission of the crime. In People v. Tonog, Jr. (G.R. No. 94533. February 4, 1992), the Supreme Court likewise upheld the valid warrantless arrest which was executed on the same day as the commission of the crime. However, in People v. Del Rosario (G.R. No. 127755. April 14, 1999, 365 Phil. 292), the Supreme Court held that the cantless arrest effected a day after the commission of the crime is invalid. In Go v. Court of Appeals (G.R. No. 101837, February 11, 1992), Supreme Court also declared invalid a warrantless arrest effected (6) days after the commission of the crime.

(B) The phrase “personal knowledge of the facts and circumstances that the person to be arrested committed it” means that matters in relation to the supposed commission of the crime were within the actual perception, personal evaluation or observation of the police officer at the scene of the crime. Thus, even though the police officer has not seen someone actually fleeing, he could still make a warrantless arrest if, based on his personal evaluation of the circumstances at the scene of the crime, he could determine the existence of probable cause that the person sought to be arrested has committed the crime; however, the determination of probable cause and the gathering of facts or circumstances should be made immediately after the commission of the crime in order to comply with the element of immediacy.

The arresting officer’s determination of probable cause under Section 5(b), Rule 113 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure is based on his personal knowledge of facts or circumstances that the person sought to be arrested has committed the crime. These facts or circumstances pertain to actual facts or raw evidence, i.e., supported by circumstances sufficiently strong in themselves to create the probable cause of guilt of the person to be arrested. A reasonable suspicion therefore must be founded on probable cause, coupled with good faith on the part of the peace officers making the arrest. The probable cause to justify warrantless arrest ordinarily signifies a reasonable ground of suspicion supported by circumstances sufficiently strong in themselves to warrant a cautious man to believe that the person accused is guilty of the offense with which he is charged, or an actual belief or reasonable ground of suspicion, based on actual facts (Joey M. Pestilos v. Moreno Generoso, G.R. No. 182601, November 10, 2014).

XVII

The information against Roger Alindogan for the crime of acts of lasciviousness under Article 336 of the Revised Penal Code avers:

“That on or about 10:30 o’clock in the evening of February 1, 2010 at Barangay Matalaba; Imus, Cavite and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, with lewd and unchaste design, through force and intimidation, did then and  there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously commit sexual abuse on his daughter, Rose Domingo, a minor of 11 years old, either by raping her or committing acts of lasciviousness on her, against her will and consent to her damage and prejudice.

ACTS CONTRARY TO LAW.”

The accused wants to have the case dismissed because he believes that the charge is confusing and the information is defective. What ground or grounds can be raise in moving for the quashal of the information? (Explain. (5%)

SUGGESTED ANSWER

The accused may move to quash the information based on any of the following grounds: (a) That the facts charged do not constitute an offense; (b) That it does not conform substantially to the prescribed form; and (c) That more than one offense is charged except when a single punishment for various offenses is prescribed by law (Section 3 Rule 117, Rules of Criminal Procedure).

In People v. dela Cruz (G.R. Nos. 135554-56, June 21, 2002, 383 SCRA 410); the Supreme Court ruled that the phrase “either by raping her or committing acts of lasciviousness” does not constitute an offense since it does not cite which among the numerous sections or subsections of R.A. No. 7610 has been violated by accused-appellant. Moreover, it does not state the acts and omissions constituting the offense, or any special or aggravating circumstances attending the same, as required under the rules of criminal procedure. These are conclusions of law, and not facts. Thus, the information violated accused’s constitutional right to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him and therefore should be quashed on the ground that the information charges acts that do not constitute an offense.

XVIII

John filed a petition for declaration of nullity of his marriage to Anne on the ground of psychological incapacity under Article 36 of the Family Code. He obtained a copy of the confidential psychiatric evaluation report on his wife from the secretary of the psychiatrist. Can he testify on the said report without offending the rule on privileged communication? Explain. (5%)

SUGGESTED ANSWER

Yes. John can testify. Under the rule on privileged communication, the husband or the wife, during or after the marriage, cannot be examined without the consent of the other as to any communication received in confidence by one from the other during the marriage except in a civil case by one against the other, or in a criminal case for a crime committed by one against the other or the latter’s direct descendants or ascendants (Rule 130, Sec. 24 (a), Rules of Court). In this case, Anne cannot prevent john from testifying against her since the petition for declaration of nullity is a civil case filed by one spouse against the other; hence, the rule on privileged communication between the spouses does not apply, John could testify on the confidential psychiatric evaluation report of his wife that he obtained from the secretary of the psychiatrist, without offending the rule on privileged communication.

ALTERNATIVE ANSWER

No. John cannot testify. A person authorized to practice medicine, surgery or obstetrics cannot in a civil case, without the consent of the patient, be examined as to any advice or treatment given by him or any information which he may have acquired in attending such patient in a professional capacity, which information was necessary to enable him to act in that capacity, and which would blacken the reputation of the patient (Section 24 (c), Rule 130, Rules on Evidence). Relative thereto, the Rule pertains only to the Physician authorized to practice medicine, surgery or obstetrics in a civil case who will testify without the consent of the patient. The husband can testify, therefore, on the copy of the psychiatric evaluation report on his wife that he obtained from the secretary of the psychiatrist. After all, the husband can testify because the marital disqualification rule does not apply in a civil case filed by one against the other (Section 22, Rule 130, Rules on Evidence).

XIX.

Tristan filed a suit with the RTC of Pasay against Arthur King and/or Estate of Arthur King for reconveyance of a lot declared in the name of Arthur King under TCT No. 1234. The complaint alleged that “onaccount Arthur King’s residence abroad up to the present and the uncertainty of whether he is still alive or dead, he or his estate may be served with summons by publication.” Summons was published and nobody filed any responsive pleading within sixty (60) days therefrom. Upon motion, defendants were declared in default and judgment was rendered declaring Tristan as legal owner and ordering defendants to reconvey said lot to Tristan, Jojo, the court-designated administrator of Arthur King’s estate, filed a petition for annulment of judgment before the CA praying that the decision in favor of Tristan be declared null and void for lack of jurisdiction. He claims that the action filed by Tristan is an action in personam and that the court did not acquire jurisdiction over defendants Arthur King and/or his estate. On the other hand, Tristan claims that the suit is an action in remor at least an action quasi in rem. Is the RTC judge correct in ordering service of summons by publication? Explain. (5%)

SUGGESTED ANSWER

Yes. The RTC Judge is correct in ordering the service of summons by pubii cation. An action for declaration of nullity of title and recovery of ownership of real property, or re-conveyance, is a real action but it is an action in personam, for it binds a particular individual only although it concerns the right to a tangible thing. Any judgment therein is binding only upon the parties properly impleaded (Heirs of Eugenio Lopez, Sr. v. Enriquez cited in Emerita Munoz v. Atty. Victoriano R. Yabut, jr. and Samuel Go Chan, G.R. No. 142676, June 6, 2011).

In an action in personam, jurisdiction over the person of the defendant. is necessary for the court to validly try and decide the case. Jurisdiction over the person of a resident defendant who does not voluntarily appear in court can be acquired by personal service of summons as provided under Section 7, Rule 14 of the Rules of Court. If he cannot be personally served with summons within a reasonable time, substituted service may be made in accordance with Section 8 of said Rule (Spouses Domingo M. Beleri, et al. vi Hon. Pablo R. Chavez, et al., G.R. No. 175334, March 26, 2008).

Under Section 14, Rule 14, Rules of Court, in any action where the defendant is designated as an unknown owner, or the like, or whenever his whereabouts are unknown and cannot be ascertained by diligent inquiry, service may, by leave of court, be effected upon him by publication in a newspaper of general circulation and in such places and for such time as the court may order. This rule applies to any action, whether in personam, in rem or quasi in rem (Pedro T. Santos, Jr. v. PNOC Exploration Corporation, G.R. No. 170943, September 23, 2008). Clearly, since the action for reconveyance is an action in personam, the RTC Judge is correct in ordering service of summons by publication.

ALTERNATIVE ANSWER

No. The RTC Judge is not correct in ordering service of summons by publication. It is well-settled that in an action in personam wherein the defendant is a non-resident who does not voluntarily submit himself to the authority of the court, personal service of summons within the state is essential to the acquisition of jurisdiction over her person. This method of service is possible if such defendant is physically present in the country. If he is not found therein, the court cannot acquire jurisdiction over his person and therefore cannot validly try and decide the case against him (Spouses Domingo M. Belen, et al. v. Hon. Pablo R. Chavez, et al., G.R. No. 175334, March 26, 2008). Accordingly, the RTC Judge is not correct in ordering service of summons by publication.

XX.

Royal Bank (Royal) filed a complaint for a sum of money against Ervin and Jude before the RTC of Manila. The initiatory pleading averred that on February 14, 2010, Ervin obtained a loan from Royal in the amount of P1 million, as evidenced by Promissory Note No.’007 (PN) signed by Ervin. Judé signed a Surety Agreement binding herself as surety for the loan. Royal made a final demand on February 14, 2015 for Ervin and Jude (defendants) to pay, but the latter failed to pay. Royal prayed that defendants Ervini and Jude be ordered to pay the amount of P1 million plus interests. In their answer, Ervin admitted that he obtained the loan from Royal and signed the PN. Jude also admitted that she signed the Surety Agreement. Defendants pointed out that the PN did not provide the due date for payment, and that the loan has not yet matured as the maturity date was left blank to be agreed upon by the parties at a later date. Defendants filed a Motion for a Judgment on the Pleadings on the ground that there is no genuine issue presented by the parties’ submissions. Royal opposed the motion on the ground that the PN’s maturity is an issue that must be threshold out during trial.

(A) Resolve the motion with reasons. (2.5%)

(B) Distinguish “Summary Judgment” and “Judgment on the Pleadings.” (2.5%)

SUGGESTED ANSWERS

(A) The Motion for judgment on the pleadings should be denied.

First, judgment on the pleadings is available to the plaintiff and not to the defendant.

Second, judgment on the pleadings. is proper only when the Answer fails to tender any issue, that is, if it does not deny the material allegations in the complaint or admits said material allegations of the adverse party’s pleadings by admitting the truthfulness thereof and/ or omitting to deal with them at all. Here, while defendants’ Answer to the Complaint practically admitted all the material allegations therein, it nevertheless asserts the affirmative defenses that the loan is not yet due. As issues obviously arise from these affirmative defenses, a judgment on the pleadings is clearly improper in this case. Besides, it should be emphasized that judgment on the pleadings is based exclusively upon the allegations appearing in the pleadings of the parties and the annexes, if any, without consideration of any : evidence aliunde. Henceforth, when it appears that not all the material allegations of the complaint were admitted in the answer for some of them were either denied or disputed, and the defendant has set up certain special defenses which, if proven, would have the effect of nullifying plaintiff’s main cause of action, judgment on the pleadings cannot be rendered (Philippine National Bank v. Mereto B. Aznar, G.R. No. 171805, May 30, 2011).

(B) What distinguishes a judgment on the pleadings from a summary judgment is the presence of issues in the Answer to the Complaint. When the Answer fails to tender any issue, that is, if it does not deny the material allegations in the complaint or admits said material allegations of the adverse party’s pleadings by admitting the truthfulness thereof and/or omitting to deal with them at all, a judgment on the pleadings is appropriate. On the other hand, when the – Answer specifically denies the material averments of the complaint or asserts affirmative defenses, or in other words raises an issue, a summary judgment is proper provided that the issue raised is not genuine. A genuine issue means an issue of fact which calls for the presentation of evidence, as distinguished from an issue which is fictitious or contrived or which does not constitute a genuine issue for trial (Eugenio Basbas v. Beata Sayson and Roberto Sayson, Jr., G.R. No. 172660, August 24, 2011).

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