Remedial Law

BASBAS, et al.vs. SAYSON G.R. No. 172660 August 24, 2011 Judgment on the pleadings v. Summary Judgment

FACTS:

Respondents spouses Sayson filed a Petition for Registration of an agricultural land located in Leyte The said application was opposed by the Republic of the Philippines and herein petitioners Eugenio Basbas et al.

The CFI rendered a Decision adjudicating to the spouses Sayson said agricultural land and approving its registration under their names.

The oppositors filed their appeal to the CA.

The CA affirmed in toto the Decision of the CFI. This CA Decision became final and executory.

The RTC ordered the original oppositors to vacate the subject property.

Respondent and her son, as successor-in-interest filed a Complaint for Revival of Judgment.

In their Answer with counterclaim, petitioners admitted the allegations in paragraphs 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 of respondents’ Complaint.

However, petitioners admitted but denied in part paragraphs 2 and 3, and paragraph 14, for lack of sufficient knowledge and information sufficient to form a belief thereon, and specifically denied paragraph 13; and paragraph 15.

The RTC found that petitioners’ Answer does not essentially tender an issue since the material allegations of the Complaint were admitted. Hence, the RTC granted respondents’ Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings and/or Summary Judgment and issued an order in favor of the plaintiffs.

The CA denied petitioners’ appeal. It noted that petitioners’ Answer admitted almost all of the allegations in respondents’ complaint.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the Trial Court was correct in granting respondents’ motion for judgment on the pleadings and/or summary judgment.

RULING:

There is no merit in the petition.

The instant case is proper for the rendition of a summary judgment.

In Tan v. De la Vega, the court distinguished summary judgment from judgment on the pleadings, viz:

The existence or appearance of ostensible issues in the pleadings, on the one hand, and their sham or fictitious character, on the other, are what distinguish a proper case for summary judgment from one for a judgment on the pleadings. In a proper case for judgment on the pleadings, there is no ostensible issue at all because of the failure of the defending party’s answer to raise an issue. On the other hand, in the case of a summary judgment, issues apparently exist – i.e. facts are asserted in the complaint regarding which there is as yet no admission, disavowal or qualification; or specific denials or affirmative defenses are in truth set out in the answer – but the issues thus arising from the pleadings are sham, fictitious or not genuine, as shown by affidavits, depositions, or admissions. x x x.

Simply stated, 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.”

The issues raised are not genuine issues, hence rendition of summary judgment is proper.

Judgment on the pleadings is not proper because petitioners’ Answer tendered issues.

In this case, we note that while petitioners’ Answer to respondents’ Complaint practically admitted all the material allegations therein, it nevertheless asserts the affirmative defenses that the action for revival of judgment is not the proper action and that petitioners are not the proper parties. As issues obviously arise from these affirmative defenses, a judgment on the pleadings is clearly improper in this case.

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