Remedial Law

VALLACAR TRANSIT, INC. v. JOCELYN CATUBIG G.R. No. 175512 May 30, 2011 Verification, Certification Against Forum Shopping

FACTS:

Petitioner is engaged in the business of transportation and the franchise owner of a Ceres Bulilit bus with Plate No. T-0604-1348. 

Respondent’s husband, Quintin Catubig, Jr. (Catubig), was driving a motorcycle on his way home from Dumaguete City with his employee, Teddy Emperado. 

While approaching a curve, Catubig tried to overtake a slow moving ten-wheeler cargo truck by crossing-over to the opposite lane, which was then being traversed by the Ceres Bulilit bus headed for the opposite direction, driven by Cabanilla, a regular bus driver of petitioner. 

When the two vehicles collided, Catubig and Emperado were thrown from the motorcycle. Catubig died on the spot where he was thrown, while Emperado died while being rushed to the hospital.

The MCTC dismissed the criminal charge against Cabanilla. It found that Cabanilla was not criminally liable for the deaths of Catubig and Emperado, because there was no negligence, not even contributory, on Cabanilla’s part.

Respondent filed before the RTC a claim for damages against petitioner.

Petitioner contended that the proximate cause of the vehicular collision was the sole negligence of Catubig.

Petitioner asserts that respondent’s complaint for damages should be dismissed for the latter’s failure to verify the same. The certification against forum shopping attached to the complaint, signed by respondent, is not a valid substitute for respondent’s verification that she “has read the pleading and that the allegations therein are true and correct of her personal knowledge or based on authentic records.” 

Petitioner cited jurisprudence in which the Court ruled that a pleading lacking proper verification is treated as an unsigned pleading, which produces no legal effect under Section 3, Rule 7 of the Rules of Court.

The RTC ruled that the proximate cause of the collision of the bus and motorcycle was the negligence of Catubig. 

On appeal, the CA held that both Catubig and Cabanilla were negligent in driving their respective vehicles.

The CA denied the MR of the petitioner.

Hence, the instant Petition for Review.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the complaint filed by the respondent should have been dismissed for lack of verification.

RULING:

At the outset, we find no procedural defect that would have warranted the outright dismissal of respondent’s complaint.

It is not disputed herein that respondent’s complaint for damages was accompanied by a certificate against forum shopping.

The 1997 Rules of Court, even prior to its amendment by A.M. No. 00-2-10, clearly provides that a pleading lacking proper verification is to be treated as an unsigned pleading which produces no legal effect. However, it also just as clearly states that “[e]xcept when otherwise specifically required by law or rule, pleadings need not be under oath, verified or accompanied by affidavit.” No such law or rule specifically requires that respondent’s complaint for damages should have been verified.

Although parties would often submit a joint verification and certificate against forum shopping, the two are different.

In Pajuyo v. Court of Appeals, we already pointed out that:

A party’s failure to sign the certification against forum shopping is different from the party’s failure to sign personally the verification. The certificate of non-forum shopping must be signed by the party, and not by counsel. The certification of counsel renders the petition defective.

On the other hand, the requirement on verification of a pleading is a formal and not a jurisdictional requisite. It is intended simply to secure an assurance that what are alleged in the pleading are true and correct and not the product of the imagination or a matter of speculation, and that the pleading is filed in good faith. The party need not sign the verification. A party’s representative, lawyer or any person who personally knows the truth of the facts alleged in the pleading may sign the verification.

In the case before us, we stress that as a general rule, a pleading need not be verified, unless there is a law or rule specifically requiring the same. 

Examples of pleadings that require verification are: 

(1) all pleadings filed in civil cases under the 1991 Revised Rules on Summary Procedure; (2) petition for review from the Regional Trial Court to the Supreme Court raising only questions of law under Rule 41, Section 2; (3) petition for review of the decision of the Regional Trial Court to the Court of Appeals under Rule 42, Section 1; (4) petition for review from quasi-judicial bodies to the Court of Appeals under Rule 43, Section 5; (5) petition for review before the Supreme Court under Rule 45, Section 1; (6) petition for annulment of judgments or final orders and resolutions under Rule 47, Section 4; (7) complaint for injunction under Rule 58, Section 4; (8) application for preliminary injunction or temporary restraining order under Rule 58, Section 4; (9) application for appointment of a receiver under Rule 59, Section 1; (10) application for support pendente lite under Rule 61, Section 1; (11) petition for certiorari against the judgments, final orders or resolutions of constitutional commissions under Rule 64, Section 2; (12) petition for certiorari, prohibition, and mandamus under Rule 65, Sections 1 to 3; (13) petition for quo warranto under Rule 66, Section 1; (14) complaint for expropriation under Rule 67, Section 1; (15) petition for indirect contempt under Rule 71, Section 4, all from the 1997 Rules of Court; (16) all complaints or petitions involving intra-corporate controversies under the Interim Rules of Procedure on Intra-Corporate Controversies; (17) complaint or petition for rehabilitation and suspension of payment under the Interim Rules on Corporate Rehabilitation; and (18) petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriages and annulment of voidable marriages as well as petition for summary proceedings under the Family Code.

In contrast, all complaints, petitions, applications, and other initiatory pleadings must be accompanied by a certificate against forum shopping    x x x 

In addition, verification, like in most cases required by the rules of procedure, is a formal, not jurisdictional, requirement, and mainly intended to secure an assurance that matters which are alleged are done in good faith or are true and correct and not of mere speculation. 

When circumstances warrant, the court may simply order the correction of unverified pleadings or act on it and waive strict compliance with the rules in order that the ends of justice may thereby be served.

2 thoughts on “VALLACAR TRANSIT, INC. v. JOCELYN CATUBIG G.R. No. 175512 May 30, 2011 Verification, Certification Against Forum Shopping

    1. It’s nice to hear from readers every now and then.
      Thank you so much!
      All the best to you, Miss Myrna Bartolome (Atty.!)

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