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PLEADINGS IN CIVIL CASES position (Santiago vs.

De los Santos, 61 SCRA

Nature of pleadings
Pleadings are the written statements of the respective
Construction of ambiguous allegations in pleadings
claims and defenses of the parties submitted to the court In case there are ambiguities in the pleadings, the same
for appropriate judgment (Sec. 1, Rule 6, Rules of Court). must be construed most strongly against the pleader and
Under the Rules of Court, pleadings cannot be oral that no presumptions in his favor are to be indulged in.
because they are clearly described as "written" This rule proceeds from the theory that it is the pleader
statements. who selects the language used and if his pleading is open
Necessity and purpose of pleadings to different constructions, such ambiguities must be at
1. Pleadings are necessary to invoke the the pleader's peril (61 Am Jur, Pleading, 57).
jurisdiction of the court (71 C.J.S. Pleading, 1,
1951). It is necessary, in order to confer System of pleading in the Philippines
jurisdiction on a court, that the subject matter be The system of pleading used in the Philippines is the
presented for its consideration in a mode Code Pleading following the system observed in some
sanctioned by law and this is done by the filing of states of the United States like California and New York.
a complaint or other pleading. Unless a This system is based on codified rules or written set of
complaint or other pleading is filed, the procedure as distinguished from common law procedure
judgment of a court of record is void and subject (Marquez and Gutierrez Lora us. Varela, 92 Phil. 373).
to collateral attack even though it may be a court
Pleadings allowed by the Rules of Court (Bar 1996)
which has jurisdiction over the subject matter
The following are the pleadings allowed by the Rules of
referred to in the judgment (61 Am Jur 2d,
Court: (a) complaint; (b) answer; (c) counterclaim; (d)
Pleading, 2).
crossclaim; (e) third (fourth, etc.) -party complaint; (f)
2. Pleadings are intended to secure a method by
complaint-in-intervention; and (g) reply (Sec. 2, Rule 6,
which the issues may be properly laid before the
Rules of Court)
court (Santiago vs. De los Santos, 61 SCRA 146).
Pleadings are designed to present, define and
Pleadings allowed under the Rules on Summary
narrow the issues, to limit the proof to be
submitted in the trial, to advise the court and the
Note however, that when a case falls under the Rules on
adverse party of the issues and what are relied
Summary Procedure, the only pleadings allowed to be
upon as the causes of action or defense (71
filed are: (a) complaint; (b) compulsory counterclaim; (c)
C.J.S., Pleading, 1). The pleadings of the parties
cross-claim pleaded in the answer; and (d) answers
present the issue to be tried and determine
thereto (Sec. 3[A] II, Rules on Summary Procedure).
whether such issue is of law or of fact (61 Am Jur
Permissive counterclaims, third-party complaints, replies
2d, Pleading, 1, 1981).
and pleadings-in-intervention are prohibited under the
Rules on Summary Procedure (Sec. 9, TV, Rules on
Construction of pleadings
Summary Procedure).
1. In this jurisdiction, all pleadings shall be liberally
construed so as to do substantial justice
Pleadings not allowed in a petition for a writ of
(Concrete Aggregate Corporation vs. Court of
amparo or habeas data
Appeals, 266 SCRA 88). Pleadings should receive
In a petition for a writ of amparo or habeas data, in
a fair and reasonable construction in accordance
addition to certain prohibited motions, the following
with the natural intendment of the words and
pleadings are not allowed:
language used and the subject matter involved.
(a) Counterclaim;
The intention of the pleader is the controlling
(b) Cross-claim;
factor in construing a pleading and should be
(c) Third-party complaint;
read in accordance with its substance, not its
(d) Reply; and
form (71 C.J.S., Pleading, 53).
(e) Pleadings in intervention (Sec. 11, The Rule on the
2. While it is the rule that pleadings should be
Writ of Amparo; October 24, 2007; Sec. 13, The Rule on
liberally construed, it has also been ruled that a
Habeas Data, February 2, 2008). The same provisions
party is strictly bound by the allegations,
prohibit the filing of a petition for certiorari, mandamus
statements or admissions made in his pleadings
or prohibition against any interlocutory order.
and cannot be permitted to take a contradictory
Caption of the pleading and had been the subject of arguments and
The caption contains the following: (a) the name of the evidence of the parties (Lorbes vs. Court of
court; (b) the title of the action; and (c) the docket Appeals, 351 SCRA 716).
number, if assigned (Sec. 1, Rule 7, Rules of Court). 3. If the petitioner filed before the Supreme Court
a petition captioned "Petition for Certiorari"
Title of the action based on Rule 65 but the allegations show that
The title of the action contains the names of the parties the issues raised are pure questions of law, the
whose participation in the case shall be indicated. This cause of action is not one based on Rule 65 which
means the parties shall be indicated as either plaintiff or raises issues of jurisdiction, but on Rule 45 which
defendant. They shall all be named in the original raises pure questions of law. The allegations of
complaint or petition; but in subsequent pleadings, it the pleading determine the cause of action and
shall be sufficient if the name of the first party on each not the title of the pleading (De Castro vs.
side be stated with an appropriate indication whether Fernandez, Jr., G.R. No. 155041, February 14,
there are other parties. Example: Pedro Reyes, et al. (Sec. 2007).
1, Rule 7, Rules of Court).
Body of the pleading
Variance between caption and allegations in the 1. The body of the pleading sets forth its
pleading designation, the allegations of the party's claims
1. It is not the caption of the pleading but the or defenses, the relief prayed for, and the date
allegations therein which determine the nature of the pleading (Sec. 2, Rule 7, Rules of Court).
of the action and the court shall grant relief 2. The allegations in the body of the pleading shall
warranted by the allegations and proof even if be divided into paragraphs and shall be so
no such relief is prayed for (Solid Homes, Inc. vs. numbered for ready identification. This
Court of Appeals, 271 SCRA 157; Banco Filipino numbering scheme is significant because in
Savings & Mortgage Bank vs. Court of Appeals, subsequent pleadings, a paragraph may be
332 SCRA 241; Lorbes vs. Court of Appeals, 351 referred to only by its number without need for
SCRA 716). Thus, a complaint captioned as repeating the entire allegations in the
unlawful detainer is actually an action for paragraph. Each paragraph shall contain a
forcible entry where the allegations show that statement of a single set of circumstances so far
the possessor of the land was deprived of the as that can be done with convenience (Sec. 2,
same by force, intimidation, strategy, threat or Rule 7, Rules of Court).
stealth. Likewise, a complaint for unlawful
detainer is actually an action for collection of a Designation of causes of actions joined in one
sum of money where the allegations of the complaint
complaint do not disclose that the plaintiff When two or more causes of action are joined, the first
demanded upon the defendant to vacate the cause of action shall be prefaced with the words, "first
property but merely demanded to pay the cause of action," or the second cause of action by the
rentals in arrears. words, "second cause of action," and so on for the others
2. In one case, while the complaint was (Sec. 2, Rule 7, Rules of Court).
denominated as one for specific performance,
the allegations of the complaint and the relief Allegations of ultimate facts
prayed for actually and ultimately sought for the 1. Every pleading, including the complaint, is not
execution of a deed of conveyance to effect a supposed to allege conclusions. A pleading must
transfer of ownership of the property in only aver facts because conclusions are for the
question. The action therefore, is a real action courts to make.
(Gochan vs. Gochan, 372 SCRA 256). Also, 2. Not all facts may be allowed as averments in a
although the complaint was denominated as one pleading. Under Sec. 1 of Rule 6, every pleading
for reformation of the instrument, the shall omit from its allegations statements of
allegations of the complaint did not preclude the mere evidentiary facts. The rule prohibiting
court from passing upon the real issue of allegations of evidentiary facts in a pleading is
whether or not the transfer between the parties not difficult to understand. Evidentiary matters
was a sale or an equitable mortgage as the said are to be presented during the trial of the case,
issue has been squarely raised in the complaint not in the pleadings of the parties. The
conclusions and evidentiary matters contained 3. A signed pleading is one that is signed either by
in a pleading may be the subject of a motion to the party himself or his counsel. Section 3, Rule
strike. 7 is clear on this matter. It requires that a
3. The rule requires that a pleading should contain pleading must be signed by the party or counsel
only allegations of "ultimate facts," i.e., the facts representing him. Therefore, only the signature
essential to a party's cause of action or defense of either the party himself or his counsel
(Sec. 1, Rule 6, Rules of Court) or such facts as operates to validly convert a pleading from one
are so essential that they cannot be stricken out that is unsigned to one that is signed (Republic
without leaving the statement of the cause of vs. Kenrick Development Corporation, 351 SCRA
action inadequate (Canete vs. Genuino Ice 716).
Company, Inc. G.R. No. 154080, January 22,
2008). These ultimate facts are to be stated in a Effect of an unsigned pleading
logical form and in a plain and concise manner The signature in a pleading is important for it to have a
(Sec. 1, Rule 6, Rules of Court). legal effect. Under the Rules of Court (Sec. 3, Rule 7), "an
unsigned pleading produces no legal effect." The court
Relief however, is authorized to allow the pleader to correct
1. Following the averments of the cause of action the deficiency if the pleader shows to the satisfaction of
of the plaintiff, the complaint must contain a the court, that the failure to sign the pleading was due to
statement of the relief sought from the court mere inadvertence and not to delay the proceedings
and to which he believes he is entitled. This (Sec. 3, Rule 7, Rules of Court).
portion of the complaint is oftentimes referred
to as the "prayer" or sometimes loosely called Significance of the signature of counsel (Bar 1996)
the "Wherefore" clause. The Rules of Court (Sec. 1. The signature of a counsel in a pleading is
2[c], Rule 7) requires that the relief sought be significant. His signature constitutes a certificate
specified, although the statement may include a by him that (a) he has read the pleading, (b) that
"general prayer for such further or other relief as to the best of his knowledge, information and
may be deemed just or equitable." belief there is good ground to support it, and (c)
2. The relief or prayer, although part of the that it is not interposed for delay (Sec. 3, Rule 7,
complaint, does not constitute a part of the Rules of Court). XXX
statement of the cause of action. It does not also
serve to limit or narrow the issues presented When counsel is subject to disciplinary action in
(UBS us. Court of Appeals, 332 SCRA 534). It is connection with pleadings
the material allegations of the complaint, not the A counsel shall be subject to disciplinary action in the
legal conclusions made therein or the prayer that following cases: (a) when he deliberately files an
determines the relief to which the plaintiff is unsigned pleading; (b) when he signs a pleading in
entitled (Banco Filipino Sauings and Mortgage violation of the Rules; (c) when he alleges in the pleading
Bank us. Court of Appeals, 332 SCRA 241). scandalous or indecent matter; or (d) when he fails to
3. It is important to remember that the court may promptly report to the court a change of his address (Sec.
grant a relief not prayed for as long as the relief 3, Rule 7, Rules of Court).
is warranted by the allegations of the complaint
and the proof (Lorbes vs. Court of Appeals, 351 Verification in a pleading
SCRA 716). The pleading need not be under oath. This means that a
pleading need not be verified. This is the general rule. A
Signature and address pleading will be verified only when a verification is
1. The complaint must be signed by the plaintiff or required by a law or by a rule (Sec. 4, Rule 7, Rules of
counsel representing him indicating his address. Court).
This address should not be a post office box (Sec.
3, Rule 7). How a pleading is verified
2. In the absence of a proper notice to the court of A pleading is verified by an affidavit. This affidavit
a change of address, service upon the parties declares that: (a) the affiant has read the pleading, and
must be made at the last address of their counsel (b) that the allegations therein are true and correct of his
of record (Garrucho vs. Court of Appeals, 448 personal knowledge or based on authentic records (Sec.
SCRA 165).
4, Rule 7, Rules of Court as amended by A.M. No. 00-2- technical requirements may be dispensed with in
10, May 1, 2000). meritorious cases (Pampanga Sugar
Development Company, Inc. vs. NLRC, 272 SCRA
Significance of a verification 737). The court may order the correction of the
The verification requirement is significant, as it is pleading or act on an unverified pleading if the
intended to secure an assurance that the allegations in a attending circumstances are such that strict
pleading are true and correct and not the product of the compliance would not fully serve substantial
imagination or a matter of speculation, and that the justice, which after all, is the basic aim for the
pleading is filed in good faith. The absence of a proper rules of procedure (Robert Development
verification is cause to treat the pleading as unsigned and Corporation vs. Quitain, 315 SCRA 150; Joson vs.
dismissible (Chua vs. Torres, 468 SCRA 358; Sarmiento vs. Torres, 290 SCRA 279).
Zaratan, G.R. No. 167471, February 5,2007). The purpose
of requiring a verification is to secure an assurance that Other requirements
the allegations of the petition have been made in good 1. All pleadings, motions and papers filed in court
faith, or are true and correct, not merely speculative by counsel shall bear in addition to counsel's
(Sarmiento vs. Zaratan, Ibid). current Professional Tax Receipt Number (PTR),
counsel's current IBP Official Receipt Number
Effect of lack of a verification indicating its date of issue. Pleadings, motions,
1. A pleading required to be verified but lacks the and papers which do not comply with this
proper verification shall be treated as an requirement may not be acted upon by the
unsigned pleading (Sec. 4, Rule 7, Rules of Court). court, without prejudice to whatever disciplinary
Hence, it produces no legal effect (Sec. 3, Rule 7, action the court may take against the erring
Rules of Court). counsel who shall likewise be required to comply
2. It has however, been held that the absence of a with the requirement within five (5) days from
verification or the non-compliance with the notice. Failure to comply with such requirement
verification requirement does not necessarily shall be a ground for further disciplinary sanction
render the pleading defective. It is only a formal and for contempt of court (Circular No. 10, July
and not a jurisdictional requirement. The 24, 1985; Bar Matter No. 287, September 26,
requirement is a condition affecting only the 2000).
form of the pleading (Benguet Corporation vs. 2. On November 12, 2002 the Supreme Court
Cordillera Caraballo Mission, Inc., 469 SCRA 381; granted the request of the Board of Governors of
Micro Sales Operation Network vs. NLRC, 472 the IBP and the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of
SCRA 328) and non-compliance therewith does Ilocos Norte to require all lawyers to indicate
not necessarily render it fatally defective their Roll of Attorneys Number in all papers and
(Sarmiento vs. Zaratan, G.R. No. 167471, pleadings filed injudicial and quasi-judicial
February 5, 2007). bodies in addition to the previously required
The Court has consistently held that the current Professional Tax Receipt (PTR) and the
requirement regarding verification of a pleading IBP Official Receipt Number. The requirement
is formal, not jurisdictional. Such requirement is was meant to protect the public by making it
simply a condition affecting the form of the easier to detect impostors who represent
pleading, non-compliance with which does not themselves as members of the bar. Non-
necessarily render the pleading fatally defective. compliance with this requirement has the same
Verification is simply intended to secure an effect as the failure to indicate counsel's IBP
assurance that the allegations in the pleading are Receipt Number. This requirement is directed
true and correct and not the product of the only to lawyers and is not to be construed as
imagination or a matter of speculation, and that precluding a party who is not a lawyer from
the pleading is filed in good faith. (Bank of the signing a pleading himself (Bar Matter 1132,
Philippine Islands vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. April 1, 2003).
170625, October 17, 2008). 3. All practicing members of the bar are required to
3. The absence of a verification may be corrected indicate in all pleadings filed before the courts or
by requiring an oath. The rule is in keeping with quasijudicial bodies, the number and date of
the principle that rules of procedure are issue of their MCLE Certificate of Compliance or
established to secure substantial justice and that Certificate of Exemption. Failure to disclose the
required information would cause the dismissal Sections 4 and 5 of Rule 15 of the Rules of Court
of the case and the expunction of the pleadings on hearing and notice of the hearing, is a mere
from the records (Bar Matter No. 1922 En Banc scrap of paper, which the clerk of court has no
Resolution, June 3, 2008). Per En Banc right to receive and the trial court has no
Resolution of the Supreme Court dated authority to act upon. Service of a copy of a
September 2, 2008, the effectivity date of the motion containing a notice of the time and the
implementation of this rule was moved from place of hearing of that motion is a mandatory
August 25, 2008 to January 1, 2009. requirement, and the failure of movants to
comply with these requirements renders their
motions fatally defective (Vette Industrial Sales
VII. MOTIONS IN CIVIL CASES Co., Inc. vs. Cheng, G.R. Nos. 170232-170301,
December 5,2006).
Definition of a motion
2. An ex parte motion, on the contrary, is one which
A motion is an application for relief other than by a
does not require that the parties be heard and
pleading (Sec. 1, Rule 15, Rules of Court).
which the court may act upon without
prejudicing the rights of the other party.
Form of motions
1. All motions must be in writing. Excepted from This kind of motion is not covered by the hearing
this written requirement are those motions (a) requirement of the Rules (Sec. 2, Rule 15, Rules
made in open court, and (b) motions made in the of Court). An example of an ex parte motion is
course of a hearing or trial (Sec. 2, Rule 15, Rules that one filed by the plaintiff pursuant to Sec. 1
of Court). of Rule 18 in which he moves promptly that the
2. The rules that apply to pleadings shall also apply case be set for pre-trial. On the other hand, a
to written motions so far as concerns caption, motion to dismiss (Rule 16), a motion for
designation, signature, and other matters of judgment on the pleadings (Rule 34) and a
form (Sec. 10, Rule 15, Rules of Court). summary judgment (Rule 35), on the other hand,
are litigated motions.
Contents of a motion
Motions are to contain the following: (a) a statement of 3. A motion for extension of time is not a litigated
the relief sought to be obtained; (b) the grounds upon motion where notice to the adverse party is
which the motion is based; and (c) the supporting necessary to afford the latter an opportunity to
affidavits and other papers. The last requirement applies resist the application, but an ex parte motion
only when so mandated by the Rules or when necessary made to the court in behalf of one or the other
to prove facts stated in the motion (Sec. 3, Rule 15, Rules of the parties to the action, in the absence and
of Court). usually without the knowledge of the other party
or parties. It has been said that "ex parte
Hearing of the motion motions are frequently permissible in procedural
1. As a rule, every written motion shall be set for matters, and also in situations and under
hearing by the applicant (Sec. 4, Rule 15, Rules of circumstances of emergency; and an exception
Court). This provision therefore, establishes the to a rule requiring notice is sometimes made
general rule that every written motion is where notice or the resulting delay might tend to
deemed a litigated motion, i.e., one which defeat the objective of the motion" (Sarmiento
requires the parties to be heard before a ruling vs. Zaratan, G.R. No. 167471, February 5, 2007).
on the motion is made by the court. An ex parte
motion, on the contrary, is one which does not Notice of the motion
require that the parties be heard and which the 1. The motion which contains the notice of hearing
court may act upon without prejudicing the shall be served in such a manner as to ensure its
rights of the other party. This kind of motion is receipt by the other party at least three (3) days
not covered by the hearing requirement of the before the date of hearing, unless the court for
Rules (Sec. 2, Rule 15, Rules of Court). good cause sets the hearing on shorter notice
(Sec. 4, Rule 15, Rules of Court).
The Court has consistently held that a motion
which does not meet the requirements of
2. The notice of hearing shall be addressed to all that the action is barred by the statute of
the parties concerned (Sec. 5, Rule 15, Rules of limitations or prescription (Sec. 1, 2nd sentence,
Court). Rule 9, Rules of Court).
3. The notice of hearing shall specify the time and 2. A motion to dismiss is a typical example of a
date of the hearing which shall not be later than motion subject to the omnibus motion rule,
ten (10) days after the filing of the motion (Sec. since a motion to dismiss attacks a complaint
5, Rule 15, Rules of Court). which is a pleading. Following the omnibus
motion rule, if a motion to dismiss is filed, then
Service of the motion the motion must invoke all objections which are
The motion must be served upon the other party. A available at the time of the filing of said motion.
motion set for hearing shall not be acted upon by the If the objection which is available at the time is
court without proof of service thereof (Sec. 6, Rule 15, not included in the motion, that ground is
Rules of Court). deemed waived. It can no longer be invoked as
an affirmative defense in the answer which the
Motion day movant may file following the denial of his
All hearings shall be scheduled for hearing on Friday motion to dismiss.
afternoons, or if Friday is a non-working holiday, in the
To illustrate: In a case filed with the RTC, the defendant
afternoon of the next working day. This rule does not
filed a motion to dismiss invoking the following as
apply to motions requiring immediate attention (Sec. 7,
objections: (a) the complaint's failure to state a cause of
Rule 15, Rules of Court).
action, (b) lack of jurisdiction over the person of the
defendant, and (c) that the contract violates the statute
Effect of failure to set the motion for hearing, to
of frauds. Two objections available at the time the
include a notice of hearing and to serve the motion
motion is filed, namely, improper venue and prescription
(Sees. 4, 5, 6 of Rule 15)
were not included in the motion. The motion to dismiss
The well-settled rule is that a motion which fails to
was denied. May the defendant in his answer, filed after
comply with the requirements under Sees. 4, 5 and 6 of
the denial of his motion to dismiss, invoke the affirmative
Rule 15, is a useless piece of paper (Neri vs. De la Pena,
defenses of improper venue and prescription? Answer:
457 SCRA 438). It is pro forma presenting no question
Improper venue is deemed waived. It was available as a
which the court could decide (Boiser vs. Aguirre, Jr., 458
defense at the time the motion was filed and should have
SCRA 430). If filed, such motion is not entitled to judicial
been invoked. Failure to so include the same in the
cognizance and does not stop the running of the period
motion is to be construed as waiver of the objection.
for filing the requisite pleading (Cruz vs. Court of Appeals,
Prescription, on the other hand, is not waived and can
388 SCRA 72). A motion which does not comply with the
still be interposed as an affirmative defense in the
rules on motion is considered pro forma and thus, will be
answer. It is a defense that is not deemed waived under
treated as one filed merely to delay the proceedings
the explicit provisions of Sec. 1 of Rule 9.
(Marikina Development Corporation vs. Flojo, 251 SCRA

The omnibus motion rule

1. The rule is a procedural principle which requires
that every motion that attacks a pleading,
judgment, order or proceeding shall include all
grounds then available, and all objections not so
included shall be deemed waived (Sec. 8, Rule
15, Rules of Court). Since the rule is subject to
the provisions of Sec. 1 of Rule 9, the objections
mentioned therein are not deemed waived even
if not included in the motion. These objections
are: (a) that the court has no jurisdiction over the
subject matter; (b) that there is another action
pending between the same parties for the same
cause (litis pendentia); (c) that the action is
barred by a prior judgment (res judicata); and (d)