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RULE 34

Judgment on the Pleadings

Section 1. Judgment on the pleadings. — Where an answer fails to tender an issue, or otherwise
admits the material allegations of the adverse party's pleading, the court may; on motion of that
party, direct judgment on such pleading. However, in actions for declaration of nullity or annulment of
marriage or for legal separation, the material facts alleged in the complaint shall always be proved.
(1a, R19)

RULE 35

Summary Judgments

Section 1. Summary judgment for claimant. — A party seeking to recover upon a claim,
counterclaim, or cross-claim or to obtain a declaratory relief may, at any time after the pleading in
answer thereto has been served, move with supporting affidavits, depositions or admissions for a
summary judgment in his favor upon all or any part thereof. (1a, R34)

Section 2. Summary judgment for defending party. — A party against whom a claim, counterclaim,
or cross-claim is asserted or a declaratory relief is sought may, at any time, move with supporting
affidavits, depositions or admissions for a summary judgment in his favor as to all or any part
thereof. (2a, R34)

Section 3. Motion and proceedings thereon. — The motion shall be served at least ten (10) days
before the time specified for the hearing. The adverse party may serve opposing affidavits,
depositions, or admissions at least three (3) days before the hearing. After the hearing, the judgment
sought shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, supporting affidavits, depositions, and
admissions on file, show that, except as to the amount of damages, there is no genuine issue as to
any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. (3a, R34)

Section 4. Case not fully adjudicated on motion. — If on motion under this Rule, judgment is not
rendered upon the whole case or for all the reliefs sought and a trial is necessary, the court at the
hearing of the motion, by examining the pleadings and the evidence before it and by interrogating
counsel shall ascertain what material facts exist without substantial controversy and what are
actually and in good faith controverted. It shall thereupon make an order specifying the facts that
appear without substantial controversy, including the extent to which the amount of damages or
other relief is not in controversy, and directing such further proceedings in the action as are just. The
facts so specified shall be deemed established, and the trial shall be conducted on the controverted
facts accordingly. (4a, R34)

Section 5. Form of affidavits and supporting papers. — Supporting and opposing affidavits shall be
made on personal knowledge, shall set forth such facts as would be admissible in evidence, and
shall show affirmatively that the affiant is competent to testify to the matters stated therein. Certified
true copies of all papers or parts thereof referred to in the affidavit shall be attached thereto or
served therewith. (5a, R34)
Section 6. Affidavits in bad faith. — Should it appear to its satisfaction at any time that any of the
affidavits presented pursuant to this Rule are presented in bad faith, or solely for the purpose of
delay, the court shall forthwith order the offending party or counsel to pay to the other party the
amount of the reasonable expenses which the filing of the affidavits caused him to incur including
attorney's fees, it may, after hearing further adjudge the offending party or counsel guilty of
contempt. (6a, R34)

February 8, 2017

G.R. No. 202597

SPOUSES SERGIO C. PASCUAL and EMMA SERVILLION PASCUAL, Petitioners


vs.
FIRST CONSOLIDATED RURAL BANK (BOHOL), INC., ROBINSONS LAND CORPORATION
and ATTY. ANTONIO P. ESPINOSA, Register of Deeds, Butuan City, Respondents

DECISION

BERSAMIN, J.:

On February 14, 2011, the petitioners filed a petition for annulment of judgment in the Court of
Appeals (CA) in order to nullify and set aside the decision rendered in Special Proceedings Case
No. 4577 by the Regional Trial Court in Butuan City (RTC) ordering the cancellation of their notice
of lis pendens recorded in Transfer Certificate of Title No. RT-42190 of the Register of Deeds of
Butuan City.1

After the responsive pleadings to the petition were filed, the CA scheduled the preliminary
conference on October 4, 2011, and ordered the parties to file their respective pre-trial
briefs.2 Instead of filing their pre-trial brief, the petitioners filed a Motion for Summary Judgment and
a Motion to Hold Pre-Trial in Abeyance.3 At the scheduled preliminary conference, the petitioners
and their counsel did not appear.4

On November 16, 2011, the CA promulgated the first assailed resolution dismissing the petition for
annulment of judgment,5 stating:

Section 4 through 6 of Rule 18 of the Rules of Court provide, viz:

Sec. 4. Appearance of parties. - It shall be the duty of the parties and their counsel to appear at the
pre-trial. The non-appearance of a party may be excused only if a valid cause is shown therefor or if
a representative shall appear in his behalf fully authorized in writing to enter into an amicable
settlement, to submit to alternative modes of dispute resolution, and to enter into stipulations or
admission of facts and of documents.

Sec. 5. Effect of failure to appear.- The failure of the plaintiff to appear when so required pursuant to
the next preceding section shall be cause for dismissal of the action. The dismissal shall be with
prejudice, unless otherwise ordered by the court. A similar failure on the part of the defendant shall
be cause to allow the plaintiff to present his evidence ex parte and the court to render judgment on
the basis thereof.

Sec. 6. Pre-trial brief - x x x

Failure to file the pre-trial brief shall have the same effect as failure to appear at the pre-trial.

Petitioners, instead of complying with our order, filed the twin motions, averring that it behooves us
to rule first on their motions before pre-trial could be conducted, "especially with the incompatibility of
a pending Motion for Summary Judgment vis-a-vis the conduct of pre-trial conference."

Considering that a Petition for Annulment of Judgment is an original action before the Court of
Appeals, pre-trial is mandatory, per Section 6 of Rule 47 of the Rules of Court, whereby the failure of
the plaintiff to appear would mean dismissal of the action with prejudice. The filing of a pre-trial brief
has the same import.

In fact, contrary to petitioners' assertion, it is only at the pre-trial that the rules allow the courts to
render judgment on the pleadings and summary judgment, as provided by Section 2 (g) of Rule 18
of the Rules of Court, viz:

Sec. 2. Nature and purpose. - The pre-trial is mandatory. The court shall consider:

x x xx

(g) The propriety of rendering judgment on the pleadings, or summary judgment, or of dismissing the
action should a valid ground therefor be found to exist.

Moreover, in an Order dated October 20, 2011, we noted petitioners and counsel's special
appearance via a new counsel, but failed to accept the same as the latter was not armed with the
appropriate documents to appear as such. Therefore, it was as if petitioners did not appear during
the Preliminary Conference.

It is not for the petitioners to arrogate whether or not pre-trial may be suspended or dispensed with,
or that their motions be resolved first, as the same are discretionary upon the court taking
cognizance of the petition. Furthermore, their failure to furnish private respondent Robinsons Land
Corporation a copy of their Motion for Reconsideration of our denial of their TRO and/or WPI, and to
submit proof of service thereof to this court is tantamount to failure to obey lawful orders of the
court.1âw phi 1

This we cannot countenance. Strict compliance with the Rules is indispensable for the prevention of
needless delays and the promotion of orderly and expeditious dispatch of judicial business. Hence,
petitioners' failure to comply with our directives merits dismissal of their petition. We find support in
the provision of Section 1 of Rule 50 of the Rules of Court, viz:

Sec. 1. Grounds for dismissal of appeal.

x x xx

(h) Failure of the appellant to appear at the preliminary conference under Rule 48, or to comply with
orders, circulars, or directives of the court without justifiable cause ...
The Supreme Court has invariably ruled that while "litigation is not a game of technicalities," it is
equally important that every case must be prosecuted in accordance with the procedure to insure an
orderly and speedy administration of justice.6

Aggrieved, the petitioners filed their Motion for Reconsideration (on the Resolution dated 16
November 2011),7which the CA denied on January 9, 2012 for being filed out of time.8 Unrelenting,
they presented a Respectful Motion for Reconsideration (on the Resolution dated 9 January
2012), which the CA also denied on June 20, 2012.9

Hence, this appeal by petition for review on certiorari.

Ruling of the Court

We deny the petition for review for its lack of merit.

1.

Motions and other papers sent to the CA


by private messengerial services arc deemed
filed on the date of the CA's actual receipt

The petitioners received the assailed resolution of November 16, 2011 on November 24,
2011.10 Under Section l, Rule 52 of the Rules of Court,11 they had 15 days from receipt (or until
December 9, 2011) within which to move for its reconsideration or to appeal to the Supreme Court.
They dispatched the Motion for Reconsideration (on the Resolution dated 16 November 2011) on
December 9, 2011 through private courier (LBC). The CA actually received the motion on December
12, 2011.12 Considering that Section 1 (d) of Rule III of the 2009 Internal Rules of the Court of
Appeals provided that motions sent through private messengerial services are deemed filed on the
date of the CA's actual receipt of the same,13 the motion was already filed out of time by December
12, 2011.

Needless to remind, the running of the period of appeal of the final resolution promulgated on
November 16, 2011 was not stopped, rendering the assailed resolution final and executory by
operation of law.14

2.

Although motions for summary judgment


can be filed before the pre-trial, their
non-resolution prior to the pre-trial should
not prevent the holding of the pre-trial

The petitioners contend that their Motion for Summary Judgment and Motion to Hold Pre-Trial in
Abeyance needed to be first resolved before the pre-trial could proceed; that the CA erred in
declaring that "it is only at the pre-trial that the rules allow the courts to render judgment on the
pleadings and summary judgment, as provided by Section 2(g) of Rule 18 of the Rules of Court;"
and that the CA overlooked their submission in their Opposition with Explanation to the effect that
Section 2(g), Rule 18 of the Rules of Court was superseded by Administrative Circular No. 3-99
dated January 15, 1999 and A.M. No. 03-1-09-SC dated August 16, 2004.

The petitioners' contentions have no merit.


We consider it erroneous on the part of the CA to declare that "it is only at the pre-trial that the rules
allow the courts to render judgment on the pleadings and summary judgment, as provided by
Section 2(g) of Rule 18 of the Rules of Court." The filing of the motion for summary judgment may be
done prior to the pre-trial. Section 1, Rule 3 5 of the Rules of Court permits a party seeking to
recover upon a claim, counterclaim, or cross-claim or seeking declaratory relief to file the motion for
a summary judgment upon all or any part thereof in his favor (and its supporting affidavits,
depositions or admissions) "at any time after the pleading in answer thereto has been served;" while
Section 2 of Rule 35 instructs that a party against whom a claim, counterclaim, or cross-claim is
asserted or a declaratory relief is sought may file the motion for summary judgment (and its
supporting affidavits, depositions or admissions) upon all or any part thereof "at any time." As such,
the petitioners properly filed their motion for summary judgment prior to the pre-trial (assuming that
they thereby complied with the requirement of supporting affidavits, depositions or admissions).

We remind that the summary judgment is a procedural technique that is proper under Section 3,
Rule 35 of the Rules of Court only if there is no genuine issue as to the existence of a material fact,
and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.15 It is a method intended to
expedite or promptly dispose of cases where the facts appear undisputed and certain from the
pleadings, depositions, admissions, and affidavits on record.16 The term genuine issue is defined as
an issue of fact that calls for the presentation of evidence as distinguished from an issue that is
sham, fictitious, contrived, set up in bad faith and patently unsubstantial so as not to constitute a
genuine issue for trial. The court can determine this on the basis of the pleadings, admissions,
documents, affidavits, and/or counter-affidavits submitted by the parties to the court. Where the facts
pleaded by the parties are disputed or contested, proceedings for a summary judgment cannot take
the place of a trial.17 The party moving for the summary judgment has the burden of clearly
demonstrating the absence of any genuine issue of fact.18 Upon the plaintiff rests the burden to prove
the cause of action, and to show that the defense is interposed solely for the purpose of delay. After
the plaintiffs burden has been discharged, the defendant has the burden to show facts sufficient to
entitle him to defend.19

The CA could have misconceived the text of Section 2(g), Rule 18 of the Rules of Court, to wit:

Section 2. Nature and purpose. - The pre-trial is mandatory. The court shall consider:

x x xx

(g) The propriety of rendering judgment on the pleadings, or summary judgment, or of dismissing the
action should a valid ground therefor be found to exist;

x x xx

To be clear, the rule only spells out that unless the motion for such judgment has earlier been filed
the pre-trial may be the occasion in which the court considers the propriety of rendering judgment on
the pleadings or summary judgment. If no such motion was earlier filed, the pre-trial judge may then
indicate to the proper party to initiate the rendition of such judgment by filing the necessary
motion. Indeed, such motion is required by either Rule 3420(Judgment on the Pleadings) or Rule
3521 (Summary Judgment) of the Rules of Court. The pre-trial judge cannot motu proprio render the
judgment on the pleadings or summary judgment. In the case of the motion for summary judgment,
the adverse party is entitled to counter the motion.

Even so, the petitioners cannot validly insist that the CA should have first resolved their Motion for
Summary Judgment before holding the pretrial. They could not use the inaction on their motion to
1âwphi1
justify their nonappearance with their counsel at the pre-trial, as well as their inability to file their pre-
trial brief. In that regard, their appearance at the pre-trial with their counsel was mandatory.

The petitioners argue that their non-appearance was not mandatory, positing that Section 2(g), Rule
18 of the Rules of Court had been amended by Administrative Circular No. 3-99 and A.M. No. 03-1-
09-SC issued on July 13, 2004 but effective on August 16, 2004.

The petitioners' argument was unwarranted.

Administrative Circular No. 3-99 dated January 15, 1999 still affirmed the mandatory character of the
pre-trial, to wit:

x x xx

V. The mandatory continuous trial system in civil cases contemplated in Administrative Circular No.
4, dated 22 September 1988, and the guidelines provided for in Circular No. 1-89, dated 19 January
1989, must be effectively implemented. For expediency, these guidelines in civil cases are
hereunder restated with modifications, taking into account the relevant provisions of the 1997 Rules
of Civil Procedure:

A. Pre-Trial

x x xx

6. Failure of the plaintiff to appear at the pre-trial shall be a cause for dismissal of the action. A
similar failure of the defendant shall be a cause to allow the plaintiff to present his evidence ex-
parte and the court to render judgment on the basis thereof. (Underlining supplied for emphasis)

A.M. No. 03-1-09-SC (Guidelines to be Observed by Trial Court Judges and Clerks of Court in the
Conduct of Pre-Trial and Use of Deposition-Discovery Measures) - adopted for the purpose of
abbreviating court proceedings, ensuring the prompt disposition of cases, decongesting court
dockets, and further implementing the pre-trial guidelines laid down in Administrative Circular No. 3-
99 - similarly underscored the mandatory character of the pre-trial, and reiterated under its
heading Pre-Trial in civil cases that, among others, the trial court could then determine "the propriety
of rendering a summary judgment dismissing the case based on the disclosures made at the pre-trial
or a judgment based on the pleadings, evidence identified and admissions made during pre-
trial."22 As such, they could have urged the trial court to resolve their pending Motion for Summary
Judgment during the pre-trial..

WHEREFORE, the Court AFFIRMS the assailed resolutions of the Court of Appeals promulgated in
CA-G.R. SP No. 04020-MIN; and ORDERS the petitioners to pay the costs of suit.

SO ORDERED.

LUCAS P. BERSAMIN
Associate Justice
omplainant, in her reply, contended that an order submitting the cases for decision was
issued by Judge Guy on 31 June 1990. She also argued that the return of possession of
the premises did not render the cases moot and academic since still unresolved was the
obligation to pay the accrued rentals and damages.

FIRST DIVISION

[G.R. No. 121251. June 26, 1998]

PHILIPPINE NATIONAL BANK, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS


and ROMEO BARILEA, respondents.

DECISION
BELLOSILLO, J . :

May a complaint for damages arising from an alleged premature foreclosure of


mortgage, with prayer for a writ of preliminary injunction, be dismissed on the ground
that the foreclosure sought to be enjoined is already a fait accompli?
On 12 November 1991 private respondent Romeo Barilea filed a complaint for
damages with the Regional Trial Court of Negros Occidental with a prayer for the
issuance of a temporary restraining order and writ of preliminary injunction against
petitioner Philippine National Bank (PNB) and the Provincial Sheriff of Negros
Occidental.
The complaint alleged that: defendant Barilea (private respondent herein) obtained
sugar crop loans with petitioner at its Victoria Branch to finance his sugarcane
plantation in Sagay, Negros Occidental; he was granted a crop loan of P208,300.00
and, thereafter, another loan of P40,000.00 which would fall due on 31 August 1991 and
31 August 1992, respectively; the crop loans were secured by a mortgage on Barileas
parcel of land with an area of 2,804 square meters and covered by Transfer Certificate
of Title No. T-12217 of the Register of Deeds of Cadiz City. Private respondent also
alleged that on 29 September 1991, while he was harvesting and cutting canes for the
purpose of milling the same, petitioner filed a petition for the sale of the mortgaged
property under Act No. 3135 as amended with the Provincial Sheriff of Negros
Occidental, and that, consequently, on 7 October 1991 the latter issued a Notice of
Extrajudicial Sale by public auction of private respondents property on 18 November
1991.
The complaint further stated that in October 1991 private respondent had partially
harvested and milled his sugarcane at a sugar central after which quedans were
prepared; that when private respondent was about to withdraw the quedans, he was
informed that they were taken by petitioner. Private respondent contended that in filing
the petition for the sale of the mortgaged property with the provincial sheriff, petitioner
acted with malice and bad faith in order to embarrass him; that the petition was
premature because the crop loans had not yet fallen due; and, that because of
petitioners malicious acts in filing the petition, private respondent suffered sleepless
nights, mental torture, anxiety, public humiliation and public ridicule, thus entitling him to
moral and exemplary damages
in addition to the actual expenses incurred for which petitioner should be ordered to
pay. Private respondent also prayed for the issuance of a temporary restraining order
and writ of preliminary injunction to enjoin petitioner and the Provincial Sheriff from
conducting the sale by public auction scheduled on 18 November 1991. [1]
Instead of filing an answer to the complaint, petitioner filed on 17 January 1991 a
motion to dismiss[2] alleging that: petitioner had not acted maliciously and prematurely in
filing the petition for foreclosure of mortgage; private respondent was granted four (4)
loan accomodations by petitioner three (3) of which had already fallen due; because of
the past due accounts of private respondent petitioner had the right to institute
foreclosure proceedings; and, the other reliefs prayed for by private respondent, i.e.,
issuance of a restraining order and writ of preliminary injunction, had been rendered
moot and academic by the holding of the auction sale on 7 November 1991.
On 18 February 1992 private respondent filed an amended complaint increasing the
amounts prayed for as moral damages and attorneys fees.
On 10 March 1992 the trial court issued an order dismissing the case for being moot
and academic because the sale sought to be enjoined had already been conducted on
7 November 1991.[3] The motion for reconsideration by private respondent was denied.
Private respondent appealed the order of dismissal to the Court of Appeals. In its
decision[4] of 28 June 1995, the Court of Appeals set aside the order dismissing the
case. The appellate court found that the complaint of private respondent sought the
payment of moral and exemplary damages on the ground that petitioner was actuated
with malice and bad faith in filing the petition with the sheriff for the sale of the
mortgaged property even if the crop loan of P40,000.00 had not yet matured. It also
ruled that the issuance of a temporary restraining order and a writ of preliminary
injunction was only a provisional remedy, and consequently, the foreclosure sale on 7
November 1991 did not render the case moot since the principal action for payment of
damages still had to be litigated. The Court of Appeals remanded the case back to the
trial court for proper proceedings.
Hence this petition alleging that the Court of Appeals erroneously failed to hold that
(a) the dismissal of the case by the trial court was justified after it had become moot and
academic with the foreclosure sale; (b) denial of the ancillary remedy of temporary
restraining order was proper; and, (c) the foreclosure of the mortgage was valid in view
of the contract between the parties and conformably with the mandatory requirements of
PD No. 385.
The principal issue to be resolved is whether the complaint for damages based on
the foreclosure of mortgage should now be dismissed in view of the foreclosure
sale. The other issues raised by petitioner, i.e., whether the foreclosure sale was valid,
and whether the claim of private respondent for damages was proper, are factual
matters well within the domain of the trial court - and not of this Court.
The petition must fail. The Court of Appeals was correct in ruling that the dismissal
of the complaint of private respondent by the trial court was not valid.
In a motion to dismiss on the ground that the complaint states no cause of action,
the question to be resolved by the trial court is whether the facts alleged in the
complaint are sufficient to constitute a cause of action and not whether the allegations
of fact are true as the latter are hypothetically admitted. [5] Hence, a complaint sufficiently
states a cause of action when the following questions are answered in the
affirmative: (a) Does the complaint show the plaintiff has suffered an injury? (b) Is it an
injury which the law recognizes as a wrong and for which it provides a remedy? (c) Is
the defendant liable for the alleged wrong done? and, (d) If the defendant is liable, is
there a legal remedy for such injury?[6]
Applying these criteria to the complaint of private respondent, the same alleged
facts are sufficient to state a cause of action for damages. The complaint alleged that
private respondent suffered actual expenses, moral anxiety and public humiliation,
among others, as a result of the alleged premature and malicious filing of the petition for
foreclosure of mortgage over private respondents property; hence, the prayer for
damages and attorneys fees.
In its motion to dismiss, petitioners allegation that private respondent had no basis
to claim for damages amounted to failure to state a cause of action. Since the
allegations in the complaint furnish sufficient basis by which the complaint can be
maintained, the same should not have been dismissed regardless of the defense that
may be raised by petitioner as defendant before the trial court.[7]
In the instant case, aside from the principal action for damages, private respondent
sought the issuance of a temporary restraining order and writ of preliminary injunction to
enjoin the foreclosure sale in order to prevent an alleged irreparable injury to private
respondent. It is settled that these injunctive reliefs are preservative remedies for the
protection of substantive rights and interests. Injunction is not a cause of action in itself
but merely a provisional remedy, an adjunct to a main suit. When the act sought to be
enjoined had become fait accompli, only the prayer for provisional remedy should be
denied. However, the trial court should still proceed with the determination of the
principal action so that an adjudication of the rights of the parties can be had.
It was grave error for the trial court to dismiss the case simply because the basis for
the issuance of the writ of injunction is no longer existent and thus moot and
academic. A case becomes moot and academic when there is no more actual
controversy between the parties[8] or no useful purpose can be served in passing upon
the merits.[9] The foregoing circumstances do not obtain in the instant
case. The holding of the extrajudicial sale did not in any way
render the case moot and academic. As found by the Court of Appeals, there still
remained for the resolution of the trial court the issue of whether private respondent is
entitled to damages prayed for as a result of petitioners act in filing a petition to
foreclose the mortgage. Whether the filing of the petition for foreclosure was proper and
whether private respondent suffered damages resulting from petitioners acts are still
unanswered questions which have to be determined and passed upon by the trial court
after hearing the evidence of both parties in accordance with due process.
It is a rule of universal application that courts of justice are constituted to adjudicate
substantive rights. While courts should consider public policy and necessity in putting an
end to litigations speedily they must nevertheless harmonize such necessity with the
fundamental right of litigants to an opportunity to be heard.[10]
WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED. The decision of the Court of Appeals dated
28 June 1995 is AFFIRMED. The records of this case are remanded to the trial court
with a directive to proceed and dispose of this case expeditiously.
SO ORDERED.
Davide Jr., (Chairman), Vitug, Panganiban and Quisumbing, JJ. concur.