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RULE 34 The Gingoyon’s appeal to the CA, was resolved in

ADOLFO v. ADOLFO their favour, the CA ruling that the property is


G.R. No. 201427 March 18, 2015 paraphernal property as established by the records
Petition for Review on Certiorari and the evidence. It became final and executory.

CIVIL CASE MAN-8241 Going back to Civil Case MAN-4821

Teofilo Adolfo filed a petition for judicial separation of Fe appealed to the CA saying that the TC was wrong
property against his wife, Fe, alleging that they bought in treating his motion for judgment on the pleadings
with conjugal funds because they have been as one for summary judgment. She also asks the
separated in fact and reunion is now an impossibility court to submit to the findings of the CA in Civil Case
due to irreconcilable differences. In her answer, Fe 2683 finding the property to be paraphernal.
alleged that the property is not conjugal, but
paraphernal property belonging to her. Her appeal was favourably acted upon by the
CA. The CA held that the trial court cannot treat
CIVIL CASE MAN-2683 Adolfo’s motion for judgment on the pleadings as one
for summary judgment. It stated that in a proper case
Fe’s sister Florencia and her husband Juanito for judgment on the pleadings, there are no ostensible
(Gingoyons) filed a civil case for partition with issues at all on account of the defending party’s failure
damages, alleging that in 1988, Fe sold a 300-square to raise an issue in his answer, while in a proper case
meter lot portion of the lot to the spouses Gingoyon, for summary judgment, such issues exist, although
but that the former refused to subdivide it. This time, they are sham, fictitious, or not genuine as shown by
Fe alleged that the property was conjugal, and the affidavits, depositions or admissions. In other words,
sale was made without the signature of Teofilo, hence a judgment on the pleadings is a judgment on the
it was null and void. The RTC ruled in favour of Fe and facts as pleaded, while a summary judgment is a
declared it conjugal property, hence, the Gingoyons judgment on the facts as summarily proved by
appealed to the CA. affidavits, depositions, or admissions. It added that
Fe’s Answer appeared on its face to tender an issue;
Going back to Civil Case No. MAN-4821 it disputed petitioner’s claim that the subject property
is their conjugal property. The next thing to be
Teofilo filed a Request for Admission of (among determined is whether this issue is fictitious or sham
others) respondent’s declaration in said Answer that as to justify a summary judgment. The CA added that
the subject property constituted conjugal property of although respondent was bound by the resulting
the marriage; and the trial court’s pronouncement in admission prompted by her failure to reply to
said case that the subject property forms part of the petitioner’s request for admission, her claims and
conjugal estate. documentary exhibits clearly contradict what
petitioner sought to be admitted in his request; that
Fe failed to answer the Request for Admission, hence, the trial court disregarded the fact that the issue of
Teoflio filed a motion to render judgment on the whether the subject property is conjugal was still
pleadings, alleging that since Fe failed to answer the unresolved as CA-G.R. CV No. 78971 was still
request for admission, the matters included in the pending; and that finally, the trial court should have
request are deemed admitted pursuant to Rule 26, been guided by the principles that trial courts have but
Section 2 of the Rules of Court, he is now entitled to limited authority to render summary judgments and
judgment on the pleading based on Rule 34. that summary judgments should not be rendered
hastily.
Fe opposed the motion, arguing that the decision, was
the subject of an appeal, had not yet become final. ISSUES/HELD: W/N summary judgment is proper in
the case, considering the failure of Fe to answer or
The RTC granted the motion by Teofilo, treating it as
deny under oath the Request for Admission in Civil
a motion for summary judgment. It ruled that judicial
Case No. MAN-4821.
separation was proper, taking judicial notice of its
decision in Civil Case No. MAN-2683 that the property
is conjugal property. With Fe’s failure to provide a RATIO:
verified answer or denial under oath to the request for
Judgment on the pleadings is proper “where an
admission of the documents, she is deemed to have
answer fails to tender an issue, or otherwise admits
admitted the genuineness of the same.
the material allegations of the adverse party’s
Going back to Civil Case No. MAN-2683 pleading.”
Summary judgment, on the other hand, will be On the part of petitioner, it must be said that he could
granted “if the pleadings, supporting affidavits, not have validly resorted to a motion for judgment on
depositions, and admissions on file, show that, except the pleadings or summary judgment. While it may
as to the amount of damages, there is no genuine appear that under Rules 34 and 35 of the 1997 Rules,
issue as to any material fact and that the moving party he may file a motion for judgment on the pleadings or
is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.” summary judgment as a result of the consequent
admission by respondent that the subject property is
conjugal, this is not actually the case. Quite the
An answer would “fail to tender an issue” if it “does not
contrary, by invoking the proceedings and decision in
deny the material allegations in the complaint or
Civil Case No. MAN-2683, petitioner is precluded
admits said material allegations of the adverse party’s
from obtaining judgment while the appeal in said case
pleadings by confessing the truthfulness thereof
is pending, because the result thereof determines
and/or omitting to deal with them at all. Now, if an
whether the subject property is indeed conjugal or
answer does in fact specifically deny the material
paraphernal. He may not preempt the appeal in CA-
averments of the complaint and/or asserts affirmative
G.R. CV No. 78971.
defenses (allegations of new matter which, while
admitting the material allegations of the complaint
expressly or impliedly, would nevertheless prevent or
bar recovery by the plaintiff), a judgment on the
pleadings would naturally be improper.”

In rendering summary judgment, the trial court relied


on respondent’s failure to reply to petitioner’s
request for admission, her admission in Civil Case
No. MAN-2683, as well as its May 15, 2002 Decision
declaring that the subject property is a conjugal
asset. It took judicial notice of the proceedings in
said case. It should have known that until the appeal
is resolved by the appellate court, it would be
premature to render judgment on petitioner’s motion
for judgment on the pleadings; that it would be
presumptuous to assume that its own decision would
be affirmed on appeal. One of the issues raised in
the appeal is precisely whether the subject property
is conjugal, or a paraphernal asset of the
respondent. Thus, instead of resolving petitioner’s
motion for judgment on the pleadings, the trial court
should have denied it or held it in abeyance. It
should have guided petitioner to this end, instead of
aiding in the hasty resolution of his case. In the first
place, Civil Case No. MAN-4821 was transferred to it
from Branch 56 precisely for the reason that it was
the court which tried the closely related Civil Case
No. MAN-2683.

Even if respondent is deemed to have admitted the


matters contained in petitioner’s request for
admission by her failure to reply thereto, the trial court
should have considered the pending appeal in CA-
G.R. CV No. 78971. It cannot take judicial notice
solely of the proceedings in Civil Case No. MAN-
2683, and ignore the appeal in CA-G.R. CV No.
78971. After all, CA-G.R. CV No. 78971 is merely a
continuation of Civil Case No. MAN-2683; an appeal
is deemed a continuation of the same case
commenced in the lower court.