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Republic of the Philippines

__th Judicial Region


MUNICIPAL TRIAL COURT IN CITIES
_________
____________________
Plaintiff;

Civil Case No. _______


For:
Unlawful Detainer, etc.

-versus____________________
Defendants.
x-------------------------------------------x

RESOLUTION
Plaintiff files a Motion to Render Judgment on the ground that
defendants filed their Answer only on 12 April 2016, instead of 7 April 2016,
which is well beyond the ten-day reglementary period to file answer
pursuant to Sec. 7, Rule 70, in relation to Sec. 6 of the said Rule.
Defendants oppose the motion on the ground that the five-day delay
is a minor one attributable to good reasons, which were set forth as
worsening health condition on the part of defendant ________. As proof
thereof, they attached X-Ray Report with X-Ray Film dated March 27,
2016; Prescriptions of medicines to take for seven days dated March 27,
signed by Dr. ______; Official Receipt No. _____ of medicines bought
dated March 27, 2016; copy of Echocardiography and Color Flow Doppler
Result; and a Medical Report dated March 30, 2016, issued by St. Lukes
Medical Center all in the name of ________.
Citing Section 6, Rule 1 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as well
as several jurisprudence, defendants argue that a liberal construction of the
Rules be applied in their favor, and the case should be decided on its
merits and not on technicalities.
Browsing through some cases on the issue of whether a delayed
answer may be allowed, this Court finds the following pronouncements of
the Supreme Court, to wit:
First Case
Other than a plea for the liberal interpretation of the Rule on Summary
Procedure, petitioners do not provide an adequate justification for the
admission of their late answer. Oversight, which they candidly cite as the reason
for their filing a motion for extension of time to file an answer, is not a
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justification. Oversight, at best, implies negligence; at worst, ignorance. The


negligence displayed by petitioners is clearly inexcusable; ignorance of so basic
a rule, on the other hand, can never be condoned. In either case, the directory
application of the questioned provision is not warranted. 1 (emphasis added)

Second Case
It is within the sound discretion of the court to set aside an order of default and to
permit a defendant to file his answer and to be heard on the merits even after the
reglementary period for the filing of the answer has expired, but it is not error, or
an abuse of discretion, on the part of the court to refuse to set aside its order of
default and to refuse to accept the answer where it finds no justifiable reason
for the delay in the filing of the answer. In motions for reconsideration of an order
of default, the moving party has the burden of showing such diligence as would
justify his being excused from not filing the answer within the reglementary period
as provided by the Rules of Court, otherwise, these guidelines for an orderly and
expeditious procedure would be rendered meaningless. Unless it is shown
clearly that a party has justifiable reason for the delay the court will not
ordinarily exercise its discretion in his favor (Emphasis supplied.)2

Third Case
There is no question that petitioner incurred delay in filing the motion for
extension of time in the lower court. But the delay was only for one day and there
was a justifiable reason, duly established, for it. Moreover, no one was
prejudiced by the delay; and when the lower court was called upon to act on the
motion, the record on appeal and appeal bond had already been filed. The lower
court, therefore, acted correctly in reconsidering its denial of the motion for
extension of time within which to file the record on appeal and appeal bond, so as
to give due course to petitioner's appeal. This action was in line with the of stated
exhortation of this Court that judges should as much as possible lean in favor
of deciding cases on the basis of merits in the interest of substantial
justice rather than through the invocation of technicalities.3 (emphasis
added)

From the foregoing, it can be gleaned that as a general rule, liberal


interpretation of the Rules on Summary Procedure and the rules governing
periods to file answer or pleadings is not warranted as they are mandatory.
1Gachon, et al. vs. Devera, et al.; G.R. No. 116695. June 20, 1997
2 FILINVEST LAND, INC. vs. Court of Appeals; G.R. No. 78885February 26, 1990
3 OPPEN, INC. vs. Court of Appeals, et al.; G.R. No. L-29986April 17, 1984
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There is however, an exception in cases where the delay is inevitable due


to a justifiable reason.
In this case, like in the third case quoted above, where illness of the
counsels secretary prevented the filing of the motion of extension of time to
file answer was considered a justifiable reason, there is no question that
the illness of Atty. ______, one of the defendants, who understandbly is
expected to prepare their answer as practising lawyer and husband of
________, should be accorded the same treatment. By a series of
documentary evidence showing a period of recuperation from illness within
the period to file answer, defendants have shown a justifiable reason why it
took them five (5) days behind schedule to file their answer.
WHEREFORE, the motion to render judgment based on complaint is
denied in the interest of substantial justice.
SO ORDERED.
IN CHAMBERS, ________

Presiding Judge

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