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G.R. No. 144568 July 3, 2007 petitioner spouses in default.

4 It was Rules of Court and was in contravention


denied by the trial court in an order dated of jurisprudence.
GUILLERMA S. SABLAS, joined by December 6, 1999.5 Respondents moved
her husband, PASCUAL for reconsideration but it was also We agree.
LUMANAS, Petitioners, denied.6 Thereafter, they challenged the
vs. December 6, 1999 order in the Court of Where There Is No Motion, There
ESTERLITA S. SABLAS and Appeals in a petition for Can Be No Declaration of Default
RODULFO S. SABLAS, Respondents. certiorari7 alleging that the admission of
the answer by the trial court was contrary
The elements of a valid declaration of
DECISION to the rules of procedure and constituted
default are:
grave abuse of discretion amounting to
lack of jurisdiction.
CORONA, J.: 1. the court has validly acquired
jurisdiction over the person of the
In a decision dated July 17, 2000,8 the
This case traces its roots to a complaint defending party either by service
appellate court ruled that the trial court
for judicial partition, inventory and of summons or voluntary
committed grave abuse of discretion
accounting filed by respondents Esterlita appearance;10
because, pursuant to Section 3, Rule 9
S. Sablas and Rodulfo S. Sablas against
of the Rules of Court, the trial court had
petitioner spouses Pascual Lumanas 2. the defending party failed to
no recourse but to declare petitioner
and Guillerma S. Sablas in the Regional file the answer within the time
spouses in default when they failed to file
Trial Court of Baybay, Leyte, Branch allowed therefor and
their answer on or before November 5,
141 on October 1, 1999.2
1999. Thus, the Court of Appeals
granted the petition, vacated the 3. a motion to declare the defending
Petitioner spouses were served with December 6, 1999 order and remanded party in default has been filed by the
summons and a copy of the complaint on the case to the trial court for reception of claiming party with notice to the
October 6, 1999. On October 21, 1999, plaintiffs’ evidence. defending party.
they filed a motion for extension of time
requesting an additional period of 15 An order of default can be made only
Aggrieved, petitioner spouses
days, or until November 5, 1999, to file upon motion of the claiming party.11 It
(defendants in the trial court) now assail
their answer. However, they were able to can be properly issued against the
the July 17, 2000 decision of the Court of
file it only on November 8, 1999. While defending party who failed to file the
Appeals in this petition for review on
the trial court observed that the answer answer within the prescribed period only
certiorari.9
was filed out of time, it admitted the if the claiming party files a motion to that
pleading because no motion to declare effect with notice to the defending party.
petitioner spouses in default was filed.3 Petitioner spouses contend that the
Court of Appeals decision was not in
accord with the rules of procedure as it In this connection, Section 3, Rule 9 of
The following day, November 9, 1999, the Rules of Court provides:
misconstrued Section 3, Rule 9 of the
respondents filed a motion to declare
SEC. 3. Default: Declaration of. – If the It is within the sound discretion of the Where Answer Has Been Filed, There
defending party fails to answer within the trial court to permit the defendant to file can Be No Declaration of Default
time allowed therefor, the court his answer and to be heard on the merits Anymore
shall, upon motion of the claiming even after the reglementary period for
party with notice to the defending party, filing the answer expires.15 The Rules of Since the trial court already admitted the
and proof of such failure, declare the Court provides for discretion on the part answer, it was correct in denying the
defending party in default. x x x. of the trial court not only to extend the subsequent motion of respondents to
(emphasis supplied) time for filing an answer but also to allow declare petitioner spouses in default.
an answer to be filed after the
Three requirements must be complied reglementary period.16 In Cathay Pacific Airways, Ltd. v. Hon.
with before the court can declare the Romillo, Jr.,19 the Court ruled that it was
defending party in default: (1) the Thus, the appellate court erred when it error to declare the defending party in
claiming party must file a motion asking ruled that the trial court had no recourse default after the answer was filed. The
the court to declare the defending party but to declare petitioner spouses in Court was in fact even more emphatic
in default; (2) the defending party must default when they failed to file their in Indiana Aerospace University v.
be notified of the motion to declare him answer on or before November 5, 1999. Commission on Higher Education:20 it
in default and (3) the claiming party must was grave abuse of discretion to declare
prove that the defending party has failed The rule is that the defendant’s answer a defending party in default despite the
to answer within the period provided by should be admitted where it is filed latter’s filing of an answer.
the Rules of Court.12 before a declaration of default and no
prejudice is caused to the The policy of the law is to have every
The rule on default requires the filing of a plaintiff.17 Where the answer is filed litigant’s case tried on the merits as
motion and notice of such motion to the beyond the reglementary period but much as possible. Hence, judgments by
defending party. It is not enough that the before the defendant is declared in default are frowned upon.21 A case is
defendant fails to answer the complaint default and there is no showing that best decided when all contending parties
within the reglementary period.13 The trial defendant intends to delay the case, the are able to ventilate their respective
court cannot motu propriodeclare a answer should be admitted.18 1avv phi 1

claims, present their arguments and


defendant in default14 as the rules leave adduce evidence in support thereof. The
it up to the claiming party to protect his Therefore, the trial court correctly parties are thus given the chance to be
or its interests. The trial court should not admitted the answer of petitioner heard fully and the demands of due
under any circumstances act as counsel spouses even if it was filed out of time process are subserved. Moreover, it is
of the claiming party. because, at the time of its filing, they only amidst such an atmosphere that
were not yet declared in default nor was accurate factual findings and correct
Where There Is No Declaration of a motion to declare them in default ever legal conclusions can be reached by the
Default, Answer May be Admitted filed. Neither was there a showing that courts.
Even If Filed Out Of Time petitioner spouses intended to delay the
case. Accordingly, the petition is
hereby GRANTED. The July 17, 2000
decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-
G.R. SP No. 57397
is REVERSED and SET ASIDE and the
December 6, 1999 order of the Regional
Trial Court of Baybay, Leyte, Branch 14
is REINSTATED. The case
is REMANDED to the trial court for
further proceedings.

SO ORDERED.