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G.R. No. 209605 January 12, question, aside from the veracity of 3. In Civil Case No.

2015 indebtedness issue. petitioner Aguilar allegedly
borrowed ₱126,849.00 as
NEIL B. AGUILAR and RUBEN The Facts evidenced by Cash
CALIMBAS, Petitioners, Disbursement Voucher No. 3902
vs. This case stemmed from the three (3) but the net loan was only
LIGHTBRINGERS CREDIT complaints for sum of money separately ₱76,152.00 as supported by PNB
COOPERATIVE, Respondent. filed by respondent Ligh tbringers Credit Check No. 0000005026;7
Cooperative (respondent) on July 14,
DECISION 2008 against petitioners Aguilar and Tantiangco, Aguilar and Calimbas filed
Calimbas, and one Perlita Tantiangco their respective answers. They uniformly
MENDOZA, J.: (Tantiangco)which were consolidated claimed that the discrepancy between
before the First Municipal Circuit Trial the principal amount of the loan
Court, Dinalupihan, Bataan (MCTC).The evidenced by the cash disbursement
This is a petition for review on certiorari
complaints alleged that Tantiangco, voucher and the net amount of loan
filed by petitioners Neil B. Aguilar
Aguilar and Calimbas were members of reflected in the PNB checks showed that
(Aguilar) and Ruben Calimbas
the cooperative who borrowed the they never borrowed the amounts being
(Calimbas), seeking to reverse and set
following funds: collected. They also asserted that no
aside the April 5, 20131 and October 9,
interest could be claimed because there
20132 Resolutions of the Court of
1. In Civil Case No. 1428, was no written agreement as to its
Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No.
Tantiangco allegedly borrowed imposition.
128914, which denied the petition for
review outright, assailing the January 2, ₱206,315.71 as evidenced by
2013 Decision3 of the Regional Trial Cash Disbursement Voucher No. On the scheduled pre-trial conference,
Court, Branch 5, Dinalupihan, Bataan 4010 but the net loan was only only respondent and its counsel
(RTC) and the May 9, 2012 Decision4of ₱45,862.00 as supported by PNB appeared. The MCTC then issued the
the First Municipal Circuit Trial Court, Check No. 0000005133.5 Order,8 dated August 25, 2009, allowing
Dinalupihan-Hermosa, Bataan (MCTC). respondent to present evidence ex parte.
2. In Civil Case No. 1429, Respondent later presented Fernando
petitioner Calimbas allegedly Manalili (Manalili), its incumbent General
In the lower courts, one of the issues
borrowed ₱202,800.18 as Manager, as its sole witness. In his
involved was the proper application of
evidenced by Cash testimony, Manalili explained that the
the rules when a party does not appear
Disbursement Voucher No. 3962 discrepancy between the amounts of the
in the scheduled pretrial conference
but the net loan was only loan reflected in the checks and those in
despite due notice. In this petition, the
₱60,024.00 as supported by PNB the cash disbursement vouchers were
dismissal by the CA of the petition filed
Check No. 0000005088;6 due to the accumulated interests from
under Rule 42 for failure to attach the
previous outstanding obligations,
entire records has also been put to
withheld share capital, as well as the
service and miscellaneous fees. He
stated, however, that it was their disbursement voucher and the PNB attorney’s fees. Costs against the
bookkeeper who could best explain the check varied from each other and defendant.
details. suggested that the voucher could refer to
a different loan. SO ORDERED.14
Aguilar and Calimbas insisted that they
should have the right to crossexamine The decisions in Civil Case No. And in Civil Case No. 1430, the
the witness of respondent, 142912 and 1430,13 however, found both dispositive portion states:
notwithstanding the fact that these cases Calimbas and Aguilar liable to
were being heard ex parte. In the interest respondent for their respective debts. WHEREFORE, premises considered,
of justice, the MCTC directed the The PNB checks issued to the judgment is hereby rendered in plaintiff’s
counsels of the parties to submit their petitioners proved the existence of the favor and against the defendant,
respective position papers on the issue loan transactions. Their receipts of the ordering the latter to pay the plaintiff the
of whether or not a party who had been loan were proven by their signatures amount of ₱76,152.00 with interest at the
declared "as in default" might still appearing on the dorsal portions of the rate of 12% per annum from February
participate in the trial of the case. Only checks as well as on the cash 28, 2007 until fully paid.
respondent, however, complied with the disbursement vouchers. As a matter of
directive. In its Order,9 dated April 27, practice, banks would allow the
Defendant is further directed to pay
2011, the MCTC held that since the encashment of checks only by the
attorney’s fees equivalent to 25% of the
proceedings were being heard ex parte, named payee and subject to the
adjudged amount. Costs against the
the petitioners who had been declared presentation of proper identification.
"as in default" had no rightto participate Nonetheless, the MCTC ruled that only
therein and to crossexamine the the amount shown in the PNB check
witnesses. Thereafter, respondent filed must be awarded because respondent SO ORDERED.15
its formal offer of evidence.10 MCTC failed to present its bookkeeper to justify
Ruling the higher amounts being claimed. The On July 12, 2012, a notice of
court also awarded attorney’s fees in appeal16 was filed by the petitioners, and
On May 9, 2012, the MCTC resolved the favor of respondent. The dispositive on August 15, 2012, they filed their joint
consolidated cases in three separate portion of the decision in Civil Case No. memorandum for appeal17 before the
decisions. In Civil Case No. 1428,11 the
1429 reads: Regional Trial Court, Branch 5, Bataan
MCTC dismissed the complaint against (RTC).Aguilar and Calimbas argued out
Tantiangco because there was no WHEREFORE, premises considered, that had they been allowed to present
showing that she received the amount judgment is hereby rendered in plaintiff’s evidence, they would have established
being claimed. Moreover, the PNB check favor and against the defendant, that the loan documents were bogus.
was made payable to "cash" and was ordering the latter to pay plaintiff the Respondent produced documents to
encashed by a certain Violeta Aguilar. amount of ₱60,024.00 with interest at the appear that it had new borrowers but did
There was, however, no evidence that rate of 12% per annum from April 4, not lend any amount to them. Attached
she gave the proceeds to Tantiangco. 2007 until fully paid, plus ₱15,000.00 as to the joint memorandum were
Further, the dates indicated in the cash photocopies of the dorsal portions of the
PNB checks which showed that these checks. As an alternative prayer, corrected verification and disclaimer of
checks were to be deposited back to petitioners moved that the RTC remand forum shopping and affidavit of
respondent’s bank account. the case to the MCTC for a new trial on service.They asked the CA to simply
account of the Sinumpaang Salaysay of order the RTC to elevate the records of
RTC Ruling Arcenit Dela Torre, the bookkeeper of the case pursuant to Section 7, Rule 42
respondent. of the Rules of Court. Moreover, the
On January 2, 2013, the RTC rendered petitioners could not attach the records
separate decisions in Civil Case No. DH- On February 11, 2013, the RTC issued of the case because the flooding caused
1300-1218 and Civil Case No. DH-1299- separate orders21 denying the motion of by "Habagat" in August 2012 soaked the
1219 which affirmed the MCTC decisions. the petitioners. It explained that all the said records in water.
It held that the PNB checks were issues were already passed upon and
concrete evidence of the indebtedness of the supposed newly discovered evidence In the other questioned resolution, dated
the petitioners to respondent. The RTC was already available during appeal, but October 9, 2013, the CA denied the
relied on the findings of the MCTC that the petitioners failed to present the same motion because the petitioners still failed
the checks bore no endorsement to in time. to attach the entire records of the case
another person or entity. The checks which was a mandatory requirement
were issued in the name of the CA Ruling under Section 2, Rule 42.
petitioners and, thus, they had the right
to encash the same and appropriate the Aggrieved, Aguilar and Calimbas filed a Hence, this petition.
proceeds. The decretal portions of the petition for review22 before the CA on
RTC decision in both cases similarly March 11, 2013. It was dismissed, SOLE ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR
read: however, in the questioned
resolution,23 dated April 5, 2013, stating THE COURT OF APPEALS
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the that the petition was formally defective COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF
appeal is hereby DENIED. The Decision because the "verification and disclaimer DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK
dated May 9, 2012 of the First Municipal of forum shopping" and the "affidavit of OR IN EXCESS OF JURISDICTION
Circuit Trial Court (1st MCTC), service" had a defective jurat for failure WHEN IT DISMISSED THE PETITION
Dinalupihan-Hermosa, Bataan is hereby of the notary public to indicate his FOR REVIEW FILED BEFORE IT BY
affirmed in toto. notarial commission number and office THE PETITIONERS UNDER RULE 42
address. Moreover, the entire records of OF THE RULES OF COURTCITING
SO ORDERED. the case, inclusive of the oral and THAT THE SAID PETITION IS
documents evidence, were not attached FORMALLY DEFECTIVE FOR FAILURE
On January 18, 2013, the petitionersfiled to the petition in contravention of Section OF THE PETITIONERS TO SUBMIT
their joint motion for reconsideration/new 2, Rule 42 of the Rules of Court. WITHTHE SAID PETITION THE ENTIRE
trial20 before the RTC. Aguilar and RECORDS OF THE APPEALED CIVIL
Calimbas reiterated their position that A motion for reconsideration24 was filed CASE NOS. DH-1300-12 AND DH-1299-
they did not receivethe proceeds of the by the petitioners which sought the 12.25
leniency of the CA. They attached a
The petitioners argue that contrary to the the Court to give a glance on the merits with the original copy intended for the
findings of the CA, they substantially of their case brought before the CA. court being indicated as such by the
complied with the required form and petitioner, and shall (a) state the full
contents of a petition for review under On February 7, 2014, respondent filed its names of the parties to the case, without
Section 2, Rule 42 of the Rules of Court. comment26 contending that the petitioners impleading the lower courts or judges
There is nothing in the provision which had no excuse in their non-compliance thereof either as petitioners or
requires that the entire records of the with Section 2, Rule 42. They claim that respondents; (b) indicate the specific
appealed case should be endorsed to the court records were not attached material dates showing that it was filed
the CA. Such requirement would because these were soaked in flood on time; (c) set forth concisely a
definitely be cumbersome to poor water in August 2012, but the RTC statement of the matters involved, the
litigants like them. rendered its decision in January 2013. issues raised, the specification of errors
The petitionersfailed to secure a of fact or law, or both, allegedly
They assert that they submitted the certification from the RTC that these committed by the Regional Trial Court,
following pleadings and material portions records were indeed unavailable. and the reasons or arguments relied
of the court records in their petition for upon for the allowance of the appeal; (d)
review: (1) certified copies of the On May 21, 2014, the petitioners filed be accompanied by clearly legible
decisions, orders or resolutions of the their reply before this Court,27 adding that duplicate originals or true copies of the
RTC and the MCTC; (2) complaints the elevation of the entire records of the judgments or final orders of both lower
against the petitioners attached with case was not a mandatory requirement, courts, certified correct by the clerk of
documents used by respondent in its and the CA could exercise its discretion court of the Regional Trial Court, the
formal offer of evidence;(3) answer of the that it furnished with the entire records of requisite number of plain copies thereof
petitioners; (4) order of the MCTC the case by invoking Section 7, Rule 42 and of the pleadings and other material
declaring the petitioners in default; (5) of the Rules of Court. portions of the record as would support
respondent’s formal offer of evidence; (6) the allegations of the petition. [Emphasis
notice of appeal; (7) joint memorandum and underscoring supplied]
The Court’s Ruling
of appeal; and (8) joint motion for
reconsideration/new trial. According to The above quoted provision enumerates
First Procedural Issue
the petitioners, these pleadings and the required documents that must be
records were sufficient to support their attached to a petition for review, to wit:
petition for review. On the sole assignment of error, the (1) clearly legible duplicate originals or
Court agrees with the petitioners that true copies of the judgments or final
Section 2, Rule 42 does not require that orders of both lower courts, certified
Assuming that there was a reason to
the entire records of the case be correct by the clerk of court of the
dismiss the petition on account of
attached to the petition for review. The Regional Trial Court; (2) the requisite
technicalities, the petitioners argue that
provision states: number of plain copies thereof; and (3)
the CA should not have strictly applied
the rules of procedure and provided of the pleadings and other material
leniency to the petitioners. They also ask Sec. 2. Form and contents. - The petition portions of the record as would support
shall be filed in seven (7) legible copies, the allegations of the petition. Clearly,
the Rules do not requirethat the entire In Cusi-Hernandez v. Diaz,30 a case of evidence by the MCTC and the RTC.
records of the case be attached to the where the petitioner did not attach to her Thus, aside from the decisions and
petition for review. Only when these petition for review a copy of the contract orders of the MCTC and the RTC, the
specified documents are not attached in to sell that was at the center of petitioners should attach pertinent
the petition will it suffer infirmities under controversy, the Court nonetheless portions of the records such as the
Section 3, Rule 42, which states: found that there was a substantial testimony of the solewitness of
compliance with the rule, considering respondent, the copies of the cash
Sec. 3. Effect of failure to comply with that the petitioner had appended to the disbursement vouchers and the PNB
requirements. - The failure of the petition for review a certified copy of the checks presented by respondent in the
petitioner to comply with any of the decision of the MTC that contained a MCTC. In the petition for review, the
foregoing requirements regarding the verbatim reproduction of the omitted petitioners attached respondent’s
payment of the docket and other lawful contract. complaints before the MCTC which
fees, the deposit for costs, proof of contained the photocopies of the cash
service of the petition, and the contents Recently, in Galvez, v. CA,31 it was held disbursement vouchers and PNB
of and the documents which should that attaching the other records of the checks. These should be considered as
accompany the petition shall be sufficient MTC and the RTC were not necessary ample compliance with Section 2, Rule
ground for the dismissal thereof. based on the circumstances of the case. 42 of the Rules of Court.
The petitioner therein was not assailing
In Canton v. City of Cebu,28 the Court the propriety of the findings of fact by the Second Procedural Issue
discussed the importance of attaching MTC and the RTC, but only the
the pleadings or material portions of the conclusions reached by the said lower Nevertheless, instead of remanding the
records to the petition for review. courts after their appreciation of the case to the CA, this Court deems it fit to
"[P]etitioner’s discretion in choosing the facts. In dealing with the questions of rule on the merits of the case to once
documents to be attached to the petition law, the CA could simply refer to the and for all settle the dispute of the
is however not unbridled. The CA has attached decisions of the MTC and the parties.
the duty to check the exercise of this RTC.
discretion, to see to it that the The rule is that a court can only consider
submission of supporting documents is Thus, the question in the case at bench the evidence presented by respondent in
not merely perfunctory. The practical is whether or not the petitioners attached the MCTC because the petitioners failed
aspect of this duty is to enable the CA to the sufficient pleadings and material to attend the pre-trial conference on
determine at the earliest possible time portions of the records in their petition for August 25, 2009 pursuant toSection 5,
the existence of prima faciemerit in the review. The Court rules that the petition Rule 18 of the Rules of Court.33 The
petition."29 In that case, the petition was was in substantial compliance with the Court, however, clarifies that failure to
denied because the petitioner failed to requirements. attend the pre-trial does not result in the
attach the complaint, answer and appeal "default" of the defendant. Instead, the
memorandum to support their allegation. The assignment of error32 in the petition failure of the defendant to attend shall be
for review clearly raises questions of fact cause to allow the plaintiff to present his
as the petitioners assail the appreciation
evidence ex parteand the court to render procedure remains the same, the In the case at bench, the petitioners
judgment on the basis thereof. purpose is one of semantical propriety or failed to attend the pre-trial conference
terminological accuracy as there were set on August 25, 2009. They did not
The case of Philippine American Life & criticisms on the use of the word "default" even give any excuse for their non-
General Insurance Company v. Joseph in the former provision since that term is appearance, manifestly ignoring the
Enario34 discussed the difference identified with the failure to file a required importance of the pre-trial stage. Thus,
between non-appearance of a defendant answer, not appearance in court. the MCTC properly issued the August
in a pre-trial conference and the 25, 2009 Order,38 allowing respondent to
declaration of a defendant in default in If the absent party is the plaintiff, then his present evidence ex parte.
the present Rules of Civil Procedure. case shall be dismissed. If it is the
The decision states: defendant who fails to appear, then the The MCTC even showed leniency when
plaintiff is allowed to present his it directed the counsels of the parties to
Prior to the 1997 Revised Rules of Civil evidence ex parteand the court shall submit their respective position papers
Procedure, the phrase "as in default" render judgment on the basis thereof. on whether or not Aguilar and Calimbas
was initially included in Rule 20 of the old Thus, the plaintiff is given the privilege to could still participate in the trial of the
rules, and which read as follows: present his evidence without objection case despite their absence in the pre-
from the defendant, the likelihood being trial conference. This gave Aguilar and
Sec. 2. A party who fails to appear at a that the court will decide in favor of the Calimbas a second chance to explain
pre-trial conference may be non-suited plaintiff, the defendant having forfeited their non-attendance and, yet,only
or considered as in default. the opportunity to rebut or present his respondent complied with the directive to
own evidence.35 The pre-trial cannot be file a position paper. The MCTC, in its
taken for granted. It is not a mere Order,39 dated April 27, 2011, properly
It was however amended in the 1997
technicality in court proceedings for it held that since the proceedings were
Revised Rules of Civil Procedure. Justice
serves a vital objective: the simplification, being heard ex parte, Aguilar and
Regalado, in his book REMEDIAL LAW
abbreviation and expedition of the trial, if Calimbas had no right to participate
COMPENDIUM, explained the rationale
not indeed its dispensation.36 More therein and to cross-examine the
for the deletion of the phrase "as in
significantly, the pre-trial has been witness.
default" in the amended provision, to wit:
institutionalized as the answer to the
clarion call for the speedy disposition of Thus, as it stands, the Court can only
1. This is a substantial reproduction of cases. Hailed as the most important consider the evidence on record offered
Section 2 of the former Rule 20 with the procedural innovation in Anglo-Saxon by respondent. The petitioners lost their
change that, instead of defendant being justice in the nineteenth century, it paved right to present their evidence during the
declared "as in default" by reason of his the way for a less cluttered trial and trial and, a fortiori, on appeal due to their
non appearance, this section now spells resolution of the case. It is, thus, disregard of the mandatory attendance in
out that the procedure will be to allow the mandatory for the trial court to conduct the pre-trial conference.
ex parte presentation of plaintiff’s pre-trial in civil cases in order to realize
evidence and the rendition of judgment the paramount objective of simplifying,
on the basis thereof. While actually the Substantive Issue
abbreviating and expediting trial.37
And on the merits of the case, the Court Liquour Galleria stating that a check, the every winning party is entitled to an
holds that there was indeed a contract of entries of which are in writing, could automatic grant of attorney's fees.44
loan between the petitioners and prove a loan transaction.42
respondent. The Court agrees with the WHEREFORE, the petition is
findings of fact of the MCTC and the There is no dispute that the signatures of PARTIALLY GRANTED.
RTC that a check was a sufficient the petitioners were present on both the
evidence of a loan transaction. The PNB checks and the cash disbursement In accord with the discourse on the
findings of fact of the trial court, its vouchers. The checks were also made substantive issue, the January 2, 2013
calibration of the testimonies of the payable to the order of the petitioners. decision of the Regional Trial Court,
witnesses and its assessment of the Hence, respondent can properly demand Branch 5, Dinalupihan, Bataan, is
probative weight thereof, as well as its that they pay the amounts borrowed. If AFFIRMED. The award of attorney's fees
conclusions anchored on the findings are the petitioners believe that there is some is, however, DELETED.
accorded high respect, if not conclusive other bogus scheme afoot, then they
effect.40 must institute a separate action against SO ORDERED.
the responsible personalities. Otherwise,
The case of Pua v. Spouses Lo Bun the Court can only rule on the evidence
Tiong41 discussed the weight of a check on record in the case at bench, applying
as an evidence of a loan: the appropriate laws and jurisprudence.

In Pacheco v. Court of Appeals, this As to the award of attorney's fees, the

Court has expressly recognized that a Court is of the view that the same must
check constitutes an evidence of be removed. Attorney's fees are in the
indebtedness and is a veritable proof of concept of actual or compensatory
an obligation. Hence, it can be used in damages allowed under the
lieu of and for the same purpose as a circumstances provided for in Article
promissory note. In fact, in the seminal 2208 of the Civil Code, and absent any
case of Lozano v. Martinez, We pointed evidence supporting its grant, the same
out that a check functions more than a must be deleted for lack of factual
promissory note since it not only basis.43In this case, the MCTC merely
contains an undertaking to pay an stated that respondent was constrained
amount of money but is an "order to file the present suit on account of the
addressed to a bank and partakes of a petitioners' obstinate failure to settle their
representation that the drawer has funds obligation. Without any other basis on
on deposit against which the check is record to support the award, such cannot
drawn, sufficient to ensure payment be upheld in favor of respondent. The
upon its presentation to the bank." This settled rule is that no premium should be
Court reiterated this rule in the relatively placed on the right to litigate and that not
recent Lim v. Mindanao Wines and