CONCRETE AGGREGATES CORPORATION, petitioner, vs. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, HON. PRISCILA S. AGANA, Regional Trial Court of Cebu City, Branch 24, and VIVIEN S. SORIGUEZ, respondents. G.R. No. 117574, January 2, 1997.
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Does Rule 26 of the Revised Rules of Court require a party to respond to a Request for Admission of matters raised in his pleadings? Will his failure to place under oath his denials in his response to the request be deemed an admission of the matters sought to be admitted?
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The Request for Admission of petitioner does not fall under Rule 26 of the Rules of Court. As we held in Po v. Court of Appeals, No. L-34341, August 22, 1988, and Briboneria v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 101682, December 14, 1992, Rule 26 as a mode of discovery contemplates of interrogatories that would clarify and tend to shed light on the truth or falsity of the allegations in a pleading. That is its primary function. It does not refer to a mere reiteration of what has already been alleged in the pleadings.
A cursory reading of petitioner's Request for Admission clearly shows that it contains the same material averments in his Answer to respondent's Complaint in the trial court. Petitioner merely recopied or reproduced in its Request for Admission its affirmative defenses and counterclaims alleged in its Answer. As we held in Bo v. CA, No. L-34341, August 22, 1988, petitioner's request constitutes an utter redundancy and a useless, pointless process which the respondent should not be subjected to. In the first place, what the petitioner seeks to be admitted by private respondent is the very subject matter of the complaint. In effect, petitioner would want private respondent to deny her allegations in her verified Complaint and admit the allegations in the Answer of petitioner (Manifestation and Reply to Request for Admission). Plainly, this is illogical if not preposterous. Respondent cannot be said to have admitted the averments in the Answer of petitioner just because she failed to have her response to the request placed under oath since these are the very matters she raises in her verified Complaint in the court below. X x x.
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Clearly, therefore, private respondent need not reply to the Request for Admission because her Complaint itself controverts the matters set forth in the Answer of petitioner which were merely reproduced in the request. In Uy Chao v. De la Rama Steamship, No. L-14495, 29 September 1962, we observed that the purpose of the rule governing requests for admission of facts and genuineness of documents is to expedite trial and to relieve parties of the costs of proving facts which will not be disputed on trial and the truth of which can be ascertained by reasonable inquiry.
In the aforesaid cases of Po and Briboneria we held that —
A party should not be compelled to admit matters of fact already admitted by his pleading and concerning which there is no issue, nor should he be required to make a second denial of those already denied in his answer to the complaint.
To this we add that a party should not be made to deny matters already averred in his complaint. At this point, it is necessary to emphasize what this Court laid down in the same Po and Briboneria cases —
A request for admission is not intended to merely reproduce or reiterate the allegations of the requesting party's pleading but should set forth relevant evidentiary matters of fact, or documents described in and exhibited with the request, whose purpose is to establish said party's cause of action or defense.
Since the answer of private respondent to the request is no longer required in the instant case, it therefore becomes unnecessary to dwell on the issue of the propriety of an answer that is not under oath. Even assuming that a response to the request is needed, private respondent had already substantially complied with the requirement of the law when she specifically denied the material allegations of the petitioner in her Manifestation and Reply to the Request for Admission. Although not under oath the reply to the request readily showed that the intent of private respondent was to deny the matters set forth in the Request for Admission. That the reply is not under oath is merely a formal and not a substantive defect. This procedural lapse may be dispensed with if the circumstances call for the dispensing of the rule in the interest of justice. While we commend petitioner's zeal in promoting faithful adherence to the rules of procedure we cannot ignore the well-entrenched doctrine that all pleadings should be liberally construed as to do substantial justice. [Sec. 6, Rule 7, Rules of Court]
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