CASE DIGEST: Capiral vs. Robles

G.R. No. 173628




The instant petition arose from a Complaint for Partition with Damages filed with the RTC of Malabon City by the respondents against the petitioner and five other persons, all surnamed Capiral, whom respondents claim to be their co-heirs.

On September 5, 2002, the petitioner filed a Motion to Dismiss on grounds that respondents' Complaint lacked cause of action or that the same is barred by prescription and laches. In their Opposition, the respondents contended that the property subject of the Complaint for Partition is covered by a Transfer Certificate of Title having been duly registered under the Torrens System and as such may not be acquired by prescription. They also argued that neither is the principle of laches applicable; instead, the doctrine of imprescriptibility of an action for partition should apply.

In response to this, the RTC found that it was necessary to set the subject motion for further hearing for the reception of evidence pursuant to Sec. 2, Rule 16 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. Said ruling was upheld by the Court of Appeals. To this the petitioner counters that there is nothing in Section 2, Rule 16 of the 1997 Rules of Court which requires a trial-type hearing for the resolution of a motion to dismiss. In effect, the petitioner contends that the RTCs ruling deferred the resolution of the Motion to Dismiss and violated Section 3, Rule 16 of the Rules of Court.


I. Whether the CA committed a clear and reversible error when it held that the trial-type hearing required by the RTC for the resolution of the Motion to Dismiss is in accord with Section 2, Rule 16 of the Rules of Court


Contrary to petitioners contention, insofar as hearings on a motion to dismiss are concerned, Section 2, Rule 16 of the Rules of Court sanctions trial-type proceedings in the sense that the parties are allowed to present evidence and argue their respective positions before the court.

In Rimbunan Hijau Group of Companies v. Oriental Wood Processing Corporation, this Court ruled that the issues raised in a motion to dismiss have to be determined in accordance with the evidence and facts presented, not on the basis of unsubstantiated allegations and that the courts could not afford to dismiss a litigant's complaint on the basis of half-baked conclusions with no evidence to show for it. To this end, Section 2, Rule 16 of the Rules of Court allows not only a hearing on the motion to dismiss, but also for the parties to submit their evidence on the questions of fact involved, which may be litigated extensively at the hearing or hearings on the motion. During the said hearings, the parties are allowed to submit their respective evidence, and even rebut the opposing parties' evidence.

In the present case, petitioner's ground in filing his Motion to Dismiss is that he has been openly, continuously and exclusively possessing the subject property in the concept of an owner for more than ten years and that he has explicitly repudiated his co-ownership of the subject property with his co-heirs. Evidence is quite obviously needed in this situation, for it is not to be expected that said ground, or any facts from which its existence may be inferred, will be found in the averments of the complaint. When such a ground is asserted in a motion to dismiss, the general rule governing evidence on motions applies. The rule is embodied in Section 7, Rule 133 of the Rules of Court which provides that "[w]hen a motion is based on facts not appearing of record the court may hear the matter on affidavits or depositions presented by the respective parties, but the court may direct that the matter be heard wholly or partly on oral testimony or depositions."

However, in the present case, there was no affidavit or any other documentary evidence attached to petitioner's Motion to Dismiss as proof of the averments contained therein. Thus, the RTC is justified in directing the conduct of further hearings to ascertain petitioner's factual allegations in its motion.

Neither may the trial court's act of setting the case for hearing in order to receive evidence be considered as a move to defer the resolution of petitioner's Motion to Dismiss. As discussed above, Section 2, Rule 16 is explicit in allowing the conduct of hearings and the reception of evidence on the questions of fact involved in the motion to dismiss.

Finally, contrary to petitioner's asseveration, what is prohibited by the second paragraph of Section 3, Rule 16 of the same Rules is the deferment until trial of the resolution of the motion to dismiss itself. Under the circumstances obtaining in the instant case, the assailed Orders of the RTC may not be construed as tantamount to deferring action on the motion to dismiss until trial is conducted.

The Petition is DENIED.