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[ GR No. L-12357, Dec 29, 1959 ]



106 Phil. 803

[ G. R. No. L-12357, December 29, 1959 ]




Jose G. de Castro  appeals from  a  judgment of the Court of  First Instance  of  Manila ordering him  to pay the plaintiff the sum "of P30,547.71, with legal interest thereon  from the  filing of the complaint until  fully paid, plus 10%  of the total  amount due as attorney's fees and costs of  collection, and  the costs."   (Civil No.  27545.)   In his notice of appeal,  he  states that he "appeals from the decision rendered on  January 2, 1957, a copy of  which was received on January 11 of the same  year,  to the  Hon. Supreme Court of the Philippines  as the issues involved herein are purely questions of law   *   *  *."

The facts, as found by the trial court, are
* *  * *  That sometime on  June  7,  1949,  the  defendant  bought from  the  PRATRA, plaintiff's predecessor-in-interest, two  International Model  TD-18 Tractors with  dozer,  serial  Nos. 6928 and 5642, for the total sum of P38,000.00; that  plaintiff's  evidence in support of this  transaction consists of a copy of a  letter  (Exhibit B), dated June  8, 1949, of the General Manager of the PRATRA, authorizing E. S. Baltao  & Company  to deliver to defendant  the aforesaid tractors; that defendant made  a down payment of P15,200.00 an the  said purchase, thereby leaving  a balance of P22,800.00; that to  secure  payment  of  this  latter  amount,  defendant executed  a promissory note, dated  June  7, 1949,  for  the  said amount  of P22,800.00  (Exhibit  C);  that as  defendant failed to comply with the  terms and conditions  of the said  promissory note,  plaintiff's predecessor-in-interest sent to defendant  demand  letters  dated May 2, 1953, June 14, 1954 and  February 12, 1955  (Exhibits D, D-2 and D-4, respectively);  that  defendant's  wife Miguela  B.  de Castro, answered the said letters on May 15,  1953, June  25,  1954  and July 18,  1955  (Exhibits  D-1, D-3 and D-5) ;  that  in the exhibits just mentioned, said defendant's indebtedness is admitted and extensions of  time were asked therein to  pay  the  same on the  ground  of alleged financial reverses;  that  as of  July 11, 1956, the  principal of  defendant's indebtedness was P22,800.00 and  the  stipulated interest  thereon was P11,227.71 or a total  of P34,027.71;  that of the said amount,  defendant has only paid  P3,480.00; which was applied to the payment of interest, thus leaving  an outstanding balance  in the amount of P30.547.71 as of July  11, 1956 (Exhibit A),  and that under  the  promissory note,  Exhibit C, in case  of default  in the payment of  the said principal  and interest,  defendant shall pay to plaintiff the additional sum of 10% of the total amount due  as attorney's fees  and costs  of collection.

After plaintiff presented its evidence above summarized on July 11, 1956, it rested its case, and this  Court re-set the continuation of the  trial  on August  10,  1956 to  afford the  defendant an opportunity to  present his evidence.  On this latter date, defendant failed  to appear  when  the case  was  called for  trial,   so  this Court   considered the  case  submitted  for   decision on  plaintiffs evidence.  However, on subsequent motion of  counsel  for defendant to set  aside  the said order of this  Court,  an  the ground that he is trying to  settle this  case amicably  with plaintiff,  which motion was opposed"  by counsel for plaintiff, this Court, on  August  27, 1956, gave  defendant  a  period of twenty  days from notice  to inform  this  Court  of the status of  his  alleged  negotiation with plaintiff for the amicable settlement  of this case,  failing which this Court  will consider  the  case submitted for decision  an plaintiff's evidence.  On  September  17,  1956,  counsel  for  defendant filed  a manisfestation  that  the  said  negotiation  was  still going  on. On October 22,  1956, this Court issued another order  giving the parties five  days from  notice to  state whether or not  the amicable settlement of the  case would  go through.   On October  27,  1956, counsel for defendant filed another manifestation to the effect that he expects the amicable  agreement to materialize,  but on October 29, 1956, counsel for plaintiff  also  filed  a manifestation to the  effect that defendant's offer or settlement could not be accepted by plaintiff because  said defendant  was not  even able to make partial payment  of his indebtedness, so counsel for  plaintiff prays  that this case be decided on plaintiff's evidence.  On  November  7, 1956, counsel for defendant filed a motion  asking  that  the parties be given  further  opportunity to compromise the case, and on  November 10, 1956, this Court granted them twenty days for that purpose. On December 5, 1956, counsel  for  defendant asked for  another period of time to submit  the said  compromise  agreement, but in view of the fact that the said motion does not bear the conformity of counsel for plaintiff,  and  the further fact that his case has been dragging on  for an unreasonable period of time, the said motion was denied and the case was considered submitted for decision upon plaintiff's evidence, hence  this decision.
The Philippine Relief and Trade Rehabilitation Administration (PRATRA)  was  dissolved on 3  October 1950  and its "personnel, records, properties, equipment, assets, rights, choses in action, obligations, liabilities, and contracts were transferred to, vested in and assumed by the Price Stabilization Croporation  (PRISCO).[1]   The latter was dissolved on 17 June  1955 and  its "personnel,  records, cash,  such needed equipment, rights and contracts  *  *  * involving real estate, fixed assets  and stock in trade," were transferred to the National Marketing Corporation  (NAMARCO).[2]

On 28 January 1957 the appellant filed a motion for new trial  in the lower court on the ground that the judgment was rendered  by mistake because  he  was  deprived  of the opportunity  to present  his evidence;  and  that  he and his counsel failed to arrive in Court  on time in the morning of 10 August 1956, the  day set  for the  presentation of his evidence, because  of heavy traffic  on the way from Quezon City, where he resides,  to Manila.  As no  affidavit of merit was  attached to the motion for new trial, as provided for in sections 1 and 2 of Rule 37, the motion was correctly denied.

The Court has afforded  the appellant  the opportunity to present  evidence in his behalf.  On  27 August 1956, the Court,  upon motion  of the  appellant, and over  the objection of the appellee, set aside its verbal order of 10 August; considered the case submitted for decision on the basis of the appellee's evidence alone; and granted the appellant  twenty days  from receipt  of notice to  inform the Court of the status of his alleged negotiation with the appellee for an amicable settlement of the  case.  On 17 September the appellant filed a manifestation informing the Court  that he was  awaiting the favorable  reply  of the appellee to his proposals for amicable  settlement of the case.  On 22 October  the Court entered an order directing the parties to state within  five days from receipt of notice  whether or  not the  proposed amicable settlement would  materialize so that it could  take the proper action to terminate the  case.  On  27 October the appellant filed a  manifestation  informing  the Court  that  the  proposed amicable settlement was  still under negotiation  and consideration by the appellee.   On 29 October the appellee informed  the  Court that its Board of  Directors had  rejected  the appellant's offer  of amicable settlement because its terms  were unacceptable and prayed that judgment be rendered  on the  basis of the evidence it has  presented. According to the Court, on  7 November the appellant filed a  motion praying that the parties be granted  further opportunity to settle the case amicably and on 10 November it granted  them twenty days  for that purpose.  On 5 December the  appellant filed a  motion praying that the period of twenty days set  by the Court for  the  parties to settle the case amicably  be extended to January 1957, because the amended proposal he had  submitted was still under  consideration by the  appellee, and that  as evidence of his  sincerity to settle the case amicably, he had offered and the manager of the appellee  had  accepted payment of P2,000 pending acceptance and consideration of his offer.  On  6  December  the Court  denied the appellant's motion for extension of the period  to submit a compromise agreement because it  did not  bear the  consent of the appellee and considered the  case  submitted for decision upon  the evidence already  presented.   On 2 January 1957 the Court rendered judgment which is now the subject of this appeal. It is not, therefore, correct  to say  that the  appellee had been deprived of  his day in court.

Furthermore,  in his answer to the appellee's complaint, he merely alleged that "he has no knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth  of the matters contained in paragraphs 3, 4, 5 and 6 so much so that  he denies specifically said allegations."   A denial  is not specific simply because it is so qualified.(1)  Material averments  in a complaint, other than those as to the amount of damage, are deemed admitted  when  not specifically denied.(2)  The court may render judgment  upon the pleadings if material averments in the complaint are admitted.(3)

The judgment  appealed from  is affirmed,  with costs against the appellant.

Paras,  C. J., Bautista Angelo,  Labrador, Concepcion, Reyes, J. B. L., Endencia, Barrera, and Gutierrez  David, JJ., concur.

[1] Executive Order No. 350, series of 1950, 46 Off. Gaz., 4660-4664.

[2] Section 18, Republic Act No. 1345.

(1) Sections 6 and 7, Rule 9; El Hogar Filipino vs. Santos Investments. Inc., 74 Phil., 79; Baetamo vs. Amador, 74 Phil., 735; Dacanay vs. Lucero, 76 Phil., 139; Lagrimas vs. Lagrimas, 95 Phil., 113.

(2) Section 8, Rule 9.

(3) Section 10, Rule 35;  Baetamo  vs.  Amador, supra;  Lichauco vs. Guash, 76 Phil., 5; Lati  vs. Valmores, G. R. No. L-6877, 30 March 1954.