Respondent filed a complaint for replevin with the MTC against petitioner Alpine and Zenaida Lipata. The complaint alleges that Zenaida was respondent’s former neighbor. Pretending to help respondent in securing a Garage Franchise from the LTO, Zenaida took from her the original registration papers and the vehicle and mortgaged the with petitioner. The LTO showed respondent the Chattel Mortgage Contract bearing her forged signature. Forthwith, respondent informed Alpine about the spurious mortgage and demanded the release of her vehicle. Alpine promised to comply with her request on condition that Zenaida should first be charged criminally.
Respondent then caused the filing with the MTC complaints for falsification of private document and estafa against Zenaida. Eventually, a warrant of arrest was issued against her. Respondent informed Alpine about these developments, but the latter still refused to turn over the vehicle to her.
Instead of filing an answer to respondent’s complaint, Alpine submitted to the RTC a motion to dismiss on the ground that it is not a juridical person, hence, not a proper party in the case.
RTC denied Alpine’s motion to dismiss. Alpine then filed a motion for reconsideration, but it was denied. The RTC then directed respondent to file her amended complaint within ten (10) days. However, respondent filed her Amended Complaint with an accompanying Motion to Admit Amended Complaint two (2) days late. which the RTC admitted the amended complaint. Alpine filed a Motion to Expunge respondent’s motion to admit amended complaint on the ground that the latter motion was not accompanied by a notice of hearing.The RTC denied Alpine’s motion to expunge for lack of merit. Alpine moved for a reconsideration, but this was denied. Hence, this petition.
Whether the trial court erred in admitting respondent’s amended complaint.
No, Pleadings may be amended by adding or striking an allegation or the name of any party, or by correcting a mistake in the name of a party or a mistaken or inadequate allegation or description in any other respect, so that the actual merits of the controversy may speedily be determined, without regard to technicalities, and in the most expeditious and inexpensive manner. A party may amend his pleading once as a matter of right at any time before a responsive pleading is served or, in the case of a reply, at any time within ten (10) days after it is served.
A motion to dismiss is not an answer. Motion to dismiss is not a responsive pleading for purposes of Section 2, Rule 10.1 As no responsive pleading had been filed, respondent could amend her complaint as a matter of right. Considering that respondent has the right to amend her complaint, it is the correlative duty of the trial court to accept the amended complaint; otherwise, mandamus would lie against it. In other words, the trial court’s duty to admit the amended complaint was purely ministerial. In fact, respondent should not have filed a motion to admit her amended complaint. It has always been the policy of this Court to be liberal in allowing amendments to pleadings in order that the real controversies between or among the parties may be presented and cases be decided on the merits without delay.