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Ong vs. Mazo Case Digest


The time-honored cry of fishing expedition can no longer provide a reason to prevent a party from inquiring into the facts underlying the opposing party's case through the discovery procedures. 

● The rationale behind the recognition accorded the modes of discovery is that they enable a party to discover the evidence of the adverse party and thus facilitate an amicable settlement or expedite the trial of the case.

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Facts: 

Respondents Lanuevo and Tomilloso filed a complaint for damages against petitioner Ong before the RTC of Guiuan, Eastern Samar. The complaint arose from a vehicular accident whereby a bus owned by petitioner and driven by Caramoan allegedly bumped a jeep owned and driven by Lanuevo, with Tomilloso as her passenger at the time.

After she filed her Answer, petitioner served written interrogatories upon respondents. She later filed a motion to direct respondents to answer the interrogatories. RTC denied the motion upon the ground that such constituted a “fishing expedition” which would be more properly ventilated in a pre-trial conference. Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration which was denied.


Issue:

Whether or not the trial court erred in denying the motion.


Held:

Yes. This Court has long espoused the policy of encouraging the availment of the various modes or instruments of discovery as embodied in Rules 24 to 29 of the Revised Rules of Court. Thus, in Republic v. Sandiganbayan, it held:

. . . Indeed it is the purpose and policy of the law that the parties before the trial if not indeed even before the pre-trial should discover or inform themselves of all the facts relevant to the action, not only those known to them individually, but also those known to their adversaries; in other words, the desideratum is that civil trials should not be carried on in the dark; and the Rules of Court make this ideal possible through the deposition-discovery mechanism set forth in Rules 24 to 29.

The thrust of the Rules is to even make the availment of the modes of discovery, depositions, interrogatories, and requests for admissions without much court intervention since leave of court is not necessary to put into motion such modes after an answer to the complaint has been served. The rationale behind the recognition accorded the modes of discovery is that they enable a party to discover the evidence of the adverse party and thus facilitate an amicable settlement or expedite the trial of the case.

Thus, to deny a party the liberty to have his written interrogatories answered by his opponent, as what the trial court did, on the premise that the interrogatories were a fishing expedition, is to disregard the categorical pronouncement in aforementioned case of Republic vs. Sandiganbayan that the time-honored cry of fishing expedition can no longer provide a reason to prevent a party from inquiring into the facts underlying the opposing party's case through the discovery procedures. (Ong vs. Mazo, G.R. No. 145542. June 4, 2004)

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