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Republic vs. Andres Africa Case Digest


A party may amend his pleading once as a matter of right at any time before a responsive pleading is served, and thereafter, only upon leave of court.

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Facts:

The Presidential Commission on Good Government filed a complaint against private respondents for the recovery of shares of stock. The stocks, alleged to be held in trust for former President Ferdinand E. Marcos and Mrs. Imelda R. Marcos, are registered under the names of private respondents. 

All the respondents answered the Complaint, except for Africa, Dinglasan, Romero, and Songco, there being no valid service of summons upon them. Unfortunately, Africa and Songco died. The Republic filed a Motion for Leave to File Amended Complaint to implead the heirs of Africa and Songco, and to properly summon Dinglasan and Romero. The Sandiganbayan denied the motion for failure to properly set it for hearing. Another Motion for Leave to File Amended Complaint was filed, this time setting the motion for hearing. The same however was denied.

Hence, the Republic filed a petition for certiorari and prohibition.


Issue:

Did the Sandiganbayan err in denying the motion for leave to file amended complaint?


Held: 

Yes. The case falls under Section 2  (amendments as a matter of right) and not under Sec. 3 (amendments by leave of court), Rule 10 of the Rules of Court.

Under Section 2 of Rule 10, a party may amend his pleading once as a matter of right at any time before a responsive pleading is served, and thereafter, only upon leave of court. It is true that when the Republic filed its Motion for Leave to File Amended Complaint most of the private respondents had already filed their respective answers. This does not bar the Republic from amending its original Complaint once, however, as a matter of right, against Africa, Dinglasan, Romero, and Songco, the non-answering private respondents.

As the proposed amendments pertain only to the non-answering private respondents, they may still be made as a matter of right. Being a matter of right, its exercise does not depend upon the discretion or liberality of the Sandiganbayan. In fine, the Sandiganbayan gravely abused its discretion when it denied the Republic‘s Motion for Leave to File Amended Complaint. (Republic vs. Andres Africa, G.R. No. 172315, August 28, 2007) 

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