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5) SPOUSES DE GUZMAN, JR.

v SPOUSES OCHOA
GR. NO. 169292, April 13, 2011

FACTS:
On March 25, 2002, respondent spouses Cesar Ochoa and Sylvia Ochoa, through respondent
Araceli Azores, ostensibly acting as attorney-in-fact, commenced in the Regional Trial Court (RTC)
in Pasig City an action seeking the annulment of contract of mortgage, foreclosure sale, certificate
of sale and damages. On May 22, 2002, the petitioners, as defendants in Civil Case No. 68896,
filed a motion to dismiss, alleging the sole ground that the complaint did not state a
cause of action. On December 16, 2002, the respondent RTC Judge denied petitioners' motion to
dismiss and at the same time set Civil Case No. 68896 for pre-trial conference, directing the
parties to submit their respective pre-trial briefs. On March 31, 2003, the petitioners filed a
second motion to dismiss, alleging that the certification against forum shopping attached to the
complaint was not executed by the principal parties (plaintiffs) in violation of Sec. 5, Rule 7, 1997
Rules of Civil Procedure, rendering the complaint fatally defective and thus dismissible. The
private respondents opposed the second motion to dismiss. RTC agreed with respondents.
Petitioners filed MR but RTC denied. Petitioner went to CA via a petition for certiorari. CA denied
for lack of merit, in its decision, it agreed with the RTC that following the omnibus motion rule,
the defects of the complaint pointed out by the petitioners were deemed waived when they
failed to raise it in their first motion to dismiss.

ISSUE:
Whether or not the petition should be dismissed?

HELD:
Yes. In the case at bench, the petitioners raised the ground of defective verification and
certification of forum shopping only when they filed their second motion to dismiss, despite the
fact that this ground was existent and available to them at the time of the filing of their first
motion to dismiss. Absent any justifiable reason to explain this fatal omission, the ground of
defective verification and certification of forum shopping was deemed waived and could no
longer be questioned by the petitioners in their second motion to dismiss. Verification of a
pleading is formal, not jurisdictional. Such requirement is simply a condition affecting the form
of the pleading, and non-compliance with which does not necessarily render the pleading fatally
defective. Verification is simply intended to secure an assurance that the allegations in the
pleading are true and correct and not the product of the imagination or a matter of speculation,
and that the pleading is filed in good faith. In fact, the court may order the correction of the
pleading if verification is lacking or act on the pleading although it is not verified, if the attending
circumstances are such that strict compliance with the rules may be dispensed with in order that
the ends of justice may thereby be served. Similarly, the rule requiring the submission of such
certification of non-forum shopping, although obligatory, is not jurisdictional. The certification
requirement is rooted in the principle that a party-litigant shall not be allowed to pursue
simultaneous remedies in different fora, as this practice is detrimental to an orderly judicial
procedure.