G.R. No. 179786 : July 24, 2013

FACTS: Josielene filed before the RTC a petition for the declaration of nullity of her marriage to Johnny, the dissolution of their conjugal partnership of gains, and the award of custody of their children to her. During the pre-trial conference, Josielene pre-marked the Philhealth Claim Form that Johnny attached to his answer as proof that he was forcibly confined at the rehabilitation unit of a hospital. Following upon this point, Josielene filed with the RTC a request for the issuance of a subpoena duces tecum addressed to Medical City, covering Johnny’s medical records when he was there confined. The request was accompanied by a  motion to “be allowed to submit in evidence” the records sought by subpoena duces tecum. Johny opposed the motion, arguing that the medical records were covered by physician-patient relationship. The RTC denied Josielene’s motion. On appeal, the CA also denied Josielene’s petition ruling that if courts were to allow the production of medical records, then patients would be left with no assurance that whatever relevant disclosures they may have made to their physicians would be kept confidential.

ISSUE: Whether or not CA erred in ruling that the trial court correctly denied the issuance of a subpoena duces tecum? No.

HELD: NO. The Supreme Court held that is possible to treat Josielene’s motion for the issuance of a subpoena duces tecum covering the hospital records as a motion for production of documents, a discovery procedure available to a litigant prior to trial under Section 1, Rule 27 of the Rules of Civil procedure: Upon motion of any party showing good cause therefor, the court in which an action is pending may (a) order any party to produce and permit the inspection and copying or photographing, by or on behalf of the moving party, of any designated documents, papers, books, accounts, letters, photographs, objects or tangible things, not privileged, which constitute or contain evidence material to any matter involved in the action and which are in his possession, custody or control; or (b) order any party to permit entry upon designated land or other property in his possession or control for the purpose of inspecting, measuring, surveying, or photographing the property or any designated relevant object or operation thereon. The order shall specify the time, place and manner of making the inspection and taking copies and photographs, and may prescribe such terms and conditions as are just. But the above right to compel the production of documents has a limitation: the documents to be disclosed are “not privileged.” IN THIS CASE, To allow, however, the disclosure during discovery procedure of the hospital records—the results of tests that the physician ordered, the diagnosis of the patient’s illness, and the advice or treatment he gave him—would be to allow access to evidence that is inadmissible without the patient’s consent. Physician memorializes all these information in the patient’s records. Disclosing them would be the equivalent of compelling the physician to testify on privileged matters he gained while dealing with the patient, without the latter’s prior consent.


G.R. No. 190818 : June 5, 2013

FACTS: Respondent Liberty M. Toledo, as Treasurer of respondent City of Manila, assessed petitioners for their fourth quarter local business taxes. Consequently, petitioners paid the total assessed amount of P5,104,281.26 under protest. Petitioners informed the Office of the City Treasurer of Manila of the nature of the foregoing payment, assailing as well the unconstitutionality of Section 21 of the Manila Revenue Code. Petitioners’ protest was however denied. Petitioners then filed a case with the Regional Trial Court of Manila against respondents, reiterating their claim that Section 21 of the Manila Revenue Code is null and void. Accordingly, they sought the refund of the amount of local business taxes they previously paid. In their Motion to Dismiss and Answer, respondents averred that petitioners failed to file any written claim for tax refund or credit with the Office of the City Treasurer of Manila. Thereafter, petitioners sent respondents a Request for Admissions & Interrogatories which requested the admission of the fact that the former filed a written protest with the latter. Respondents did not respond to the said Request for Admission. The Regional Trial Court held that respondents’ assessment of local business tax under Section 21 of the Manila Revenue Code is null and void thereby, warranting the issuance of a tax refund, or tax credit in the alternative. On appeal, the Court of Tax Appeals reversed and set aside the RTC’s ruling and in effect, denied petitioners’ request for tax refund/credit. It held that petitioners failed to contest the denial of their protest before a court of competent jurisdiction within the period provided for under Section 195 of the Local Government Code, and thus, the assessment became conclusive and unappealable.

ISSUE: Whether or not the Court of Tax Appeals correctly gave due course to the respondents’ Petition for Review despite failure to comply with Rule 26? YES.

HELD: Yes. The scope of a request for admission and a party’s failure to comply with the same are governed by Rule 26 of the Rules of Court. Objections to any request for admission shall be submitted to the court by the party requested within the period for and prior to the filing of his sworn statement as contemplated in the preceding paragraph and his compliance therewith shall be deferred until such objections are resolved, which resolution shall be made as early as practicable. Once a party serves a request for admission regarding the truth of any material and relevant matter of fact, the party to whom such request is served is given a period of fifteen (15) days within which to file a sworn statement answering the same. Should the latter fail to file and serve such answer, each of the matters of which admission is requested shall be deemed admitted. The exception to this rule is when the party to whom such request for admission is served had already controverted the matters subject of such request in an earlier pleading. Otherwise stated, if the matters in a request for admission have already been admitted or denied in previous pleadings by the requested party, the latter cannot be compelled to admit or deny them anew, otherwise, it constitutes an utter redundancy and will be a useless, pointless process which petitioner should not be subjected to. In turn, the requesting party cannot reasonably expect a response to the request and thereafter, assume or even demand the application of the implied admission rule in Section 2, Rule 26. Records show that petitioners filed their Request for Admission with the RTC and also served the same on respondents, requesting that the fact that they filed a written claim for refund with the City Treasurer of Manila be admitted. Respondents, however, did not — and in fact, need not – reply to the same considering that they have already stated in their Motion to Dismiss and Answer that petitioners failed to file any written claim for tax refund or credit. In this regard, respondents are not deemed to have admitted the truth and veracity of petitioners’ requested fact.