This Petition for Certiorari
seeks the reversal of the Resolution 1 of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) 2 dated April 29, 1991 dismissing the appeal of the herein petitioner from the decision of Labor Arbiter Amado M. Solamo dated May 25, 1990 and the Resolution of the NLRC dated October 23, 1991 denying petitioner’s motion for reconsideration.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary
On September 18, 1989, petitioner filed a complaint against respondent Pepsi-Cola Products Philippines, Inc. (PEPSI) for constructive dismissal with the Sub-Regional Arbitration Branch (SRAB) No. X in Butuan City. The complaint included claims for reinstatement, backwages, moral damages and exemplary damages and was docketed as NLRC Case No. SRAB — 10-09-00549-89. 3
Based on the submissions of the parties, the Labor Arbiter culled the following factual antecedents:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"Complainant alleged that he has been employed as Butuan Plant Personnel Manager of the Pepsi Cola Bottling Company of the Philippines on 16 November 1981, was absorbed as such by the Pepsi Cola Distributors of the Philippines, Inc. on 25 March 1985, and was finally transferred to respondent Pepsi Cola Products Philippines, Inc. on 25 July 1989 with the last salary of P8,695.00 per month; that respondent PCPPI thru its Plant General Manager relieved complainant of his official function as the Plant Personnel Manager without any valid reason or legal basis and padlocked the office of the latter to prevent him from getting inside to discharge his duties and responsibilities as such; that complainant has been reporting to the plant daily without any work load or assignment and worse is the fact that he was subjected to a close security inspection during time in and out and close security surveillance while inside the plant premises and considered as nothing more than an ordinary worker before the eyes of any employee; that complainant was placed in a very embarrassing condition of employment that will unquestionably affect his well-being which may lead; separation from service especially so when the top management, both local and national was pressuring for his resignation contrary to the security of tenure guaranteed under the constitution; that complainant has been and is still suffering from sleepless nights, mental anguish, fright, serious anxiety, besmirched reputation, wounded feelings, moral shock and social humiliation.
Respondents in its answer alleged that respondent PCPPI commenced its existence and business operations only on 25 July 1989; that respondent PCPPI has a separate and distinct legal personality from Pepsi Cola Bottling Company of the Philippines, Inc. and Pepsi Cola Distributors of the Philippines; that complainant was legally separated from Pepsi Cola Distributors of the Philippines, Inc. and was correspondingly paid his separation pay and other benefits, after which respondent PCPPI offered him employment as Plant Personnel Manager of Butuan Plant; that complainant was not in any manner relieved of his official function as Plant Personnel Manager by respondent PCPPI or any of its responsible officials; that beginning September 2 to September 16, 1989, complainant had not been reporting to his work daily or regularly, without proper leave notification to the Plant General Manager; that worse, starting September 18, 1989, complainant absented himself from his work, and continuing thereafter again without leave notification whatsoever to the Plant Management; that in view of the irregular attendance and/or repeated absences of complainant in his work and considering that his personnel office is the repository of confidential and highly sensitive documents, the Plant Management deemed it proper and wise, as precautionary measure, to have his office properly secured; that the respondent made repeated demands upon complainant to report back to work, but complainant refused and failed to do so, insisting that he has already filed the instant case; that complainant’s absences for five (5) consecutive working days without proper notification constitutes grounds for dismissal for cause under existing company rules.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary
Further, respondents with strong vehemence, deny having pressured complainant to resign or having done any act tending to place him in an "embarrassing condition" as to lead to his "separation from service", neither have respondents violated his security of tenure and consequently, complainant has no legal or factual basis to claim constructive dismissal, praying for reinstatement with backwages and damages considering that the employer-employee relationship between complainant and respondent PCPPI is still subsisting." 4
On May 25, 1990, Labor Arbiter Amado M. Solamo rendered his decision 5 dismissing petitioner’s complaint but on account of equitable considerations ordered respondent PEPSI to pay petitioner financial assistance equivalent to one (1) month salary as follows:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"WHEREFORE, let this case be, as it is hereby DISMISSED for lack of merit.
However, on the ground of equity and considering the previous position of the complainant in respondent company, the latter is hereby ordered to pay the complainant financial assistance equivalent to his one (1) month salary.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary
SO ORDERED." 6
Notice of the above mentioned decision was received by petitioner through counsel of record, Attorney Patrick R. Battad, on June 5, 1990. On June 15, 1990, petitioner filed an appeal of the decision with the NLRC. 7
On August 13, 1990, petitioner filed a manifestation praying among others that he be considered as counsel of record himself in collaboration with Attorney Patrick Battad and that he henceforth be furnished with all subsequent notices, pleadings, orders, etc. incident to the appeal at his residence or address showed therein. 8
On April 29, 1991, the NLRC dismissed petitioner’s appeal on the ground that the decision of the Labor Arbiter was final and executory since the appeal of petitioner was filed beyond the ten (10) day period for perfecting an appeal. Moreover, the NLRC stated that the facts and evidence on record substantially supported the findings of the Labor Arbiter in the challenged decision thus:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"WHEREFORE, the appeal is Dismissed for having been filed out of time and the decision appealed from Affirmed.
SO ORDERED." 9
On October 23, 1991, the NLRC denied petitioner’s motion for reconsideration of the above order as follows:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"WHEREFORE, the instant motion is Denied for lack of merit. No further motion for reconsideration will be entertained.
SO ORDERED." 10
Hence this petition where petitioner assigns the following errors committed by the NLRC:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"1. the Honorable respondent FIFTH DIVISION, NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION, acted arbitrarily and in excess of jurisdiction and/or grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction when it held the questioned resolutions, ANNEXES "A" and "B" hereof, that petitioner’s appeal from the decision of the Labor Arbiter (ANNEX "M") was filed out of time and in precipitately making an entry of judgment (ANNEX "Q") in gross violation of petitioner’s constitutional right to due process; andchanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary
2. the Honorable respondent COMMISSION acted, likewise, in excess of jurisdiction and/or with grave abuse of discretion when it dismissed the appeal without deciding the same on its merits." 11
In support of his petition, petitioner maintains that the NLRC erred in dismissing his appeal from the Decision of the Labor Arbiter on the ground that he filed the same out of time. Petitioner claims that he was notified of the adverse decision of the Labor Arbiter on June 5, 1990 and that he filed his appeal on June 15, 1990 or within the ten (10) day period for perfecting an appeal. He asserts that the verification of his appeal, the Postal Money Order No. 2404511 in the amount of P100.00, the registry receipt (No. 23823) covering the mailing of the copy of the appeal to counsel for respondent, and the stamp of receipt by the SRAB X-Butuan City are all dated June 15, 1990. Even assuming that his appeal was filed on June 18, 1990 as found by the NLRC or thirteen days after petitioner’s counsel, Attorney Patrick Battad, was served a copy of the Labor Arbiter’s decision, petitioner contends that the running of the reglementary period begins to run from the date when petitioner or his counsel was served a copy of the decision, whichever is later as provided under paragraph (d), § 4, Rule XII of the New Rules of Procedure of the NLRC. 12 Since petitioner was not personally served with a copy of the decision of the Labor Arbiter, it is his contention that his right to due process was violated when the Labor Arbiter failed to notify him of the same.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary
Petitioner also claims that the NLRC likewise acted arbitrarily and in excess of jurisdiction and/or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction in making the Entry of Judgment without first personally serving a copy of its Resolution dated April 29, 1991 dismissing his appeal to him pursuant to the aforementioned NLRC Rule. He argues that he was entitled to notice of the Resolution not only since he was a party to the case but also because he entered his appearance as counsel for himself in his Manifestation and Reply to Respondent’s Opposition to Appeal. Petitioner insists that since the April 29, 1991 Resolution of the NLRC was never served on him, the same did not become final for the reglementary period only began to run when the petitioner received a copy of the Resolution on August 2, 1991. Thus, when petitioner filed his motion for reconsideration thereof on August 12, 1991, he argues that the same was properly and timely filed. Consequently, the Resolution of the NLRC dated October 23, 1991 denying his motion for reconsideration for having been filed out of time was also issued with grave abuse of discretion.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary
It is also petitioner’s position that since the NLRC erred in dismissing his appeal, this Court should now decide the following assigned errors he attributed to the Labor Arbiter in his appeal to the NLRC:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"I THERE ARE SERIOUS ERRORS IN THE FINDINGS OF FACTS WHICH WOULD CAUSE OR HAVE CAUSED GRAVE OR IRREPARABLE DAMAGE OR INJURY TO COMPLAINANT-APPELLANT.
II THERE IS PRIMA FACIE EVIDENCE OF ABUSE OF DISCRETION ON THE PART OF THE HONORABLE LABOR ARBITER.
III THE DECISION IS SECURED THROUGH HATRED AND/OR REVENGE WITH GROSS INEFFICIENCY AND IGNORANCE OF THE LAW." 13
Petitioner argues that the Labor Arbiter erred in totally disregarding the evidence and arguments presented by him. Petitioner claims that instead of meticulously and judiciously discussing the issues crucial to a proper determination of the case, the Labor Arbiter merely copied word for word a portion of the complaint and answer to constitute a brief statement of the facts thereof and merely copied in toto the arguments and discussions contained in the position paper of the respondents to constitute the conclusion of law of his decision in violation of § 15, Rule VII of the New Rules of Procedure of the NLRC. 14 Moreover, petitioner alleges that at the time Labor Arbiter Amado Solamo rendered his decision, he no longer had authority to do so inasmuch as he was already reassigned to SRAB No. XI and all cases, including the one at bar, pending in SRAB No. X were already transferred to Irving A. Petilla who assumed office as the new Labor Arbiter for the SRAB No. X by virtue of Administrative Order No. 04-02 series of 1990. Labor Arbiter Solamo therefore rendered the questioned decision without jurisdiction. Finally, petitioner contends that the decision of the Labor Arbiter was rendered to get even with him because in another case, 15 where petitioner was counsel of record for one party, the decision of Labor Arbiter Solamo was reversed by the NLRC.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary
The petition is unmeritorious.
The records reveal that petitioner through counsel received the decision of Labor Arbiter dismissing his complaint on June 5, 1990. Petitioner filed his appeal questioning said decision on June 15, 1990 as can be seen from the stamp of the SRAB No. X Butuan City indicating receipt thereof on the first page of the appeal contrary to the finding of the NLRC that the appeal was filed on June 18, 1990. 16 Although respondents assert that the appeal was filed on June 18, 1990, no evidence was adduced to support such claim. Consequently, the NLRC erred in dismissing petitioner’s appeal on the ground that the appeal was not timely filed.
Nevertheless, the petition should still be dismissed.
The records reveal that petitioner’s counsel received the Resolution of the NLRC dated April 29, 1991 dismissing his appeal on May 8, 1991 as evidenced by the delivery receipt thereof. 17 Petitioner filed his motion for reconsideration of said Resolution on August 12, 1991 or more than three months after receipt thereof by his counsel. 18 By that time, the Resolution of the NLRC dismissing his appeal had long become final and executory considering that petitioner’s motion for reconsideration was filed beyond the ten (10) day period allowed therefor under § 14, Rule VII of the New Rules of Procedure of the NLRC 19 which provides:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"SECTION 14. Motions for Reconsideration. — Motions for reconsideration of any order, resolution or decision of the Commission shall not be entertained except when based on palpable or patent errors, provided that the motion is under oath and filed within ten (10) calendar days from receipt of the order, resolution or decision, with proof of service that a copy of the same has been furnished, within the reglementary period, to the adverse party and provided further, that only one such motion from the same party shall be entertained." chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary
We cannot sustain petitioner’s insistence that the reglementary period to file his motion for reconsideration only began to run on the date he personally received a copy thereof or on August 2, 1991 since he was a party to the case and since he had entered his appearance thereto as counsel for and in behalf of himself. We do not subscribe to petitioner’s view that paragraph (d), § 4, Rule XII of the New Rules of Procedure of the NLRC requires that parties represented by counsel must also be served with notice of the decisions of the NLRC. The rule reads:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"He 20 shall serve all parties and counsels processes, notices of hearing, copies of decisions/orders issued by the Commission by mail or by personal service and immediately attach the returns thereof to the records."cralaw virtua1aw library
§ 4 of Rule XII of the New Rules of Procedure of the NLRC is entitled "Duties and Functions of the Executive Clerk/Deputy Executive Clerk" and enumerates the powers and duties of the Clerk/Deputy Executive Clerk of the NLRC. It does not prescribe the manner by which service of processes of the NLRC should be made. It is § 3, Rule 1 of the NLRC Rules of Procedure which provides the rule for service of notices and resolutions of the commission. It states that for the purposes of computing the period of appeal, the same shall be counted from receipt of the decision, award or order by the counsel of record of the party. 21 Thus, in UERM Employees Union-FFW v. Minister of Labor and Employment, 22 this Court ruled that when a party is represented by counsel, notices should be made upon the counsel of record at his given address, to which notices of all kinds emanating from the court should be sent. 23 Consequently, petitioner is considered to have received notice of the NLRC Resolution dated April 29, 1991 on May 8, 1991, the date when his representative and counsel, Attorney Battad, was served notice thereof and not on August 12, 1991 or the date when petitioner actually learned of the decision. Attorney Battad’s declaration that his secretary received the resolution of the NLRC while he was out, of town attending to his ailing father does not justify his failure to inform his client of the decision. Attorney Battad’s father died on July 24, 1991 or more than two months after his secretary received the notice of the NLRC resolution on May 8, 1991. 24 This Court has consistently held that the failure of a party’s counsel to notify him on time of the adverse judgment to enable him to appeal therefrom is negligence, which is not excusable. 25 Notice sent to counsel of record is binding on the client and is not a ground for setting aside a judgment valid and regular on its face. 26 We quote with approval the NLRC’s ratiocination on this matter as follows:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"Complainant offers in evidence the affidavit of counsel Patrick Battad who admits having received the resolution of the Commission of April 29, 1991 through the latter’s law office on May 8, 1991. Counsel Battad further declares that the said resolution was received by her Secretary while the former was out of town and only returned on May 9, 1991; that Imelda Yecyec, the Secretary of counsel Battad, had not reported to office since May 9, 1991; and that counsel only learned of the resolution of the Commission after having received copy of the entry of judgment in this case.
We find the declaration of counsel Battad not constituting excusable negligence. The contention of counsel that the resolution served upon the law office of the former was inadvertently filed with his office cabinet by his Secretary and for which reason said counsel failed to take note of the resolution in question is too difficult to believe. Any law practitioner for that matter is supposed to have a system in handling documents more specially legal processes and notices. It is the duty of every lawyer to adopt a system for prompt receipt of all judicial notices. (See Republic v. Arro, (G.R. No. 48241, June 11, 1987, 150 SCRA 625).chanrob1es virtua1 1aw library
Complainant’s counsel is not being candid. He committed a mistake not only once but twice. First, he failed to seasonably appeal the decision of the Arbiter below. Secondly, he failed to take appropriate legal steps upon receipt of the resolution of the Commission.
Verily, the admitted delay in filing the instant motion does not constitute excusable negligence. Besides, the decision of the Arbiter below had likewise become long final and executory for failure of appellant to perfect its appeal in accordance with law and the Rules of Procedure of this Commission.
Well recognized is the rule that the negligence of counsel binds his client. (Que v. Court of Appeals, 101 SCRA 13 (1980). Moreover, a client is supposed to retain the counsel of his choice. He is therefore expected to bear the consequences of his faulty option and that notice to counsel is notice to client. If the negligence of counsel has caused serious prejudice to his client, the latter may take the necessary legal steps against the former. (See Villa Rhecor Bus v. NLRC, G.R. No. 78936, January 7, 1988)." 27
We also cannot sustain petitioner’s position that he was entitled to personal notice of the April 29, 1991 Resolution of the NLRC since he entered his appearance as counsel for himself in his Manifestation and Reply to Respondent’s Opposition to Appeal. It is undeniable that at that time, petitioner was still represented by counsel, Attorney Patrick Battad, who never filed a formal withdrawal of his appearance with the NLRC. In fact, in his manifestation, petitioner stated that "he be considered as counsel on record himself in collaboration with Atty. Patrick R. Battad . . .." 28 In the absence of a specific rule in the NLRC Rules of Procedure, which provides the manner by which service of notices should be made to a party who is represented by more than one counsel, the provisions of the Rules of Court shall be applied in a suppletory character. 29 § 2 of Rule 13 of the Rules of Court states that:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"SECTION 2. Papers to be filed and served. — Every order required by its terms to be served, every pleading subsequent to the complaint, every written motion other than one which may be heard ex parte, and every written notice, appearance, demand, offer of judgment or similar papers shall be filed with the court, and served on the parties affected thereby. If any of such parties has appeared by an attorney or attorneys, service upon him shall be made upon his attorneys or one of them, unless service upon the party himself is ordered by the court. Where one attorney appears for several parties, he shall only be entitled to one copy of any paper served upon him by the opposite side." (Emphasis supplied
)chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary
Consequently, the NLRC committed no reversible error in dismissing petitioner’s motion for reconsideration for being filed out of time for the reason that service upon one of petitioner’s counsels of record, in this case Attorney Battad, was sufficient notice of the April 29, 1991 Resolution of the NLRC even if petitioner himself only received notice of the Resolution on August 2, 1991.
In view of the foregoing, this Court will no longer decide the other substantive issues presented by petitioner. However, since the petitioner has placed in issue the validity of the Decision of Labor Arbiter Solamo, we take the opportunity to state that the authority of Labor Arbiter Solamo to decide the case is unquestionable considering that the Solicitor General’s explanation that despite the reorganization of the NLRC and Administrative Order No. 04-02 transferring Labor Arbiter Solamo from SRAB No. X to SRAB No. XI, the latter failed to report immediately to his new post since it was only on the last week of May 1990 when Labor Arbiter Solamo received a telegram from Executive Clerk Raul de Leon directing him to report to SRAB No. XI and was thus on temporary detail at SRAB No. X, is uncontroverted by petitioner.
ACCORDINGLY, the instant petition is hereby DISMISSED.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary
Melo, Vitug, Panganiban and Sandoval-Gutierrez, JJ.
1. Rollo, 33.
2. Fifth Division composed of the ponente, Presiding Commissioner Musib M. Buat and the members, Comm. Oscar N. Abella and Comm. Leon G. Gonzaga, Jr. concurring.
3. Rollo, 45-46.
4. Rollo, 146-149.
5. Rollo, 146-154.
6. Decision, 9, Rollo, 154.
7. Rollo, 155-209.
8. MANIFESTATION AND REPLY TO RESPONDENT’S OPPOSITION TO APPEAL" ; Rollo, 226-230.
9. NLRC Resolution, 3; Rollo, 35.
10. NLRC Resolution dated October 23, 1991, 3; Rollo, 38.
11. Petition, 6-7; Rollo, 13-14.
12. "He shall serve all parties and counsels processes, notices of hearings, copies of decisions/orders issued by the Commission by mail or by personal service and immediately attach the returns thereof to the records."cralaw virtua1aw library
13. Decision, 16, 18, 20.
14. "The decision of the Labor Arbiter shall be clear and concise and shall include a brief statement of the (a) facts of the case; (b) issues involved; (c) applicable law or rules; (d) conclusions and reasons therefor; and (e) specific remedy or relief granted."cralaw virtua1aw library
15. NLRC Case No. 10-01-00043-38.
16. See Rollo, 155.
17. See NLRC Resolution dated October 23, 1991, 2; Rollo, 37.
18. Rollo, 232.
19. Promulgated on August 31, 1990.
20. Executive Clerk/Deputy Executive Clerk of the NLRC.
21. Last paragraph, § 5 (a), Rule III, NLRC Rules of Procedure.
22. 177 SCRA 165.
23. Ibid., 176.
24. See Manifestation and Reply To Respondents’ Opposition to Appeal; Rollo, 226.
25. Mercury Drug Corporation v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 138571, July 13, 2000, 11.
27. NLRC Resolution dated October 23, 1991, 2-3; Rollo, 37-38.
28. Rollo, 226-227.
29. § 3, Rule 1, NLRC Rules of Procedure.