G. R. No. 144517 - December 13, 2004
ANTONIO S. QUINTANO, Petitioner, vs. NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION, MOLDEX GROUP OF COMPANIES, MOLDEX LAND, INC., MOLDEX REALTY MARKETING, INC., JACINTO T. UY and ROY VINUYA, Respondents.
D E C I S I O N
CALLEJO, SR., J.:
Before the Court is the petition for review on certiorari filed by Antonio S. Quintano, seeking the reversal of the Resolution1 dated February 29, 2000, of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 56988 dismissing his petition for certiorari filed therewith for "being deficient in form." Likewise sought to be reversed is the appellate courts Resolution dated August 15, 2000, denying the petitioners motion for reconsideration.
The case stemmed from the complaint for illegal dismissal filed by the petitioner against respondents Moldex Group of Companies (MGC), Moldex Realty Marketing, Inc. (MRMI), Jacinto T. Uy, and Roy Z. Vinuya, Chairman and President, respectively, of respondent MGC, which is the holding company of respondents MRMI and Moldex Land, Inc. (MLI).
In his position paper filed with the Labor Arbiter, the petitioner alleged that he joined respondent MLI as Senior Executive Vice-President sometime in June 1995. Prior thereto, he was the Executive Vice-President of Globo Realty, Inc., a competitor of MLI. Thereafter, he was promoted President of respondent MRMI and held the position until December 31, 1997.
According to the petitioner, he joined respondent MLI upon respondent Uys inducement of a superior compensation package that included a signing bonus in the amount of
However, on November 11, 1997, without any warning or explanation, respondents Uy and Vinuya enjoined him to resign from his position. He refused to do so. Nonetheless, during a company party held on November 13, 1997, to the petitioners consternation, respondent Uy made a unilateral announcement of the petitioners resignation from the company effective December 31, 1997.
In a Letter addressed to respondent Uy dated January 2, 1998, the petitioner expressed his objection to the formers actuation and demanded that the respondents honor the five-year duration of his employment contract. When the respondents failed to act on his letter, the petitioner filed the complaint for illegal dismissal.
For their part, the respondents averred that when the petitioner joined respondent MRMI, he requested for a cash advance in the amount of
Sometime in October 1997, respondent Uy learned that the petitioner, in contravention of his undertaking, mortgaged the condominium unit to Citytrust Bank. The Board of Directors considered this act of the petitioner as a serious breach of trust and confidence. Consequently, respondents Uy and Vinuya asked the petitioner to resign for loss of trust and confidence, dishonesty and commission of acts grossly prejudicial to the interest of the company. Respondent Uy advised the petitioner to resign so that he could have a graceful exit. The petitioner agreed to do so after the respondents gave in to the following demands: to be allowed as an independent broker to sell the companys properties; a higher rate of commission than that given to the other brokers; and that his resignation be made effective on December 31, 1997. Despite the assurances he gave to the respondents, the petitioner failed to submit his resignation letter.
On November 13, 1997, a despedida party was tendered for the petitioner at the Heritage Hotel in Pasay City. The atmosphere was jovial and he was even seen joking around with the other officers and executives present. Beginning November 14, 1997, the petitioner stopped reporting for work despite the fact that he was to be considered resigned only as of December 31, 1997. Thereafter, on January 3, 1998, respondent MGC received the petitioners letter demanding his reinstatement.
After the parties had filed their respective pleadings, the petitioner moved that a formal trial be conducted thereon. However, in the Order dated February 3, 1999, Labor Arbiter Edgardo M. Madriaga informed the parties that the case had been submitted for decision. Thereafter, in the Decision dated April 16, 1999, the Labor Arbiter rendered judgment dismissing the complaint for illegal dismissal.
The Labor Arbiter found that, in mortgaging condominium unit #2505 at the Wack-Wack Twin Towers to Citytrust Bank, the petitioner violated his contractual obligation to the respondents. This resulted in the respondents loss of trust and confidence in the petitioner. The Labor Arbiter, likewise, made the finding that, contrary to his protestation, the petitioner agreed to resign after he was able to get substantial concessions as a condition therefor. Moreover, after the petitioners resignation was announced on November 13, 1997, he just kept silent and filed his complaint only on January 12, 1998. According to the Labor Arbiter, had the announcement been unilateral and malicious as claimed by the petitioner, he would have protested and immediately filed his complaint.
The petitioner appealed the Labor Arbiters decision to the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC). However, in the Decision dated September 20, 1999, the NLRC dismissed the appeal. Affirming the findings and conclusions of the Labor Arbiter, the NLRC declared that the respondents did not dismiss the petitioner; rather, he voluntarily terminated his employment with the respondents after he had been asked to do so, in light of his breach of his contractual obligation to the respondents. According to the NLRC, the petitioners resignation was supported by substantial evidence consisting of the affidavits executed by the respondents witnesses. The NLRC, likewise, ruled that the Labor Arbiter acted within his discretion when he dispensed with the trial and instead, decided the case on the basis of the parties respective pleadings and position papers.
When the NLRC denied the motion for reconsideration of its decision, the petitioner elevated the case to the CA by way of a petition for certiorari. The petitioner appended to his petition xerox copies of the assailed Resolutions, certified by the Deputy Executive Director of the NLRC.
In the assailed Resolution dated February 29, 2000, the appellate court dismissed the petition, stating as follows:
The petitioner sought the reconsideration of the above resolution but the CA denied the motion in the assailed Resolution dated August 15, 2000, to wit:
The petitioner now comes to this Court and, in support of his petition, alleges that:
The petitioner asserts that the appellate court erred in dismissing its petition for certiorari merely because it appended to the said petition certified xerox copies of the assailed Resolution of the NLRC and not certified true copies thereof. The petitioner contends that there is no distinction between a xerox copy and a "true copy" of the assailed resolution, so long as the same are certified by an executive officer of the NLRC or his deputy. The submission of the certified xerox copies of the assailed resolution, the petitioner posits, is also compliance with the second paragraph of Section 1, Rule 65 of the Rules of Civil Procedure.
In their comment on the petition, the respondents assert that under Section 1, Rule 65, the petitioner was mandated to append to his petition certified true copies of the assailed Resolutions, and not certified xerox copies thereof. They aver that the Deputy Executive Director of the NLRC had no authority to certify xerox copies of the said resolution. They insist that mere xerox copies of the assailed resolutions may be certified only after a comparison with the original or duplicate original thereof, and that such fact must be stated in the certification. The respondents further note that the petitioner failed to append the following to his petition: a copy of his complaint before the Labor Arbiter; his motion for formal trial; his notice of appeal; and the decision of the Labor Arbiter. The respondents allege that the petitioner failed to give a valid justification for such failure.
We agree with the petitioner.
Rule 65, in relation to Rule 46 of the 1997 Rules on Civil Procedure governs the filing of petitions for certiorari, prohibition, mandamus, quo warranto and habeas corpus with the Court of Appeals. Section 3, Rule 46, of the Rules of Court reads in part:
The submission of the duplicate original or certified true copy of the judgment, order, resolution or ruling subject of a petition for certiorari is essential to determine whether the court, body or tribunal, which rendered the same, indeed, committed grave abuse of discretion.6 The provision states that either a legible duplicate original or certified true copy thereof shall be submitted. If what is submitted is a copy, then it is required that the same is certified by the proper officer of the court, tribunal, agency or office involved or his duly-authorized representative. The purpose for this requirement is not difficult to see. It is to assure that such copy is a faithful reproduction of the judgment, order, resolution or ruling subject of the petition.
In this case, the submission by the petitioner of copies of the assailed NLRC resolutions each bearing the stamp "certified xerox copy" instead of "certified true copy" is substantial compliance with the aforesaid requirement. Significantly, these copies were certified by Atty. Catalino R. Laderas, Deputy Executive Director of the NLRC Third Division, clearly a proper officer to make the said certification. Further, there is no dispute that these copies are faithful reproductions of the assailed NLRC resolutions.
Indeed, for all intents and purposes, a "certified xerox copy" is no different from a "certified true copy" of the original document. The operative word in the term "certified true copy" under Section 3, Rule 46 of the Rules of Court is "certified." The word means "made certain." It comes from the Latin word certificare meaning, to make certain. Thus, as long as the copy of the assailed judgment, order, resolution or ruling submitted to the court has been certified by the proper officer of the court, tribunal, agency or office involved or his duly-authorized representative and that the same is a faithful reproduction thereof, then the requirement of the law has been complied with. It is presumed that, before making the certification, the authorized representative had compared the xerox copy with the original and found the same a faithful reproduction thereof.
The appellate court also erred in dismissing the petition because of the petitioners failure to append to his petition a copy of his complaint against the respondents before the Labor Arbiter, his motion for formal hearing, the decision of the Labor Arbiter and his notice of appeal.
First. The material allegations of the complaint filed before the Labor Arbiter were summarized in the assailed resolution of the NLRC; hence, there was no need for the petitioner to append a copy of his complaint.
Second. Neither was there any need for the petitioner to append to his petition a copy of his motion for a formal hearing or the notice of appeal of the Labor Arbiters decision. It must be stressed that no issue pertaining to the said motion, or even the timeliness of the appeal, was raised in the CA.
Third. There was, likewise, no need for the petitioner to append a copy of the said decision of the Labor Arbiter, considering that the NLRC delved into and even affirmed, in toto, the said decision. The petitioner was, in effect, assailing the resolution of the NLRC affirming the decision of the Labor Arbiter in the CA.
Fourth. The Rules do not specify the precise documents, pleadings or parts of the records that should be appended to the petition other than the judgment, final order, or resolution being assailed. The Rules only state that such documents, pleadings or records should be relevant or pertinent to the assailed resolution, judgment or orders; as such, the initial determination of which pleading, document or parts of the records are relevant to the assailed order, resolution, or judgment, falls upon the petitioner.7 The CA will ultimately determine if the supporting documents are sufficient to even make out a prima facie case. If the CA was of the view that the petitioner should have submitted other pleadings, documents or portions of the records to enable it to determine whether the petition was sufficient in substance, it should have accorded the petitioner, in the interest of substantial justice, a chance to submit the same instead of dismissing the petition outright. Clearly, this is the better policy.
Citing Section 4(b),8 Rule 48 of the Rules of Court, the appellate court, likewise, justified the dismissal of the petition for certiorari for the petitioners failure to manifest his willingness to post a bond which would answer for whatever damages that may be caused to the respondents in the event that the ancillary relief prayed for is issued.
The Court agrees with the petitioner that his failure to manifest his willingness to post the said bond is not fatal. This omission would, at the most, only result in the denial of his application for a writ of preliminary injunction and/or temporary restraining order, not in the dismissal of his petition for certiorari.
Further, what the said provision actually requires is that for the grant of such injunctive relief, the applicant, unless exempted by the court, must file a bond executed to the party or person enjoined, in an amount to be fixed by the court. In this case, the CA did not act upon the petitioners application for injunctive relief. It did not require him to post such bond; neither did the CA determine the amount that he must post for the grant thereof. The appellate courts dismissal of the petition for certiorari on the ground that the petitioner failed to manifest his willingness to post the said bond is, thus, unwarranted.
It is well to remember that this Court, in not a few cases, has consistently held that cases should be determined on the merits, after full opportunity to all parties for ventilation of their causes and defense, rather than on technicality or some procedural imperfections.9 In so doing, the ends of justice would be better served.10 The dismissal of cases purely on technical grounds is frowned upon and the rules of procedure ought not to be applied in a very rigid, technical sense, for they are adopted to help secure, not override, substantial justice, and thereby defeat their very ends.11 Indeed, rules of procedure are mere tools designed to expedite the resolution of cases and other matters pending in court. A strict and rigid application of the rules that would result in technicalities that tend to frustrate rather than promote substantial justice must be avoided.12
In this case, the appellate court, in dismissing the petition before it solely on the ground that it was "deficient in form," put premium on technicalities at the expense of a just resolution of the case.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed Resolutions of the Court of Appeals are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The appellate court is directed to reinstate CA-G.R. SP No. 56988 in its docket.
Puno, (Chairman), Austria-Martinez, Tinga, and Chico-Nazario, JJ., concur.
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