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BAR REVIEWER ON LABOR LAW 2014 (2nd) Edition - By Prof. Joselito Guianan Chan


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[G.R. No. 140024. June 18, 2003]

KOWLOON HOUSE vs. CA

THIRD DIVISION

Gentlemen:

Quoted hereunder, for your information is a resolution of this Court dated JUN 18 2003.

G.R. No. 140024 (em>Kowloon House/Willy Ng vs. Hon. Court of Appeals, 4th Division, National Labor Relations Commission and Rolando Cruz.)

At bar is a petition for certiorari assailing the Resolutions dated May 4, 1999[1]cralaw and July 12, 1999[2]cralaw of the Court of Appeals outrightly dismissing the petition for certiorari filed by Kowloon House, Inc. and Willie Ng for being insufficient in form and substance.

The controversy herein stemmed from a complaint for payment of retirement as well as unused sick and vacation leave benefits filed with the Labor Arbiter by Rolando Cruz, private respondent, against Kowloon House, Inc. and William "Willie" Ng, petitioners, docketed as NLRC NCR Case No. 00-03-02340-97.

Respondent, in his complaint, alleged that sometime in 1975, he was employed as a waiter by petitioner Kowloon House, Inc. In March, 1997, having reached the age of fifty (50) years and after rendering twenty-one (21) years of continuous and uninterrupted service in petitioner company, he opted to avail of the optional retirement benefits under Section 1, Article XV of the Collective Bargaining Agreement which provides that an employee who has rendered seventeen (17) years of continuous and uninterrupted service is entitled to avail of the optional retirement benefits equivalent to fifteen (15) days salary for every year of service. Thus, respondent is entitled to P66,501.75 as optional retirement benefits exclusive of the amount representing the commutation of his unused sick and vacation leaves.

On September 16, 1997, the Labor Arbiter rendered a decision finding the petitioner company liable to pay respondent the amount of P66,501.75 representing his optional retirement benefits as well as an unspecified amount corresponding to his vacation and sick leave benefits. The dispositive portion of the decision reads:

"CONFORMABLY WITH THE FOREGOING, judgment is hereby rendered finding the respondent Kowloon House, Inc. liable to complainant as follows:

a)             P66,501.75 as retirement benefits;

b)             unspecified vacation leave and sick leave benefits.

"SO ORDERED."

Unsatisfied the petitioners, on October 24,1997, filed an appeal with the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC).

In a resolution dated June 16, 1998, the NLRC dismissed petitioners' appeal for their failure to post a bond within the reglementary period. Their motion for reconsideration was likewise dismissed.

On April 26, 1999, petitioners filed with the Court of Appeals a petition for certiorari alleging that in dismissing their appeal, the NLRC committed grave abuse of discretion. However, the Appellate Court outrightly dismissed the petition for being insufficient in form and substance, holding that:

"(a)The petition is belatedly filed. Petitioner admits having received the June 16, 1998 assailed NLRC Resolution on July 22, 1998. Without stating when petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration with the NLRC (which is equally a ground for dismissal for non-statement of a material date), a copy of the denial of the Motion for Reconsideration dated July 31, 1998 was received by the petitioner on February 23, 1999. Granting that the Motion for Reconsideration was filed also on July 31, 1998, or, nine (9) days after notice of the NLRC judgment, under the recent Supreme Court Circular No. 38-98 (on Bar Matter No. 803) which took effect on September 1, 1998, petitioner had only fifty-one (51) days left out of the sixty (60) day-period, within which to file a Petition for Certiorari under Section 4 of Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Court, as amended. Verily, when the instant petition was filed on April 26, 1999 or on the 62nd day (April 24 and 25 being a Saturday and a Sunday, respectively) after the receipt of the denial of the Motion for Reconsideration, such filing is already nine (9) days beyond the reglementary period.

(b)Section 1 of Rule 65 of the same 1997 Rules, requires that the petition shall be accompanied by a certified true copy of the judgment, order or resolution subject thereof, "copies of all pleadings and documents pertinent and relevant thereto, and etc." Here the only annexes in the petition at bench are the NLRC Resolution dated June 16, 1998 (Annex A, Petition) and the Order dated January 26, 1999 (Annex B, Petition) without the other material pleadings, such as the Complaint, position papers, memorandum of appeal and the motion for reconsideration dated July 31, 1998. Section 3 of Rule 46 of the said 1997 Rules, provides that such failure is a sufficient ground for the dismissal of the action.

(c)And more importantly, an evaluation of the allegations of the petition utterly failed to show any reversible error or abuse of discretion committed by the respondent NLRC in this case which will justify the grant of the extraordinary remedy of certiorari prayed for by the petitioner under existing judicial pronouncements.

"SO ORDERED."

On June 1, 1999, petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration but was denied by the Court of Appeals in its Resolution dated July 12, 1999.

Hence, this petition alleging that respondent Court of Appeals committed grave abuse of discretion by not construing liberally Rule 65 (on certiorari) of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended.

Time and again, this Court has held that: "(r)ules of procedure exist for a purpose, and to disregard such rules in the guise of liberal construction would be to defeat such purpose."[3]cralaw Procedural rules are not to be disdained as mere technicalities. They may not be ignored to suit the convenience of a party.Adjective law ensures the effective enforcement of substantive rights through the orderly and speedy administration of justice. Rules are not intended to hamper litigants or complicate litigation. But they help provide for a vital system of justice where suitors may be heard in the correct form and manner, at the prescribed time in a peaceful though adversarial confrontation before a judge whose authority litigants acknowledge. Public order and our system of justice are well served by a conscientious observance of the rules of procedure, particularly by government officials and agencies.[4]cralaw

Petitioners failed (1) to post the required appeal bond when they interposed an appeal to the NLRC; (2) to file with the Court of Appeals their petition for certiorari within the reglementary period; and (3) to attach to the same petition the pertinent and relevant pleadings and documents required by Section 1, Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. Moreover, petitioners, in elevating this case to this Court, resorted to certiorari instead of a petition for review on certiorari. It is basic that certiorari is not a substitute for a lapsed appeal.

While this Court, in accordance with the liberal spirit pervading the Rules of Court, has the discretion to treat this petition as a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45, however, it can not do so since the same was filed beyond the reglementary period.

Indeed, there is nothing in the records showing that respondent Court of Appeals committed grave abuse of discretion or want or excess of jurisdiction in dismissing the petition.

In Manila Midtown Hotels & Land Corp. vs. NLRC,[5]cralaw we aptly stated that "(c)ertiorari, being an extraordinary remedy, the party who seeks to avail of the same must strictly observe the rules laid down by law."

This Court has repeatedly stressed that the Rules of Court as well as SC Circulars were not adopted and approved for childish, flimsy or petty reasons nor for pure love of technicalities, but to compel the strict observance of the Rules of Court in order that proceedings may not be needlessly delayed. It was to correct the prevalent shoddiness in the filing of actions and to expedite the disposition of cases that the SC Circulars were adopted.[6]cralaw

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby DISMISSED. The assailed Resolutions of the Court of Appeals dated May 4, 1999 and July 12, 1999 are AFFIRMED in toto.

Costs against petitioners.

SO ORDERED.

Very truly yours,

(Sgd.)JULIETA Y. CARREON
Clerk of Court



Endnotes:

[1]cralaw Rollo at 46-47.

[2]cralaw Id. at 16.

[3]cralaw Favila vs. Second Division, G.R. No. 126786, June 16, 1999.

[4]cralaw CIR vs. CA, G.R. No. 110003, February 9, 2001, 351 SCRA 436.

[5]cralaw G.R. No. 118397, March 27, 1998, 288 SCRA 259, 265

[6]cralaw See Herrera, O., Remedial Law, 1997 Edition at 533-534, citing the SC En Banc Minute Resolution in Gallardo vs. Quintos, April 18, 1991.


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