May 2004 - Philippine Supreme Court Decisions/Resolutions
Zaragoza v. Nobleza : 144560 : May 13, 2004 : J. Carpio-Morales : Third Division : Decision
[G.R. NO. 144560 : May 13, 2004]
FLORENTINO ZARAGOZA, Petitioner, v. PEDRO NOBLEZA, Respondent.
D E C I S I O N
CARPIO MORALES, J.:
The Petition for Review on Certiorari at bar seeks to set aside and annul the Court of Appeals May 31, 2000 Resolution1 in CA-G.R. SP. 57778 dismissing the appeal of petitioner Florentino Zaragoza, a motion for reconsideration2 of which was, by Resolution3 of August 16, 2000, denied.
Petitioner entered on November 15, 1983 into an Agricultural Leasehold Contract4 over a 1.18 hectare parcel of land situated in Barangay Banguit, Cabatuan, Iloilo with respondent Pedro Nobleza.
On February 6, 1991, petitioner instituted a complaint,5 for Termination of Leasehold Relationship with Damages, against respondent before the Provincial Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board (PARAD) of Iloilo City, docketed as Reg. Case No. VI-09-IL-91. The complaint was later amended,6 and still later amended,7 raising as grounds for the termination of the leasehold contract the following alleged infractions committed by respondent:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
A. ) Not notifying the plaintiff (herein petitioner) on or before his threshing;chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
b.) Not notifying the plaintiff on or before his actual harvesting;chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
c.) Not following proven farm practices to make the landholding productive;chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
d.) Not delivering to the plaintiff the full and total value of his rental equivalent as agreed (sic);chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
e.) Short changing plaintifd (sic) during harvesting and threshing;chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
f.) Defendant (herein respondent) does not personally cultivate the landholding as every now (sic) allowed other person to do so on his payroll;chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
g.) Defendant cultivates other landholding aside from the landholding at bar and in the process, neglected his personal cultivation;chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
h.) Not paying rental arrears to the plaintiff for actuation inimical to the plaintiff as landowner;chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
i.) Commission of acts of disloyalty by testifying in a civil case against the plaintiff, who is his landlord;chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
j.) Commission of the offense of Qualified Theft against the plaintiff in the threshing of palay on January 27, 1991 at Brgy. Banguit, Cabatuan, Iloilo, wherein the defendant appropriated without the knowledge and consent of the plaintiff, thirteen (13) sacks of palay valued at P2,600.00 and has failed to restitute thesame (sic) up to the present;chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
k.) Commission of an attempt against the life of the plaintiff on June 24, 1993 at Brgy. Banguit, Cabatuan, Iloilo;8 cralawred
By Decision of October 10, 1994,9 the PARAD found for respondent and dismissed petitioners complaint for lack of merit.
Petitioner appealed10 before the Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board (DARAB) which affirmed the PARAD decision, by Decision11 of February 11, 2000, copy of which DARAB decision was received by petitioner on February 29, 2000.
Before the Court of Appeals (CA), petitioner filed on March 15, 2000 a Motion for Extension12 of fifteen (15) days from March 15, 2000 or until March 30, 2000 within which to file a Petition for Review of the decision rendered by the DARAB.
The CA, by Resolution13 of March 27, 2000, granted petitioner an absolutely non-extendible period of fifteen (15) days, reckoned from March 15, 2000, or until March 30, 2000 within which to file the Petition for Review , subject to the understanding that any such Petition for Review filed beyond the second mentioned date shall be rejected and shall be expunged from the records of the case. crvll
Petitioner appears to have filed via registered mail his Petition for Review ,14 however, on April 12, 2000.
By Resolution of May 31, 2000, the CA dismissed the petition for being procedurally flawed, it noting that an examination of the envelope bearing the petition15 showed that it was mailed on April 12, 2000 or thirteen (13) days beyond the extended period of appeal, and that two of the annexes to the petition, i.e., the two informations filed against respondent along with two others in Criminal Case Nos. 41675 and 41676 were mere plain copies, in violation of Section 6(c) of Rule 43 of the Rules of Civil Procedure.16 cralawred
Petitioner thereupon filed on June 20, 2000, a Motion for Reconsideration of the above-said CA Resolution of May 31, 2000, manifesting that per June 14, 2000 certification17 issued by Registry Clerk E. P. Villaruel of the Pasig Capitol Post Office, Registry No. 7439, allegedly covering the Petition for Review addressed to the CA, was mailed on March 30, 2000. In the same breath, petitioner pleaded for a liberal application of the rules of procedure given the overriding importance of the factual and legal issues raised in his petition.
By his Comment18 dated July 27, 2000, respondent pointed out that, like the brown envelope addressed to the CA, that addressed to and received by his counsel at Iloilo City containing petitioners Petition for Review showed that it was also mailed only on April 12, 2000. Additionally, respondent impugned the reliability of the certification of the postal registry clerk submitted by petitioner, it not having been made under oath.
By Resolution of August 16, 2000, the CA denied petitioners Motion for Reconsideration of its May 31, 2000 Order, noting that the counter-arguments or points advanced in the opposition are so cogent and compelling that they constitute forceful refutation of the reasons or arguments assigned in support of the motion.
Hence, the Petition for Review at bar anchored on the following grounds:
THE DISMISSAL OF PETITIONERS APPEAL BY THE COURT OF APPEALS WAS BASED ON TECHNICALITY THEREBY DENYING THE RIGHTS OF PETITIONER AS COMPLAINANT-PETITIONER TO PROSECUTE HIS CASE BEFORE SAID APPELLATE COURT SO THAT IT CAN BE DECIDED ON THE MERITS AND NOT ON ITS TECHNICALITY ASPECT.
THE SUSPENSION OF THE RULES IN THE INSTANT CASE IS WARRANTED SO THAT PETITIONERS APPEAL WITH THE COURT OF APPEALS COULD BE REINSTATED AND PROCEED IN DUE COURSE IN ORDER NOT TO DEPRIVE PETITIONER OF THE RIGHT TO USE AND ENJOY HIS REAL PROPERTY CURRENTLY BEING ENJOYED BY RESPONDENT DESPITE HIS COMMISSION OF ACTS WARRANTING THE TERMINATION OF HIS LEASEHOLD RELATIONSHIP WITH HEREIN PETITIONER.19 cralawred
Petitioner insists that, contrary to the finding of the CA, his Petition for Review before the appellate court was actually filed on March 30, 2000.20 cralawred
In any event, petitioner argues that even if his petition was indeed filed beyond the extension period granted by the CA, this Court should set aside its assailed resolution for when he filed his Motion for Extension with the appellate court21 within fifteen (15) days from receipt of the decision of the DARAB, he had paid the appropriate docket fee.
Further, petitioner argues that although the two informations attached to his petition before the CA are not certified true copies, the same are not material to the resolution of the issue raised therein; that the attached assailed decision of the DARAB attached to his petition before the CA is a certified true copy, indicating that there was a sincere attempt on his part to comply with the appeal requirements; and that, at all events, the overriding importance of the issues raised in his petition before the CA warrants a liberal interpretation of the technical rules of procedure.
By the above-quoted grounds-bases of his petition at bar, petitioner virtually admits that his petition before the CA was indeed belatedly filed.
To the petition respondent, by his Comment22 of November 27, 2000, argues that petitioner raises questions of fact which this Court cannot entertain.
The two informations attached to petitioners petition before the CA need not, as correctly argued by petitioner, be certified true copies. Section 6 of Rule 43 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure should not be construed as imposing the requirement that all supporting papers accompanying the Petition for Review be certified true copies. Cadayona v. Court of Appeals 23 explains:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
xxx A comparison of [Sec. 6 of Rule 43] this provision with the counterpart provision in Rule 42 (governing petitions for review from the RTC to the CA) would show that under the latter, only the judgments or final orders of the lower courts need be certified true copies or duplicate originals. Also under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court (governing Appeals by Certiorari to the Supreme Court), only the judgment or final order or resolution accompanying the petition must be a clearly legible duplicate original or a certified true copy thereof certified by the clerk of court of the court a quo. Even under Rule 65 governing certiorari and prohibition, petitions need be accompanied by certified true copies of the questioned judgment, it being sufficient that copies of all other relevant documents should accompany the petition. Numerous resolutions issued by this Court emphasize that in appeals by certiorari under Rule 45 and original civil actions for certiorari under Rule 65 in relation to Rules 46 and 56, what is required to be a certified true copy is the copy of the questioned judgment, final order or resolution. No plausible reason suggests itself why a different treatment, i.e. a stricter requirement, should be given to petitions under Rule 43, which governs appeals from the Court of Tax Appeals and quasi-judicial agencies to the Court of Appeals.None could have been intended by the framers of the Rules. A contrary ruling would be too harsh and would not promote the underlying objective of securing a just, speedy and inexpensive disposition of every action and proceeding. It must be conceded that obtaining certified true copies necessary entails additional expenses that will make litigation more onerous to the litigants. Moreover, certified true copies are not easily procurable and party litigants must wait for a period of time before the certified true copies are released. crvllxxx24 cralawred
The appellate courts error in holding that the informations should be certified true copies to comply with the Rules of Civil Procedure notwithstanding, the dismissal of the petition filed before it is in order.
Petitioner is raising a question of fact the finding of the CA that the Petition for Review was filed beyond the prescribed period.
Whether the body of proofs presented by a party, weighed and analyzed in relation to contrary evidence submitted by an adverse party, may be said to be strong, clear and convincing, whether certain documents presented by one side should be accorded full faith and credit in the face of protests as to their spurious character by the other side, whether inconsistencies in the body of proofs of a party are of such gravity as to justify refusing to give said proofs weight all these are issues of fact27 which may not be passed upon in a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court.
In accordance then with the established rule and practice, in view of the absence of any of the recognized exceptions28 that would warrant a review of the findings of facts of the appellate court, the issue raised by petitioner as regards the date of the filing of the Petition for Review will not be considered by this Court, the resolution thereon by the CA being final.
Since the perfection of an appeal within the statutory or reglementary period is not only mandatory but also jurisdictional, the failure of petitioner to so perfect his appeal rendered the questioned decision final and executory.29 This rule is founded upon the principle that the right to appeal is not part of due process of law but is a mere statutory privilege to be exercised only in the manner and in accordance with the provisions of the law.30 cralawred
Petitioner nevertheless harps on the judicial policy of allowing appeals, although filed late, when the interest of substantial justice so requires.
While every litigant must be given the amplest opportunity for the proper and just determination of his cause, free from the constraints of technicalities, the failure to perfect an appeal is not a mere technicality as it raises a jurisdictional problem which deprives the appellate court of jurisdiction over the appeal.31 cralawred
True, in few highly exceptional instances, we have allowed the relaxing of the rules on the application of the reglementary periods of appeal. We cite a few typical examples: In Ramos v. Bagasao, 96 SCRA 395, we excused the delay of four days in the filing of a notice of appeal because the questioned decision of the trial court was served upon appellant Ramos at a time when her counsel of record was already dead. Her new counsel could only file the appeal four days after the prescribed reglementary period was over. In Republic v. Court of Appeals, 83 SCRA 453, we allowed the perfection of an appeal by the Republic despite the delay of six days to prevent a gross miscarriage of justice since the Republic stood to lose hundreds of hectares of land already titled in its name andhad since then been devoted for educational purposes. In Olacao v. National Labor Relations Commission, 177 SCRA 38, 41, we accepted a tardy appeal considering that the subject matter in issue had theretofore been judicially settled, with finality, in another case. The dismissal of the appeal would have had the effect of the appellant being ordered twice to make the same reparation to the appellee.
The case at bench, given its own settings, cannot come close to those extraordinary circumstances that have indeed justified a deviation from an otherwise stringent rule. Let it not be overlooked that the timeliness of an appeal is a jurisdictional caveat that not even this Court can trifle with.34 cralawred
In the case at bar, there is no showing of a factual setting which warrants a liberal application of the rules on the period of appeal. Having been extended an additional fifteen (15) day period within which to file his Petition for Review , it was incumbent upon petitioner to strictly comply with such deadline. That he paid the appropriate docket fee upon filing his Motion for Extension of Time with the appellate court does not help his cause any. The inevitable consequence of his grave inadvertence is to render the DARABs decision dismissing the case final and executory. cra
We must stress that the bare invocation of the interest of substantial justice is not a magic wand that will automatically compel this Court to suspend procedural rules. Procedural rules are not to be belittled or dismissed simply because their non-observance may have resulted in prejudice to a partys substantive rights. Like all rules, they are required to be followed except only for the most persuasive of reasons when they may be relaxed to relieve a litigant of an injustice not commensurate with the degree of thoughtlessness in not complying with the procedure prescribed.35 cralawred
WHEREFORE, the instant Petition for Review is DENIED.
Vitug, (Chairman), Sandoval-Gutierrez andCorona, JJ., concur.
1 Rollo at 45-46.
2 CA Rollo at 55-71.
3 Id. at 43-44.
4 Records at 6-7.
5 Id. at 1-7.
6 Id. at 36-39.
7 Id. at 74-92.
8 Id. at 74-75.
9 Id. at 231-243.
10 Id. at 244.
11 Id. at 297-306.
12 CA Rollo at 4-8.
13 Id. at 10.
14 Id. at 11-31.
15 Vide brown envelope which bears the stamp mark April 12, 2000 at the bottom left portion thereof, id. at between 11-A.
16 SEC. 6. Contents of the petition.- The Petition for Review shall xxx (c) be accompanied by a clearly legible duplicate original or a certified true copy of the award, judgment, final order or resolution appealed from, together with certified true copies of such material portions of the record referred to therein and other supporting papers; xxx
17 CA Rollo at 66.
18 Id. at 75-78.
19 Rollo at 19.
20 Id. at 21.
22 Id. at 109-114.
23 324 SCRA 619 (2000).
24 Id. at 625-626 (citations omitted).
25 Rule 45, Section 1, 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended.
27 Paterno v. Paterno, 183 SCRA 630, 636-637 (1990).
28 (1) when the conclusion is a finding grounded entirely on speculation, surmises or conjectures [Joaquin v. Navarro, 93 Phil. 257 (1953)], (2) when the inference made is manifestly mistaken, absurd or impossible [Luna v. Linatoc, 74 Phil. 15 (1942)], (3) when there is grave abuse of discretion [Buyco v. People, 95 Phil. 453 (1954)], (4) when the judgment is based on a misapprehension of facts [Cruz v. Sosing, 94 Phil. 26 (1953)], (5) when the findings of fact are conflicting [Casica v. Villaseca, 101 Phil. 1205 (1957)], (6) when the Court of Appeals, in making its findings, went beyond the issues of the case and the same is contrary to the admissions of both appellant and appellee [Lim Yhi Luya v. Court of Appeals, 99 SCRA 668 (1980)], (7) when the findings of fact of the Court of Appeals are contrary to those of the trial court [Sacay v. Sandiganbayan, 142 SCRA 593 (1986)], (8) when the findings of fact are conclusions without citation of specific evidence on which they are based [Universal Motors v. Court of Appeals, 205 SCRA 448 (1992)], (9) when the facts set forth in the petition as well as in the petitioners main and reply briefs are not disputed by the respondent [Alsua-Betts v. Court of Appeals, 92 SCRA 332 (1979)], (10) when the finding of fact of the Court of Appeals is premised on the supposed absence of evidence and is contradicted by the evidence on record, [Osmundo v. Asistio, 191 SCRA 218 (1990)].
29 Sy Chin v. Court of Appeals, 345 SCRA 673, 681 (2000) (citation omitted), Yao v. Court of Appeals, 344 SCRA 202, 214 (2000) (citations omitted), Republic v. Court of Appeals, 322 SCRA 81, 87-88 (2000) (citations omitted), Apex Mining, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 319 SCRA 456, 465 (1999) (citation omitted), Almeda v. Court of Appeals, 292 SCRA 587, 593-594 (1998) (citation omitted).
30 Lazaro v. Court of Appeals, 330 SCRA 208, 213 (citation omitted), Republic v. Court of Appeals, 322 SCRA 81, 88 (2000) (citations omitted), Videogram Regulatory Board v. Court of Appeals, 265 SCRA 50, 56 (1996) (citations omitted) .
33 230 SCRA 9 (1994).
34 Id. at 15-16.