G.R. No. 144978 - January 15, 2002
UNIVERSAL ROBINA CORPORATION, and/or LANCE Y. GOKONGWEI, Petitioners, vs. COURT OF APPEALS, NATIONAL, LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION, CARLOS YGAÑA, LIBORIO VILLAFLOR and RONALDO CARDINALES, Respondents.
The sixty-day period within which to file a petition for certiorari is reckoned from the receipt of the resolution denying the motion for reconsideration.
Before us is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, seeking to annul the May 18, 2000 and August 21, 2000 Resolutions1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-GR SP No. 58695. The first assailed Resolution disposed as follows:
The second Resolution3 denied petitioners' Motion for Reconsideration.
Respondents Carlos C. Ygaña, Liborio Villaflor and Ronaldo Cardinales were employees of CFC Corporation, an affiliate of the petitioner, Universal Robina Corporation. Upon retiring at the age of 60, they were granted, under the company's retirement plan, benefits equivalent to one-half (1/2) month pay for every year of service.
On January 7, 1993, Congress enacted Republic Act No. 7641, which provided more liberal retirement benefits for employees in the private sector. Consequently, respondents filed a consolidated Complaint before the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC), claiming retroactive entitlement to the enlarged benefits granted by RA 7641.
After proper proceedings, Labor Arbiter Eduardo J. Carpio rendered a Decision on January 15, 1999 in favor of respondents. The dispositive portion reads as follows:
On February 26, 1999, petitioners interposed an appeal to the NLRC. In due course, the labor arbiter was affirmed in the September 30, 1999 NLRC Resolution, a copy of which was received by petitioners on November 11, 1999.
On November 15, 1999, petitioners filed a Motion for Reconsideration, which the NLRC denied with finality via its December 29, 1999 Resolution. This Resolution was received by petitioners on March 14, 2000.
On May 15, 2000, petitioners filed the subject Petition for Certiorari with the Court of Appeals. On May 18, 2000, the CA promulgated the first assailed Resolution dismissing the Petition for having been filed out of time. A copy of the Resolution was received by petitioners on June 23, 2000.
Ruling of the Court of Appeals
In dismissing the Petition, the CA held:
Hence, this Petition.6
In their Memorandum,7 petitioners raise this lone issue:
The Court's Ruling
The Petition is meritorious.
Computation of the Period to File Petition
Petitioners pray for liberality in the computation of the reglementary period within which to file a petition for certiorari under Section 4, Rule 65 of the Rules of Court.
Strictly speaking, the CA did not err in dismissing the Petition, because the prevailing rule at the time was the July 21, 1998 Resolution in Bar Matter No. 803, which had amended Section 4, Rule 65 of the Rules of Court,9 as follows:
However, the Rule was amended by this Court in AM No. 00-2-03-SC, which took effect on September 1, 2000. As amended, the Rule now reads as follows:10
The amendment under AM No. 00-2-03-SC is procedural or remedial in character. It does not create new rights or remove vested ones. It operates only in furtherance of the remedy or in confirmation of rights already existing; thus, it is given retroactive effect.
By virtue of this retroactive effect, we hold that the Petition for Certiorari was filed on time. On March 14, 2000, petitioners received a copy of the NLRC Resolution denying their Motion for Reconsideration. They then filed with the CA their Petition for Certiorari on May 15, 2000. Strictly speaking, the 60th day from the date on which they received the denial of Motion for Reconsideration was May 13, which fell on a Saturday. They, therefore, had until May 15 -- or the next working day, which was a Monday -- to file their petition.
In a number of cases, we have already ruled that the sixty-day period shall be reckoned from the receipt of the resolution denying the motion for reconsideration.11 This amendment, contained in AM No. 00-2-03-SC, was deemed applicable even if a petition had been filed before September 1, 2000, on the ground that rules regulating procedures should be made applicable to actions pending and undetermined at the time of their passage.12
WHEREFORE, the Petition is hereby GRANTED and the assailed Resolutions SET ASIDE. The case is REMANDED to the Court of Appeals for further proceedings. No costs.
Melo, Vitug, Sandoval-Gutierrez, and Carpio, JJ., concur.
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