G.R. NO. 205250 : March 18, 2013
LORRAINE D. BARRA, Petitioner, v.CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION, Respondent.
R E S O L U T I O N
Before the Court is the petition for review on certiorari,1 filed by petitioner Lorraine D. Barra, assailing the July 11, 20122 and the December 7, 20123resolutions of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA~G.R. SP No. 125421, dismissing outright the petitioner's Rule 43 petition for review for procedural defects.
On March 2, 2001, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Director Malcolm I. Sarmiento, Jr. appointed the petitioner as Supply Officer II in the BFAR, Region XIL An anonymous letter sent via e-mail questioned the appointments of the petitioner and several individuals, for violation of the prohibition on nepotism under Section 79, Book V of the Revised Administrative Code of 1987.
In a January 6, 2006 letter, Civil Service Commission (CSC) Director Macybel Alfaro-Sahi requested BFAR Director Sani D. Macabalang to give her copies of the appointment papers of the petitioner and her colleagues. In Resolution No. 08-0539 dated April 10, 2008, the CSC directed the conduct of further investigation on the appointments of the petitioner and her colleagues, and to file the appropriate disciplinary cases against them.
In a June 15, 2010 order, CSC Director Grace R. Belgado-Saqueton recalled the appointments of the petitioner and Huzaifah D. Disomimba for violation of the prohibition on nepotism. On August 6, 2010, the petitioner and Disomimba filed with the CSC regional office a motion for reconsideration and prayed for the conduct of a preliminary investigation, claiming that they were denied due process. In a September 20, 2010 order, the CSC Regional Director denied the motion for reconsideration.
The petitioner and Disomimba appealed to the CSC en banc. In Decision No. 110581 dated October 10, 2011, the CSC en banc affirmed the orders of the CSC Regional Director. When the CSC denied the motion for reconsideration that followed, the petitioner filed a Rule 43 petition for review with the CA.
In its July 11, 2012 resolution,4 the CA dismissed the petition outright for: (a) failure to state the date of receipt of the copy of the October 10, 2011 CSC decision; and (b) failure to indicate the notary public's office address in the notarial certificates in the verification and certification of non-forum shopping and in the affidavit of service.
The petitioner submits that the petition before the CA indicated the date of receipt of the October 10, 2011 CSC decision, and that the failure to indicate the notary public's office address is a mere technicality that does not substantially affect the merits of the case.
We grant the petition.
The petitioner's failure to state the date of receipt of the copy of the October 10, 2011 CSC decision is not fatal to her case since the dates are evident from the records. Besides, we have ruled that the more important material date which must be duly alleged in the petition is the date of receipt of the resolution of denial of the motion for reconsideration, which the petitioner has duly complied with.7chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
As to the failure to state the notary public's office address, the omission was rectified with the attachment in the motion for reconsideration of the verification and certification of non-forum shopping and of the affidavit of service, with the notary public's office address.8chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
Courts should not be unduly strict in cases involving procedural lapses that do not really impair the proper administration of justice. Since litigation is not a game of technicalities, every litigant should be afforded the amplest opportunity for the proper and just determination of his case, free from the constraints of technicalities. Procedural rules are mere tools designed to facilitate the attainment of justice, and even the Rules of Court expressly mandates that it "shall be liberally construed in order to promote their objective of securing a just, speedy and inexpensive disposition of every action and proceeding."9chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
The demands of justice require the CA to resolve the issues before it, considering that what is at stake is not only the petitioner's position, but her very livelihood. Dismissing the petitioner's appeal could give rise to the impression that the appellate court may be fostering injustice should the appeal turn out to be meritorious. Thus, it is far better and more prudent for the court to excuse a technical lapse and afford the parties a substantive review of the case on appeal, to attain the ends of justice than to dismiss said appeal on technicalities.
Let this case be a reminder to our courts, particularly to the CA, where the inordinate desire to lessen the case load or to clear the dockets may be at the expense of substantive justice; where a case appears to be substantively meritorious and the technical lapses are of the nature that they can be complied with without doing violence to the mandatory provisions of the Rules, the better recourse to follow is to apply the rule of liberality that the Rules of Court provides and to give the deficient party the opportunity to comply, particularly when the amounts and interests involved in the litigation are substantial.
WHEREFORE, we GRANT the petition. The July 11, 2012 and the December 7, 2012 resolutions of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 125421 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. CA-G.R. SP No. 125421 is REINSTATED and REMANDED to the Court of Appeals for further proceedings.
1 Under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court; rollo, pp. 5-15.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ
2 Penned by Associate Justice Fernanda Lampas Peralta, and concurred in by Associate Justices Francisco P. Acosta and Angelita A. Gacutan; id. at 21-22.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ
3 Id. at 19.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ
4 Supra note 2.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ
5 Supra note 3.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ
6 Rollo, pp. 23-26.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ
7 Acaylar, Jr. v. Harayo, G.R. NO. 176995, July 30, 2008, 560 SCRA 624, 636; and Security Bank Corporation v. Indiana Aerospace University, 500 Phil. 51, 60 (2005).ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ
8 Rollo, pp. 29-30.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ
9 RULES OF COURT, Rule 1, Section 6.