G.R. No. 197556, March 25, 2015
WATERFRONT CEBU CITY CASINO HOTEL, INC. AND MARCO PROTACIO, Petitioners, v. ILDEBRANDO LEDESMA, Respondent.
D E C I S I O N
VILLARAMA, JR., J.:
This is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended, seeking to set aside the Decision1 dated March 17, 2011 and Resolution2 dated June 21, 2011 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CEB SP No. 05071. The CA reversed the Decision3 dated November 27, 2009 and Resolution4 dated February 22, 2010 of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) and reinstated the Decision5 dated April 29, 2009 of the Labor Arbiter (LA). The LA declared that respondent Ildebrando Ledesma was illegally dismissed from his employment by petitioner Waterfront Cebu City Casino Hotel, Inc. (Waterfront).
The factual antecedents follow:
Respondent was employed as a House Detective at Waterfront located at Salinas Drive, Cebu City.
On the basis of the complaints filed before Waterfront by Christe6 Mandal, a supplier of a concessionaire of Waterfront, and Rosanna Lofranco, who was seeking a job at the same hotel, Ledesma was dismissed from employment.7 From the affidavits8 and testimonies9 of Christe Mandal and Rosanna Lofranco during the administrative hearings conducted by Waterfront, the latter found, among others, that Ledesma kissed and mashed the breasts of Christe Mandal inside the hotel’s elevator, and exhibited his penis and asked Rosanna Lofranco to masturbate him at the conference room of the hotel.
On August 12, 2008, Ledesma filed a complaint10 for illegal dismissal which was docketed as NLRC RAB-VII Case No. 08-1887-08. The LA found that the allegations leveled against Ledesma are mere concoctions, and concluded that Ledesma was illegally dismissed. The dispositive portion of the April 29, 2009 Decision of the LA, reads:
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, a decision is hereby rendered declaring the suspension as well as the dismissal of herein complainant illegal. Consequently, respondent Waterfront Cebu City Hotel is ordered to reinstate complainant Ildebrando Ledesma to his former position without loss of seniority right and with full backwages reckoned from the date of the suspension up to actual reinstatement.
Herein respondent is likewise ordered to pay complainant Ledesma service incentive leave pay in the amount of THREE THOUSAND NINE HUNDRED TEN PESOS AND FIFTY CENTAVOS (P3,910.50) plus ten percent (10%) of the total monetary award as attorney’s fees.
All other claims are DISMISSED for lack of merit.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appealed Decision is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Another one is entered declaring the dismissal of complainant as valid.
IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, this petition is GRANTED. The 27 November 2009 NLRC Decision and 22 February 2010 Resolution in NLRC Case No. VAC-09-000912-2009 is REVERSED and SET ASIDE and the 29 April 2009 Decision of the Labor Arbiter is hereby REINSTATED.
No pronouncement as to costs.
SEC. 4. When and where to file the petition. – The petition shall be filed not later than sixty (60) days from notice of the judgment, order or resolution. In case a motion for reconsideration or new trial is timely filed, whether such motion is required or not, the petition shall be filed not later than sixty (60) days counted from the notice of the denial of the motion.
If the petition relates to an act or an omission of a municipal trial court or of a corporation, a board, an officer or a person, it shall be filed with the Regional Trial Court exercising jurisdiction over the territorial area as defined by the Supreme Court. It may also be filed with the Court of Appeals or with the Sandiganbayan, whether or not the same is in aid of the court’s appellate jurisdiction. If the petition involves an act or an omission of a quasi-judicial agency, unless otherwise provided by law or these rules, the petition shall be filed with and be cognizable only by the Court of Appeals.
In election cases involving an act or an omission of a municipal or a regional trial court, the petition shall be filed exclusively with the Commission on Elections, in aid of its appellate jurisdiction.
As a rule, an amendment by the deletion of certain words or phrases indicates an intention to change its meaning. It is presumed that the deletion would not have been made if there had been no intention to effect a change in the meaning of the law or rule. The amended law or rule should accordingly be given a construction different from that previous to its amendment.
If the Court intended to retain the authority of the proper courts to grant extensions under Section 4 of Rule 65, the paragraph providing for such authority would have been preserved. The removal of the said paragraph under the amendment by A.M. No. 07-7-12-SC of Section 4, Rule 65 simply meant that there can no longer be any extension of the 60-day period within which to file a petition for certiorari.
The rationale for the amendments under A.M. No. 07-7-12-SC is essentially to prevent the use (or abuse) of the petition for certiorari under Rule 65 to delay a case or even defeat the ends of justice. Deleting the paragraph allowing extensions to file petition on compelling grounds did away with the filing of such motions. As the Rule now stands, petitions for certiorari must be filed strictly within 60 days from notice of judgment or from the order denying a motion for reconsideration.27 (Additional emphasis and underscoring supplied)
What seems to be a “conflict” is actually more apparent than real. A reading of the foregoing rulings leads to the simple conclusion that Laguna Metts Corporation involves a strict application of the general rule that petitions for certiorari must be filed strictly within sixty (60) days from notice of judgment or from the order denying a motion for reconsideration. Domdom, on the other hand, relaxed the rule and allowed an extension of the sixty (60)-day period subject to the Court’s sound discretion.32 (Emphasis in the original)
The general rule is that a client is bound by the acts, even mistakes, of his counsel in the realm of procedural technique. The exception to this rule is when the negligence of counsel is so gross, reckless and inexcusable that the client is deprived of his day in court. The failure of a party’s counsel to notify him on time of the adverse judgment, to enable him to appeal therefrom, is negligence that is not excusable. We have repeatedly held that notice sent to counsel of record is binding upon the client, and the neglect or failure of counsel to inform him of an adverse judgment resulting in the loss of his right to appeal is not a ground for setting aside a judgment valid and regular on its face.42 (Emphasis omitted)
The NLRC’s resolution became final ten (10) days after counsel’s receipt, and the respondents’ failure to file the petition within the required (60)-day period rendered it impervious to any attack through a Rule 65 petition for certiorari. Thus, no court can exercise jurisdiction to review the resolution.
Needless to stress, a decision that has acquired finality becomes immutable and unalterable and may no longer be modified in any respect, even if the modification is meant to correct erroneous conclusions of fact or law and whether it will be made by the court that rendered it or by the highest court of the land. All the issues between the parties are deemed resolved and laid to rest once a judgment becomes final and executory; execution of the decision proceeds as a matter of right as vested rights are acquired by the winning party. Just as a losing party has the right to appeal within the prescribed period, the winning party has the correlative right to enjoy the finality of the decision on the case. After all, a denial of a petition for being time-barred is tantamount to a decision on the merits. Otherwise, there will be no end to litigation, and this will set to naught the main role of courts of justice to assist in the enforcement of the rule of law and the maintenance of peace and order by settling justiciable controversies with finality.
It is an accepted tenet that rules of procedure must be faithfully followed except only when, for persuasive and weighting reasons, they may be relaxed to relieve a litigant of an injustice commensurate with his failure to comply with the prescribed procedure. Concomitant to a liberal interpretation of the rules of procedure, however, should be an effort on the part of the party invoking liberality to adequately explain his failure to abide by the rules. (Emphasis supplied)
1Rollo, pp. 43-56. Penned by Associate Justice Edwin D. Sorongon and concurred in by Associate Justices Portia Aliño-Hormachuelos and Socorro B. Inting.
2 Id. at 58-59. Penned by Associate Justice Nina G. Antonio-Valenzuela with Associate Justices Portia Aliño-Hormachuelos and Myra V. Garcia-Fernandez concurring.
3 CA rollo, pp. 81-87.
4 Id. at 93-95.
5 Id. at 56-62.
6 Also spelled as Christie or Christy.
7 Records, pp. 22-24.
8 Id. at 55-62 and 65-66.
9 See the Joint Resolution/Decision of the administrative panel of Waterfront, id. at 22-24.
10 Id. at 1-2.
11 CA rollo, p. 62.
12 Id. at 86.
13 Id. at 5. Paragraph 14 of the Petition for Certiorari.
14 Id. at 3. See the date of receipt by the CA stamped at the upper right portion.
15 Id. at 103-110.
16 Id. at 112-114.
17 Id. at 116-135.
18 Id. at 118-119.
19 Id. at 223-224.
20 Rollo, p. 56.
21 Id. at 22.
22 Id. at 89-120.
23 Id. at 103-104.
24Galicto v. Aquino III, G.R. No. 193978, February 28, 2012, 667 SCRA 150, 175, citing In-N-Out Burger, Inc. v. Sehwani, Incorporated and/or Benita’s Frites, Inc., 595 Phil. 1119, 1140 (2008).
25 SEC. 4. Contents of petition. – The petition shall x x x (d) be accompanied by a clearly legible duplicate original, or a certified true copy of the judgment or final order or resolution certified by the clerk of court of the court a quo and the requisite number of plain copies thereof, and such material portions of the record as would support the petition; x x x.
[26 611 Phil. 530 (2009).
27 Id. at 536-537.
28 627 Phil. 341 (2010).
29 G.R. No. 192908, August 22, 2012, 678 SCRA 738.
30 Supra note 26.
31 Supra note 28.
32Republic v. St. Vincent De Paul Colleges, Inc., supra note 29, at 747.
33 G.R. No. 191215, February 3, 2014, 715 SCRA 153, 166, citing Labao v. Flores, G.R. No. 187984, November 15, 2010, 634 SCRA 723, 732.
34 Among the “recognized exceptions” are: (1) most persuasive and weighty reasons; (2) to relieve a litigant from an injustice not commensurate with his failure to comply with the prescribed procedure; (3) good faith of the defaulting party by immediately paying within a reasonable time from the time of the default; (4) the existence of special or compelling circumstances; (5) the merits of the case; (6) a cause not entirely attributable to the fault or negligence of the party favored by the suspension of the rules; (7) a lack of any showing that the review sought is merely frivolous and dilatory; (8) the other party will not be unjustly prejudiced thereby; (9) fraud, accident, mistake or excusable negligence without appellant’s fault; (10) peculiar legal and equitable circumstances attendant to each case; (11) in the name of substantial justice and fair play; (12) importance of the issues involved; and (13) exercise of sound discretion by the judge guided by all the attendant circumstances. Thenamaris Philippines, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, id.
35 Paragraph 14 of the Petition provides:
14. That the said resolution denying the motion for reconsideration was served upon the petitioner on March 15, 2010 and the sixty (60) day period allowed by Rule 65 falls on May 15, 2010 which is a Saturday so that the next business day is still within the period to file the x x x petition; (CA rollo, p. 5.)
36 Article 13 of the Civil Code reads:ART. 13. When the law speaks of years, months, days or nights, it shall be understood that years are of three hundred sixty-five days each; months, of thirty days; days, of twenty-four hours, and nights from sunset to sunrise.37 CA rollo, pp. 118-119.
If months are designated by their name, they shall be computed by the number of days which they respectively have.
In computing a period, the first day shall be excluded, and the last day included.
38Ramos v. Sps. Lim, 497 Phil. 560, 564-565 (2005).
39 See Manaya v. Alabang Country Club, Inc., 552 Phil. 226, 233 (2007), citing Ram’s Studio and Photographic Equipment, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 400 Phil. 542, 549 (2000).
40 Supra note 33.
41 Id. at 733.
43Thenamaris Philippines, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, supra note 33, at 169, quoting Labao v. Flores, supra note 33, at 734.
44 Id. at 734-735.
45Tagle v. Equitable PCI Bank, 575 Phil. 384, 405 (2008).
46People v. Castañeda, Jr., G.R. No. 208290, December 11, 2013, 712 SCRA 800, 807, citing Republic v. St. Vincent de Paul Colleges, Inc., supra note 29, at 748, further citing Labao v. Flores, supra note 33, at 732.
47Gipa v. Southern Luzon Institute, G.R. No. 177425, June 18, 2014, p. 1.
48 G.R. No. 172458, December 14, 2011, 662 SCRA 424, 436-437, quoting Suarez v. Judge Villarama, Jr., 526 Phil. 68, 77 (2006).
49 CA rollo, pp. 5 and 118-119.
50 See Ramirez v. Court of Appeals, 622 Phil. 782, 803 (2009).
51 See Thenamaris Philippines, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, supra note 33, at 169.
52 Only specific areas of the hotel are covered by surveillance cameras. See rollo, p. 33.
53 Its elements are: (a) must be serious; (b) must relate to the performance of the employee’s duties; and (c) must show that the employee has become unfit to continue working for the employer. See Lopez v. NLRC (2nd Div.), 513 Phil. 731, 737 (2005); Fujitsu Computer Products Corp. of the Philippines v. Court of Appeals, 494 Phil. 697, 725 (2005).