Wake Up, Philippines!

Relaxing the rules

Posted in Labor, Labor Law, Laws, Supreme Court Decisions by Erineus on February 18, 2009

Rules of procedure should not be applied in a very rigid and technical sense if the ends of justice will be defeated. This is once more illustrated in this case of Ed.

Ed was employed in a cement company (UCC) in 1996 starting as a planner in the motor pool section. In the course of his employment he was assigned and promoted to different positions. But when he was already in a supervisory level position, he got involved in an alleged theft of company property and after investigation establishing his culpability, was dismissed for loss of trust and confidence.

Thus Ed filed an action against UCC and its plant manager for illegal dismissal before the NLRC. In its decision the Labor Arbiter (LA) found UCC guilty of illegal dismissal as it failed to establish the commission of the theft much less Ed’s culpability. So the LA ordered Ed’s reinstatement with back wages plus moral and exemplary damages all totaling P1,185,835.25. Initially this was affirmed by the NLRC modifying only the award of moral and exemplary damages into P100,000 and P50,000. But on UCC’s motion for reconsideration the NLRC reversed and set aside its previous ruling and dismissed Ed’s complaint.

Posthaste, Ed filed a petition for certiorari in the Court of Appeals (CA). But the latter dismissed his petition outright for deficient payment of docket fee, failure of his counsel to indicate his Roll of Attorney’s number and the date and place of issue of his IBP OR, failure to append a legible copy of annex “E” and improper verification as it is not based on personal knowledge since it was only done by his wife as attorney-in-fact.

Ed filed a motion for reconsideration explaining the procedural lapses pointing out that: the petition itself contained a reservation on his willingness and readiness to pay the deficiency that may be further assessed as the fee he paid was based only on a prior inquiry via long distance. To settle the deficiency, he sent a postal money order for P1,000; the roll of attorney’s number as well as the IBP OR also appeared in the petition but in other parts; the illegible copy of annex “E” is only one of the annexes that should not merit outright dismissal and to cure it, he submitted a clearer copy; while the verification was executed by Ed’s wife whom he constituted as his attorney-in-fact only because he was then already working abroad.

Notwithstanding the exhaustive explanation, the CA still denied his motion for reconsideration. Was the CA correct?

No. Subsequent and substantial compliance by the appellant may warrant the relaxation of the rules of procedure. The rules of procedure are mere tools designed to expedite the decision or resolution of cases and other matters pending in court. Strict and rigid application of technicalities that tend to frustrate rather than promote substantial justice must be avoided. Case should be determined on the merits after full opportunity to all parties to ventilate their causes and defenses rather than on some technicality or procedural imperfections.

In this case Ed readily corrected the procedural lapses in his petition cited by the CA as reason for the dismissal thereof. In all, he subsequently and substantially complied with the procedural requirements initially found lacking or defective by the appellate court.

Undeniably, the CA was correct in dismissing outright his petition for certiorari. However, upon motion for reconsideration and with a full and complete explanation, the CA should have reconsidered its prior dismissal and reinstated the petition. It is not remiss for the CA to adjudge Ed’s case based on the merits especially with the conflicting decisions rendered by the NLRC (Hipol vs. NLRC etc. G.R. 181818, December 18, 2008).

Note: Books containing compilation of my articles on Labor Law and Criminal Law (Vols. I and II) are now available. Call tel. 7249445.

E-mail at: jcson@pldtdsl.net

A LAW EACH DAY (Keeps Trouble Away)
By Jose C. Sison
Updated February 18, 2009 12:00 AM
http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=441325&publicationSubCategoryId=64

View previous articles of this column.

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