THE COURT OF APPEALS DEPARTED FROM THE ACCEPTED AND USUAL COURSE OF JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS IN THAT IT ISSUED THE FIRST AND SECOND RESOLUTIONS IN VIOLATION OF THE RULE ON LIBERAL CONSTRUCTION OF THE RULES OF COURT

The petition filed before the Court of Appeals did not contain an explanation as to why service upon the Office of the Solicitor General (0SG) and Atty. Omar M.C. Alam, counsel for respondents, was not made personally, albeit an affidavit of service by registered mail was attached thereto. The failure to make such written explanation, in violation of Section 11, Rule 13 of the 1997 Rules of Court, was the second ground for the dismissal of the petition.

Section 11, Rule 13 states:

SEC. 11. Priorities in modes of service and filing. – Whenever practicable, the service and filing of pleadings and other papers shall be done personally. Except with respect to papers emanating from the court, a resort to other modes must be accompanied by a written explanation why the service or filing was not done personally. A violation of this Rule may be cause to consider the paper as not filed.

The requirement for personal service is mandatory such that Section 11, Rule 13 gives the court the discretion to consider a pleading or paper as not filed if the other modes of service of filing were resorted to and no written explanation was made as to why personal service was not done. In the seminal case of Solar Team Entertainment, Inc. v. Judge Ricafort, we stressed that strictest compliance with Section 11 of Rule 13 is mandated beginning one (1) month from the promulgation of said decision; i.e. one month from 05 August 1998.

The subject petition was filed on 26 March 2000. Petitioners explain, however, that their omission was due to inadvertence and was not a product of any malevolent scheme to prejudice respondents in any way. Thus, the evil sought to be avoided by the requirement of an explanation – to curb the practice of delaying the receipt of a pleading by a party through the simple expedient of serving the same by mail – was not present. Petitioners thus pray for a liberal construction of the provision in question following Section 6, Rule 1 of the Rules of Court.

We are not persuaded.

In Solar, as reiterated in the recent case of Ello v. Court of Appeals, we explained that the court’s discretionary power to consider a pleading or paper as not filed for violation of Section 11, Rule 13 must be exercised properly and reasonably, taking into account the following factors: (1) the practicability of personal service; (2) the importance of the subject matter of the case or the issues involved therein; and (3) the prima facie merit of the pleading sought to be expunged for violation of Section 11.

We find that the Court of Appeals did not err in dismissing the petition for failure to observe the requirement of a written explanation why service was not made personally to the OSG and to Atty. Omar M.C. Alam, counsel for respondents.

First, it cannot be said that serving the petition on the OSG and Atty. Alam through personal service was not practical nor realistic under the circumstances. We note that the office of petitioners’ counsel, the firm of Bocobo Rondain Mendiola Cruz and Formoso, is in Pasig City while that of the OSG is in Makati City and that of Atty. Alam is in Quezon City. Considering that the law firm has for its client one of the biggest corporations in the country, it is safe to presume – precisely because of the absence of an explanation why service was not made personally – that the Pasig firm has in its employ enough people to effect personal service. Moreover, the NLRC Resolution denying petitioners’ motion for reconsideration was received by their counsel on 10 February 2000. Petitioners, therefore, had until 11 April 2000 within which to file their petition for certiorari. From the records of the case, the petition was filed as early as 29 March 2000. Thus, petitioners had all the time in the world to serve their petition upon the OSG and respondents’ counsel by personal service and their failure to do so becomes inexcusable under the circumstances.

We have also considered the fact that the issue presented before the Court of Appeals is not one of first impression nor is it of such importance as to justify the relaxation of the rules of court on the ground of inadvertence. Likewise, from a reading of the petition, it does not appear that petitioners have a prima facie case. It is to be recalled that the sole issue presented by the Court of Appeals is whether or not the NLRC, under the facts of the case, gravely abused its discretion in vacating and setting aside the decision of the Labor Arbiter and remanding the case to the arbitral branch of origin for further proceedings. In Sevillana v. I.T. (International) Corp., we had already enunciated that the NLRC is not precluded by the rules to allow the parties to submit additional evidence to prove their respective claims even on appeal or to order the remand of the case to the administrative agency concerned for further study and investigation upon such issues.

IN SUM, we stress that petitioners’ claim of inadvertence as their reason for their failure to provide a written explanation why service of their petition was not made personally cannot and does not justify its omission. Such inadvertence does not constitute excusable negligence especially since said rule had already been in effect for three years before petitioners filed their petition before the Court of Appeals. That petitioners blithely expect this Court to turn a blind eye to their procedural blunder underscores their utter disregard of the requirement in Section 11, Rule 13. Verily, such disregard of the rule cannot justly be rationalized by harking on the policy of liberal construction and substantial compliance. To paraphrase Solar, if any controversy regarding a violation of Section 11 of Rule 13 were to be indiscriminately resolved under Section 6 of Rule 1 or Alonso v. Villamor and other analogous cases, then Section 11 would become meaningless and its sound purpose negated.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant petition is DENIED. The Resolutions of the Court of Appeals dated 25 April 2000 and 12 July 2000, respectively, are AFFIRMED. With costs.

SO ORDERED.

SOURCE: [ G.R. NO. 144180, January 30, 2006 ]COCA COLA BOTTLERS PHILS., INC., NATALE J. DICOSMO, STEVE HEATH, MARY CHUA, ALBERTO FAJARDO, JESS BANGSIL, LITO GARCIA, NOEL ROXAS, CHITO ENRIQUEZ, FREDERICK KERULF, ARMANDO CANLAS AND DANILO DAUZ, PETITIONERS, VS. RODOLFO CABALO, JUANITO GERONA, LUIS GERONA, LUIS DE OCAMPO AND MARIO NILO MECUA, RESPONDENTS. Tags: property warehouse for rent for lease marc Christian yncierto ruz jan Edmond yncierto ruz Kristin Villanueva ruz Edmond mabalot ruz marriage certificate timber land forest land watershed agricultural lot land use Alcantara Alcoy moral damages Alegria actual damages Aloguinsan Argao Asturias Badian Balamban Bantayan Barili Boljoon Borbon Carmen Catmon Compostela Consolacion Cordova Daanbantayan Dumaguete Bais Sibulan Tampi Bacong Negros Bacolod Separation pay Resign Resignation conversion hearing trial illegal drugs trial lawyer business corporate lawyer labor lawyer immigration law bureau of immigration cebu 9g visa search warrant warrant of arrest motion to quash information complaint police officers buy bust physical suffering shocked horrified mental anguish fright serious anxiety besmirched reputation sleepless nights wounded feelings moral shock social humiliation similar injuries Real Estate Broker nominal damages Sales Agent Properties for Sale Looking for Buyers Design Build House and Lot for Sale for Rent Talisay City Mandaue City Lapu Lapu Lapu-Lapu City Yncierto Sesante Villanueva Ruz Jan Edmond Marc Tim Timothy temperate damages Luz liquidated damages Kristin tct transfer certificate of title tax declaration birth certificate relocation survey surveying judicial titling administrative titling patent title denr cenro foreshore lease ecc environmental compliance certificate design build architect cebu engineer interior design designer residential commercial cebu Back wages Backwages Length of service pay benefit employee employer relationship Silay Kabankalan Daan Bantayan Dalaguete Dumanjug Ginatilan Liloan compensatory damages Madridejos Malabuyoc Medellin Minglanilla Moalboal Oslob Pilar Pinamungajan Poro Ronda Samboan San Fernando San Francisco San Remigio Sante Fe Santander Sibonga Sogod Tabogon Tabuelan Tuburan attorney’s fees Tudela exemplary damages Camotes General Luna Siargao Cagayan Davao Kidapawan Attorney Abogado Lawyer Architect

 

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