Republic of the Philippines
G.R. No. 181516 August 19, 2009
CESARIO L. DEL ROSARIO, Petitioner,
PHILIPPINE JOURNALISTS, INC., Respondent.
R E S O L U T I O N
The instant petition stemmed from a complaint filed by petitioner, Cesario L. del Rosario, against herein respondent, Philippine Journalists, Inc. (PJI), for illegal dismissal with money claims.
Petitioner claims that he was hired by PJI as a libel scanner in March 1997 and was receiving the benefits and privileges of a regular managerial employee of the newspaper and magazine company. On April 6, 1999, petitioner received a notice of termination of employment from respondent. According to petitioner, the termination of his services was illegal for want of just or authorized cause and for non-compliance with procedural requirements prior to his dismissal.1
Respondent, on the other hand, averred that petitioner was hired only as a consultant whose term of employment was deemed renewed on a month-to-month basis, unless either party opted for its termination by a written notice of at least five (5) days before the end of any month, based on the contract of employment issued by the company on April 15, 2007.2
On November 5, 2002, the Labor Arbiter rendered a decision3 in favor of petitioner, the dispositive portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered finding respondent [PJI] of (sic) illegally dismissing complainant [del Rosario] from his employment. As above-discussed, respondent Philippine Journalist, Inc., is ordered to pay complainant Cesario del Rosario the following:
||Unpaid salaries from Oct. 1998 to May 9, 1999 --
||Unpaid quarterly bonuses & 13th month pay 98-99 --
||Unused vacation and sick leave[s] for two years --
|P10,000 monthly allowance from May 1998
up to May 9, 1999 equals 12 months x 10,000 --
||Unpaid 250 liters gasoline per month from May 9, 
up to May 9, 1999 equals 3,000 liters for 12 months
Computed at the price of gasoline in 1998 & 1999.
||Salary from 9 May 1999 to 31 October 2002
for non-compliance of Procedural due process.
P40,000 x 29 mos. = |
||Moral and Exemplary damages =
||10% for and (sic) attorney’s fees.
Respondent elevated its case to the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC). On January 6, 2003, it filed its memorandum of appeal together with the appeal bond issued by Philippine Pryce Assurance Corporation (PPAC).5
On December 15, 2003, the NLRC issued a resolution6 dismissing the appeal for failure to perfect the same due to the posting of the appeal bond from a bonding company not duly accredited by the Court. The NLRC stated that PPAC was not authorized by the Supreme Court to transact business with courts anywhere in the Philippines since December 2, 2002, per Certification of the Office of the Court Administrator.7
On January 23, 2004, respondent duly filed a motion for reconsideration and a supplemental motion for reconsideration, alleging that it had no knowledge that PPAC was no longer authorized to transact business with the courts.1avvphi1
Acting on the motion and in a bid of liberality, the NLRC issued a resolution8 on February 23, 2004, directing respondent to post a new bond, to wit:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, respondents [PJI] are now directed to post a new bond accompanied by all requisites as provided in Sec. 6, Rule VI of the New Rules of Procedure of the Commission in lieu of bond posted herein within an unextendible period of ten (10) days from receipt hereof. Otherwise the appeal shall be dismissed.
No further motions of this nature shall be entertained.
Respondent failed to comply. Thus, on March 31, 2005, the NLRC issued a resolution10 dismissing the appeal for lack of merit.
Aggrieved, respondent filed a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court before the Court of Appeals (CA). On November 29, 2007, the CA rendered the assailed decision,11 the dispositive portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED and the assailed Resolutions of the public respondent are SET ASIDE.
Public Respondent NLRC is directed to admit the appeal and decide the same on the merits. Petitioner [PJI] is directed to replace the surety bond it posted with a new one to be obtained from a bonding company duly accredited by the Supreme Court within five (5) days from receipt hereof.
The CA held that the NLRC committed grave abuse of discretion in dismissing PJI’s appeal based on an erroneous finding that the surety bond respondent posted was void. The CA ratiocinated that at the time the subject bond was issued, PPAC was still authorized to issue the same. The CA found that the Supreme Court placed PPAC on a blacklist only on October 9, 2003, while the Chairperson of the NLRC cancelled PPAC’s accreditation on November 3, 2003. When PJI obtained the surety bond on January 2, 2003, PPAC was still existing and duly accredited by the Court. Thus, there was no legal basis to dismiss PJI’s appeal because it had actually posted a valid bond.13
Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration. On January 24, 2008, the CA issued a Resolution14 denying the same for lack of merit.
Hence, the present petition.
Petitioner presented the following issues for resolution of the Court:
THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED SERIOUS ERRORS OF FACT AND LAW AND WENT AGAINST APPLICABLE JURISPRUDENCE:
(A) IN SETTING ASIDE THE NLRC RESOLUTIONS DISMISSING RESPONDENT PJI’S DEFECTIVE APPEAL FOR NON-COMPLIANCE WITH, AMONG OTHERS, THE REGLEMENTARY PERIOD TO APPEAL AND THE REQUISITE OF POSTING AN APPEAL BOND;
(B) IN ORDERING THE NLRC TO ADMIT RESPONDENT PJI’S DEFECTIVE APPEAL AND TO DECIDE THE APPEAL ON THE MERITS;
(C) IN DIRECTING RESPONDENT PJI TO REPLACE WITHIN FIVE (5) DAYS FROM NOTICE THE DEFECTIVE SURETY BOND IT POSTED AS ITS APPEAL BOND WITH A NEW BOND TO BE OBTAINED FROM A BONDING COMPANY DULY ACCREDITED BY THE SUPREME COURT; AND
(D) IN REMANDING THE CASE TO THE NLRC FOR FURTHER PROCEEDINGS, INSTEAD OF AFFIRMING THE NLRC RESOLUTIONS DISMISSING THE APPEAL OF RESPONDENT PJI ON LEGAL AND JURISDICTIONAL GROUNDS.15
The issues need not be belabored. We find no reversible error committed by the CA in issuing the assailed decision and resolution. Based on substantial evidence on record, the CA found that at the time the bond was issued by PPAC, it was still authorized to issue bonds.16
Article 223 of the Labor Code mandates that in cases of judgment involving a monetary award, an appeal by the employer may be perfected only upon the posting of a cash or surety bond issued by a reputable bonding company duly accredited by the Commission in an amount equivalent to the monetary award in the judgment appealed from. Appurtenant thereto, Section 6, Rule VI of the New Rules of Procedure of the NLRC17 provides:
SECTION 6. BOND. - In case the decision of the Labor Arbiter or the Regional Director involves a monetary award, an appeal by the employer may be perfected only upon the posting of a cash or surety bond. The appeal bond shall either be in cash or surety in an amount equivalent to the monetary award, exclusive of damages and attorney’s fees.
In case of surety bond, the same shall be issued by a reputable bonding company duly accredited by the Commission or the Supreme Court, and shall be accompanied by:
(a) a joint declaration under oath by the employer, his counsel, and the bonding company, attesting that the bond posted is genuine, and shall be in effect until final disposition of the case.
(b) a copy of the indemnity agreement between the employer-appellant and bonding company; and
(c) a copy of security deposit or collateral securing the bond.
A certified true copy of the bond shall be furnished by the appellant to the appellee who shall verify the regularity and genuineness thereof and immediately report to the Commission any irregularity.
Upon verification by the Commission that the bond is irregular or not genuine, the Commission shall cause the immediate dismissal of the appeal.
No motion to reduce bond shall be entertained except on meritorious grounds and upon the posting of a bond in a reasonable amount in relation to the monetary award.
The filing of the motion to reduce bond without compliance with the requisites in the preceding paragraph shall not stop the running of the period to perfect an appeal.
The filing of a supersedeas bond for the perfection of an appeal is mandatory and jurisdictional.18 The requirement that employers post a cash or surety bond to perfect their appeal is apparently intended to assure workers that if they prevail in the case, they will receive the money judgment in their favor upon the dismissal of the former’s appeal. It was intended to discourage employers from using an appeal to delay, or even evade, their obligations to satisfy their employees' just and lawful claims.19
At the time of the filing of the surety bond by PJI on January 2, 2003, PPAC was still an accredited bonding company. Thus, it was but proper to honor the appeal bond issued by a bonding company duly accredited by this Court at the time of its issuance. The subsequent revocation of the authority of a bonding company should not prejudice parties who relied on its authority. The revocation of authority of a bonding company is prospective in application.
Still, the Court takes due notice of the opportunity given to PJI to post a new bond issued by an accredited bonding company in the NLRC resolution dated February 23, 2004. Yet, PJI insisted on the validity of the bond it had filed despite the fact the PPAC was no longer accredited to act as a surety. This notwithstanding, guided by the principle that technical rules of procedure should not hamper the quest for justice and truth, this Court deems it prudent that the case be reviewed and decided on the merits, in view of the question on the employer-employee relationship of the parties and its resultant legal consequences. But, so as not to prejudice the rights of petitioner in this case, the Court reiterates the CA directive for PJI to post a new bond issued by an accredited bonding company.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DENIED for lack of merit. The Decision dated November 29, 2007 and the Resolution dated January 24, 2008 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 89513 are hereby AFFIRMED.
The National Labor Relations Commission is DIRECTED to GIVE DUE COURSE to the appeal and decide the case on the merits with dispatch, upon the filing by respondent, within ten (10) days from finality of this decision, of a bond issued by an accredited bonding company.
ANTONIO EDUARDO B. NACHURA
CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES*
|MINITA V. CHICO-NAZARIO**
|PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.
DIOSDADO M. PERALTA
A T T E S T A T I O N
I attest that the conclusions in the above Resolution were reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court’s Division.
MINITA V. CHICO-NAZARIO
Acting Chairperson, Third Division
C E R T I F I C A T I O N
Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution and the Division Acting Chairperson's Attestation, I certify that the conclusions in the above Resolution had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court’s Division.
REYNATO S. PUNO
* Additional member in lieu of Associate Justice Consuelo Ynares-Santiago per Special Order No. 679 dated August 3, 2009.
** In lieu of Associate Justice Consuelo Ynares-Santiago per Special Order No. 678 dated August 3, 2009.
1 Rollo, pp. 72-83.
3 Penned by Labor Arbiter Geobel A. Bartolabac; id. at 72-83.
4 Id. at 82-83.
5 Rollo, p. 85.
6 Penned by Presiding Commissioner Lourdes C. Javier, with Commissioners Ernesto C. Verceles and Tito F. Genilo, concurring; id. at 85-86.
7 Rollo, p. 40
8 Id. at 89-90.
9 Id. at 90.
10 Id. at 97-98.
11 Penned by Associate Justice Ricardo R. Rosario, with Associate Justices Rebecca de Guia-Salvador and Magdangal M. de Leon, concurring; id. at 38-45.
12 Rollo, p. 44.
13 Id. at 43.
14 Id. at 46.
15 Id. at 24.
16 Per verification from the Office of the Court Administrator, Philippine Pryce Assurance Corporation (formerly Interworld Assurance Corporation) was issued a certificate of accreditation and authority for the period of 19 August 2002 – 11 January 2003, and the same was its first and last authority to transact business as surety company.
17 This was the applicable NLRC Rules of Procedure at the time of the filing of PJI’s appeal of the decision of the Labor Arbiter. At present, the 2005 Revised Rules of Procedure of the National Labor Relations Commission is in effect.
18 Quiambao v. NLRC, 324 Phil. 455 (1996).
19 Calabash Garments, Inc. v. NLRC, 329 Phil. 226 (1996).
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