G.R. No. 148333             November 17, 2004
VIRGILIO SANTIAGO, petitioner,
BERGENSEN D.Y. PHILIPPINES and NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION (THIRD DIVISION), respondents.
D E C I S I O N
CARPIO MORALES, J.:
Petitioner Virgilio Santos' petition for Certiorari before the Court of Appeals having been dismissed by Resolution1 of October 15, 1999 on the ground that it was filed out of time, and his Motion for Reconsideration having been denied by Resolution2 of May 18, 2001, he lodged the Petition for Review on Certiorari at bar.
Petitioner filed a complaint for illegal dismissal, non-payment of wages, overtime pay, vacation pay, moral and exemplary damages and attorney's fees against Bergensen D.Y. Philippines (respondent) before the Labor Arbiter.
The Labor Arbiter dismissed the complaint for lack of merit.
On appeal, the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC), by Resolution3 of November 16, 1998, affirmed the finding that petitioner was not illegally dismissed. It, however, required respondent to pay petitioner the sum of Ten (10) Thousand Pesos (P10,000.00) for failure to afford petitioner due process.
Petitioner received a copy of the NLRC Resolution on December 18, 1998.4 On December 28, 1998, he filed a motion for reconsideration which the NLRC denied with finality by Resolution5 of August 5, 1999. On August 18, 1999,6 "he was informed by another law firm" of the denial of the Motion for Reconsideration.
On October 11, 1999, he filed before the appellate court a petition for Certiorari, docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 55295, which was, as earlier adverted to, dismissed by Resolution7 of October 15, 1999 for having been filed four (4) days late.
Petitioner through counsel alleged that he received copy of the resolution dated November 16, 1998 of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) on December 18, 1998, denying his appeal. Ten days (10) days later, or on December 28, 1998, he filed his motion for reconsideration. On August 18, 1999, he actually received copy of the NLRC's resolution denying his aforesaid motion for reconsideration (although admittedly said resolution was received by another law firm earlier on August 16, 1999). The present petition for certiorari was filed on December 11, 1999.
There are fifty-four (54) days from August 18, 1999 to October 11, 1999. However, the ten (10) day period from receipt of the assailed resolution on December 18, 1998 to the filing of his motion for reconsideration on December 28, 1998 must be included in determining the 60-day reglementary period (Section 4, Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure as amended by Resolution of the Supreme Court En Banc dated July 21, 1998 in Bar Matter No. 803 which took effect on September 1, 1998). The last day of the reglementary period for filing the petition for certiorari was on October 7, 1999. Hence, the present petition for certiorari was filed four (4) days late.8 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
Petitioner's Motion for Reconsideration which was filed on November 17, 1999 was denied by Resolution9 of May 18, 2001, hence, the petition at bar.
Before this Court, petitioner invokes the retroactive application of A.M. No. 00-2-03-SC, which took effect on September 1, 2000, amending Section 4, Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, contending that rules of procedure should be liberally construed in order to promote its objectives of securing a just, speedy and inexpensive disposition of every action and proceeding.10
Under A.M. No. 00-2-03-SC, in case a motion for reconsideration of the judgment, order or resolution sought to be assailed has been filed, the 60-day period to file a petition for certiorari shall be counted from notice of the denial of such motion. Thus Section 4, Rule 65, as amended by A.M. No. 00-2-03-SC, provides:
SEC. 4. When and where petition filed. – 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 sixty (60) day period shall be counted from notice of the denial of said motion. (Underscoring supplied)
This Court finds for petitioner.
When petitioner filed his petition for Certiorari before the appellate court on October 15, 1999, the prevailing rule was Section 4, Rule 65 (as amended by the Supreme Court En Banc Resolution in Bar Matter No. 83 dated July 21, 1998) which provided:
SEC. 4. Where petition filed. – The petition may be filed not later than sixty (60) days from notice of the judgment, order or resolution sought to be assailed xxx.
If the petitioner had filed a motion for new trial or reconsideration in due time after notice of said judgment, order or resolution, the period herein fixed shall be interrupted. If the motion is denied, the aggrieved party may file the petition within the remaining period, but which shall not be less than five (5) days in any event, reckoned from notice of such denial. No extension of time to file the petition shall be granted except for the most compelling reason and in no case to exceed fifteen (15) days.
The appellate court thus correctly dismissed his petition.
When petitioner filed his Motion for Reconsideration on November 17, 1999, the same above-quoted rule was still prevailing. When the appellate court resolved said motion, however, or on May 18, 2001, Section 4, Rule 65 had already been amended by A.M. No. 00-2-03-SC.
A.M. No. 00-2-03-SC, which is a rule of procedure, may be retroactively applied to actions pending and undetermined at the time of their passage11 and will not violate any right of a person who may feel that he is adversely affected, inasmuch as there is no vested rights in rules of procedure.12
Remedial statues or statutes relating to remedies or modes of procedure, which do not create new or take away vested rights, but only operate in furtherance of the remedy or confirmation of rights already existing, do not come within the legal conception of a retroactive law, or the general rule against retroactive operation of statutes. Statutes regulating the procedures of the courts will be construed as applicable to actions pending and undetermined at the time of their passage. Procedural laws are retroactive in that sense and to that extent.13 (Citations omitted)
The record shows that petitioner received the NLRC Resolution denying his Motion for Reconsideration on August 18, 1999. Under A.M. No. 00-2-03-SC, he had 60 days or until October 17, 1999 to file a petition for certiorari before the appellate court. He filed one on October 11, 1999, well within the reglementary period.
WHEREFORE the petition is hereby GRANTED. The assailed Court of Appeals Resolutions of October 15, 1999 and May 18, 2001 are hereby SET ASIDE and the case is REMANDED to said court for appropriate action.
Panganiban, (Chairman), Sandoval-Gutierrez, and Garcia, JJ., concur.
Corona, J., on leave.
1 Rollo at 20-21.
2 Id. at 17-18.
3 CA Rollo at 20-27.
4 Rollo at 5.
5 CA Rollo at 28-30.
6 Rollo at 5.
7 Id. at 20-21.
9 Rollo at 17-18.
10 Id. at 3.
11 Republic v. Court of Appeals, 399 SCRA 277 (2003); Universal Robina Corporation v. Court of Appeals, 373 SCRA 311 (2002); Pfizer, Inc. v. Galan, 358 SCRA 240 (2001); Unity Fishing Development v. Court of Appeals, 351 SCRA 140 (2001); Systems Factors Corporation v. National Labor Relations Commission, 346 SCRA 149 (2000); Narzoles v. National Labor Relations Commission, 341 SCRA 533 (2000).
12 Republic v. Court of Appeals, supra at 284.
13 Systems Factors Corporation v. National Labor Relations Commission, 346 SCRA 149, 152 (2000).
The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation