THE counsel on record of petitioner Angelito N. Gabriel received on May 14, 2010, a copy of the order of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) denying his motion for reconsideration.
He had 60 days or until July 13, 2010 to file a petition for certiorari with the Court of Appeals (CA). However, on July 10, 2010, he filed a motion for extension due to time and distance constraints for him to secure an authentication from the Philippine Consular Office in Australia.
In its July 21, 2010 resolution, the CA denied the motion for extension, saying that no extensions are allowed under Section 4, Rule 65, 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended under A.M. No. 07-7-12-SC, Dec. 7, 2007.
From this, Gabriel filed a motion for reconsideration with prayer to admit an attached petition for certiorari, claiming that the factual circumstances of his case are exceptional and merit a relaxation of the rules of procedure.
Does his contention find merit?
Under Section 4 Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, and as applied in the Laguna Metts Corp., Phil. 530, 537 (2009) case, the general rule is that a petition for certiorari must be filed within 60 days from notice of the judgment.
In Labao v. Flores, 649 Phil. 213-225 (2010), however, we laid down exceptions to the strict application of this rule:
There are recognized exceptions to their strict observance, such as: most persuasive and weighty reasons; to relieve a litigant from an injustice not commensurate with his failure to comply with the prescribed procedure; good faith of the defaulting party by immediately paying within a reasonable time from the time of the default; the existence of special or compelling circumstances; the merits of the case; a cause not entirely attributable to the fault or negligence of the party favored by the suspension of the rules; a lack of any showing that the review sought is merely frivolous and dilatory; the other party will not be unjustly prejudiced thereby; fraud, accident, mistake or excusable negligence without appellant’s fault; peculiar legal and equitable circumstances attendant to each case; in the name of substantial justice and fair play; importance of the issues involved; and exercise of sound discretion by the judge guided by all the attendant circumstances.
Thus, there should be an effort on the part of the party invoking liberality to advance a reasonable or meritorious explanation for his/her failure to comply with the rules.
In the motion for extension to file a petition for certiorari, it was stated that Gabriel had since been working and living in Australia for a few years subsequent to his separation from Petron. The week before the 60-day deadline for filing, Gabriel’s counsel had already emailed a copy of the petition. Gabriel explained in his motion that he needed more time to secure an appointment with the Philippine Consular Office in Melbourne, Australia.
Unlike those mentioned exceptions when the period to file a petition for certiorari was not strictly applied, we do not find Gabriel’s reason to meet the deadline compelling.
In the first place, his counsel, who is supposed to be well-versed in our rules of procedure, should have anticipated that Gabriel needed to take his oath before the Philippine Consular Office. By giving Gabriel only one week to comply with this requirement, his lawyer did not give him much time and simply assumed that Gabriel could deliver on time.
On the other hand, Gabriel, assuming he really wanted to pursue his case against Petron, could have easily visited the Philippine Consular Office as soon as possible. Instead, he opted to wait for a few days thinking that time was not of the essence.
We must remember that 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.
Here, we cannot simply reward the lack of foresight on the part of Gabriel and his lawyer. (Angelito N. Gabriel vs. Petron Corporation, et.al., G.R. No. 194575, April 11, 2018).