Dissatisfied with the ruling of the Court of Appeals (CA), both the Philippine Phosphate Fertilizer Corp. (Philphos) and Alejandro O. Mayol and several other employees respectively filed petitions for review on certiorari before the Supreme Court.

On the employees’ petition, Philphos moves for its outright dismissal due to the following infirmities: (i) absence of a statement of material dates, (ii) failure to submit the certified true copies of the judgment or final order and the material portions of the record that would support the petition and (iii) lack of a sworn certification against forum shopping signed by all the employees.

Is there merit to Philphos’ motion?

Ruling: No.

In a long line of cases, the Court excused the parties’ failure to comply with Section 4, Rule 45. It declared that the ends of justice will be better served if cases are decided on the merits, after granting the parties a full opportunity to ventilate their causes and defenses, rather than on technicalities or procedural imperfections. The rules of procedure are designed to expedite the resolution of cases. As such, a strict and rigid application of the same, which results in technicalities that frustrate rather than promote substantial justice, must be avoided.

In fact, in Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company v. Absolute Management Corp., and Superlines Transportation Company Inc. v. Philippine National Construction Company and Pedro Balubal, 701 Phil. 200, 209-210 (2013), the Court excused therein petitioners’ failure to attach the important documents to their petition, and held that such “omission is not a grievous one that the spirit of liberality cannot address.” What matters is that the Court had a clear narration of the facts and arguments according to both parties’ views.

The Court shall grant the employees the same modicum of liberality.

A scrutiny of the records shows that the employees substantially complied with Section 4, Rule 45. The petition indicates the date when they received the assailed CA Resolution. This suffices to determine whether their petition for review was filed on time. Likewise, they attached the assailed CA Decision and Resolution in their petition. Their failure to append the other material documents may be excused considering that the Court was able to peruse and scrutinize said documents from the records of the consolidated cases. The records were replete with the rulings of the labor tribunals, the parties’ complaint, position papers, petitions, and other important documents that aided in the resolution of the case. Essentially, the Court had the benefit of a clear narration of the facts and arguments of the case according to both parties’ perspectives

Moreover, the employees submitted a Compliance dated Jan. 2, 2014, wherein they attached a Verified Statement declaring that they received the Jan. 17, 2011 CA Decision on Jan. 31, 2011. Furthermore, they attached a SPA executed on Jan. 11, 2008, which proves Mayol’s authority to sign the Verification/Certification of Non-Forum Shopping on behalf of the other employees. The SPA states that the employees authorize Mayol to represent them in the proceedings before the NLRC, the CA and the Court.

wIt is thus clear from the foregoing that the employees substantially complied with Section 4, Rule 45. Besides, the gravity of the issues in the instant case, which involves the livelihood of the employees, certainly warrants a resolution on the merits. (Philippine Phosphate Fertilizer Corp. (Philphos) vs. Alejandro 0. Mayol, et al., G.R. 205528-29 & Alejandro 0. Mayol, et al. vs. Philippine Phosphate Fertilizer Corp. (Philphos), G.R. 205797-98, Dec. 9, 2020).