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458 Phil. 430


[ G.R. No. 144533, September 23, 2003 ]




This petition for review seeks to set aside the resolution[1] of the Court of Appeals dated August 21, 2000 denying petitioner Jimmy L. Barnes a.k.a. James L. Barnes' motion for reconsideration dated August 29, 2000 praying for the reinstatement of the Court of Appeals resolution[2] dated December 15, 1999 dismissing respondent Teresita C. Reyes' petition for review.

This case emanated from a complaint for ejectment filed by siblings Teresita C. Reyes, Elizabeth C. Pasion, Imelda C. Trillo. Ma. Elena C. Dinglasan and Ricardo P. Crisostomo against petitioner Jimmy Barnes.  The Metropolitan Trial Court, Branch 35 of Quezon City ruled in favor of Teresita and her co-parties.  On appeal to the Regional Trial Court, Branch 227 of Quezon City, the said decision of the Metropolitan Trial Court was reversed.

On December 9, 1999, respondents Teresita C. Reyes and her siblings filed a petition for review in the Court of Appeals.

In its resolution dated December 15, 1999 the Court of Appeals dismissed the petition:
The verification and certification on non-forum shopping was signed only by one of the six petitioners without any showing that the signatory (Teresita C. Reyes) was duly authorized to bind her fellow petitioners.  Aside from that, no written explanation was submitted why copies of the petition have to be furnished the respondents by registered mail, instead of personal service (Solar Team Entertainment vs. Hon. Helen Bautista Ricafor, et al., 293 SCRA 661).

The Petition for Review is denied due course and is hereby DISMISSED.

On February 4, 2000, Teresita filed a motion for reconsideration attaching therewith the Special Power of Attorney executed by the other five petitioners specifically authorizing her to sign the verification and certification page of their petition and file it on their behalf.  The Court of Appeals required petitioner Barnes to comment thereon.  Petitioner complied and opposed respondents' motion for reconsideration.

On May 25, 2000, the Court of Appeals found respondents' motion for reconsideration meritorious and reinstated their petition for review.  Thereafter, petitioner was ordered to comment to respondents' reinstated petition.

On June 13, 2000, petitioner moved for the reconsideration of the aforesaid resolution of the Court of Appeals. After respondents filed their opposition thereto, the Court of Appeals, in its resolution dated August 21, 2000, denied petitioner's motion for reconsideration for lack of merit.

Hence, the instant petition before us.

Petitioner Barnes contends that respondents' petition for review in the CA suffered from two legal deficiencies.  First, five out of the six respondents failed to signed the verification of their petition for review. He asserts that the subsequent filing of the Special Power of Attorney by respondents showing the authority of Teresita to file the petition in their behalf did not cure the fatal defect. Petitioner maintains that the six respondents were co-owners with equal shares of the subject property and thus were indispensable parties to the petition for review in the Court of Appeals. The subsequent compliance with the certification requirement on non-forum shopping could not excuse the failure to comply in the first instance.

Second, respondents failed to comply with Section 11, Rule 13 of the 1997 Revised Rules of Civil Procedure requiring that pleadings and other papers must be personally served on the other party.  A resort to other modes with a written explanation why the service was not made personally should have been included in the pleadings, otherwise, the pleadings should be considered as not filed.

Petitioner opines that rules of procedure instituted by this Court should be mandatorily adhered to and observed by the members of the bench and bar, otherwise, coordination, consistency and discipline cannot be attained.

Respondents, however, submit a contrary view.  It is their position that the rule against forum-shopping was substantially complied with upon the subsequent filing of the Special Power of Attorney duly executed even before the filing of their petition for review in the Court of Appeals.  The said Special Power Attorney was not required by the rules to be attached to the petition and thus became a matter of evidence if the authority was questioned, respondents argue.

As to the alleged non-compliance with Section 11, Rule 13 (on proof of service) of the 1997 Revised Rules on Civil Procedure, respondents claim that the rule on priorities in the modes of service and filing of pleadings is merely directory and not mandatory.  In the case before the Court of Appeals, there was substantial compliance with the requirement with the attachment of the affidavit of service to the petition there.

The petition before us must necessarily fail.

Section 5, Rule 7 of the Revised Rules of Civil Procedure provides:
x x x The plaintiff or principal party shall certify under oath in the complaint or other initiatory pleading asserting a claim for relief, or in a sworn certification annexed thereto and simultaneously filed therewith:  (a) that he has not theretofore commenced any action or filed any claim involving the same issues in any court, tribunal or quasi-judicial agency and, to the best of his knowledge, no such other action or claim is pending therein; (b) if there is such other pending action or claim, a complete statement of the present status thereof; and (c) if he should thereafter learn that the same or similar action or claim has been filed or is pending, he shall report that fact within five (5) days therefrom to the court wherein his aforesaid complaint or initiatory pleading has been filed.

x x x                                                            x x x                                                                    x x x
With respect to the contents of the certification which the pleader may prepare, the rule of substantial compliance applies.  While this section requires that it be strictly complied with, in essence, what it means is that it cannot be altogether dispensed with or its requirements completely disregarded.  But it does not thereby rule out substantial compliance under justifiable circumstances. The rule against forum-shopping was designed to serve as an instrument to promote and facilitate the orderly administration of justice and should not be interpreted with such absolute literalness as to subvert its ultimate objective – the goal of all rules of procedure – of achieving substantial justice as expeditiously as possible.[4]

In the instant case, the Court of Appeals correctly reconsidered the dismissal of the respondents' petition after being informed of and presented with the authority of Teresita to sign the verification and certification of the petition, and file the same in the Court of Appeals.  We note that Teresita represented her co-parties, who are her siblings, in the commencement of the action in the Metropolitan Trial Court and later in the Regional Trial Court, both in Quezon City.  Her authority therein was never questioned as she was, in fact, authorized by her co-parties to handle the case.

The Rules of Civil Procedure should be applied with reason and liberality.[5] This is called for specially because, as in the instant case, the strict application of the no forum-shopping rule will not serve the ends of justice.

The Court of Appeals has yet to determine the rights of the parties and decide the case on the merits. Technical rules, therefore, must yield to a more resolute judgment by the Court of Appeals based on the evidence as submitted by both parties.

Furthermore, the rule on priorities in modes of service and filing of pleadings (insofar as it refers to the effects of non-compliance) is merely directory.  Section 11, Rule 13 of the 1997 Revised Rules of Civil Procedure states:
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 rule suggests the preferential mode of serving pleadings and other papers personally on the other party to ensure (and prove) the latter's receipt thereof.  The preference is apparent from the phrase "whenever practicable." It is then incumbent upon the court to use its discretion in determining whether substantial justice will be served (or rights unjustifiably prejudiced) if it resolves to dismiss a petition because of non-compliance with a mere directory rule.  We say "directory" because of the use of the word "may." As aptly held in the case of Security Bank Corporation vs. Court of Appeals:[6]
A litigation is rather a contest in which each contending party fully and fairly lays before the court the facts in issue and then, brushing aside as wholly trivial and indecisive all imperfections of form and technicalities of procedure, asks that justice be done on the merits.
Finally, petitioner Barnes filed the instant petition pursuant to Rule 45 of the 1997 Revised Rules of Civil Procedure after the Court of Appeals denied his motion for reconsideration. However, Section 9, Rule 37 of the said rules provides that an order denying a motion for reconsideration is not appealable, the remedy being to appeal the judgment or final order itself. An order denying a motion for reconsideration is interlocutory in nature and is therefore not appealable.[7]

WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED.


Puno, (Chairman), Panganiban, Sandoval-Gutierrez, and Carpio-Morales, JJ., concur.

[1] Penned by Associate Justice Bernardo LL. Salas and concurred in by Associate Justices Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr. and Edgardo P. Cruz.

[2] Penned by Associate Justice Bernardo LL. Salas and concurred in by Associate Justices Cancio C. Garcia and Mariano M. Umali.

[3] Records, p. 134.

[4] Dar vs. Alonzo-Legasto, 339 SCRA 306 [2000].

[5] Barroso vs. Ampig, Jr., 328 SCRA 530 [2000].

[6] 323 SCRA 330 [2000].

[7] People vs. Court of Appeals, 322 SCRA 81 [2000].

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