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635 Phil. 21


[ G.R. Nos. 167583-84, June 16, 2010 ]




Before this Court is a petition for certiorari,[1] under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, seeking to set aside the January 4, 2005 Decision[2] and March 18, 2005 Resolution[3] of the Court of Appeals (CA), in CA-G.R. SP No. 70473 and CA-G.R. SP No. 71470.

The facts of the case are as follows:

Petitioners Artistica Ceramica, Inc., Ceralinda, Inc., Cyber Ceramics, Inc., and Millennium, Inc., are corporations located in Pasig City and engaged in the manufacture of ceramics. Petitioners’ manufacturing plants are located near the area occupied by respondents Ciudad Del Carmen Homeowner’s Association, Inc., and Bukluran Purok II Residents Association.

Sometime in 1997, respondents sent letter complaints[4] to various government agencies complaining of petitioners’ activities. The complaints stemmed from the alleged noise, air and water pollution emanating from the ceramic-manufacturing activities of petitioners.  In addition, respondents also complained that the activities of petitioners were both safety and fire hazards to their communities. As a result of the complaints filed, Closure Orders and Cease-and-Desist Orders[5] were issued against the operations of petitioners.

In order to amicably settle the differences between them, petitioners and respondents entered into two agreements. The first agreement was the June 29, 1997 Drainage Memorandum of Agreement[6] (Drainage MOA) and the second was the November 14, 1997 Memorandum of Agreement[7] (MOA).  Embodied in the Drainage MOA was the commitment of petitioners to construct an effective drainage system in Bukluran Purok II.  The MOA, on the other hand, was an agreement by respondents to cause the dismissal of all the complaints filed by them against petitioners in exchange for certain undertakings during the lifetime of the MOA. Among the undertakings agreed to by petitioners are the following: 1) the cessation of their manufacturing activities on or before May 7, 2000; 2) the putting up of an Environmental Guarantee Fund in accordance with the guidelines prescribed by the Department of Energy and Natural Resources; 3) the furnishing of a performance bond; and 4) and the creation of an Arbitration and Monitoring Committee.

On July 17, 2000, respondents filed with the Arbitration Committee a Complaint[8] alleging the failure of petitioners to comply with the terms of the agreement. On April 2, 2002, the Arbitration Committee rendered a Decision,[9] the dispositive portion of which reads:

WHEREFORE, PREMISES CONSIDERED, THE ARBITRATION COMMITTEE hereby promulgates the following findings and rulings:

On the matter of the allowances for the representatives of the Residents Associations, pending the resolution of the instant case, the Mariwasa Subsidiaries have paid the aforesaid allowances.

On the contribution of the Mariwasa Subsidiaries in the amount of P300,000.00 for the construction of the chapel/multi-purpose hall as referred in Annex “B” of the MOA, Mariwasa Subsidiaries is directed to give to Ciudad del Carmen Homeowners Association of the Residents Associations the amount of P300,000.00 as the participation of the Mariwasa Subsidiaries in the construction of the aforesaid chapel/multi-purpose hall.

Re:  the problem of the drainage system, the construction of the drainage system for Bukluran Purok II mentioned in the June 29, 1997 MOA was undertaken.  But the Arbitration Committee finds that in spite of the construction of the drainage system, there continues to be flooding in Bukluran Purok Dos.

On the issue of relocation, the MOA categorically states:
f. (The Mariwasa Subsidiaries shall) [p]ermanently cease the manufacturing operation in the Premises of at least one of its corporation [sic] by 7 November 1999, and permanently cease the manufacturing operations of all remaining corporations in the Premises on or before 07 May 2000; Henceforth, no manufacturing activity shall be made or undertaken in the Premises either by itself or by any other person/entity, except with the consent of the SECOND PARTY, nor shall the FIRST PARTY attempt to avoid its obligation hereunder resulting in the operation of its manufacturing plants in the Premises; FORCE MAJEURE is NOT AVAILABLE to the FIRST PARTY as an excuse for not ceasing to operate;

g. (The Mariwasa Subsidiaries shall) [m]ake representation with the DENR, the LLDA, and the Pasig City Government, the MMDA, and such other relevant government agency or office, informing these agencies of their undertaking to cease manufacturing operations in the Premises by 07 May 2000, such that permits, licenses and clearances issued to and in favor of the FIRST PARTY shall only be effective until 07 May 2000 and other permits, licenses and clearances applied for by the FIRST PARTY shall be effective only until 07 May 2000.

The Mariwasa Subsidiaries are directed to strictly comply with  the above-quoted undertakings.  Further on this matter, the parties are directed to immediately discuss and agree on the date of the relocation of all of the manufacturing facilities of Mariwasa Subsidiaries out of Bo. Rosario, Pasig City, but in no case should such date be beyond six (6) months from finality of this Decision, and in the event that Mariwasa Subsidiaries shall fail to relocate their manufacturing facilities within the date agreed or fixed herein, as the case maybe, a fine of P10,000.00 for each day of delay is hereby imposed upon the Mariwasa Subsidiaries.

In connection with the Performance Bond of P25,000,000.00 referred to in the MOA in “2 PERFORMANCE BOND AND PENALTY PROVISIONS,” on the basis of the evidence introduced in the hearings, the Arbitration Committee finds that the Mariwasa Subsidiaries have not fully complied with all of their undertakings as enumerated in the MOA and in its Annexes “A” and “B.”  Thus, the Mariwasa Subsidiaries did not submit the regular quarterly reports mentioned in undertaking Letter “a.” Undertaking Letter “d” was not fully implemented, including even the matter of funding the Arbitration Committee where the allowances for representatives of the Residents Associations were only paid during the hearings of the instant case.

The Environmental Guarantee Fund mentioned in undertaking Letter “h” was never established.

In connection with the participation of the Mariwasa Subsidiaries in the community and social development projects specified in Annex “B” of the MOA, the Arbitration Committee finds that the drainage system that was constructed in Bukluran Purok Dos has not solved the problem of flooding in the area.  Then, the Mariwasa Subsidiaries should remit to Ciudad del Carmen Homeowners Association of the Residents Associations the amount of P300,000.00 that was promised by the Mariwasa Subsidiaries for the construction of a chapel/multi- purpose hall.

As for damages, on the basis of the evidence presented in the hearings, the Mariwasa Subsidiaries are hereby directed, jointly and severally, to pay to the Residents Associations the amount of P1,000,000.00 as temperate or moderate damages.  In addition, the Mariwasa Subsidiaries are directed to pay P100,000.00 as damages to Bukluran Dos Residents Association for the former’s failure to bring about the effective drainage system that was sought to be constructed in the June 29, 1997 MOA.  The Mariwasa Subsidiaries are also directed to pay the amount of P100,000.00 as part of damages in the form of attorney’s fees.


Respondents filed a motion for reconsideration, specifically asserting that the Arbitration Committee erred in failing to rule on or to declare the automatic forfeiture of the performance bond in their favor. On May 27, 2002, the Arbitration Committee issued a Resolution[11] denying respondents’ motion.

Petitioners and respondents separately filed a petition for review[12] before the CA. Petitioners sought to question the award of damages by the Arbitration Committee to respondents.  Respondents, for their part, sought to question the non-forfeiture of the performance bond in their favor despite the finding of the Arbitration Committee that petitioners had not fully complied with all their undertakings under the MOA.

On September 16, 2002, petitioners filed a Motion to Consolidate the Two Petitions for Review, which was subsequently granted by the CA.

On January 4, 2005, the CA rendered a Decision, the dispositive portion of which reads:

WHEREFORE, the first petition docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 70473 is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. Accordingly, the order directing the petitioners to give the respondents the amount of PhP300,000.00 is DELETED.

The second petition docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 71470 is GRANTED. Accordingly, the Arbitration Committee is hereby directed to order the automatic forfeiture of the performance bond in the amount of PhP25,000,000.00 in favor of respondents.


Aggrieved, petitioners filed a Motion for Reconsideration, which was, however, denied by the CA in a Resolution[14] dated March 18, 2005.

Hence, herein petition, with petitioners arguing that the CA acted with grave abuse of discretion when it:





The petition is not meritorious.

Prefatorily, the Court notes that petitioners filed a special civil action for certiorari under Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. As a rule, the remedy from a judgment or final order of the CA is appeal via petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court.

In Mercado v. Court of Appeals,[16] this Court had again stressed the difference of the remedies provided for under Rule 45 and Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, to wit:

x x x  [T]he proper remedy of the party aggrieved by a decision of the Court of Appeals is a petition for review under Rule 45, which is not identical with a petition for review under Rule 65. Under Rule 45, decisions, final orders or resolutions of the Court of Appeals in any case, i.e., regardless of the nature of the action or proceedings involved, may be appealed to us by filing a petition for review, which would be but a continuation of the appellate process over the original case. On the other hand, a special civil action under Rule 65 is an independent action based on the specific ground therein provided and, as a general rule, cannot be availed of as a substitute for the lost remedy of an ordinary appeal, including that to be taken under Rule 45.  x x x[17]

One of the requisites of certiorari is that there be no available appeal or any plain, speedy and adequate remedy. Where an appeal is available, certiorari will not prosper, even if the ground therefore is grave abuse of discretion.[18] Accordingly, when a party adopts an improper remedy, his petition may be dismissed outright.[19] Pertinent, therefore, to a resolution of the case at bar is a determination of whether or not an appeal or any plain, speedy and adequate remedy was still available to petitioners, the absence of which would warrant petitioners’ decision to seek refuge under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court.

A perusal of the records will show that petitioners filed a Motion for Reconsideration to the January 4, 2005 CA Decision, which was, however, denied by the CA via a Resolution dated March 18, 2005. As manifested by petitioners, they received a copy of the March 18, 2005 CA Resolution on March 28, 2005. Thus, from March 28, 2005, petitioners had 15 days,[20] or until April 12, 2005, to appeal the CA Resolution under Rule 45. Clearly, petitioners had an available appeal under Rule 45 which, under the circumstances, was the plain, speedy and adequate remedy. However, petitioners instead chose to file a special civil action for certiorari, under Rule 65, on April 18, 2005, which was 6 days after the reglementary period under Rule 45 had expired.

The fact that the petitioners used the Rule 65 modality as a substitute for a lost appeal is made plainly manifest by: a) its filing the said petition 6 days after the expiration of the 15-day reglementary period for filing a Rule 45 appeal; and b) its petition which makes specious allegations of "grave abuse of discretion."  But it asserts that the CA erred (1) when it declared that the petitioners failed in their undertakings to provide drainage in accordance with the requirements of the MOA; (2) when it declared that petitioners are solely culpable for the lack of an environmental compliance certificate, when it awarded temperate damages; and (3) when it ordered the automatic forfeiture of the performance bond.  These are mere errors of judgment which would have been the proper subjects of a petition for review under rule 45.

While petitioners would insist that the CA committed grave abuse of discretion, this Court is of the opinion, however, that the assailed Decision and Resolution of the CA, granting the forfeiture of the performance bond  among others, amount to nothing more than errors of judgment, correctible by appeal. When a court, tribunal, or officer has jurisdiction over the person and the subject matter of the dispute, the decision on all other questions arising in the case is an exercise of that jurisdiction. Consequently, all errors committed in the exercise of said jurisdiction are merely errors of judgment. Under prevailing procedural rules and jurisprudence, errors of judgment are not proper subjects of a special civil action for certiorari.[21] If every error committed by the trial court or quasi-judicial agency were to be the proper subject of a special civil action for certiorari, then trial would never end and the dockets of appellate courts would be clogged beyond measure. For this reason, where the issue or question involved affects the wisdom or legal soundness of the decision, not the jurisdiction of the court to render said decision, the same is beyond the province of a special civil action for certiorari.[22] Since petitioners filed the instant special civil action for certiorari, instead of appeal via a petition for review, the petition should be dismissed.

Petitioners ask for leniency from this Court, asking for a liberal application of the rules.[23] However, it is quite apparent that petitioners offer no explanation as to why they did not appeal under Rule 45. Petitioners’ Petition, Reply[24] and Memorandum[25] are all silent on this point, probably hoping that the same would go unnoticed by respondents and by this Court. The attempt to skirt away from the fact that the 15-day period to file an appeal under Rule 45 had already lapsed is made even more apparent when even after the same was raised in issue by respondents in their Comment[26] and memorandum, petitioners did not squarely address the same, nor offer any explanation for such omission.  In Jan-Dec Construction Corporation vs. Court of Appeals,[27] this Court explained why a liberal application of the rules cannot be made to a petition which offers no explanation for the non-observance of the rules, to wit:

While there are instances where the extraordinary remedy of certiorari may be resorted to despite the availability of an appeal, the long line of decisions denying the special civil action for certiorari, either before appeal was availed of or in instances where the appeal period had lapsed, far outnumbers the instances where certiorari was given due course. The few significant exceptions are: (a) when public welfare and the advancement of public policy dictate; (b) when the broader interests of justice so require; (c) when the writs issued are null; and (d) when the questioned order amounts to an oppressive exercise of judicial authority.

In the present case, petitioner has not provided any cogent explanation that would absolve it of the consequences of its failure to abide by the Rules. Apropos on this point are the Court's observations in Duremdes v. Duremdes:

Although it has been said time and again that litigation is not a game of technicalities, that every case must be prosecuted in accordance with the prescribed procedure so that issues may be properly presented and justly resolved, this does not mean that procedural rules may altogether be disregarded. Rules of procedure must be faithfully followed except only when, for persuasive reasons, they may be relaxed to relieve a litigant of an injustice commensurate with his failure to comply with the prescribed procedure. Concomitant to a liberal application of the rules of procedure should be an effort on the part of the party invoking liberality to adequately explain his failure to abide by the rules.  (Emphasis supplied.)[28]

Similarly, in Republic v. Court of Appeals,[29] this Court did not apply a liberal construction of the rules for failure of petitioner to offer an explanation as to why the petition was filed beyond the reglementary period provided for under Rule 45, to wit:

Admittedly, this Court, in accordance with the liberal spirit pervading the Rules of Court and in the interest of justice, has the discretion to treat a petition for certiorari as having been filed under Rule 45, especially if filed within the reglementary period for filing a petition for review.5 In this case, however, we find no reason to justify a liberal application of the rules. The petition was filed well beyond the reglementary period for filing a petition for review without any reason therefor.[30]

While this Court has in the past allowed the relaxing of the rules on the reglementary periods of appeal, it must be stressed that there must be a showing of an extraordinary or exceptional circumstance to warrant such liberality. Bank of America, NT & SA v. Gerochi, Jr.[31] so instructs:

True, in few highly exceptional instances, we have allowed the relaxing of the rules on the application of the reglementary periods of appeal. We cite a few typical examples: In Ramos vs. Bagasao, 96 SCRA 395, we excused the delay of four days in the filing of a notice of appeal because the questioned decision of the trial court was served upon appellant Ramos at a time when her counsel of record was already dead. Her new counsel could only file the appeal four days after the prescribed reglementary period was over. In Republic vs. Court of Appeals, 83 SCRA 453, we allowed the perfection of an appeal by the Republic despite the delay of six days to prevent a gross miscarriage of justice since the Republic stood to lose hundreds of hectares of land already titled in its name and had since then been devoted for educational purposes. In Olacao v. National Labor Relations Commission, 177 SCRA 38, 41, we accepted a tardy appeal considering that the subject matter in issue had theretofore been judicially settled, with finality, in another case. The dismissal of the appeal would have had the effect of the appellant being ordered twice to make the same reparation to the appellee.

The case at bench, given its own settings, cannot come close to those extraordinary circumstances that have indeed justified a deviation from an otherwise stringent rule. Let it not be overlooked that the timeliness of an appeal is a jurisdictional caveat that not even this Court can trifle with.[32]

Withal, this Court must stress that the bare invocation of "the interest of substantial justice" is not a magic wand that will automatically compel this Court to suspend procedural rules.[33] Indeed, in no uncertain terms, this Court has held that the said Rules may be relaxed only in ''exceptionally meritorious cases."[34] Petitioners have failed to show that this case is one of the exceptions.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is DISMISSED.  The January 4, 2005 Decision and March 18, 2005 Resolution of the Court of Appeals, in CA-G.R. SP No. 70473 and CA-G.R. SP No. 71470, are AFFIRMED.


Carpio, (Chairperson), Nachura, Abad, and Perez,* JJ., concur.

* Designated as an additional member in lieu of Associate Justice Jose Catral Mendoza, per Special Order No. 842 dated June 3, 2010.

[1] Rollo, pp. 3-54.

[2] Penned by Associate Justice Amelita G. Tolentino, with Associate Justices Roberto A. Barrios and Vicente S.E. Veloso, concurring; id. at 59-79.

[3] Id. at 81-83.

[4] Filed before the Laguna Lake Development Authority, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, National Water Resources Board, and Metropolitan Manila Authority.

[5] CA rollo (CA-G.R. SP No. 71470), pp. 211-222.

[6] Id. at 287-289.

[7] Id. at 223-231.

[8] Id. at  232-240.

[9] Id. at 12-28.

[10] Id. at 25-28.

[11] Id. at 59-60.

[12] Petitioners’ petition was docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 70473, whereas respondents’ petition was docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 71470.

[13] Rollo, p. 78.

[14] Id. at 81-83.

[15] Id. at 13.

[16] 484 Phil. 438 (2004).

[17] Id. at 469. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied).

[18] VMC Rural Electric Service Cooperative, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 153144, October 16, 2006, 504 SCRA 336, 352.

[19] Mercado v. Court of Appeals, supra note 16.

[20] Section 2 of Rule 45 states: The petition shall be filed within fifteen (15) days from notice of the judgment, or final order or resolution appealed from x x x.

[21] Sebastian v. Morales, 445 Phil. 595, 608 (2003).

[22] Land Bank of the Philippines v. Court of Appeals, 456 Phil. 755, 787 (2003).

[23] Rollo, p. 1318.

[24] Id. at 1115-1158.

[25] Id. at 1305- 1361.

[26] Rollo, pp. 855-923. “Clearly, in questioning the findings of fact of the Court of Appeals (CA) and in arguing that the same is not supported by evidence, Petitioners are raising errors of judgment. The proper mode therefore is via a petition for review under Rule 45. This should have been filed fifteen (15) days from receipt of the Resolution of the CA denying their Motion for Reconsideration pursuant to Section 2 Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. As admitted by the Petitioners in their Petition for Review, they received a copy of the CA Resolution dated March 18, 2005 denying their Motion for Reconsideration on March 28, 2005. Hence, they had until April 12, 2005 within which to file a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. However, records show that the present petition was filed on April 18, 2005. Thus, the remedy of appeal was already lost.” (Id. at 882).

[27] G.R. No. 146818, February 6, 2006, 481 SCRA 556.

[28] Id. at 564-565.

[29] 379 Phil. 92 (2000).

[30] Id. at 98. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied.)

[31] G.R. No. 73210, February 10, 1994, 230 SCRA 9.

[32] Id. at 15-16.

[33] Lazaro v. Court of Appeals, 386 Phil. 412, 417 (2000).

[34] Videogram Regulatory Board v. Court of Appeals, 332 Phil. 820, 832 (1996).

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