679 Phil. 165

EN BANC

[ G.R. No. 191412, January 17, 2012 ]

LETICIA A. CADENA, PETITIONER, VS. CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION, RESPONDENT.

D E C I S I O N

REYES, J.:

Before us is a Petition for Review filed by petitioner Leticia A. Cadena (Cadena) following the issuance by the Court of Appeals (CA) of its Decision[1] dated June 30, 2009 and Resolution[2] dated January 4, 2010 in the case docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 103646, entitled "Leticia A. Cadena v. Civil Service Commission."

The Factual Antecedents

Cadena, then a State Auditing Examiner II, Commission on Audit, assigned at the National Power Corporation, was charged with grave misconduct by the Civil Service Commission-National Capital Region (CSC-NCR) following an incident that occurred during the Career Service Professional Examination held on June 29, 1997. Records indicate that while all examinees were instructed at the start of the examination to clear their desks of things other than their examination booklets, scratch papers and answer sheets, Cadena kept her Notice of Assignment. In the course of the examination, the examiner caught Cadena with the said notice of assignment where some questions from the examination were reproduced.

In her answer to the formal charge, Cadena averred that she failed to fully comprehend the instructions to examinees because she arrived late for the examinations. She did not know that she was prohibited from keeping her notice of assignment while the examinations were ongoing. She further alleged that what she copied from the examination booklet and wrote on the notice of assignment were terms she encountered for the first time, and that she only intended to look up in the dictionary the meaning of those words once she arrived home.

While Cadena manifested her desire to file a position paper during the investigations, no such pleading was filed by her counsel. A decision was then rendered by the CSC-NCR based on available records.

The Ruling of the CSC-NCR 

The CSC-NCR found Cadena guilty of grave misconduct and dishonesty. The CSC-NCR rejected her defense that she was not aware of the instructions given to examinees considering that the test booklets already contained a prohibition from making copies of the examination questions. Further, she failed to satisfactorily explain her reason for writing her answer sheet number and the venue of her examination on her notice of assignment. The CSC-NCR ruled that her act "does not only amount to Grave Misconduct but also connotes untrustworthiness and lack of integrity, a disposition to lie, cheat, deceive, betray which is tantamount to dishonesty."[3] It further declared:

Further, Item no. 1 of Civil Service Commission Memorandum Circular No. 8, s. 1990 states that:

"Any act which includes the fraudulent procurement and/or use of fake/spurious civil service eligibility, the giving of assistance to ensure the commission or procurement of the same, or any other act which amounts to violation of the integrity of the Civil Service examinations, possession of fake Civil Service eligibility and other similar acts shall be categorized as a grave offense of Dishonesty, Grave Misconduct or Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service, as the case may be, and shall be penalized in accordance with the approved schedule of penalties." [4]

The dispositive portion of CSC-NCR's Decision[5] dated June 14, 2005 then reads:

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, this Office finds Leticia A. Cadena guilty of Grave Misconduct and Dishonesty. Cadena is hereby meted out the penalty of DISMISSAL from the service with the accessory penalties of forfeiture of retirement benefits, disqualification from re-employment in the government service and bar from taking any civil service examination in the future.

SO ORDERED.[6]

The petitioner's motion for reconsideration was denied by the CSC-NCR via a decision[7] dated September 1, 2006, prompting the filing of an appeal with the CSC.

The Ruling of the CSC

On March 24, 2008, the CSC, through Commissioner Mary Ann Z. Fernandez-Mendoza, issued Resolution No. 080430[8] dismissing the petitioner's appeal for having been filed out of time. It emphasized that the "perfection of an appeal in the manner and within the period laid down by law is not only mandatory but jurisdictional, and failure to perfect an appeal as legally required has the effect of rendering final and executory [the] judgment of the court below and deprives the appellate court [of] jurisdiction to entertain the appeal."[9]

Dissatisfied with the CSC's ruling, the petitioner filed with the CA a petition for review raising the following issues:

1. Whether or not the Commission-NCR erred in denying the Appeal on its Resolution of March 24, 2008 filed by Petitioner for being arbitrary and not supported by the evidence on record and therefore errors of law or irregularities have been committed prejudicial to the interest of the Petitioner; and

2. Whether or not the failure of her counsel to submit the position paper could be considered as fraud, accident, mistake or excusable negligence which would warrant the reinvestigation of the case to afford Petitioner the chance to explain her side in the first instance.[10]

The Ruling of the CA

On June 30, 2009, the CA rendered its decision,[11] declaring that the CSC properly dismissed the appeal from the CSC-NCR's decision since the same had already become final and executory. On the other matters raised in the petition, the CA ruled as follows:

Having resolved in the affirmative the issue of the propriety of the dismissal of petitioner's appeal to the CSC, we no longer find it necessary to resolve the other issue.[12]
A motion for reconsideration filed by the petitioner was denied by the CA via a resolution[13] dated January 4, 2010. Hence, this petition.

The Present Petition

The present petition includes a statement that it is appealing from the resolution of the CA. However, this Court observes that the issues being raised by the petitioner pertain to the rulings of the CSC-NCR and CSC rather than of the CA, to wit:

1. Whether or not the Commission-NCR erred in denying the Appeal on its Resolution of March 24, 2008 filed by Petitioner for being arbitrary and not supported by the evidence on record and therefore errors of law or irregularities have been committed prejudicial to the interest of the Petitioner; and

2. Whether or not the failure of her counsel to submit the position paper could be considered as fraud, accident, mistake or excusable negligence which would warrant the reinvestigation of the case to afford Petitioner the chance to explain her side in the first instance.[14]

Further, the petitioner's prayer seeks a reversal or setting aside of the rulings of the CSC instead of the CA, as it reads:

WHEREFORE, it is respectfully prayed that this Honorable Court shall set aside and/or reverse the Resolution dated March 24, 2008 by Commissioner MARY ANN Z. FERNANDEZ[-]MENDOZA and a new one entered dismissing the above-mentioned Administrative Case for utter lack of merit or in the alternative, remand the case to the Civil Service Commission-National Capital Region for further proceedings where the Petitioner shall be afforded the chance to adduce evidence in her behalf, in the interest of substantial justice.[15]

We have earlier denied this petition via a Resolution[16] dated October 5, 2010, in view of the petitioner's failure to comply with a lawful order of the Court when her counsel failed to file a reply as required under this Court's Resolution[17] dated June 29, 2010. The petition's reinstatement was only allowed following the counsel for the petitioner's explanation in a motion for reconsideration dated November 17, 2010 that the belated filing of the reply occurred due to the fault of their office personnel who inadvertently misplaced a copy of this Court's resolution requiring the filing of a reply.

This Court's Ruling

We deny the petition.

The present petition does not
comply with therequirements
of Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of
Civil Procedure.


At the outset, it should be stressed that the petition is dismissible for non-compliance with substantial requirements under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court.

First, we cite that on March 16, 2010, this Court issued a resolution in relation to the petitioner's failure to include a statement of material dates in her petition as required under Rule 45, Sections 4 (b) and 5, the pertinent portions of which read:

Section 4.  Contents of the petition. - The petition shall be filed in eighteen (18) copies, with the original copy intended for the court being indicated as such by the petitioner, and shall x x x (b) indicate the material dates showing when notice of the judgment or final order or resolution subject thereof was received, when a motion for new trial or reconsideration, if any, was filed and when notice of the denial thereof was received; x x x.

Section 5.  Dismissal or denial of petition. - The failure of the petitioner to comply with any of the foregoing requirements regarding the payment of the docket and other lawful fees, deposit for costs, proof of service of the petition, and the contents of and the documents which should accompany the petition shall be sufficient ground for the dismissal thereof.

The Supreme Court may on its own initiative deny the petition on the ground that the appeal is without merit, or is prosecuted manifestly for delay, or that the questions raised therein are too unsubstantial to require consideration.

Given the foregoing, this Court's resolution of March 16, 2010 required compliance from the petitioner and thus reads in part:

Acting on the Petition for Review on Certiorari, the Court Resolved, without giving due course to the petition, to

x x x

(b) REQUIRE the petitioner to COMPLY, within five (5) days from notice hereof, with Rule 45, Sections 4 (b) and 5, 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended, which provides that the petition shall indicate the material dates showing when notice of the judgment or final order or resolution subject thereof was received, when a motion for new trial or reconsideration, if any, was filed and when notice of the denial thereof was received.[18]

A perusal of the case records, however, reveals that despite due notice of said resolution by the counsel for the petitioner on March 24, 2010,[19] no compliance therewith has been filed with this Court. We reiterate that Rule 45, Section 5 provides that the failure of the petitioner to comply with any of the contents of and the documents which should accompany a petition shall be sufficient ground for the dismissal thereof. Notably, the material dates appear crucial in this case, given that this petition was filed more than two months after the promulgation by the CA of its resolution denying the petitioner's motion for reconsideration in CA-G.R. SP No. 103646. It has to be sufficiently established that the petition was timely filed within 15 days from the petitioner's notice of the CA's denial of her motion for reconsideration.

This Court, instead of dismissing the petition outright, granted the petitioner a reasonable opportunity to correct the deficiency on the material dates by issuing the March 16, 2010 resolution. Regrettably, the petitioner continued to defy this lawful order of the Court, thereby giving us all the more reason to deny the present petition.

In addition to the foregoing, the matters pertained to in the present petition are not proper subjects of a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45. As earlier mentioned, the petitioner assails rulings made by the CSC instead of the CA. The issues brought before us pertain to matters that were neither ruled upon nor discussed by the CA in its June 30, 2009 decision and January 4, 2010 resolution. The appellate court only discussed the timeliness of the appeal to the CSC. After ruling that the CSC made no error in dismissing the appeal from the CSC-NCR, the CA held that it was no longer necessary for it to resolve the other issues brought before it.

Further, the CA ruling on the validity of the appeal's dismissal was not even made an issue in this case. In fact, the issues in this petition are exactly the same issues raised before the CA. This petition and the inclusion of issues on matters that were solely decided upon by the CSC then appear to be a scheme resorted to by the petitioner, merely to avert the adverse effects of the petitioner's and/or counsel's previous errors or lapses. We emphasize that under Rule 45, Section 1[20] of the Rules of Court, a petition for review on certiorari is the remedy that may be resorted to by a party to appeal only a judgment or final order or resolution of the CA, the Sandiganbayan, the Regional Trial Court and other courts whenever authorized by law.

With the foregoing infirmities, this Court has sufficient grounds to deny the present petition, barring the need to further rule on the issues now brought before us. In any case, we rule that both the CSC and the CA have correctly held that the rulings of the CSC-NCR had become final and executory when the petitioner failed to make a timely appeal before the CSC. As held by the CSC in its decision denying the appeal:

For her failure to perfect an appeal within the reglementary period of fifteen (15) days from receipt of the adverse decision, herein appellant lost her right to appeal. Technically, there is nothing more to appeal as the decision sought to be appealed had already attained finality. It is well settled that judgments or orders become final and executory by operation of law and not by judicial declaration. Thus, finality of judgment becomes an established fact upon the lapse of the reglementary period of appeal, if no appeal is perfected or motion for reconsideration or new trial is filed. This jurisprudential rule must be read together with Section 72 Rule V (B) of the Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service (URACCS), which provides that the prescriptive period to appeal the decision of the Regional Offices of the Commission is fifteen (15) days from receipt thereof by the party adversely affected.[21] (citation omitted)

Settled is the rule that the right to appeal is not a natural right or a part of due process, but is merely a statutory privilege that may be exercised only in the manner prescribed by law. The right is unavoidably forfeited by the litigant who does not comply with the manner thus prescribed.[22]

This Court has, on several occasions, ruled that the emerging trend in our jurisprudence is to afford every party-litigant the amplest opportunity for the determination and just determination of his cause free from the constraints of technicalities.[23] However, failure to perfect an appeal within the prescribed period is not a mere technicality but jurisdictional, and failure to perfect an appeal renders the judgment final and executory.[24] In addition, the liberal application of rules of procedure for perfecting appeals is still the exception, and not the rule; and it is only allowed in exceptional circumstances to better serve the interest of justice.[25] This exceptional situation does not obtain in this case as in fact, both the rulings of the CSC and CA are supported by evidence on record. While the petitioner argues that she was denied the opportunity to fully present her defenses, she was able to give her answer to the charges, and even moved for a reconsideration of the decision of the CSC-NCR. Her arguments and defenses were already reviewed and considered by the agency when it discussed its rulings. As held by this Court in the case of Autencio v. Manara,[26] the essence of due process in administrative proceedings is simply the opportunity to explain one's side or to seek a reconsideration of the action or ruling complained of. Furthermore, the counsel's actions and mistakes on procedural matters bind the client.[27] Where the party has the opportunity to appeal or seek reconsideration of the action or ruling complained of, defects in procedural due process may be cured.[28]

WHEREFORE, considering the foregoing, the instant petition for review on certiorari is hereby DENIED.

SO ORDERED.

Corona, C.J., Carpio, Velasco, Jr., Leonardo-De Castro, Peralta, Bersamin, Del Castillo, Abad, Villarama, Jr., Perez, Mendoza, Sereno, and Perlas-Bernabe, JJ., concur.
Brion,* J., on leave.



* On official leave per Special Order No. 1174 dated January 9, 2012.

[1]  Penned by Associate Justice Pampio A. Abarintos, with Associate Justices Amelita G. Tolentino and Sixto C. Marella, Jr., concurring; rollo, pp. 52-63.

[2]  Id. at 69-70.

[3] Id. at 21.

[4] Id. at 21-22.

[5]  Id. at 18-22.

[6] Id. at 22.

[7] Id. at 31-33.

[8] Id. at 34-37.

[9] Id. at 36.

[10] Id. at 41.

[11] Supra note 1.

[12] Rollo, p. 62.

[13] Supra note 2.

[14] Rollo, p. 7.

[15] Id. at 14.

[16] Id. at 111.

[17] Id. at 109.

[18] Id. at 71.

[19] Id. at 73.

[20] RULES OF COURT, Rule 45 Section 1. Section 1. Filing of petition with Supreme Court. A party desiring to appeal by certiorari from a judgment or final order or resolution of the Court of Appeals, the Sandiganbayan, the Regional Trial Court or other courts whenever authorized by law, may file with the Supreme Court a verified petition for review on certiorari. The petition shall raise only questions of law which must be distinctly set forth.

[21] Rollo, p. 36.

[22] Bejarasco, Jr. v. People, G.R. No. 159781, February 2, 2011, 641 SCRA 328, 332.

[23] Pacific Union Insurance Company v. Concepts & Systems Development, Inc., G.R. No. 183528, February 23, 2011.

[24] Ruiz v. Delos Santos, G.R. No. 166386, January 27, 2009, 577 SCRA 29, 43.

[25] Id. at 45.

[26] 489 Phil 752 (2005).

[27] Id. at 754.

[28] Id. at 760-761.



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