NATIONAL MINES AND ALLIED G.R. No. 157232
PUNO, C.J., Chairperson,
- versus - SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ,
HON. ADELINA CALDERON-
BARGAS, in her capacity as Presiding Promulgated:
Judge of Branch 78, Regional Trial Court
of Morong, Rizal, and NORMA G. December 10, 2007
This is a petition for certiorari and prohibition seeking the annulment of the Order dated January 30, 2003, of Presiding Judge Adelina Calderon-Bargas of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 78, Morong, Rizal, for want of jurisdiction in granting private respondents Motion to Admit Amended Complaint in Civil Case No. 01-1322-M entitled Norma Mitra v. National Mines and Allied Workers, et al.
The facts are as follows:
In August of 1992, petitioner, representing the workers of private respondent, filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) for unfair labor practice, illegal dismissal, underpayment of wages, nonpayment of holiday pay and 13th month pay against private respondent, Norma G. Mitra.
decision was rendered by Labor Arbiter Antonio Macam on
Accordingly, a writ of execution was issued on
NLRC Sheriff Juanito Atienza levied upon a parcel
of land belonging to private respondent. As the highest bidder in the execution
sale conducted by the Sheriff, petitioner acquired title to the property on
In its Answer with Counterclaim and Opposition to the Issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order, petitioner averred that the RTC had no jurisdiction over the subject matter of the case because it is an offshoot of a labor dispute that had been decided by the NLRC.
respondents subsequent Motion for Reconsideration was denied in an Order dated
Plaintiff stated that she does not question the legality or validity of the decision of the Labor Arbiter in Case No. RAB-IV-8-4482-92, but the procedure followed by Ms. Dinna Mantuano-Lao, [Register of Deeds], and Sheriff Juanito J. Atienza, when the former cancelled the name of the plaintiff on TCT No. M-46298, and issued TCT No. M-105453 in the name of defendant NAMAWU.
However, a reading of the allegations in the complaint shows that plaintiff questions not only the process of notification in the Notice of Levy, but the alleged lack of notice of the proceedings in NLRC Case No. RAB-IV-8-4482-92 had before the Labor Arbiter.
She alleges in the complaint that plaintiff never received any summons or copy of the complaint in the aforesaid case; she never hired a lawyer to represent her in said case; she never received any NOTICES of any decision, execution, levy, auction or sale.
Considering that plaintiff is questioning her lack of notice from the issuance of summons, until the levy or attachment of the property in question, it is clear, therefore, that plaintiff does not only question the procedure followed by Sheriff Juanito J. Atienza, but also the procedure of the Labor Arbiter, since she was allegedly not given notice on all the proceedings before the Labor Arbiter.
Meanwhile, if the plaintiff would continue her cause of action against the [Register] of Deeds, there is a need to amend the complaint, naming NAMAWU as a nominal party; and the Register of Deeds as the indispensable party.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the motion for reconsideration is DENIED for lack of merit.
A copy of the above Order was
received by private respondent on
2. In compliance with this Honorable Courts order, plaintiff has amended [her] complaint;
Undersigned lawyer suffered a heart attack last June
2002 and was advised by his cardiologist to refrain from legal work for at
least 60 days for his rehabilitation and recuperation. Thus, his wife gave him
copies of the Courts order only last
Attached to the motion was private respondents Amended Complaint (Cancellation of TCT No. M-105453 & Reinstatement of TCT No. M-56298; Damages with Prayer for a Writ of Preliminary Injunction and/or Restraining Order), alleging the following:
1. Plaintiff [private respondent] is the
owner of two (2) parcels of land covered under Transfer Certificate of Title
No. M-46298 registered in the name of NORMA MITRA issued by the Registry of
Deeds for Morong Branch,
. . .
9. There was fraud and collusion.... in the issuance of TCT No. M-105453 in the name of defendant NAMAWU. The notice of levy on execution and certificate of sale and/or final deed of sale, used as basis for the cancellation of plaintiffs title, never came to the knowledge of plaintiff, as she never received copies of the notice of levy, certificate of sale and the final deed of sale in connection with her real property, subject matter of this case;
. . .
11. Since no valid notice of levy was served personally or given to judgment debtor, there was no valid levy on plaintiffs title, and therefore, its subsequent registration in the Registry of Deeds and annotations in the title were also invalid and ineffective (Phil. Surety & Insurance Co., Inc. v. Zabal, 21 SCRA 682).
Petitioner opposed the aforesaid motion on the following grounds that: 1) it was filed out of time; 2) the amendment substantially changed the cause of action, defense or theory of the case; 3) the amendment will result in the alteration of a final judgment on a substantial matter; 4) the amendment sought to confer jurisdiction upon the court when none had existed before; and 5) the amendment was intended to delay the proceedings.
In the Reply to defendants Opposition to the Motion to Admit Amended Complaint, the plaintiff maintained that no appeal was made on the said order as they opted to file an amended complaint; that no substantial amendments were made to the original complaint, but merely compliance to the condition set by the Court in order to continue plaintiffs cause of action in this case; and that defendant NAMAWU is now merely a nominal party and all references to the labor case were deleted and the Sheriff of the National Labor Relations Commission omitted as party defendant. The plaintiff now focuses this case on the illegal acts committed by the Register of Deeds in the transfer of plaintiffs certificate of title to the nominal party, NAMAWU. In support of the late filing of the Amended Complaint, the counsel submitted documentary evidence showing that he was indeed under medical care for a heart attack and was advised to rest for at least 60 days.
After careful consideration of the arguments raised by the parties, the Court finds the Motion to Admit Amended Complaint impressed with merit; resolves to grant said motion and to ADMIT the Amended Complaint.
Hence, petitioner argues as follows:
1. The Motion to Admit Amended Complaint was filed after the finality of the Orders dated January 21, 2002 and June 19, 2002, respectively dismissing private respondents complaint for lack of jurisdiction and denying her motion for reconsideration;
2. After the finality of the Orders, public respondent had lost jurisdiction over the case, except to execute the same;
3. The amendment was intended to delay the proceedings. The labor case from which this case stemmed had been pending for more than ten years or since 1992. Private respondent had ample opportunity (since the filing of this case in July 2001) to amend her complaint and raise the issue involving the enforcement of the writ of execution issued by the NLRC; and
4. Private respondent failed to perfect her appeal within the 15-day reglementary period from the receipt of the final order of the court.
issue is whether public respondent acted without jurisdiction and with grave
abuse of discretion in issuing the Order dated
The Court agrees that public respondent acted without jurisdiction in issuing the assailed Order allowing private respondent to file an amended complaint.
Under the Rules of Court, a party may amend his pleading once as a matter of right at any time before a responsive pleading is served, or in the case of a reply, at any time within ten (10) days after it is served. At this stage, a party has the absolute right to amend his pleading and may introduce a new cause of action or change in theory. On the other hand, substantial amendments after the answer had been filed may be made only upon leave of court; but such leave may be refused if it appears to the court that the motion was made with intent to delay.
In the present case, however, the motion to file an amended complaint was filed one month after the Order of the trial court dismissing private respondents complaint became final due to the latters failure to perfect an appeal. As a rule, the aggrieved party must perfect his appeal within the period as provided for by law. The rule is mandatory in character. A partys failure to comply with the law will result in the decision becoming final and executory and, as such, can no longer be modified or reversed. Thus, it is beyond the power or jurisdiction of the court which rendered the decision or order to amend or revoke the same after the lapse of the fifteen-day reglementary period to file an appeal.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Order dated
ADOLFO S. AZCUNA
REYNATO S. PUNO
Associate Justice Associate Justice
RENATO C. CORONA
Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, it is hereby certified that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.
REYNATO S. PUNO
to sit as additional Member of the First Division under Special Order No. 474
 Under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court.
 Docketed as Case No. RAB-IV-8-4482-92-RI.
 Docketed as Civil Case No. 01-1322-M.
 Emphasis supplied.
 Rollo, pp. 28-29.
 Section 2, Rule 10 of the Rules of Court.
 Radio Communications of the
Philippines, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 121397,
 Section 3, supra note 10.
 An appeal must be taken within fifteen (15) days from promulgation of the judgment or order appealed from. This period for perfecting an appeal shall be interrupted from the time a motion for new trial or reconsideration is filed until notice of the order overruling the motion shall have been served upon the accused or his counsel (Section 6, Rule 122, id.).
 Pondevida v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. Nos. 160929-31, August 16, 2005, 467 SCRA 219.
 Heirs of the Late Flor Tungpalan v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 136207, June 21, 2005, 460 SCRA 392. The failure to perfect an appeal within the prescribed period is not only mandatory but also jurisdictional, and failure to do so renders the questioned decision final and executory, and deprives the appellate court of jurisdiction to alter the judgment, much less to entertain the appeal (Meatmasters International Corporation v. Lelis Integrated Development Corporation, G.R. No. 163022, February 28, 2005, 452 SCRA 626).