SCENARIOS, INC. and/or G.R. No. 173283
- versus - CARPIO MORALES,
VELASCO, JR., and
The instant petition assails the Decision
and Resolution of the
Court of Appeals dated
his Decision dated 26
April 2001, Labor Arbiter Salimathar Nambi ordered the reinstatement of respondent to his former position without
loss of seniority rights and with full backwages from the time of dismissal up
to the time of actual reinstatement, or, if not feasible, the payment of separation
pay of one (1) month salary per year of service. Subsequently, a writ of execution
On 20 August 2003, after finding no proof that petitioners received the summons, the notices of hearing and the notice of the decision, the NLRC issued an order remanding the case to the labor arbiter for proper service of summons and appropriate proceedings. Respondent sought reconsideration of the order but his motion was denied by the NLRC.
then filed a petition for certiorari before the Court of Appeals assailing the
aforesaid orders of the NLRC. The Court
of Appeals granted the petition and ruled that petitioners failed to overcome
the presumption that the notices and summons had been regularly sent and
received in the ordinary course of events. Relying
on the certification of the Quezon City Central Post Office that petitioners had
received a copy of the labor arbiter’s decision on
Petitioners posit that they were denied due process when the labor arbiter decided the case even in the absence of sufficient proof that the summons and notices were delivered to them. They maintain that there was no proof that the notices were sent to the addressees, neither was there a certification from the postmaster that notices were delivered and received by them. Moreover, they argue that there was no valid service of summons on Scenarios, Inc., considering that no proof that summons were received by persons authorized to receive them, since Jess Jimenez, the person named in the summons, is a complete stranger to Scenarios, Inc.
The petition has no merit.
Service of notices and resolutions, including summons, in cases filed before the labor arbiters is governed by Sections 5 and 6 of Rule III of the New NLRC Rules of Procedure. The said provisions read:
Section 5. Service of Notices and Resolutions.—(a) Notices or summons and copies of orders, resolutions or decisions shall be served on the parties to the case personally by the bailiff or duly authorized public officer within three (3) days from receipt thereof or by registered mail; Provided that in special circumstances, service of summons maybe effected in accordance with the pertinent provisions of the Rules of Court, Provided further that in cases of decisions and final awards, copies thereof shall be served on both parties and their counsel by registered mail, provided further that in cases where a party to a case or his counsel on record personally seeks service of the decision upon inquiry thereon, service to said party shall be deemed effected upon actual receipt thereof; provided finally, that in case where the parties are so numerous, service shall be made on counsel and upon such number of complainants as may be practicable, which shall be considered substantial compliance with Article 224(a) of the Labor Code, as amended. (Emphasis supplied)
x x x.
Section 6. Proof and completeness of service.—The return is prima facie proof of the facts indicated therein. Service by registered mail is complete upon receipt by the addressee or his agent; but if the addressee fails to claim his mail from the post office within five (5) days from the date of first notice of the postmaster, service shall take effect after such time. (Emphasis supplied)
Following the explicit language of the above-quoted Section 5, it has been held that service by registered mail is complete after five (5) days from the date of first notice of the postmaster in the event that the addressee fails to claim his registered mail from the post office. Moreover, it is a fundamental rule that unless the contrary is proven, official duty is presumed to have been performed regularly and judicial proceedings regularly conducted. This presumption of the regularity of the quasi-judicial proceedings before the NLRC includes
the presumption of regularity of service of summons and other notices. It is therefore incumbent upon herein petitioners to rebut that legal presumption with competent and proper evidence, for the return of the registered mail as “unclaimed” is prima facie proof of the facts indicated therein.
From the records, we see that the
envelope containing the summons addressed to Jess Jimenez, Scenarios, Inc./GMA
Complex, EDSA, corner Timog Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City 1104, is marked “RETURN TO SENDER” and “UNCLAIMED” and
has the notations “SECOND NOTICE DATE 8/14” and “LAST NOTICE DATE 9/6.” There
is also an unsigned Registry Return Receipt attached to the said envelope. It
appears that Jess Jimenez has been notified at least twice. At the very least, petitioners had five (5)
days from the
However, petitioners allege that Jess Jimenez, the person named in the summons, is a complete stranger to Scenarios, Inc., and thus no valid service of summons was made on Scenarios, Inc. This is a factual matter which the Court is not in a position to resolve. Besides, the name of respondent Scenarios, Inc. itself is mentioned on the face of the letter envelope. In any case, when the summons was sent, the labor arbiter could only rely on the name and address indicated by respondent in the complaint. There was no way to determine, at that point, whether Jess Jimenez is an employee or an officer of Scenarios, Inc.
Petitioners likewise maintain that there was no valid service of the notices of hearing and that they did not receive the said notices. They also add that they did not receive a copy of the labor arbiter’s decision. The records tell us a different story.
Scrutinizing the records, we find that excluding the mandatory conference scheduled on 25 August 2000, five (5) dates were set by the labor arbiter for the hearing of the case: 25 August 2000, 5
The records furthermore indicate that
petitioners had been furnished a copy of the decision of the labor arbiter. As
indicated in the certification issued by the Quezon City Central Post Office, a
notice of judgment/decision was served by registered mail on petitioners,
Turning to another point, there is enough evidence showing that petitioners had been duly notified of the hearings and of the decision. The postal office certifications are prima facie proof that the said processes had been delivered to and received by petitioners. The presumption of regularity in the performance of official duty stands. It is incumbent upon petitioners to prove otherwise, a task which they failed to do.
Moreover, despite petitioners’ assertion that the summons and notices had not been served on any of the authorized officers or agents of the corporation, they do not however deny that the same had been properly sent to their business address. In fact, even the writ of execution was served at the very same address written on the summons, notices and decision. Technical rules of procedure are not strictly applied in quasi-judicial proceedings; only substantial compliance is required. The constitutional requirement of due process exacts that the service be such as may reasonably be expected to give the notice desired. Petitioners’ bare assertion that the notices had not been received requires substantiation by competent evidence, as mere allegation is neither equivalent to proof nor evidence. Besides, the registry return receipt states that “a registered article must not be delivered to anyone but the addressee, or upon the addressee’s written order.” Thus, the persons who received the notice are presumably able to present a written authorization to receive the same and we can assume that the notices are duly received in the ordinary course of events. It is a legal presumption, born of wisdom and experience, that official duty has been regularly performed; that the proceedings of a judicial tribunal are regular and valid, and that judicial acts and duties have been and will be duly and properly performed. Whether or not petitioners deliberately ignored the summons and notices or whether those who actually received the same failed to show petitioners the summons and notices due to lack of instruction or out of negligence is no longer important to us. The registry return receipt for the summons marked “UNCLAIMED” and the certifications from the Quezon City Central Post Office that two of the notices and a copy of the decision had been delivered to and received in the premises of petitioners’ office are, under the prevailing rules, enough to convince us that service of said processes and decision was completed.
the Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals dated
Costs against petitioners.
DANTE O. TINGA
LEONARDO A. QUISUMBING
CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.
Associate Justice Associate Justice
ARTURO D. BRION
I attest 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 Court’s Division.
LEONARDO A. QUISUMBING
Chairperson, Second Division
Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, and the Division Chairperson’s Attestation, 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 Court’s Division.
REYNATO S. PUNO
Rollo, pp. 27-44; Both penned by Associate Justice Regalado E. Maambong, with Associate Justices Rodrigo V. Cosico and Lucenito N. Tagle, concurring.
Columbus Philippines Bus Corporation v. NLRC, 417 Phil. 81, 96 (2001), citing Masagana Concrete Products v. NLRC, G.R. No. 106916, 313 SCRA 576, 586-587 (1999).