Sunday, September 30, 2007

Second Motion for Reconsideration and Rehashed Pro Forma Arguments

In the case of MERALCO vs. BARLIS, En Banc, G.R. No. 114231, June 29, 2004, it was held that Section 1, Rule 52 of the Rules of Court, provides that a motion for reconsideration of a decision may be filed within fifteen days from notice thereof; that under Section 10, Rule 51, if no appeal or motion for new trial or reconsideration is filed within the time provided in the Rules, the judgment shall forthwith be entered by the clerk in the book of entries of judgments; and that Section 2, Rule 52 further provides that no second motion for reconsideration of a judgment or final resolution by the same party shall be entertained, thus:

“Indeed, in Ortigas and Company Limited Partnership vs. Velasco, we held that a second motion for reconsideration of a decision or a final order is prohibited, except for extraordinarily persuasive reasons and only upon express leave first obtained. We explained, thus:

…The propriety or acceptability of such a second motion for reconsideration is not contingent upon the averment of “new grounds to assail the judgment, i.e., grounds other than those theretofore presented and rejected. Otherwise, attainment of finality of a judgment might be staved off indefinitely, depending on the party’s ingeniousness or cleverness in conceiving and formulating “additional flaws” or “newly discovered errors” therein, or thinking up some injury or prejudice to the rights of the movant for reconsideration. “Piece-meal” impugnation of a judgment by successive motions for reconsideration is anathema, being precluded by the salutary axiom that a party seeking the setting aside of a judgment, act or proceeding must set out in his motion all the grounds therefor, and those not so included are deemed waived and cease to be available for subsequent motions.

For all litigation must come to an end at some point, in accordance with established rules of procedure and jurisprudence. As a matter of practice and policy, courts must dispose of every case as promptly as possible; and in fulfillment of their role in the administration of justice, they should brook no delay in the termination of cases by stratagems or maneuverings of parties or their lawyers.”

Moreover, a second motion for reconsideration, which merely rehashes and recycles old allegations and arguments deserves scant consideration. A long line of jurisprudence on this doctrine has been enunciated by the Supreme Court, thus:

The rest of petitioner’s arguments deserve scant consideration, the same being mere rehash of those raised in the petition, which have been fully passed upon in our Decision. METROBANK vs. WONG, G.R. No. 120859. January 23, 2002.

Indeed, we cannot permit a losing party to further delay or thwart the execution of judgment against it by continuously rehashing allegations that have long been rejected. SEVEN BROTHERS SHIPPING CORPORATION vs. ORIENTAL ASSURANCE CORP., GR 140613, October 15, 2002.

The bottom line in the instant case is that petitioner lost his right to appeal before this Court and now seeks to resurrect the same via the instant petition, which he admits finds no support in the rules. The time-honored rule is that the failure to perfect an appeal in the manner and within the period fixed by law renders the decision final and executory. Consequently, no court can exercise appellate jurisdiction to review such decision. It is axiomatic that final and executory judgments can no longer be attacked by any of the parties or be modified, directly or indirectly, even by the highest court of the land.[i] Upon the other hand, the extraordinary action to annul a final judgment is limited to the grounds provided by law and cannot be used as a stratagem to reopen the entire controversy and thereby make a complete farce of a duly promulgated decision that has long become final and executory. TEODORO vs. CA, et al., GR 140799, September 10, 2002.

Litigation must end and terminate sometime and somewhere, and it is essential to an effective and efficient administration of justice that, once a judgment has become final, the winning party be not deprived of the fruits of the verdict. Courts must, therefore, guard against any scheme calculated to bring about that result. Constituted as they are to put an end to controversies, courts should frown upon any attempt to prolong them. TEODORO vs. CA, et al., GR 140799, September 10, 2002.

This Court takes note of petitioner’s fierce determination to evade the execution of a judgment, which has long become final, per our entry of judgment on May 16, 2001. A perusal of the records indicates that no new matters or arguments were raised by petitioner in his urgent motion to elevate the case to the en banc. Rather the issues and grounds cited were a mere rehash of the issues already more than sufficiently passed upon in his petition for review and petition to refer the case to the en banc. It is clear to this Court that petitioner is making a mockery of justice and trifling with the judicial processes to evade the final judgment against him. MOLL vs. CA, et al., GR 145425, December 9, 2002.

A cursory look at petitioner’s arguments readily discloses that the same are a mere rehash of the issues and arguments raised in the original petition. The first procedural issue raised, which parenthetically, was resolved by us in our January 30, 2002 decision, is whether or not it was proper for petitioner to resort to a petition for certiorari, instead of appealing the decision of the trial court. X x x. As to the contention that the contract is worth billions of pesos, thereby requiring Presidential approval for validity, this is a mere rehash of the issues already answered in our January 30, 2002 decision. MMDA vs. JANCOM ENV’L. CORP., et al., G.R. No. 147465. April 10, 2002.

AT BOTTOM, private respondent’s Motion for Reconsideration presents no new or substantial arguments which have not been presented in his prior pleadings and which have not been taken up in our Decision. His present allegations and asseverations are mere rehashes of arguments previously presented to us or are mere restatements of the Separate and Dissenting Opinions which were already adequately discussed in our Decision. In short, private respondent has not given any compelling reason to warrant a reversal or modification of our earlier rulings. GOV’T OF THE USA, etc. vs. HON. PURGANAN, etc., et al., G.R. No. 148571. December 17, 2002.

Concededly, there were occasions when this Court treated a petition for certiorari as one filed under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. However, the circumstances prevailing in the instant case do not justify a deviation from a general rule. Notably, the instant petition was filed way beyond the reglementary period allowed under Rule 45 without any justifiable reason therefor nor any reasonable explanation being proffered by petitioner. In addition, the arguments she cited are without merit and are in fact mere rehash of the issues raised before and judiciously resolved by the courts a quo. The issues require a review of the factual findings, which, verily, could not be done because this Court is not a trier of facts. More importantly, a reading of the records of the case strengthens our disposition that both the trial and the appellate courts did not abuse their discretion in assessing their factual findings. We find their conclusions amply supported by the records of the case and grounded in law. CONEJOS vs. CA, et al., GR 149473, August 9, 2002.

An incisive examination of the allegations in the Motion for Reconsideration shows that the same [are] a mere rehash of his averments contained in his Verified Answer and Memorandum. Neither did respondent raise new matters that would sufficiently warrant a reversal of the assailed resolution of the Second Division. This makes the said Motion pro forma. X x x. Indeed, in the cases where a motion for reconsideration was held to be pro forma, the motion was so held because (1) it was a second motion for reconsideration,[ii] or (2) it did not comply with the rule that the motion must specify the findings and conclusions alleged to be contrary to law or not supported by the evidence,[iii] or (3) it failed to substantiate the alleged errors,[iv] or (4) it merely alleged that the decision in question was contrary to law,[v] or (5) the adverse party was not given notice thereof.[vi] The 16-page motion for reconsideration filed by petitioner in the COMELEC en banc suffers from none of the foregoing defects, and it was error for the COMELEC en banc to rule that petitioner’s motion for reconsideration was pro forma because the allegations raised therein are a mere “rehash” of his earlier pleadings or did not raise “new matters.” Hence, the filing of the motion suspended the running of the 30-day period to file the petition in this case, which, as earlier shown, was done within the reglementary period provided by law. COQUILLA vs. COMELEC, GR 151914 EN BANC, July 31, 2002.

A close perusal of the above issues and the discussions thereof shows that they are a mere rehash of arguments and positions already raised and discussed extensively in the 246-page Resolution of December 1, 2004, penned by Justice Artemio V. Panganiban; as well as in the 125-page Dissenting Opinion of Justice Antonio T. Carpio, the 100-page Dissenting Opinion of Justice Conchita Carpio Morales, the 29-page Separate Opinion of Justice Dante O. Tinga, and the 10-page Concurring Opinion of Justice Minita V. Chico-Nazario. Further discussion of these issues would not serve any useful purpose, as it would merely repeat the same justifications and reasons already taken up in the foregoing Opinions, which tackled precisely those matters and even more; any further elucidations, disquisitions and disputations would merely reiterate the same points already passed upon. LA BUGAL vs. RAMOS, G.R. No. 127882. February 1, 2005.

After a careful perusal of the testimony of the witnesses in this case and a review of the findings and conclusions of the trial court, we find no reason to depart from this doctrine nor apply its exceptions. The first five errors assigned are but a mere rehash of the accused’s arguments in his memorandum filed with the trial court. The trial court ably and correctly disposed of them in the challenged decision as shown in the portions thereof earlier quoted. We adopt the trial court’s resolution on those issues and commend the trial judge for her exacting analysis of the facts. PEOPLE vs. SGT. MORENO BAYANI, G.R. No. 120894. October 3, 1996.

The accused failed to realize that the trial court even extended him a special act of liberality when it did not consider his motion for new trial as pro-forma. The alleged newly discovered evidence in support of the motion for new trial are but photocopies of the affidavits of Aurea Reyes and Ponciano Reyes which were already attached to the motion for reconsideration in support of one of its grounds. Put a little differently, the motion for new trial was merely a rehash of one of the grounds of the motion for reconsideration. Being, pro-forma, the former did not stop the running of the period to appeal. Besides, the motion for reconsideration was filed forty-one days after promulgation of the judgment. The accused should then be grateful to the trial court for its liberality when it gave due course to the notice of appeal. PEOPLE vs. ROMULO SORIA y GALLETES , G.R. No. 119007. October 4, 1996.

[i] Panado v. Court of Appeals, 298 SCRA 110, 121 [1998], citing In Re Joaquin T. Borromeo, 241 SCRA 405, 457-458.

[ii] Manila Trading v. Enriquez, 1 SCRA 1056 (1961); City of Cebu v. Mendoza, 62 SCRA 440 (1975); Debuque v. Climaco, 99 SCRA 353 (1980); Garcia v. Echiverri, 132 SCRA 631 (1984); Commissioner of Internal Revenue v. Island Garment Manufacturing Corporation, 153 SCRA 665 (1987); Vda. de Espina v. Abaya, 196 SCRA 312 (1991).

[iii] A similar rule is found in Rule 19, §3 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure.

[iv] Villarica v. Court of Appeals, 57 SCRA 24 (1974).

[v] Jessena v. Hervas, 83 SCRA 799 (1978); Marikina Valley Development Corporation v. Flojo, 251 SCRA 87 (1995); Nieto v. De los Angeles, 109 SCRA 229 (1981).

[vi] Sembrano v. Ramirez, 166 SCRA 30 (1988); Pojas v. Gozo-Dadole, 192 SCRA 575 (1990); Bank of the Philippine Islands v. Far East Molasses Corporation, 198 SCRA 689 (1991).