Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Equity jurisdiction; where late appeal allowed - G.R. No. 176129

G.R. No. 176129
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"x x x.

The petitioners are asking that this Court exercise its equity jurisdiction since their delay was neither intended nor prejudicial to respondent.[29]

Ruling of this Court

We grant the petition.

This Court has explained that the purpose in limiting the period of appeal is to forestall or avoid an unreasonable delay in the administration of justice and to put an end to controversies. Where no element of intent to delay the administration of justice could be attributed to petitioners, a one-day delay does not justify their petition’s dismissal.[30]

In Department of Justice Secretary Raul M. Gonzales v. Pennisi,[31] this Court elucidated on the rules on reglementary periods, to wit:

The general rule is that the perfection of an appeal in the manner and within the period prescribed by law is, not only mandatory, but jurisdictional, and failure to conform to the rules will render the judgment sought to be reviewed final and unappealable. By way of exception, unintended lapses are disregarded so as to give due course to appeals filed beyond the reglementary period on the basis of strong and compelling reasons, such as serving the ends of justice and preventing a grave miscarriage thereof. The purpose behind the limitation of the period of appeal is to avoid an unreasonable delay in the administration of justice and to put an end to controversies.[32]

In Samala v. Court of Appeals,[33] we said:

The rules of procedure are mere tools designed to facilitate the attainment of justice. Their strict and rigid application especially on technical matters, which tends to frustrate rather than promote substantial justice, must be avoided. Even the Revised Rules of Court envision this liberality. Technicality, when it deserts its proper office as an aid to justice and becomes its great hindrance and chief enemy, deserves scant consideration from the courts.[34]

In this case, the last day for filing the petition for review was on September 13, 2006. The petitioners entrusted the drafting of their petition with their counsel, who in turn entrusted the attaching of the required annexes to the petition with her secretary. The secretary resigned from her job sometime later to avoid giving her employer “problems for unexpected absences in the future.”[35] Aside from this, the petitioners also submitted an Affidavit[36] from the secretary, who narrated her ordeal that day and why she was not able to inform her employer of the whereabouts of the petition. A certification from the doctor of one of the secretary’s children was also submitted to prove that the secretary indeed brought her children to the doctor on September 14, 2006, the deadline for filing the petition for review with the Court of Appeals.

In light of the foregoing, we are inclined to give the same consideration in this case pursuant to the rules on justice, equity, and fair play.

x x x."