"Petitioner’s Motion for Extension of Time to File Answer was laden with glaring lapses.
Petitioner had, following the reglementary 15-day period after service of summons (unless a different period is fixed by the court),until
May 5, 2006 within which to file an Answer or appropriate pleading. It filed the Motion for Extension, however, via a private courier on May 14, 2006, which was received by the trial court on May 15, 2006 or ten days late.
It is a basic rule of remedial law that a motion for extension of time to file a pleading must be filed before the expiration of the period sought to be extended. The court’s discretion to grant a motion for extension is conditioned upon such motion’s timeliness, the passing of which renders the court powerless to entertain or grant it. Since the motion for extension was filed after the lapse of the prescribed period, there was no more period to extend.
Petitioner was not candid enough to aver in the Motion for Extension that the period had lapsed, as it still toyed with the idea that it could get away with it. The allegations therein were crafted as if the said motion was timely filed. Notably, the
May 16, 2006 Order expressed no inkling that the motion was filed out of time. The trial court either was deceived by or it casually disregarded the apparent falsity foisted by petitioner. Lest this Court be similarly deceived, it is imperative to carefully examine the facts.
By petitioner’s allegation in its Motion for Extension, it received the summons on
April 24, 2006. This is belied by the Process Server’s Return, which indicates that petitioner received the summons on April 20, 2006. Petitioner’s counsel was to later clarify that it was only on April 24, 2006 that she received copies of the summons and complaint which were faxed from petitioner’s main office.
In requesting for a 30-day extension or until June 11, 2006 to file answer, petitioner apparently reckoned the date from which the extension would start on May 12, 2006, which was not the last day of the 15-day period sought to be extended, it being May 5, 2006. By computation, petitioner actually sought more than 30 days, contrary to the period of extension it purportedly requested. The counting of the period was erroneous, even if one uses the material dates alleged by petitioner. Petitioner clearly disregarded elementary rules and jurisprudence on the matter.
The flaws in petitioner’s moves/representations reinforce respondents’ claim that the Motion for Extension was “cunningly” dated
May 5, 2006 (the last day to file a responsive pleading) to make it appear that it was timely filed, although it was transmitted only on May 14, 2006. Petitioner’s allegation that the Motion it filed was the one actually prepared and signed on May 5, 2006 contradicts its earlier claim in its Opposition to the Motion to Declare [It] in Default that “[s]hort of time in coming up with [herein petitioner’s] Answer on April 28, 2006,” its counsel caused to be prepared a Motion for Extension of Time to File Answer which was, however, misplaced, and upon discovery thereof “another motion for extension was immediately caused to be prepared and filed.”
More. Petitioner served and filed the Motion for Extension through a private courier,
LBC, a mode not recognized by the rules. Explanation for availing such mode was not stated in the Motion. The mode was, nonetheless, clearly unjustifiable, considering that (a) petitioner’s handling counsel was based in nearby San Fernando; (b) postal registry service is, for lack of explanation to the contrary, available in Pampanga; (c) urgency is out of the equation because the official date of filing done via private messengerial service is the date of actual receipt of the court, and had the motion been personally filed the following day (May 15, 2006), it would have reached the court earlier. It thus shows that the mode was utilized to obscure any indication that the motion was filed out of time."
PHILIPPINE NATIONAL BANK,
- versus -
DEANG MARKETING CORPORATION and BERLITA DEANG,
G.R. No. 177931
QUISUMBING, J., Chairperson,
VELASCO, JR., and
December 8, 2008
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