NATIONAL HOUSING AUTHORITY vs. COURT OF APPEALS, BERNABE NOBLE, WILLIAM GAN, JULIO RODRIGUEZ, JR., SAMUEL LIM, SANDRA YAP NG, ALFONSO UY, and BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS, G.R. No. 173802, April 7, 2014
“x x x.
It is well-settled that a decision that has acquired finality becomes immutable and unalterable, and may no longer be modified in any respect, even if the modification is meant to correct erroneous conclusions of fact and law, and whether it be made by the court that rendered it or by the Highest Court of the land. This principle, commonly known as the doctrine of immutability of judgment, has a two-fold purpose, namely: (a) to avoid delay in the administration of justice and thus, procedurally, to make orderly the discharge of judicial business; and (b) to put an end to judicial controversies, at the risk of occasional errors, which is precisely why courts exist. Verily, it fosters the judicious perception that the rights and obligations of every litigant must not hang in suspense for an indefinite period of time. As such, it is not regarded as a mere technicality to be easily brushed aside, but rather, a matter of public policy which must be faithfully complied.18
In this case, the Court concurs with the CA’s view that the Assailed Order had already become final and executory at the time when the NHA sought to have it reconsidered before the court a quo. As evidenced by the registry return receipt on record, the NHA received a copy of the Assailed Order on November 10, 1998. However, it moved for reconsideration therefrom only on March 11, 1999, or more than four (4) months from notice. As the motion was filed way beyond the 15-day reglementary period prescribed therefor, the court a quo‘s judgment had already lapsed into finality. Consequently, the Assailed Order cannot be made subject to further appellate review and now constitutes res judicata as to every matter offered and received in the proceedings below as well as to any other matter admissible therein and which might have been offered for that purpose.19
In an effort to remove itself from this quandary, the NHA points out that as per the registry return receipt on record, it received a copy of the Assailed Order on November 10, 1998 through a certain Atty. Epifanio P. Recafia (Atty. Recafia). The NHA claims that as early as January 1997, Atty. Recafia ceased to be connected with it and thus, it contends that he could not have validly received a copy of the Assailed Order in its behalf.20
The contention is untenable.
Other than its bare assertions and a self-serving certification21 emanating from its own human resource management department, the NHA has not shown any sufficient proof that the service of a copy of the Assailed Order to it on November 10, 1998 is invalid. Moreover, the NHA could have easily presented Atty. Recafia, or at least a statement of his, to disown any authority to receive a copy of the Assailed Order in the former' s behalf but it failed to do so. Succinctly put, the NHA's unsubstantiated asservations cannot prevail over the contrary statement of a postal official as embodied in the registry return receipt, considering that it is the latter's primary duty to send mail matters and thus, accorded with the presumption of regularity.22
X x x.”