Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Petition for review under Rule 45 vs. special civil action of certiorari under Rule 65; explained.


“x x x.

Preliminarily, We here note a common disorder in petitions that mingle the concepts involved in a Petition for Review under Rule 45 and in the special civil action of certiorari under Rule 65, as a prevalent practice of litigants to cure a lapsed appeal.

We shall discuss the distinction.

With regard to the period to file a petition, in Rule 45, the period within which to file is fifteen (15) days from notice of the judgment or final order or resolution appealed from.14 In contrast to Rule 65, the petition should be filed not later than sixty (60) days from notice of the judgment, order or resolution.15

Regarding the subject matter, a review on certiorari under Rule 45 is generally limited to the review of legal issues; the Court only resolves questions of law which have been properly raised by the parties during the appeal and in the petition.16 A Rule 65 review, on the other hand, is strictly confined to the determination of the propriety of the trial court’s jurisdiction — whether it has jurisdiction over the case and if so, whether the exercise of its jurisdiction has or has not been attended by grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.17 Otherwise stated, errors of judgment are the proper subjects of a Rule 45 petition; errors of jurisdiction are addressed in a Rule 65 petition.

The special civil action of certiorari under Rule 65 is resorted to only in the absence of appeal or any plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law.18 So when appeal, or a petition for review is available, certiorari cannot be resorted to; certiorari is not a substitute for a lapsed or lost appeal.19 A Rule 65 certiorari petition cannot be a substitute for a Rule 45 petition so as to excuse the belatedness in filing the correct petition. Where an appeal is available, certiorari will not prosper, even if the ground therefor is grave abuse of discretion.20

Grave abuse of discretion means "such capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment as is equivalent to lack of jurisdiction, or, in other words where the power is exercised in an arbitrary or despotic manner by reason of passion or personal hostility, and it must be so patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of positive duty or to a virtual refusal to perform the duty enjoined or to act at all in contemplation of law.21

Petitioner was correct when she filed a Petition for Review under Rule 45. However, instead of raising errors of judgment as a proper subject of a petition for review under Rule 45, the petition formulated jurisdictional errors purportedly committed by the court a quo, i.e., whether or not the court a quo committed grave abuse of discretion,22 which is the proper subject of a Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65. Noticeably, the petition does not allege any bias, partiality or bad faith by the court a quo in its proceedings;23and the petition does not raise a denial of due process in the proceedings before the Sandiganbayan.24

Importantly, however, the petition followed the period specified in Rule 45. It was timely filed. For that reason, we excuse the repeated referral to the supposed grave abuse of discretion of the Sandiganbayan and treat the petition as, nonetheless, one for review of the questioned decision. We thus recast the arguments as:

I. Whether or not the court a quo committed a reversible error for finding petitioner guilty of estafa, based on information which does not specifically designate the provision allegedly violated.

II. Whether or not petitioner is guilty of estafa as penalized under Art. 315 (2)(a) of the RPC.

III. Whether or not petitioner is guilty of Sec. 3 (e) of RA 3019.

X x x.”