G.R. No. 207156, January 16, 2017



Petitioners hired Feliciano Z. Pajaron (Pajaron) in May 2007 as service crew and Larey A. Carbonilla (Carbonilla) in April 2007 as head crew. Both Pajaron and Carbonilla claimed that there was no just or authorized cause for their dismissal and petitioners also failed to comply with the requirements of due process. On April 15, 2010, they filed their respective Complaints for constructive and actual illegal dismissal, non-payment of overtime pay, holiday pay, holiday premium, rest day premium, service incentive leave pay and 13th month pay against petitioners. Both Complaints were consolidated.
Petitioners denied having dismissed Pajaron and Carbonilla; they averred that they actually abandoned their work. They likewise failed to substantiate their claims that they were not paid labor standards benefits.

The Labor Arbiter found credible Pajaron and Carbonilla’s version and held them constructively and illegally dismissed. Then, petitioners appealed before the NLRC. However, Zefiarosa failed to post in full the required appeal bond. Thus, petitioners’ appeal was dismissed by the NLRC for non-perfection. They filed a motion for reconsideration but the same was denied.

Petitioners filed a Petition for Certiorari with the CA. However, the CA rendered a Decision dismissing the Petition for Certiorari. It held that the NLRC did not commit any grave abuse of discretion in dismissing petitioners’ appeal for non-perfection. Hence, this present petition.

Whether or not the petitioner’s right to due process has been violated upon CA’s decision in affirming the NLRC’s decision in dismissing petitioners’ appeal for non-perfection

No. The Court has time and again held that “[t]he right to appeal is neither a natural right nor is it a component of due process. It is a mere statutory privilege and may be exercised only in the manner and in accordance with the provisions of the law. The party who seeks to avail of the same must comply with the requirements of the rules. Failing to do so, the right to appeal is lost.”
It is clear from both the Labor Code (Article 223) and the NLRC Rules of Procedure (Sections 4 and 6 of Rule VI) that there is legislative and administrative intent to strictly apply the appeal bond requirement, and the Court should give utmost regard to this intention.”

The posting of cash or surety bond is therefore mandatory and jurisdictional; failure to comply with this requirement renders the decision of the Labor Arbiter final and executory. This indispensable requisite for the perfection of an appeal ”is to assure the workers that if they finally prevail in the case, the monetary award will be given to them upon the dismissal of the employer’s appeal [and] is further meant to discourage employers from using the appeal to delay or evade payment of their obligations to the employees.

Stated otherwise, petitioners’ case will still fail on its merits even if we are to allow their appeal to be given due course. After scrupulously examining the contracting positions and arguments of the parties, we find that the Labor Arbiter’s decision declaring Pajaron and Carbonilla illegally dismissed was supported by substantial evidence. All told, we find no error on the part of the CA in ruling that the NLRC did not gravely abused its discretion in dismissing petitioners’ appeal for no perfection due to noncompliance with the requisites of filing a motion to reduce bond.

Petitioners, furthermore, claim that the NLRC’s outright dismissal of their appeal was harsh and oppressive since they should still be given opportunity to complete the required bond upon the filing of their motion for reconsideration. Thus, they insist that their immediate posting of the deficiency when they filed a motion for reconsideration constituted substantial compliance with the Rules.

The contention is untenable.

The NLRC exercises full discretion in resolving a motion for the reduction of bond in accordance with the standards of meritorious grounds and reasonable amount. The “reduction of the bond is not a matter of right on the part of the movant [but] lies within the sound discretion of the NLRC x x x.”

In order to give full effect to the provisions on motion to reduce bond, the appellant must be allowed to wait for the ruling of the NLRC on the motion even beyond the 10-day period to perfect an appeal. If the NLRC grants the motion and rules that there is indeed meritorious ground and that the amount of the bond posted is reasonable, then the appeal is perfected. If the NLRC denies the motion, the appellant may still file a motion for reconsideration as provided under Section 15, Rule VII of the Rules. If the NLRC grants the motion for reconsideration and rules that there is indeed meritorious ground and that the amount of the bond posted is reasonable, then the appeal is perfected. If the NLRC denies the motion. then the decision of the Labor Arbiter becomes final and executory.

Further, as elucidated by the Court in Colegio de San Juan de Letran v. Dela Rosa-Meris, G.R. No. 178837, September 1, 2014, 734 SCRA 21, 37-38., While it is true that litigation is not a game of technicalities and that rules of procedure shall not be strictly enforced at the cost of substantial justice, it must be emphasized that procedural rules should not likewise be belittled or dismissed simply because their non-observance might result in prejudice to a party’s substantial rights. Like all rules, they are required to be followed, except only for the most persuasive of reasons.

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