Go v. Sunbanun (G.R. No. 168240; February 9, 2011)


FACTS: Respondents filed a suit for damages against Aurora, her husband Yiu Wai Sang, and Yiu-Go Employment Agency for breach of warranty in the fire insurance policies that the respondents made involving the property rented by petitioner.

The RTC rendered judgment finding only Aurora liable and ordering her to pay moral damages, attorney’s fees, litigation expenses and costs.

Aurora filed her Motion for Reconsideration on the last day to file her appeal. The court in its April 27, 2004 Order denied said motion.

Atty. Ycong received the notice of denial with a day left to file her appeal. Explaining that Aurora has been busy campaigning for the local elections as she was running for the position of town mayor in Calubian, Leyte and that he and his client have yet to discuss the pros and cons of appealing the case, Atty. Ycong sought for the relaxation of the procedural rules by filing an extension of 15 days to file Aurora’s notice of appeal. The RTC denied the notice of appeal thereafter filed.

For non-compliance with the formal requirements of a petition, the Court of Appeals (CA) dismissed the certiorari petition filed by petitioner. The CA dismissed the petition for being procedurally flawed, viz: the Verification/Certification of Non-Forum Shopping is signed by only one petitioner without a Special Power of Attorney/Secretary’s Certificate authorizing her to represent the two (2) other petitioners; the Affidavit of Service shows that respondents were personally served copies of the petition but lacks explanation why service of the petition with this Court was not done personally; counsel for petitioners failed to indicate his PTR and IBP numbers; certified true copies of the assailed decision dated January 26, 2004 attached to the petition is a mere photocopy of a certified true copy; the copies of pleadings and other relevant documents referred to in the petition which would support the allegations therein are not attached.

ISSUE: May the formal deficiencies in the petition before the CA be relaxed in the interest of justice?HELD: The signatures/authorizations of Sang and Yiu-Go Employment Agency in the verification and certification on non-forum shopping are not necessary. The signatures may be dispensed with as these parties are not involved in the petition.

Non-submission of certified true copy of the January 26, 2004 Decision and copies of the Complaint and Answer is not fatal. Not all pleadings and parts of case records are required to be attached, but only those which are material and pertinent that they may provide the basis for a determination of a prima facie case for abuse of discretion.

Failure to indicate PTR and IBP Official Receipt Numbers are not fatal. The failure of petitioner’s former counsel, Atty. Ycong, to indicate in the petition before the CA his PTR and IBP numbers for the year 2004 was obviously an oversight.

However, whenever practicable, personal service and personal filing of pleadings are always the preferred modes of service. Should one deviate from the general rule, it is mandatory for him/her to submit a written explanation why the pleading was not personally filed/served. Otherwise, the court has the discretion to consider the paper as not filed. Therefore, there was no grave abuse on the part of the CA in exercising its discretion to dismiss Aurora’s petition.

Nevertheless, in spite of petitioner’s error, the ‘fresh period rule’ amendment as held in Neypes v. Court of Appeals will be applied to her benefit.