Azores v. SEC (G.R. No. 112337; January 25, 1996)


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1. COMMERCIAL LAW; CORPORATIONS; SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION; 30 DAY PERIOD TO APPEAL DECISION, ORDER OR RULING OF HEARING OFFICER. - Rule XVI, 3 of the Revised Rules of Procedure of the SEC provides for a period of 30 days within which appeal may be taken from any decision, order or ruling of a Hearing Officer to the SEC en banc.

2. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; FAILURE TO APPEAL WITHIN PERIOD RENDERS DECISION FINAL. -Petitioner admits that the 30th day for filing his notice of appeal and memorandum on appeal, as required by the aforesaid rule of the SEC, fell on October 17, 1992 but that he did so only on October 20, 1992. He alleges, however, that October 17 was a Saturday, while October 18 was a Sunday and that these days should not be counted in determining the period of appeal. In any event he claims that the delay in filing his appeal was unintended because he believed in good faith that October 17 and 18 were nonworking days. The failure of a party to perfect his appeal in the manner and within the period fixed by law renders the decision sought to. be appealed final, with the result that no court can exercise appellate jurisdiction to review the decision. For it is more important that a case be settled than that it be settled right. It is only in exceptional cases when we have allowed a relaxation of the rules governing the periods of appeals. In this case, none of these justifications is present. To repeat, there was absolutely no reason why petitioner did not perfect his appeal on time.

3. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; SATURDAYS, INCLUDED IN PERIOD. - Saturdays are not holidays which may be pretermitted. In Atlas Cons. Mining and Dev. Corp. v. Factoran, the appeal was allowed to be filed the following Monday although the last day for appealing fell the previous Saturday because Saturdays were observed as legal holidays in the Office of the President, to which the appeal from the decision of the then Minister of Natural Resources was to be taken. In the case of courts, it was only on January 23, 1993 that the filing of pleadings due on a Saturday was directed to be done the following Monday, if the latter is not a holiday. Hence petitioners appeal should have been filed on October 17, 1992 as that was the last day for perfecting the appeal. His mere belief in good faith that Saturday was a nonworking day cannot excuse his failure to comply with the rule fixing the period of appeal, which is mandatory.

4. REMEDIAL LAW; SPECIAL CIVIL ACTION; CERTIORARI; DISMISSAL OF COMPLAINT PRAYING FOR REPLACEMENT OF CERTIFICATES AND REINSTATEMENT AS AN ACTIVE MEMBER, NOT A GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION WHERE COMPLAINANT FAILED TO PAY DUES FOR THREE (3) SUCCESSIVE MONTHS AND FOR FAILURE TO PERFECT APPEAL ON TIME. - Nor is there any showing that the SEC en banc committed the errors attributed to it in the petition. In the first place, the alleged errors were not committed by the SEC en banc but, if at all, by the Hearing Officer. What petitioner claims to be errors of the SEC en banc are only the consequence of the dismissal of his appeal. For the fact is that the SEC en banc did not decide his appeal. What is more, as already stated, the dismissal of petitioners appeal was in accordance with law and not at all a grave abuse of the Hearing Officers discretion. In the second place, this is a petition for certiorari under Rule 65. As such, even assuming that errors were allegedly committed by the SEC en banc, the errors are not errors of jurisdiction or grave abuse of discretion. It is not disputed that, under the by-laws of the PCA, proprietary membership is open only to Filipino citizens and that failure to pay dues for three successive months result in the automatic termination of membership; that petitioner did not pay his monthly dues from 1966 to 1981 when he worked in the United States; and that he did not inform the PCA that he had obtained American citizenship. There was, therefore, reasonable basis for the decision of the Hearing Officer in dismissing petitioners complaint. The alleged errors assigned by petitioner are mere errors of judgment, but since petitioner failed to perfect his appeal to the SEC en banc, he cannot now raise them. Even then further appeal should be taken to the Court of Appeals in accordance with B.P. Blg. 129, 9 and Circular No. 1-91. In this case for certiorari we are limited to an inquiry into any jurisdictional errors of which we find none. WHEREFORE, the petition is denied for lack of merit.

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