Elpidio Calipay v. NLRC

Elpidio Calipay v. National Labor Relations Commission, Triangle Ace Corporation and Jose Lee

G.R. No. 166411, August 3, 2010


Facts: Calipay filed a complaint for illegal dismissal, unfair labor practice, underpayment of wages and non-payment of other benefits against Triangle Ace Corporation. When the case reached the NLRC, the case was dismissed. Upon appeal to the CA, the appeal was dismissed for being filed out of time. Calipay contends that the reason for the belated filing was the sudden and unexpected withdrawal of the services of his former counsel, thus leaving him without anyone to help prepare his appeal on time.

Issue: Whether or not the appeal should be given due course.

Held: No. It bears to reiterate the settled rule that the timely perfection of an appeal is a mandatory requirement, which cannot be trifled with as a "mere technicality" to suit the interest of a party. The rules on periods for filing appeals are to be observed religiously, and parties who seek to avail themselves of the privilege must comply with the rules.

It is true that procedural rules may be waived or dispensed with in the interest of substantial justice. This Court may deign to veer away from the general rule if, on its face, the appeal appears to be absolutely meritorious.[ Indeed, in a number of instances, procedural rules are relaxed in order to serve substantial justice.However, there is no reason to do so in this case as there is no reason to reverse the findings of the CA.

Calipay former counsel had manifested in his "Withdrawal of Appearance" that he was withdrawing as counsel by reason of his (Calipay) desire to engage the services of another counsel for purposes of perfecting his appeal from the Labor Arbiter Decision and said "Withdrawal of Appearance" was duly signed by his former counsel with the petitioner conformity thereto and which therefore showed that the latter had assented to such withdrawal by reason stated therein. Hence, petitioner Calipay could not blame their former counsel for the non-perfection of their appeal. And even if it were true, that there was untimely withdrawal of his counsel, the latter should not be totally blamed as the herein petitioner is duty bound to protect his interests and he should have been more vigilant and circumspect of his right in pursuing his case by observing the rule on perfection of appeal.