Appeal to CA from VA in 10 or 15 days?

Decisions of voluntary arbitrators (VA) become final and executory after ten (10) calendar days from receipt of the copy of the award or decision by the parties.

Section 4, Rule 43 of the Rules gives parties a fifteen (15)-day reglementary period to file a petition for review before the CA. As explained in Philippine Electric Corp v. CA:

Despite Rule 43 providing for a 15-day period to appeal, the Voluntary Arbitrator's decision must be appealed before the Court of Appeals within 10 calendar days from receipt of the decision as provided in the Labor Code.

Appeal is a "statutory privilege," which may be exercised "only in the manner and in accordance with the provisions of the law."

Perfection of an appeal within the reglementary period is not only mandatory but also jurisdictional so that failure to do so rendered the decision final and executory, and deprives the appellate court of jurisdiction to alter the final judgment much less to entertain the appeal.

Article 262-A of the Labor Code allows the appeal of decisions rendered by Voluntary Arbitrators. Statute provides that the Voluntary Arbitrator's decision "shall be final and executory after ten (10) calendar days from receipt of the copy of the award or decision by the parties." Being provided in the statute, this 10-day period must be complied with; otherwise, no appellate court will have jurisdiction over the appeal. This absurd situation occurs when the decision is appealed on the 1lth to 15th day from receipt as allowed under the Rules, but which decision, under the law, has already become final and executory.Furthermore, under Article VIII, Section 5 (5) of the Constitution, this court "shall not diminish, increase, or modify substantive rights" in promulgating rules of procedure in courts. The 10-day period to appeal under the Labor Code being a substantive right, this period cannot be diminished, increased, or modified through the Rules of Court.

In Shioji v. Harvey, it was held that the "rules of court, promulgated by authority of law, have the force and effect of law, if not in conflict with positive law." Rules of Court are "subordinate to the statute." In case of conflict between the law and the Rules of Court, "the statute will prevail."

The rule, therefore, is that a Voluntary Arbitrator's award or decision shall be appealed before the Court of Appeals within 10 days from receipt of the award or decision. Should the aggrieved party choose to file a motion for reconsideration with the Voluntary Arbitrator, the motion must be filed within the same 10- day period since a motion for reconsideration is filed "within the period for taking an appeal." (Edgardo B. Espiritu v. Dolores T. Bautista. G.R. No. 239310. August 20, 2018)

[1] Luzon Development Bank v. Association of Luzon Development Bank Employees, 319 Phil. 262, 268 (1995), citing Art. 262-A of the Labor Code (now renumbered as Art. 276 of the said Code.
[2] See Philippine Electric Corp. v. CA, 749 Phil. 686, 689 (2014).