G.R. No. 230793, March 21, 2018


After careful consideration, the Court denies the petition for relief from judgment for being an improper remedy.

But first the antecedents.

Respondent Hyosung Corporation (Hyosung) filed a request for arbitration in the Construction Industry Arbitration Commission (CIAC) against the petitioner and herein respondent Prudential Guarantee and Assurance, Inc. (Prudential Guarantee) alleging various claims arising from Hyosung's three subcontract agreements with the petitioner for which the latter had secured three performance bonds from Prudential Guarantee in favor of Hyosung. Subsequently, the petitioner encountered problems with its contracts. According to Hyosung, the petitioner was behind schedule in completing the works. Thus, Hyosung requested the petitioner to expedite the works. However, Hyosung alleged that the petitioner stopped the subcontract works before the completion date, and refused to comply despite Hyosung's repeated requests to resume work. To salvage the situation, Hyosung and the petitioner held a meeting to discuss how to complete the remaining works, but they could not ultimately agree on the terms. Thus, the request for arbitration.

On February 4, 2014,[1] the CIAC promulgated the final award and ordered the petitioner and Prudential Guarantee, jointly and severally, to pay Hyosung P37,885,809.19 in the form of excess payments to be set off against the amounts awarded to the petitioner upon its counterclaims, leaving a balance of P1,769,591.79 due to Hyosung, plus legal interest of P141,566.98 on the balance; Prudential Guarantee to pay P500,000.00 as attorney's fees for the unreasonable delay in settling the claim under the performance bonds; and the petitioner and Prudential Guarantee to pay legal interest at 6% per annum on the sums due reckoned from the finality of the final award until full satisfaction.[2]

The petitioner and Prudential Guarantee separately appealed to the CA, which, on June 30, 2016,[3] granted the appeal of Prudential Guarantee but denied the appeal of the petitioner. The CA affirmed the fmal award with modification.

Although the petitioner moved for reconsideration, the CA denied the motion on January 27, 2017.[4]Hence, the petitioner has come to the Court via its petition for relief from judgment. It alleges that on February 17, 2017, its President was notified by its previous counsel that the CA had denied the motion for reconsideration filed on July 26, 2016; that it was only then that it was apprised of the decision of the CA; that on the same day, it advised its previous counsel to file an appeal in this Court; that although its previous counsel agreed to file the appeal, it later discovered that there was no appeal filed within the reglementary period; and that it thus filed the petition for relief from judgment because it had been prevented from taking an appeal due to excusable negligence of its previous counsel.[5]

Ruling of the Court

The remedy of relief from judgment is improper. The Court has no original jurisdiction to entertain the remedy.

Relief from judgment is available only in the trial court as an equitable remedy allowed to a party who has been deprived of an appeal through fraud, accident, mistake or excusable negligence. It is improper as a remedy in this Court and in the Court of Appeals. Section 1, Rule 38 of the Rules of Court, which governs the remedy, states that when a judgment or final order is entered through fraud, accident, mistake, or excusable negligence, an aggrieved party may file a petition for relief from judgment. In Purcon, Jr. v. MRM Philippines, Inc.,[6] that Court has observed that Rule 38 must be interpreted in harmony with Rule 56 of the Rules of Court, which enumerates the original cases cognizable by the Court, thus:
Section 1. Original cases cognizable. - Only petitions for certiorari, prohibition, mandamus, quo warranto, habeas corpus, disciplinary proceedings against members of the judiciary and attorneys, and cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls may be filed originally in the Supreme Court.
Under the Rules of Court, the petition for relief from judgment must be filed within 60 days after the petitioner learns of the judgment, final order or other proceeding to be set aside, and must be accompanied with affidavits showing the fraud, accident, mistake, or excusable negligence relied upon, and the facts constituting petitioner's good and substantial cause of action or defense, as the case may be. The petition should be filed with the same court which rendered the decision, viz.:
Section 1. Petition for relief from judgment, order, or other proceedings. - When a judgment or final order is entered, or any other proceeding is thereafter taken against a party in any court through fraud, accident, mistake, or excusable negligence, he may file a petition in such court and in the same case praying that the judgment, order or proceeding be set aside [7]
Relief from judgment under Rule 38 may not be availed of where a party has another adequate remedy available to it, which is either a motion for new trial or appeal from the adverse decision of the lower court, and he is not prevented from filing such motion or taking the appeal. A party who seeks to be relieved from the effect of the judgment is barred from such relief when the loss of the remedy at law is due to his own negligence, or a mistaken mode of procedure; otherwise, the petition for relief will be tantamount to reviving the right of appeal which has already been lost either because of inexcusable negligence or due to a mistake in the mode of procedure taken by counsel.[8]

ACCORDINGLY, the Court DENIES due course to the petition for relief from judgment; and CONSIDERS this matter CLOSED and TERMINATED. (Leonen, J., on official leave.)


[1] Rollo, pp. 149-210.

[2] Id. at 209-210.

[3] Id. at 42-76.

[4] Id. at 77-83.

[5] Id. at 6-31.

[6] G.R. No. 182718, September 26, 2008, 566 SCRA 645, 651

[7] Mesina v. Meer, G.R. No. 146845, July 2, 2002, 383 SCRA 625, 632-633

[8] Ibabao v. Intermediate Appellate Court, G.R. No. L-74848, May 20, 1987, 150 SCRA 76.