Extendibility of period to file certiorari petition

The Supreme Court's ruling in the recent case of Thenamaris Philippines, Inc. (Formerly Intermare Maritime Agencies, Inc.) v. Court of Appeals[1] is instructive, to wit:
In Republic v. St. Vincent de Paul Colleges, Inc., we had the occasion to settle the seeming conflict on various jurisprudence touching upon the issue of whether the period for filing a petition for certiorari may be extended. In said case, we stated that the general rule, as laid down in Laguna Metis Corporation v. Court of Appeals, is that a petition for certiorari must be filed strictly within 60 days from notice of judgment or from the order denying a motion for reconsideration. This is in accordance with the amendment introduced by A.M. No. 07-7-12-SC where no provision for the filing of a motion for extension to file a petition for certiorari exists, unlike in the original Section 4 of Rule 65 which allowed the filing of such a motion but only for compelling reason and in no case exceeding 15 days. Under exceptional cases, however, and as held in Domdom v. Third and Fifth Divisions of the Sandiganbayan, the 60-day period may be extended subject to the court's sound discretion. In Domdom, we stated that the deletion of the provisions in Rule 65 pertaining to extension of time did not make the filing of such pleading absolutely prohibited. "If such were the intention, the deleted portion could just have simply been reworded to state that 'no extension of time to file the petition shall be granted.' Absent such a prohibition, motions for extension are allowed, subject to the court's sound discretion."

Then in Labao v. Flores, we laid down some of the exceptions to the strict application of the 60-day period rule, thus:
[T]here are recognized exceptions to their strict observance, such as: (1) most persuasive and weighty reasons; (2) to relieve a litigant from an injustice not commensurate with his failure to comply with the prescribed procedure; (3) good faith of the defaulting party by immediately paying within a reasonable time from the time of the default; (4) the existence of special or compelling circumstances; (5) the merits of the case; (6) a cause not entirely attributable to the fault or negligence of the party favored by the suspension of the rules; (7) a lack of any showing that the review sought is merely frivolous and dilatory; (8) the other party will not be unjustly prejudiced thereby; (9) fraud, accident, mistake or excusable negligence without appellant's fault; (10) peculiar legal and equitable circumstances attendant to each case; (11) in the name of substantial justice and fair play; (12) importance of the issues involved; and (13) exercise of sound discretion by the judge guided by all the attendant circumstances. Thus, there should be an effort on the part of the party invoking liberality to advance a reasonable or meritorious explanation for his/her failure to comply with the rules.[2]

In Naguit v. San Miguel Corporation (G.R. No. 188839, June 22, 2015), the petitioner asserted that, due to the unavailability of his former lawyer, he retained the services of a new counsel who has a heavy workload and that the records were forwarded to the latter only a week before the expiration of the period for filing of the petition with the Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court said that workload and resignation of the lawyer handling the case are insufficient reasons to justify the relaxation of the procedural rules.[3] Heavy workload is relative and often self-serving.[4]

[1] G.R. No. 191215, February 3, 2014, 715 SCRA 153.

[2] Id. at 163-166, citing the cases of Republic v. St. Vincent de Paul Colleges, Inc., G.R. No. 192908, August 22, 2012, 678 SCRA 738, 747-750, Laguna Melts Corporation v. Court of Appeals, 611 Phil. 530 (2009), Domdom v. Third and Fifth Divisions of the Sandiganbayan, 627 Phil. 341 (2010), and Labao v. Flores, G.R. No. 187984, November 15, 2010, 634 SCRA 723, 732.

[3] Mid-Islands Power Generation Corporation v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 189191, February 29, 2012, 667 SCRA 342, 355.

[4] Laguna Metts Corporation v. Court of Appeals, supra note 14, at 537.

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