Bond required in appeal to NLRC

Article 223 of the Labor Code provides:
ART. 223. Appeal. — Decisions, awards, or orders of the Labor Arbiter are final and executory unless appealed to the Commission by any or both parties within ten (10) calendar days from receipt of such decisions, awards, or orders. Such appeal may be entertained only on any of the following grounds:

(a) If there is prima facie evidence of abuse of discretion on the part of the Labor Arbiter;

(b) If the decision, order or award was secured through fraud or coercion, including graft and corruption;

(c) If made purely on questions of law; and

(d) If serious errors in the finding of facts are raised which would cause grave or irreparable damage or injury to the appellant.

In case of a judgment involving a monetary award, an appeal by the employer may be perfected only upon the posting of a cash or surety bond issued by a reputable bonding company duly accredited by the Commission in the amount equivalent to the monetary award in the judgment appealed fromxxx. (Emphasis supplied)

While Sections 4(a) and 6 of Rule VI of the 2005 Revised Rules of Procedure of the NLRC provide:

SECTION 4. REQUISITES FOR PERFECTION OF APPEAL. - (a) The Appeal shall be: 1) filed within the reglementary period as provided in Section 1 of this Rule; 2) verified by appellant himself in accordance with Section 4, Rule 7 of the Rules of Court, as amended; 3) in the form of a memorandum of appeal which shall state the grounds relied upon and the arguments in support thereof, the relief prayed for, and with a statement of the date the appellant received the appealed decision, resolution or order; 4) in three (3) legibly written or printed copies; and 5) accompanied by i) proof of payment of the required appeal fee; ii) posting of a cash or surety bond as provided in Section 6 of this Rule; iii) a certificate of non-forum shopping; and iv) proof of service upon the other parties.

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SECTION 6. BOND. - In case the decision of the Labor Arbiter or the Regional Director involves a monetary award, an appeal by the employer may be perfected only upon the posting of a bond which shall either be in the form of cash deposit or surety bond equivalent in amount to the monetary award, exclusive of damages and attorney's fees.

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No motion to reduce bond shall be entertained except on meritorious grounds, and only upon the posting of a bond in a reasonable amount in relation to the monetary award.

The mere filing of a motion to reduce bond without complying with the requisites in the preceding paragraphs shall not stop the running of the period to perfect an appeal.

It is thus clear from the foregoing that the filing of supersedeas bond for the perfection of an appeal is mandatory and jurisdictional and failure to comply with this requirement renders the decision of the Labor Arbiter final and executory.[1] However, the Supreme Court, in many cases,[2] has relaxed this stringent requirement whenever justified. Thus, the rules, specifically Section 6 of Rule VI of the 2005 Revised Rules of Procedure of the NLRC, allows the reduction of the appeal bond subject to the conditions that: (1) the motion to reduce the bond shall be based on meritorious grounds; and (2) a reasonable amount in relation to the monetary award is posted by the appellant. Otherwise, the filing of a motion to reduce bond shall not stop the running of the period to perfect an appeal. Still, the rule that the filing of a motion to reduce bond shall not stop the running of the period to perfect an appeal is not absolute.[3] The Court may relax the rule under certain exceptional circumstances which include fundamental consideration of substantial justice, prevention of miscarriage of justice or of unjust enrichment and special circumstances of the case combined with its legal merits, and the amount and the issue involved.[4] Indeed, in meritorious cases, the Court was propelled to relax the requirements relating to appeal bonds such as when there are valid issues raised in the appeal[5] and in the absence of any valid claims against the employer.[6]

In the case of Beduya v. Ace Promotion (G.R. No. 195513, June 22, 2015), the Supreme Court found that respondents' motion to reduce appeal bond was predicated on meritorious and justifiable grounds. First, the fact that eight of the eighteen (18) complainants failed to verify or affix their signatures on the position paper filed before the Labor Arbiter merits the exclusion of the monetary awards adjudged to them. In Martos v. New San Jose Builders, Inc.,[7] it was held that the failure of some of the complainants therein to verify their position paper submitted before the Labor Arbiter brought about the dismissal of the complaint as to them who did not verify. The High Court went on to say that their negligence and passive attitude towards the rule on verification amounted to their refusal to further prosecute their claims. Second, the withdrawal of seven complainants[8] in the Beduya case likewise warrants the reduction of the monetary award rendered against respondents. Suffice it to say that the said seven complainants are bound by the Affidavits of Desistance which are presumed to have been freely and voluntarily executed by them. Accordingly, they no longer participated in the subsequent proceedings after having received their last salaries and due benefits.

[1] Quiambao v. National Labor Relations Commission, 324 Phil. 455,461 (1996).

[2] Grand Asian Shipping Lines, Inc. v. Galvez, G.R. No. 178184, January 29, 2014, 715 SCRA 1; Mendoza v. HMS Credit Corporation, G.R. No. 187232, April 17, 2013, 696 SCRA 794; Pasig Cylinder Manufacturing, Corporation v. Rollo, G.R. No. 113631, September 8, 2010, 630 SCRA 320; Nicol v. Footjoy Industrial Corporation, 555 Phil. 275 (2007); Nueva Ecija I Electric Cooperative, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Commission, 380 Phil. 44 (2000); Rosewood Processing, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Commission, 352 Phil. 1013 (1998); Fernandez v. National Labor Relations Commission, 349 Phil. 65 (1998); and, Manila Mandarin Employees Union v. National Labor Relations Commission, 332 Phil. 354 (1996).

[3] Garcia v. KJ Commercial, G.R. No. 196830, February 29, 2012, 667 SCRA 396, 411.

[4] Intertranz Container Lines, Inc. v. Bautista, G.R. No. 187693, July 13, 2010, 625 SCRA 75, 84.

[5] YBL (Your Bus Line) v. National Labor Relations Commission, 268 Phil. 169, 173-174. (1990).

[6] Semblante v. Court of Appeals, 19th Division, G.R. No. 196426, August 15, 2011, 655 SCRA 444, 451-452.

[7] G.R. No. 192650, October 24, 2012, 684 SCRA 561, 574-578.

[8] Although as alleged by respondents, there were indeed nine complainants who withdrew their complaints, two of them were already among the other eight complainants who failed to verify the Position Paper filed with the Labor Arbiter.

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