Failure to comply in reglementary period for filing an appeal

In the case of Gutierrez v. Cabangaon (G.R. No. 210055, June 22, 2015), the Court of Appeals correctly held that the Estate’s appeal was filed out of time. Sections 4 and 5, Rule 15 of the Rules of Court provide:
Section 4. Hearing of motion. — Except for motions which the court may act upon without prejudicing the rights of the adverse party, every written motion shall be set for hearing by the applicant.

Every written motion required to be heard and the notice of the hearing thereof shall be served in such a manner as to ensure its receipt by the other party at least three (3) days before the date of hearing, unless the court for good cause sets the hearing on shorter notice.

Section 5. Notice of hearing. — The notice of hearing shall be addressed to all parties concerned, and shall specify the time and date of the hearing which must not be later than ten (10) days after the filing of the motion.

Since the Estate’s Motion for Reconsideration and/or New Trial did not contain the mandated notice of hearing, it becomes pro forma or a mere scrap of paper. As such, said motion did not toll the reglementary period for the filing of an appeal. The Estate even admits this but simply pleads for the relaxation of the applicable procedural rules. Time and again, the Court has held that a notice of time and place of hearing is mandatory for motions for new trial or motion for reconsideration, as in this case. The requirement of notice under Sections 4 and 5, Rule 15 is mandatory and the lack thereof is fatal to a motion for reconsideration (Spouses Rustia v. Rivera, 537 Phil. 849, 853, [2006]).

Litigants must bear in mind that procedural rules should always be treated with utmost respect and due regard since these are designed to facilitate the adjudication of cases to remedy the worsening problem of delay in the resolution of rival claims and in the administration of justice. While it is true that a litigation is not a game of technicalities, it is equally true that every case must be prosecuted in accordance with the prescribed procedure to ensure an orderly and speedy administration of justice. Though litigations should, as much as possible, be decided on their merits and not on technicalities, this does not mean, however, that procedural rules are to be belittled to suit the convenience of a party. Indeed, the primordial policy is a faithful observance of the Rules of Court, and their relaxation or suspension should only be for persuasive reasons and only in meritorious cases (Asia United Bank v. Goodland Company, Inc., 650 Phil. 174, 185, [2010]) which, unfortunately, are not attendant in the instant case.