CTA's jurisdiction over final judgment

In Santos v. People, et al.[1] where petitioner argues that a resolution of a CTA Division denying a motion to quash, an interlocutory order, is a proper subject of an appeal to the CTA en banc under Section 18 of Republic Act No. 1125, as amended, the Supreme Court ruled in the negative and disposed the argument as follows:
Petitioner is invoking a very narrow and literal reading of Section 18 of Republic Act No. 1125, as amended.Indeed, the filing of a petition for review with the CTA en banc from a decision, resolution, or order of a CTA Division is a remedy newly made available in proceedings before the CTA, necessarily adopted to conform to and address the changes in the CTA.

There was no need for such rule under Republic Act No. 1125, prior to its amendment, since the CTA then was composed only of one Presiding Judge and two Associate Judges. Any two Judges constituted a quorum and the concurrence of two Judges was necessary to promulgate any decision thereof.

The amendments introduced by Republic Act No. 9282 to Republic Act No. 1125 elevated the rank of the CTA to a collegiate court, with the same rank as the Court of Appeals, and increased the number of its members to one Presiding Justice and five Associate Justices. The CTA is now allowed to sit en banc or in two Divisions with each Division consisting of three Justices. Four Justices shall constitute a quorum for sessions en banc, and the affirmative votes of four members of the Court en banc are necessary for the rendition of a decision or resolution; while two Justices shall constitute a quorum for sessions of a Division and the affirmative votes of two members of the Division shall be necessary for the rendition of a decision or resolution.

In A.M. No. 05-11-07-CTA, the Revised CTA Rules, this Court delineated the jurisdiction of the CTA en banc and in Divisions. Section 2, Rule 4 of the Revised CTA Rules recognizes the exclusive appellate jurisdiction of the CTA en banc to review by appeal the following decisions, resolutions, or orders of the CTA Division:
SEC. 2. Cases within the jurisdiction of the Court en banc.- The Court en banc shall exercise exclusive appellate jurisdiction to review by appeal the following:
(a) Decisions or resolutions on motions for reconsideration or new trial of the Court in Divisions in the exercise of its exclusive appellate jurisdiction over:

(1) Cases arising from administrative agencies – Bureau of Internal Revenue, Bureau of Customs, Department of Finance, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Agriculture;

(2) Local tax cases decided by the Regional Trial Courts in the exercise of their original jurisdiction; and

(3) Tax collection cases decided by the Regional Trial Courts in the exercise of their original jurisdiction involving final and executory assessments for taxes, fees, charges and penalties, where the principal amount of taxes and penalties claimed is less than one million pesos;

x x x x

(f) Decisions, resolutions or orders on motions for reconsideration or new trial of the Court in Division in the exercise of its exclusive original jurisdiction over cases involving criminal offenses arising from violations of the National Internal Revenue Code or the Tariff and Customs Code and other laws administered by the Bureau of Internal Revenue or Bureau of Customs.

(g) Decisions, resolutions or order on motions for reconsideration or new trial of the Court in Division in the exercise of its exclusive appellate jurisdiction over criminal offenses mentioned in the preceding subparagraph; x x x.
Although the filing of a petition for review with the CTA en banc from a decision, resolution, or order of the CTA Division, was newly made available to the CTA, such mode of appeal has long been available in Philippine courts of general jurisdiction. Hence, the Revised CTA Rules no longer elaborated on it but merely referred to existing rules of procedure on petitions for review and appeals, to wit:

RULE 7

PROCEDURE IN THE COURT OF TAX APPEALS

SEC. 1. Applicability of the Rules of the Court of Appeals. – The procedure in the Court en banc or in Divisions in original and in appealed cases shall be the same as those in petitions for review and appeals before the Court of Appeals pursuant to the applicable provisions of Rules 42, 43, 44 and 46 of the Rules of Court, except as otherwise provided for in these Rules.

RULE 8

PROCEDURE IN CIVIL CASES

x x x x x x x x x

SEC. 4. Where to appeal; mode of appeal. -

x x x x x x x x x

(b) An appeal from a decision or resolution of the Court in Division on a motion for reconsideration or new trial shall be taken to the Court by petition for review as provided in Rule 43 of the Rules of Court. The Court en banc shall act on the appeal.

x x x x x x x x x

RULE 9

PROCEDURE IN CRIMINAL CASES

SEC. 1. Review of cases in the Court. – The review of criminal cases in the Court en banc or in Division shall be governed by the applicable provisions of Rule 124 of the Rules of Court.

x x x x x x x x x

SEC. 9. Appeal; period to appeal. -

x x x x x x x x x

(b) An appeal to the Court en banc in criminal cases decided by the Court in Division shall be taken by filing a petition for review as provided in Rule 43 of the Rules of Court within fifteen days from receipt of a copy of the decision or resolution appealed from. The Court may, for good cause, extend the time for filing of the petition for review for an additional period not exceeding fifteen days.

Given the foregoing, the petition for review to be filed with the CTA en banc as the mode for appealing a decision, resolution, or order of the CTA Division, under Section 18 of Republic Act No. 1125, as amended, is not a totally new remedy, unique to the CTA, with a special application or use therein. To the contrary, the CTA merely adopts the procedure for petitions for review and appeals long established and practiced in other Philippine courts. Accordingly, doctrines, principles, rules, and precedents laid down in jurisprudence by this Court as regards petitions for review and appeals in courts of general jurisdiction should likewise bind the CTA, and it cannot depart therefrom.

x x x x

According to Section 1, Rule 41 of the Revised Rules of Court, governing appeals from the Regional Trial Courts (RTCs) to the Court of Appeals, an appeal may be taken only from a judgment or final order that completely disposes of the case or of a matter therein when declared by the Rules to be appealable. Said provision, thus, explicitly states that no appeal may be taken from an interlocutory order.[2]

It is, therefore, clear that the CTA en banc has jurisdiction over final order or judgment but not over interlocutory orders issued by the CTA in division.

[1] 585 Phil. 337 (2008).

[2] Santos v. People, supra at 347-350. (Citations omitted)


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