Motion for reconsideration must first be filed with the lower court prior to resorting to the extraordinary remedy of certiorari, since a motion for reconsideration may still be considered as a plain, speedy, and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law.
However, there are exceptsion to this requirement as held by the Supreme Court as follows:
Genpact Services, Inc. vs. Santosfalceso
G.R. No. 227695, July 31, 2017
Genpact Services, Inc. (Genpact) is engaged in business process outsourcing, particularly servicing various multinational clients, including Allstate Insurance Company (Allstate).
On different dates, Genpact hired Maria Katrina Santos-Falceso, Janice Ann M. Mendoza, and Jeffrey S. Mariano (Santosfalceso, et al.) to various positions to service its Allstate account.
However, Allstate ended its account with Genpact, resulting in Santosfalceso, et al. being placed on floating status, and eventually, terminated from service. This prompted Santosfalceso, et al. to file a complaint before the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) for illegal dismissal, non-payment of separation pay, damages, and attorney’s fees against Genpact and/or its Country Manager, Reyes.
Santosfalceso, et al. alleged that after Allstate terminated its contract with Genpact, they were initially placed on “benching” status with pay, and after five (5) months, Genpact gave them the option to either “voluntarily resign” or to “be involuntarily terminated on the ground of redundancy” with severance pay of one-half (½) month basic salary for every year of service, in either case.
Left without the option to continue their employment with Genpact, Santosfalceso, et al. chose the latter option and were made to sign quitclaims as a condition for receiving any and all forms of monetary benefits. In this light, Santosfalceso, et al. argued that the termination of Genpact and Allstate’s agreement neither amounted to a closure of business nor justified their retrenchment.
Santosfalceso, et al. further contended that Genpact failed to observe the requirements of procedural due process as there was no showing that the latter served proper notice to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) thirty (30) days before they were terminated from service, and that they were not accorded the chance to seek other employment opportunities.
In their defense, Genpact, et al. justified Santosfalceso, et al.’s termination of employment on the ground of closure or cessation of Allstate’s account with Genpact as part of the former’ s “[g]lobal [d]ownsizing due to heavy losses caused by declining sales in North America.”
Further, Genpact, et al. claimed that they incessantly pursued efforts to retain Santosfalceso, et al. within their organization, but the same proved futile, thus, leaving them with no other choice but to provide Santosfalceso, et al. with the option to either resign or be separated on account of redundancy – an option which they reported to the DOLE and resorted to in the exercise of management prerogative with utmost good faith.
Lastly, Genpact, et al. pointed out that Santosfalceso, et al. were properly given separation pay, as well as unpaid allowances and 13th month pay, thus, rendering the latter’s monetary claims bereft of merit.
The Labor Arbiter (LA) dismissed Santosfalceso, et al.’s complaint for lack of merit.
The LA found that Santosfalceso, et al.’s termination from service was due to the untimely cessation of the operations of Genpact’s client, Allstate, wherein Santosfalceso, et al. were assigned.
In this regard, the LA pointed out that Genpact tried to remedy Santosfalceso, et al.’s situation by assigning them to other accounts, but such efforts proved futile as Santosfalceso, et al. were hired specifically to match the needs of Allstate.
Furthermore, the LA took Genpact’s act of paying Santosfalceso, et al. their separation pay computed at one-half (½) month pay for every year of service as a sign of good faith. Thus, the LA concluded that there was an authorized cause in terminating Santosfalceso, et al.’ services, and that Gen pact complied with DOLE’s reportorial requirements in doing so.
Aggrieved, Santosfalceso, et al. appealed to the NLRC.
The NLRC affirmed the LA ruling.
It held that Allstate’s pullout from Gen pact does not mean an automatic termination of the employees assigned to the Allstate account, such as Santosfalceso, et al., but purports that the employees assigned to the withdrawing client would be “benched” or placed on floating status as contemplated in Article 286 (now Article 301) of the Labor Code, as amended.
Get an updated and renumbered copy of the Labor Code 2018 Edition
Thus, Genpact’s acts of placing Santosfalceso, et al. on “benching” or floating status, and thereafter, terminating their employment were made in the exercise of its management prerogative in good faith and in accordance with internal hiring procedures. As such, it cannot be said that Santosfalceso, et al. were illegally dismissed from service.
Santosfalceso, et al. moved for reconsideration, which was partly granted by the NLRC in a Resolution, and accordingly, increased Santosfalceso, et al.’s entitlement to separation pay to one (1) month salary for every year of service. In said Resolution, the NLRC held that since Santosfalceso, et al.’s positions were rendered superfluous by the closure of the Allstate account, then it follows that they were terminated on account of redundancy pursuant to Article 286 (now Article 301), in relation to Article 283 (now Article 298) of the Labor Code.
As such, they should be paid separation pay amounting to one (1) month salary for every year of service, instead of the one-half (½) month salary for every year of service. Notably, the NLRC Resolution explicitly stated that “[n]o further motion of similar import shall be entertained.”
Dissatisfied, Genpact, et al. filed a petition for certiorari before the CA.
The CA dismissed outright the petition for certiorari purely on procedural grounds. It held that Genpact, et al.’s failure to file a motion for reconsideration before the NLRC prior to elevating the case to the CA is a fatal infirmity which rendered their petition for certiorari before the latter court dismissible, further noting that Genpact, et al. did not present any plausible justification nor concrete, compelling, and valid reason for dispensing with the requirement of a prior motion for reconsideration.
Genpact, et al. moved for reconsideration which was, however, denied. Hence, the petition.
Whether or not filing of motion for reconsideration of the NLRC decision is still mandatory before filing petition for certiorari when the resolution of the NLRC states that no further motion shall be entertained
The SC found the petition meritorious.
A petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court is a special civil action that may be resorted to only in the absence of appeal or any plain, speedy, and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law.
Given the special and extraordinary nature of a Rule 65 petition, the general rule is that a motion for reconsideration must first be filed with the lower court prior to resorting to the extraordinary remedy of certiorari, since a motion for reconsideration may still be considered as a plain, speedy, and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law.
The rationale for the prerequisite is to grant an opportunity for the lower court or agency to correct any actual or perceived error attributed to it by the re-examination of the legal and factual circumstances of the case.
This notwithstanding, the foregoing rule admits of well-defined exceptions, among which include where, under the circumstances, a motion for reconsideration would be useless and where petitioner was deprived of due process and there is extreme urgency for relief.
The SC found the exceptions mentioned attendant in this case.
The dispositive portion of the NLRC Resolution stating “No further motion of similar import shall be entertained” explicitly warns the litigating parties that the NLRC shall no longer entertain any further motions for reconsideration.
Irrefragably, this circumstance gave Genpact, et al. the impression that moving for reconsideration before the NLRC would only be an exercise in futility in light of the tribunal’s aforesaid warning.
Moreover, Section 15, Rule VII of the 2011 NLRC Rules of Procedure, as amended, provides, among others, that the remedy of filing a motion for reconsideration may be availed of once by each party. In this case, only Santosfalceso, et al. had filed a motion for reconsideration before the NLRC.
Applying the foregoing provision, Genpact, et al. also had an opportunity to file such motion in this case, should they wish to do so. However, the tenor of such warning effectively deprived Genpact, et al. of such opportunity, thus, constituting a violation of their right to due process.
All told, Genpact, et al. were completely justified in pursuing a direct recourse to the CA through a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court. To rule otherwise would be clearly antithetical to the tenets of fair play, not to mention the undue prejudice to Genpact, et al.’s rights.
Thus, in light of the fact that the CA dismissed outright the petition for certiorari before it solely on procedural grounds, the SC ordered the remand of the case for a resolution on the merits.