In the case of Italkara 18, Inc. vs. Gerasmio (G.R. No. 221411, September 28, 2020), het Company insists that the Court of Appeals should have dismissed the employee’s Petition for Certiorari because the NLRC Decision had already become final and executory. In fact, according to the Company, an Entry of Judgment was already issued by the NLRC.
The Supreme Court however ruled that notwithstanding this, jurisprudence is replete with rulings that final and executory NLRC decisions may be subject of a petition for certiorari.
It is precisely this final and executory nature of NLRC decisions that makes a special civil action of certiorari applicable to such decisions, considering that appeals from the NLRC to the SC were eliminated.
Citing St. Martin Funeral Home vs. National Labor Relations Commission, the SC explained that:
“The Court is, therefore, of the considered opinion that ever since appeals from the NLRC to the Supreme Court were eliminated, the legislative intendment was that the special civil action of certiorari was and still is the proper vehicle for judicial review of decisions of the NLRC.
The use of the word “appeal” in relation thereto and in the instances we have noted could have been a lapsus plumae because appeals by certiorari and the original action for certiorari are both modes of judicial review addressed to the appellate courts.
The important distinction between them, however, and with which the Court is particularly concerned
here is that the special civil action of certiorari is within the concurrent original jurisdiction of this Court and the Court of Appeals; whereas to indulge in the assumption that appeals by certiorari to the Supreme Court are allowed would not subserve, but would subvert, the intention of Congress as expressed in the sponsorship speech on Senate Bill No. 1495.”
Consequently, the SC cited the ruling in Panuncillo v. CAP Philippines, Inc. where it states that even if the NLRC decision has become final and executory, the adverse party is not precluded from availing of the remedy of certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, to wit:
“In sum, while under the sixth paragraph of Article 223 of the Labor Code, the decision of the NLRC becomes final and executory after the lapse of ten calendar days from receipt thereof by the parties, the adverse party is not precluded from assailing it via Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 before the Court of Appeals and then to this Court via a Petition for Review under Rule 45.”
Indeed, the doctrine of immutability of judgment is not violated when a party elevates a matter to the CA which the latter decided in favor of said party.
Parenthetically, petitions for certiorari to the CA are more often than not filed after the assailed NLRC decisions have already become final and executory. It must be noted that under Article 229 223 of the Labor Code, as amended, a decision of the NLRC already becomes final after ten (10) calendar days from receipt thereof by the parties; on the other hand, the reglementary period with respect to a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court is sixty (60) days.
Certainly, given that the special civil action for certiorari was filed within the reglementary period, the CA committed no error and was acting in accordance with the law when it took cognizance of the employee’s petition.
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