Citing Altres vs. Empleo (594 Phil. 246 (2008), the Supreme Court, in the case of Bulanon vs. Mendco Development Corporation (G.R. No. 219637, April 26, 2023), established the rules on compliance with the requirement of the verification and certification of non-forum shopping.

The Supreme Court instructs that for the guidance of the bench and bar, the Court restates in capsule form the jurisprudential pronouncements already reflected above respecting noncompliance with the requirements on, or submission of defective, verification and certification against forum shopping:

1) A distinction must be made between non-compliance with the requirement on or submission of defective verification, and non-compliance with the requirement on or submission of defective certification against forum shopping.

2) As to verification, non-compliance therewith or a defect therein does not necessarily render the pleading fatally defective. The court may order its submission or correction or act on the pleading if the attending circumstances are such that strict compliance with the Rule may be dispensed with in order that the ends of justice may be served thereby.

3) Verification is deemed substantially complied with when one who has ample knowledge to swear to the truth of the allegations in the complaint or petition signs the verification, and when matters alleged in the petition have been made in good faith or are true and correct.

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4) As to certification against forum shopping, non-compliance therewith or a defect therein, unlike in verification, is generally not curable by its subsequent submission or correction thereof, unless there is a need to relax the Rule on the ground of “substantial compliance” or presence of “special circumstances or compelling reasons.”

In the Bulanon case, the Labor Arbiter (LA) treated respondents’ Position Paper as a mere scrap of paper on the grounds that it lacked the required Certification of Non-Forum Shopping and the same was not properly verified.

The LA found that the Verification was signed by a certain Edgardo Albia (Albia), alleged Human Resource Manager of Mendco and Pinnacle, without any authority from the Board of Directors of both corporations. Considering that respondents’ Position Paper was invalid, the LA found the allegations in the Complaint as deemed admitted.

When such case reached the Supreme Court, it held that the complainant failed to substantiate his claim that he was a regular employee of respondents.

Hence, there exists a compelling reason to relax the rules as it would be unjust to burden the respondents with the claims of complainant when he is not in fact their employee.

For that reason, the Supreme Court relaxed the rules on verification and certification against forum shopping.

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