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FINAL AND EXECUTORY CASES REOPENED BY THE SUPREME COURT

It is true that petitioners failure to file their motion for reconsideration within
the reglementary period rendered the CA Decision dated May 30, 2002 final and executory. For
all intents and purposes, said Decision should now be immutable and unalterable; however, the
Court relaxes this rule in order to serve substantial justice considering (a) matters of life, liberty,
honor or property, (b) the existence of special or compelling circumstances, (c) the merits of the
case, (d) a cause not entirely attributable to the fault or negligence of the party favored by the
suspension of the rules, (e) a lack of any showing that the review sought is merely frivolous and
dilatory, and (f) the other party will not be unjustly prejudiced thereby.

Meneses vs. Secretary of Agrarian Reform, G.R. No. 156304, October 23, 2006, 505 SCRA 90, 97

Phrased elsewise, a final and executory judgment can no longer be attacked by any of the
parties or be modified, directly or indirectly, even by the highest court of the land.
However, this Court has relaxed this rule in order to serve substantial justice considering (a)
matters of life, liberty, honor or property, (b) the existence of special or compelling
circumstances, (c) the merits of the case, (d) a cause not entirely attributable to the fault or
negligence of the party favored by the suspension of the rules, (e) a lack of any showing that the
review sought is merely frivolous and dilatory, and (f) the other party will not be unjustly
prejudiced thereby.
Invariably, rules of procedure should be viewed as mere tools designed to facilitate the
attainment of justice. Their strict and rigid application, which would result in technicalities that
tend to frustrate rather than promote substantial justice, must always be eschewed. Even the
Rules of Court reflects this principle. The power to suspend or even disregard rules can be so
pervasive and compelling as to alter even that which this Court itself had already declared to be
final.
In De Guzman vs. Sandiganbayan [256 SCRA 171 (1996)], this Court, speaking through the late
Justice Ricardo J. Francisco, had occasion to state:
The Rules of Court was conceived and promulgated to set forth guidelines in the dispensation of
justice but not to bind and chain the hand that dispenses it, for otherwise, courts will be mere
slaves to or robots of technical rules, shorn of judicial discretion. That is precisely why courts in
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rendering justice have always been, as they ought to be guided by the norm that when on the
balance, technicalities take a backseat against substantive rights, and not the other way
around. Truly then, technicalities, in the appropriate language of Justice Makalintal, should give
way to the realities of the situation.
Indeed, the emerging trend in the rulings of this Court is to afford every party litigant the
amplest opportunity for the proper and just determination of his cause, free from the
constraints of technicalities.
Indubitably, the explanation of petitioners counsel that he is a sole legal practitioner and simply
needed time to adequately prepare the motion for reconsideration is not a valid excuse. As a
general rule, a client is bound by the acts of his counsel, including even the latters mistakes and
negligence. However, where such mistakes or neglect would result in serious injustice to the
client, a departure from this rule is warranted. To cling to the general rule is to condone rather
than rectify a serious injustice to petitioner whose only fault was to repose his faith and entrust
his innocence to his lawyer.

Barnes vs. Padilla, G.R. No. 160753, September 30, 2004, 439 SCRA 675