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55 True False sought is merely frivolous and dilatory; (8) the other party will not be

416805 unjustly prejudiced thereby; (9) fraud, accident, mistake or excusable


negligence without the appellant's fault; (10) peculiar, legal and equitable
circumstances attendant to each case; (11) in the name of substantial
August 3, 2010.G.R. No. 187104.*
justice and fair play; (12) importance of the issues involved; and (13)
exercise of sound discretion by the judge, guided by all the attendant
SAINT LOUIS UNIVERSITY, INC., petitioner, vs. EVANGELINE C.
circumstances. Thus, there should be an effort, on the part of the party
COBARRUBIAS, respondent.
invoking liberality, to advance a reasonable or meritorious explanation for

Appeals; Docket Fees; Pleadings and Practice; Appeal is not a natural his/her failure to comply with the rules.

right but a mere statutory privilege, thus, appeal must be made strictly in
PETITION for review on certiorari of the decision and resolution of the
accordance with the provision set by law; Payment in full of docket fees
Court of Appeals.
within the prescribed period is not only mandatory, but also jurisdictional.
The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.
Appeal is not a natural right but a mere statutory privilege, thus, appeal
Ceasar G. Oracion and Jason R. Barlis for petitioner.
must be made strictly in accordance with the provision set by law. Rule 43
Emmanuel T. Costales for respondent.
of the Rules of Court provides that appeals from the judgment of the VA
shall be taken to the CA, by filing a petition for review within fifteen (15) BRION,J.:
days from the receipt of the notice of judgment. Furthermore, upon the We resolve the present petition for review on certiorari1 filed by
filing of the petition, the petitioner shall pay to the CA clerk of court the petitioner Saint Louis University, Inc. (SLU), to challenge the decision2 and
docketing and other lawful fees; non-compliance with the procedural the resolution3 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 101708.4
requirements shall be a sufficient ground for the petitions dismissal. Thus, _______________
payment in full of docket fees within the prescribed period is not only
mandatory, but also jurisdictional. It is an essential requirement, without 1 Filed under Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of Court; Rollo, pp. 13-42.

which, the decision appealed from would become final and executory as if 2 Dated November 5, 2008, penned by Associate Justice Celia C.

no appeal has been filed. Librea-Leagogo, and concurred in by Associate Justices Mario L. Guaria III

Procedural Rules and Technicalities; Procedural rules are not to be and Arturo G. Tayag; id., at pp. 144-158.

belittled or dismissed simply because their non-observance may have 3 Dated February 24, 2009; id., at pp. 167-168.

prejudiced a partys substantive rights; like all rules, they are required to be 4 Entitled Evangeline C. Cobarrubias v. Saint Louis University,

followed; Exceptions.Procedural rules do not exist for the convenience of represented by Fr. Jessie M. Hechanova.

the litigants; the rules were established primarily to provide order to and
651
enhance the efficiency of our judicial system. While procedural rules are
liberally construed, the provisions on reglementary periods are strictly VOL. 626, AUGUST 3, 2010 651
Saint Luis University, Inc. vs. Cobbarubias
applied, indispensable as they are to the prevention of needless delays,
and are necessary to the orderly and speedy discharge of judicial business.
The Factual Background
Viewed in this light, procedural rules are not to be belittled or dismissed
simply because their non-observance may have prejudiced a partys The facts of the case, gathered from the records, are briefly
substantive rights; like all rules, they are required to be followed. However, summarized below.
there are recognized exceptions to their strict observance, such as: (1) Respondent Evangeline C. Cobarrubias is an associate professor of the
most persuasive and weighty reasons; (2) to relieve a litigant from an petitioners College of Human Sciences. She is an active member of the
_______________ Union of Faculty and Employees of Saint Louis University (UFESLU).
The 2001-20065 and 2006-20116 Collective Bargaining Agreements
* THIRD DIVISION.
(CBAs) between SLU and UFESLU contain the following common provision

650 on forced leave:


For teaching employees in college who7.7.Section fail the yearly
650 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
Saint Luis University, Inc. vs. Cobbarubias evaluation, the following provisions shall apply:
(a)Teaching employees who are retained for
injustice not commensurate with his failure to comply with the prescribed
three (3) cumulative years in five (5) years shall be on
procedure; (3) good faith of the defaulting party by immediately paying
forced leave for one (1) regular semester during which
within a reasonable time from the time of the default; (4) the existence of
period all benefits due them shall be suspended.7
special or compelling circumstances; (5) the merits of the case; (6) a cause
not entirely attributable to the fault or negligence of the party favored by
SLU placed Cobarrubias on forced leave for the first semester of
the suspension of the rules; (7) a lack of any showing that the review
School Year (SY) 2007-2008 when she failed the evaluation for SY 2002-
VOL. 626, AUGUST 3, 2010 653
2003, SY 2005-2006, and SY 2006-2007, with the rating of 85, 77, and 72.9
Saint Luis University, Inc. vs. Cobbarubias
points, respectively, below the required rating of 87 points.
On December 5, 2007, Cobarrubias filed with the CA a petition for
To reverse the imposed forced leave, Cobarrubias sought recourse
review under Rule 43 of the Rules of Court, but failed to pay the required
from the CBAs grievance machinery. Despite the conferences held, the
filing fees and to attach to the petition copies of the material portions of
parties still failed to settle their dispute, prompting Cobarrubias to file a
the record.14
case for illegal forced leave or illegal suspension with the National
Thus, on January 14, 2008, the CA dismissed the petition outright for
Conciliation and Mediation Board of the Department of Labor and
Cobarrubias procedural lapses.15 Cobarrubias received the CA resolution,
Employment, Cordillera Administrative Region, Baguio City. When
dismissing her petition, on January 31, 2008.16
circulation and mediation again failed, the parties submitted the
On February 15, 2008, Cobarrubias filed her motion for
_______________
reconsideration, arguing that the ground cited is technical. She,
nonetheless, attached to her motion copies of the material portions of the
5 Rollo, pp. 62-64.
record and the postal money orders for P4,230.00. She maintained that the
6 Id., at pp. 65-67.
ends of justice and fair play are better served if the case is decided on its
7 Id., at p. 63 and p. 66.
merits.17

652 On July 30, 2008, the CA reinstated the petition. It found that
Cobarrubias substantially complied with the rules by paying the appeal fee
652 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
Saint Luis University, Inc. vs. Cobbarubias in full and attaching the proper documents in her motion for

issues between them for voluntary arbitration before Voluntary Arbitrator reconsideration.18

(VA) Daniel T. Farias. SLU insisted that the VA decision had already attained finality for

Cobarrubias argued that the CA already resolved the forced leave Cobarrubias failure to pay the docket fees on time.

issue in a prior case between the parties, CA-G.R. SP No. 90596, ruling8

The CA Decision
that the forced leave for teachers who fail their evaluation for three (3)
times within a five-year period should be coterminous with the CBA in
The CA brushed aside SLUs insistence on the finality of the VA
force during the same five-year period.9
decision and annulled it, declaring that the three (3) cumulative years in
SLU, for its part, countered that the CA decision in CA-G.R. SP No.
five (5) years phrase in Section 7.7(a) of the 2006-2011 CBA means within
90596 cannot be considered in deciding the present case since it is
the five-year effectivity of the CBA. Thus, the CA ordered SLU to pay all the
presently on appeal with this Court (G.R. No. 176717) 10 and, thus, is not
benefits
yet final. It argued that the forced leave provision applies irrespective of
_______________
which CBA is applicable, provided the employee fails her evaluation three
(3) times in five (5) years.11 14 Id., at pp. 86-95.
15 Id., at pp. 97-98.
The Voluntary Arbitrator Decision
16 Id., at p. 99.
17 Id., at pp. 99-105.
On October 26, 2007, VA Daniel T. Farias dismissed the case. 12 He
18 Id., at pp. 112-115.
found that the CA decision in CA-G.R. SP No. 90596 is not yet final because
of the pending appeal with this Court. He noted that the CBA clearly
654
authorized SLU to place its teaching employees on forced leave when they
654 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
fail in the evaluation for three (3) years within a five-year period, without a
Saint Luis University, Inc. vs. Cobbarubias
distinction on whether the three years fall within one or two CBA periods.
due Cobarrubias for the first semester of SY 2007-2008, when she was
Cobarrubias received the VAs decision on November 20, 2007.13
placed on forced leave.19
_______________
When the CA denied20 the motion for reconsideration that followed, 21
SLU filed the present petition for review on certiorari.22
8 Decision of May 23, 2006, entitled Saint Louis University, Inc. v.
Evangeline C. Cobarrubias.
The Petition
9 Entitled Evangeline C. Cobarrubias v. Saint Louis University, Inc.
10 Id., at pp. 68-77. SLU argues that the CA should not have reinstated the appeal since
11 Id., at pp. 45-61. Cobarrubias failed to pay the docket fees within the prescribed period, and
12 Id., at pp. 78-85. rendered the VA decision final and executory. Even if Cobarrubias
13 Id., at p. 86. procedural lapse is disregarded, SLU submits that Section 7.7(a) of the
2006-2011 CBA should apply irrespective of the five-year effectivity of each
653
CBA.23
The Case for Cobarrubias which to file the petition for review. No further extension shall be granted
except for the most compelling reason and in no case to exceed fifteen (15)
Cobarrubias insists that the CA settled the appeal fee issue, in its July days. (Rule 43, Revised Rules of Court.)
30, 2008 resolution, when it found that she had substantially complied 275. SEC.How appeal taken.Appeal shall be taken by filing a
with the rules by subsequently paying the docket fees in full. She submits verified petition for review in seven (7) legible copies with the Court of
that the CAs interpretation of Section 7.7(a) of the 2006-2011 CBA is more Appeals, with proof of service of a copy thereof on the adverse party and
in accord with law and jurisprudence.24 on the court or agency a quo. The original copy of the petition intended for
the Court of Appeals shall be indicated as such by the petitioner.
The Issues

656
The core issues boil down to whether the CA erred in reinstating
656 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
Cobarrubias petition despite her failure to pay the appeal fee within the
Saint Luis University, Inc. vs. Cobbarubias
reglementary period, and in reversing the VA decision. To state the
non-compliance with the procedural requirements shall be a sufficient
obvious, the appeal fee is a
ground for the petitions dismissal.28 Thus, payment in full of docket fees
_______________
within the prescribed period is not only mandatory, but also
jurisdictional.29 It is an essential requirement, without which, the decision
19 Decision of November 5, 2008; supra note 2.
appealed from would become final and executory as if no appeal has been
20 Resolution of February 24, 2009; supra note 3.
filed.30
21 Id., at pp. 160-165.
As early as the 1932 case of Lazaro v. Endencia and Andres,31 we
22 Id., at pp. 13-44.
stressed that the payment of the full amount of the docket fee is an
23 Ibid.
indispensable step for the perfection of an appeal. In Lee v. Republic,32 we
24 Id., at pp. 219-228.
decided that even though half of the appellate court docket fee was

655 deposited, no appeal was deemed perfected where the other half was
tendered after the period within which payment should have been made.
VOL. 626, AUGUST 3, 2010 655
Saint Luis University, Inc. vs. Cobbarubias In Aranas v. Endona,33 we reiterated that the appeal is not per-

threshold issue that renders all other issues unnecessary if SLUs position _______________

on this issue is correct.


Upon the filing of the petition, the petitioner shall pay to the clerk of

The Courts Ruling court of the Court of Appeals the docketing and other lawful fees and
deposit the sum of P500.00 for costs. Exemption from payment of
We find the petition meritorious. docketing and other lawful fees and the deposit for costs may be granted
Payment of Appellate Court Docket Fees by the Court of Appeals upon a verified motion setting forth valid grounds
Appeal is not a natural right but a mere statutory privilege, thus, therefor. If the Court of Appeals denies the motion, the petitioner shall pay
appeal must be made strictly in accordance with the provision set by law. 25
the docketing and other lawful fees and deposit for costs within fifteen
Rule 43 of the Rules of Court provides that appeals from the judgment of (15) days from notice of the denial. (Rule 43, Revised Rules of Court.)
the VA shall be taken to the CA, by filing a petition for review within fifteen 287. SEC.Effect of failure to comply with requirements.The
(15) days from the receipt of the notice of judgment. Furthermore, upon
26
failure of the petitioner to comply with any of the foregoing requirements
the filing of the petition, the petitioner shall pay to the CA clerk of court regarding the payment of the docket and other lawful fees, the deposit for
the docketing and other lawful fees; 27
costs, proof of service of the petition, and the contents of and the
_______________ documents which should accompany the petition shall be sufficient ground
for the dismissal thereof. (Rule 43, Revised Rules of Court.)
25 Espejo v. Ito, G.R. No. 176511, August 4, 2009, 595 SCRA 192, 204. 29 Ruby Shelter Builders and Realty Development Corporation v.
264. SEC.Period of appeal.The appeal shall be taken within Formaran III, G.R. No. 175914, February 10, 2009, 578 SCRA 283, 297.
fifteen (15) days from notice of the award, judgment, final order or 30 Ruiz v. Delos Santos, G.R. No. 166386, January 27, 2009, 577 SCRA
resolution, or from the date of its last publication, if publication is required 29, 43.
by law for its effectivity, or of the denial of petitioners motion for new trial 31 57 Phil. 552, 553 (1932).
or reconsideration duly filed in accordance with the governing law of the 32 No. L-15027, January 31, 1964, 10 SCRA 65, 67.
court or agency a quo. Only one (1) motion for reconsideration shall be 33 203 Phil. 120, 127; 117 SCRA 753, 759 (1982).
allowed. Upon proper motion and the payment of the full amount of the
docket fee before the expiration of the reglementary period, the Court of 657

Appeals may grant an additional period of fifteen (15) days only within VOL. 626, AUGUST 3, 2010 657
Saint Luis University, Inc. vs. Cobbarubias
fected if only a part of the docket fee is deposited within the docket fees were paid late, and without payment of the full docket fees,
reglementary period and the remainder is tendered after the expiration of Cobarrubias appeal was not perfected within the reglementary period.
the period. Exceptions to the Rule on Payment of Appellate
The rulings in these cases have been consistently reiterated in Court Docket Fees not applicable
subsequent cases: Guevarra v. Court of Appeals, Pedrosa v. Spouses Hill,
34 35
Procedural rules do not exist for the convenience of the litigants; the
Gegare v. Court of Appeals, Lazaro v. Court of Appeals, Sps. Manalili v.
36 37
rules were established primarily to provide order to and enhance the
Sps. de Leon,38 La Salette College v. Pilotin,39 Saint Louis University v. efficiency of our judicial system.50 While procedural rules are liberally
Spouses Cordero,40 M.A. Santander Construction, Inc. v. Villanueva,41 Far construed, the provisions on reglementary periods are strictly applied,
Corporation v. Magdaluyo, 42
Meatmasters Intl. Corp. v. Lelis Integrated indispensable as they are to the prevention of needless delays, and are
Devt. Corp., Tamayo v. Tamayo, Jr., Enriquez v. Enriquez, KLT Fruits,
43 44 45
necessary to the orderly and speedy discharge of judicial business.51
Inc. v. WSR Fruits, Inc., 46
_______________
_______________
47 G.R. No. 172849, December 10, 2008, 573 SCRA 479, 492; docket
34 241 Phil. 40, 44-45; 157 SCRA 32, 36-37 (1988); docket fees paid fees paid two (2) days late.
forty-one (41) days late. 48 G.R. No. 171659, March 17, 2009, 581 SCRA 643, 646; docket fees
35 327 Phil. 153, 158; 257 SCRA 373, 378 (1996); docket fees paid four paid more than three (3) months late.
(4) months late. 49 G.R. No. 183335, December 23, 2009, 609 SCRA 223; deficiency in
36 358 Phil. 228, 232; 297 SCRA 587, 591 (1998); nonpayment of docket fees paid only upon the filing of the motion for reconsideration.
docket fees despite CA notice to pay. 50 Mejillano v. Lucillo, G.R. No. 154717, June 19, 2009, 590 SCRA 1, 9;
37 386 Phil. 412, 417; 330 SCRA 208, 212 (2000); docket fees paid six Ko v. Philippine National Bank, G.R. Nos. 169131-32, January 20, 2006, 479
(6) months late. SCRA 298, 303.
38 422 Phil. 214, 221; 370 SCRA 625, 631 (2001); docket fees paid 51 Villa v. Heirs of Enrique Altavas, G.R. No. 162028, July 14, 2008,
almost ten (10) months late. 558 SCRA 157, 166; Moneytrend Lending Corporation v. Court of Appeals,
39 463 Phil. 785, 793; 418 SCRA 380, 387 (2003); docket fees paid one G.R. No 165580, February 20, 2006, 482 SCRA 705, 714.
(1) year and eleven (11) months late.
659
40 478 Phil. 739, 750; 434 SCRA 575, 586 (2004); docket fees paid
almost a month late. VOL. 626, AUGUST 3, 2010 659
Saint Luis University, Inc. vs. Cobbarubias
41 484 Phil. 500, 504; 441 SCRA 525, 529 (2004); docket fees paid
Viewed in this light, procedural rules are not to be belittled or
seven (7) months and twenty-five (25) days late.
dismissed simply because their non-observance may have prejudiced a
42 485 Phil. 599, 610; 443 SCRA 218, 229 (2004); docket fees paid 132
partys substantive rights; like all rules, they are required to be followed.
days late.
However, there are recognized exceptions to their strict observance, such
43 492 Phil. 698, 701; 452 SCRA 626, 630 (2005); docket fees paid one
as: (1) most persuasive and weighty reasons; (2) to relieve a litigant from
(1) month late.
an injustice not commensurate with his failure to comply with the
44 G.R. No. 148482, August 12, 2005, 466 SCRA 618, 622-623; docket
prescribed procedure; (3) good faith of the defaulting party by
fees paid only upon the filing of the motion for reconsideration.
immediately paying within a reasonable time from the time of the default;
45 G.R. No. 139303, August 25, 2005, 468 SCRA 77, 86; docket fees
(4) the existence of special or compelling circumstances; (5) the merits of
paid four (4) months late.
the case; (6) a cause not entirely attributable to the fault or negligence of
46 G.R. No. 174219, November 23, 2007, 538 SCRA 713, 730; docket
the party favored by the suspension of the rules; (7) a lack of any showing
fees paid more than thirty (30) days late.
that the review sought is merely frivolous and dilatory; (8) the other party
658 will not be unjustly prejudiced thereby; (9) fraud, accident, mistake or

658 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED excusable negligence without the appellant's fault; (10) peculiar, legal and
Saint Luis University, Inc. vs. Cobbarubias equitable circumstances attendant to each case; (11) in the name of
Tan v. Link,47 Ilusorio v. Ilusorio-Yap,48 and most recently in Tabigue v. substantial justice and fair play; (12) importance of the issues involved; and
International Copra Export Corporation (INTERCO), and continues to be
49
(13) exercise of sound discretion by the judge, guided by all the attendant
the controlling doctrine. circumstances.52 Thus, there should be an effort, on the part of the party
In the present case, Cobarrubias filed her petition for review on invoking liberality, to advance a reasonable or meritorious explanation for
December 5, 2007, fifteen (15) days from receipt of the VA decision on his/her failure to comply with the rules.
November 20, 2007, but paid her docket fees in full only after seventy-two In Cobarrubias case, no such explanation has been advanced. Other
(72) days, when she filed her motion for reconsideration on February 15, than insisting that the ends of justice and fair play are better served if the
2008 and attached the postal money orders for P4,230.00. Undeniably, the case is decided on its merits, Cobarrubias offered no excuse for her failure
to pay the docket fees in full when she filed her petition for review. To us,
Cobarrubias omission is fatal to her cause.
We, thus, find that the CA erred in reinstating Cobarrubias petition
for review despite the nonpayment of the
_______________

52 Lim v. Delos Santos, G.R. No. 172574, July 31, 2009, 594 SCRA 607,
616-617; Villena v. Rupisan, G.R. No. 167620, April 3, 2007, 520 SCRA 346,
358-359.

660

660 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED


Saint Luis University, Inc. vs. Cobbarubias
requisite docket fees within the reglementary period. The VA decision had
lapsed to finality when the docket fees were paid; hence, the CA had no
jurisdiction to entertain the appeal except to order its dismissal.
WHEREFORE, the present petition is GRANTED. The assailed decision
and resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 101708 are
hereby DECLARED VOID and are consequently SET ASIDE. The decision of
the voluntary arbitrator, that the voided Court of Appeals decision and
resolution nullified, stands. No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.
Carpio-Morales (J., Chairperson), Bersamin, Abad ** and Villarama, Jr.,
JJ., concur.

Petition granted, judgment and resolution declared void and set aside.

Note.While a court may refuse to entertain a suit for non-payment


of docket fees, such failure does not preclude it, however, from taking
cognizance of the case as circumstances may so warrant or when the ends
of justice would be best served if the case were to be given due course
the failure to pay the appeal docketing fee confers a discretionary
authority, not mandatory charge, on the part to dismiss an appeal. (Public
Estates Authority vs. Yujuico, 351 SCRA 280 [2001])
o0o

_______________

** Designated additional Member of the Third Division, in view of the


retirement of Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno, per Special Order No. 843
dated May 17, 2010.

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