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Victory Liner Inc. v. Malinias | G.R No. 184333 | April 1, 2013 | Peralta, J.

Nature: Petition for review under Rule 45


Petitioners: Victory Liner, Inc.
Respondents: Michael Mlinias
TOPIC: Rule 15 (Motions) > Sec 5 (Notice of Hearing)
SUMMARY: There was a collision between the parties and the Respondent sought damages from the Petitioner.
Petitioner’s counsel withdrew, and no one made an appearance for the Petitioner during the presentation of evidence.
Petitioner was declared in default, and later a ruling in favor of Respondent was rendered. Petitioner filed a Motion for
Reconsideration, attaching to it a Notice of Hearing which did not specify a specific schedule for the hearing (only that
it be at the convenience of the court and the parties). Because of the defective Notice of Hearing, the MR was deemed
not filed. The period for appeal was not tolled, and the MTC decision became final and executory.

RULE: The Notice of Hearing shall specify the time and date of the hearing which must not be later than ten (10) days after
the filing of the motion.

Procedural history:
1. MTC: Complaint for damages by the Respondent against Petitioner
2. Counsel of Petitioner withdrew and did not make an appearance
3. Petitioner declared in default
4. MTC judgement in favor of Respondent
5. MR with defective Notice of Hearing by Petitioner
6. MTC decision became final and executory
7. Notice of Appeal by Petitioner (denied)
8. Petition for Relief from Judgement by Petitioner (denied)
9. Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 with the RTC by Petitioner (denied)
10. Petition for Certiorari to Annul Judgement of the RTC (denied)
11. CA affirmed
12. Petition for review under Rule 45 with the SC by Petitioner (denied)

FACTS
 Collision between the bus of Petitioner Victory Liner, Inc. and the truck driven by Respondent Michael Mlinias.
Respondent sought to collect damages from Petitioner.
 Counsel of Petitioner filed a Motion to Withdraw as counsel, which the MTC denied because it contains no
conformity by Petitioner.
o When the case was called for reception of Petitioner’s evidence, no appearance was made for it. Thus,
Petitioner was declared in default. Judgement was rendered in favor of Respondent.
 Petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration, which was denied. The decision of the MTC thus became final
and executory.
o The Notice of Hearing attached to the MR did not specify the date and time of hearing. Only indicated
“at a schedule and time convenient to the Court and the parties”
 Thus followed a series of unsuccessful attempts by Petitioner to have the MTC decision set aside.
o Petition for Relief from Judgement
o Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65, filed with the RTC, imputing grave abuse of discretion to the MTC
o Petition for Certiorari to Annul Judgement of the RTC
 “Acts of the RTC in granting the motion for execution even before Petitioner’s MR was acted
upon constituted an extrinsic fraud.”
 Accompanied by a Verification and Certification Against Forum Shopping signed by Counsel.
 Certificate of Authority by Petitioner’s board of directors authorizing counsel to file the action
was submitted a day later.
 Denied outright for lack of authority of counsel to sign the certification against forum
shopping, which decision was affirmed by the CA.
ISSUE: WON Petitioner still has a right to present its case? – NO
 The SC concedes that the MTC/RTC/CA committed a lot of errors in their reasoning in their decisions, but still holds
that the petition cannot be granted.
 Re the certification against forum shopping: CA held that it was Rogelio Ortega, not counsel, who had the
authority to sign. But it is not contested that counsel actually received authority. The fact that Ortega was
first given it does not prevent counsel from acquiring the authority.
 MTC took 18 months before it acted on Petitioner’s Notice of Appeal. But then again, nothing would
change even if they acted on the Notice of Appeal the same day it was filed. The Notice of Appeal was
simply wrong.
 Petitioner committed 2 mistakes:
 When they filed a defective Notice of Hearing with their MR
 When, despite the assailed decision having become final and executory, they filed a Notice of Appeal
 Sections 5 and 6 of Rule 15, the notice of hearing shall be addressed to the parties concerned and shall specify
the time and date of the hearing of the motion; no motion shall be acted upon by the court without proof of
service of the notice thereof, except when the court is satisfied that the rights of the adverse party are not affected.
 The Notice of Hearing attached to the MR being defective, the MR is deemed not filed. Consequently, it
failed to toll the period of appeal. Thus, the decision of the MTC has become final and executory.
 Given that the decision of the MTC has become final and executory, the Notice of Appeal was not proper. The
filing a Notice of Appeal shows that Petitioner did not recognize that the assailed decision already attained finality.
 A notice of appeal presupposes that appeal still exists as a right to the appellant. The submission is merely
to notify the trial court that the appellant was availing of the right to appeal, and not to seek the court’s
permission that it be allowed to pose an appeal. In the same vein, the "denial" or refusal to take cognizance
of a notice of appeal is predicated on a finding that the right to appeal did not or no longer existed, and
not on the refusal of the trial court to allow the appellant to pursue the appeal.
 Everything following this are just mistakes upon mistakes, and no grave abuse of discretion may be
imputed to the MTC, RTC, or CA in ruling against Petitioner.
 Petitioner should have accepted that the MTC decision has become final and executory, and sought to remove
this cloud (of finality) either by:
 Special civil action for certiorari under Rule 65 alleging grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of
jurisdiction on the part of MTC in denying their motion; OR
 Invoking Rule 38, which provides that "[w]hen a judgment or final order is rendered by any court in a case,
and a party thereto, by fraud, accident, mistake, or excusable negligence, has been prevented from taking
an appeal, he may file a petition [for relief from denial of appeal] in such court and in the same case praying
that the appeal be given due course.”
 In the end, it does not even really matter whether petitioner’s legal rights were unduly impaired by the MTC’s
abject refusal to recognize its motion for reconsideration. Even if the petitioner has the right to feel aggrieved over
the MTC’s action in this case, it should not have pretended that its right to appeal remained undiminished and
viable by filing the notice of appeal. It should have instead undertook first to remove the cloud that hovered on
its right to appeal.

DISPOSITION: WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. Costs against petitioner.

NOTE: