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HON. CARLOS O. FORTICH, PROVINCIAL GOVERNOR OF BUKIDNON, HON. REY B.

BAULA, MUNICIPAL
MAYOR OF SUMILAO, BUKIDNON, NQSR MANAGEMENT AND DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, petitioner v.
HON. RENATO C. CORONA, DEPUTY EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, HON. ERNESTO D. GARILAO, SECRETARY OF
THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRARIAN REFORM, respondents.
G. R. No. 131457
April 24, 1998

FACTS:
- On November 7, 1997, the Office of the President (OP) issued a win-win Resolution which reopened case O.P.
Case No. 96-C-6424.
-The said Resolution substantially modified its March 29, 1996 Decision.
- The OP had long declared the said Decision final & executory after the DARs Motion for Reconsideration was
denied for having been filed beyond the 15-day reglementary period.
-The SC then struck down as void the OPs act, it being in gross disregard of the rules & basic legal precept that
accord finality to administrative determinations.
-The respondents contended in their instant motion that the win-win Resolution of November 7, 1997 is not void
since it seeks to correct an erroneous ruling, hence, the March 29, 1996 decisioncould not as yet become final
and executory as to be beyond modification.
- They further explained that the DARs failure to file their Motion for Reconsideration on time was excusable.

ISSUES:
1.
2.
3.

Was the OPs modification of the Decision void or a valid exercise of its powers and prerogatives?
WON the DARs late filing of the Motion for Reconsideration is excusable.
WON the respondents have shown a justifiable reason for the relaxation of rules.
WON the issue is a question of technicality.

HELD:
[The petition was granted.]

1. No. Sec.7 of Administrative Order No. 18, dated February 12, 1987, mandates that decisions/resolutions/orders
of the Office of the President shallbecome final after the lapse of 15 days from receipt of a copy
therof xxx unless a Motion for Reconsideration thereof is filed within such period.
The respondents explanation that the DARs office procedure made it impossibleto file its Motion for
Reconsideration on time since the said decision had to be referred to its different departments cannot be considered
a valid justification. While there is nothing wrong with such referral, the DAR must not disregard the reglementary
period fixed by law, rule or regulation.
The rules relating to reglementary period should not be made subservient to the internal office procedure of
an administrative body.

2. No. The final & executory character of the OP Decision can no longer be disturbed or substantially modified. Res
judicata has set in and the adjudicated affair should forever be put to rest.
Procedural rules should be treated with utmost respect and due regard since they are designed to facilitate
the adjudication of cases to remedy the worsening problem of delay in the resolution of rival claims and in the
administration of justice. The Constitution guarantees that all persons shall have a right to the speedy

disposition of their cases before all judicial, quasi-judicial and administrative bodies.
While litigation is not a game of technicalities, every case must be prosecuted in accordance with the prescribed
procedure to ensure an orderly & speedy administration of justice. The flexibility in the relaxation of rules was
never intended to forge a bastion for erring litigants to violate the rules with impunity.
A liberal interpretation & application of the rules of procedure can only be resorted to in proper cases and
under justifiable causes and circumstances.

3. No. It is a question of substance & merit. A decision/resolution/order of an administrative body, court or tribunal
which is declared void on the ground that the same was rendered Without or in Excess of Jurisdiction, or with Grave
Abuse of Discretion, is a mere technicality of law or procedure. Jurisdiction is an essential and mandatory
requirement before a case or controversy can be acted on. Moreover, an act is still invalid if done in excess of
jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion.
In the instant case, several fatal violations of law were committed. These grave breaches of law, rules & settled
jurisprudence are clearly substantial, not of technical nature.
When the March 29, 1996 OP Decision was declared final and executory, vested rights were acquired by the
petitioners, and all others who should be benefited by the said Decision.
In the words of the learned Justice Artemio V. Panganiban in Videogram Regulatory Board vs CA, et al., just as a
losing party has the right to file an appeal within the prescribed period, the winning party also has the correlative right
to enjoy the finality of the resolution of his/her case.