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G.R.No.173375

THIRDDIVISION

LEONCIO D. MANGAHAS,
ZALDY G. MATIAS, ORLANDO
O. OANES, DANTE Y. ARCILLA
ANDJOCELYNR.DELACRUZ,
Petitioners,

versus

THECOURTOFAPPEALS,THE
REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF
GAPANCITY,BRANCH35,THE
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES
ANDDR.CELIAMORALES,
Respondents.

G.R.No.173375

Present:

YNARESSANTIAGO,
AUSTRIAMARTINEZ,
CHICONAZARIO,
REYES,
DECASTRO,JJ.*

Promulgated:

September25,2008
xx

DECISION

CHICONAZARIO,J.:

[1]
AssailedintheinstantPetitionforReviewonCertiorari underRule45oftheRevised
[2]
RulesofCourtis(1)theResolution dated23February2006oftheCourtofAppealsinCA
G.R.SPNo.93272,entitledLeoncioD.Mangahas,ZaldyG.Matias,OrlandoO.Oanes,Dante
Y.ArcillaandJocelynR.delaCruzv.TheRegionalTrialCourtofGapanCity (Nueva Ecija),
[3]
Branch35,thePeopleofthePhilippinesandDr.CeliaMoralesand(2)theResolution dated
13 June 2006 of the same court denying petitioners Motion for Reconsideration of its earlier
resolution. In both assailed resolutions, the Court of Appeals dismissed the Petition for
Certiorari, with prayer for issuance of a temporary restraining order and injunction, filed by
petitioners, for having been filed beyond the reglementary period within which to file said
recourse.

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Theantecedentfactsofthepresentpetitionare:

On20April2001,privaterespondentDr.CeliaP.Morales(Morales)filedanAffidavit
[4]
Complaint against petitioners Leoncio D. Mangahas, Zaldy G. Matias, Orlando O. Oanes,
Dante Y. Arcilla and Jocelyn R. de la Cruz (Mangahas, et al.) for violation of Sec. 3 (f) of
RepublicActNo.3019beforetheOfficeoftheOmbudsman.Thecomplaintwasdocketedas
OMB1010382D.

Inhercomplaint,privaterespondentMoralesbasicallyallegedthat:

1. On June 27, 1998, the Sangguniang Bayan (SB for brevity) of the Municipality of
Gapan,NuevaEcija,thrutheinitiativeofCouncilorZaldyG.Matias(nephewof
Mr. and Mrs. Edgardo Manalastas), seconded by Councilor Carlos R. Malaca,
persuadedtopassandenactKapasyahanBlg.39,taon1998,grantingtherequest
ofMr.andMrs.EdgardoManalastasfortheconversionoftheiragriculturalland
covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. NT125720 into a memorial garden
despiteinsufficiencyoftherequirementsthereofasprovidedbylawxxx

xxxx

3.xxxafterreceivingacopyofthesaidKapasyahan,itappearedthattheconversionof
theagriculturallandofMr.andMrs.EdgardoManalastas(Manalastasforbrevity)
intoamemorialgardenwashurriedlydoneandapparentlynotinaccordwiththe
necessary legal requirements based on their failure to: (a) notify the adjacent
residential lot owners of the said plan and/or development (b) secure proper
recommendation(s) and permit from different government departments, bureaus
andagenciesconcernedand(c)followandcomplywiththeproperproceduresas
prescribedbylaw

4.Inquestioningthesame,mysonsentaletterdated13April1999addressedtotheSB
andprayed,amongotherstheimmediateREVOCATIONandCANCELLATION
ofthesaidKapasyahanxxx

5.xxxSecretaryoftheSanggunian,xxxadmittedthereinthatKapasyahanBlg.39,taon
1998wasonlyaDRAFTRESOLUTIONxxx

6. On 20 April 1999, another Kapasyahan Blg. 34, taon 1999 was issued by the SB
refrainingorstoppingtheManalastastofurtherdeveloptheirprojectwithoutfirst
securing the proper permits and certification from the different government
departmentsandbureausconcerned,unfortunately,however,thesamewasnever
implementedxxx

7.On14May1999,mysondecidedtosendanotherletteraddressedtotheSBandprayed
xxxtheissuanceofapermanentrevocationofKapasyahanBlg.39,taon1998in
lieuofatemporaryrevocationpreviouslyissuedxxx

8. x x x my daughter, Felicitas Morales sent another letter dated 28 September 2000


addressed to the SB, informing them of the presence of persons who had
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continued and still continue to develop the project of Manalastas despite the
prohibitionpreviouslyissuedtothateffect.However,toourprejudice,noaction
whatsoever was taken by the said public officials concerned, thereby extending
unduefavortotheManalastas

9. x x x the undersigned was forced to send another letter dated 24 January 2001
addressedtotheSBxxx
10.On12March2001,anotherletterwassentbytheundersignedaddressedtotheSB,
requestingthatIbegivenachancetobeheardinaformofpublichearinginorder
to air my grievances against the illegal conversion of the land x x x and for the
unfair,unjustandoppressivetreatmentwhichwesufferedandcontinuetosuffer
uptothepresentxxx

11.Four(4)dayspriortothescheduledpublichearingon6April2001,theOfficeofthe
SanggunianheadedbyHon.ViceMayorMarcelinoD.I.Alvarezsentanoticeto
all the members of the SB, namely, Leoncio D. Mangahas, Zaldy G. Matias,
Danilo A. de Guzman, Carlos R. Malaca, Orlando Q. Oanes, Dante Y. Arcilla,
JocelyndelaCruz,CrisantoV.VelayoII,AlfredoM.Alejandria,Jr.andAlejandro
C.Velayo,forpurpose(s)ofinformingthemofthesaidpublichearing

12. When the notice was served to the following councilors, namely: Leoncio D.
Mangahas, Zaldy G. Matias, Carlos R. Malaca, Orlando Q. Oanes, Dante Y.
Arcilla and Jocelyn R. dela Cruz, I was informed by the Hon. ViceMayor
Marcelino D.L. Alvarez and the Secretary of the Sanggunian, Mr. Eduardo H.
Almera,thatthesaidcouncilorshavemaliciouslyrefusedtosignthesaidnotice,
therebygivingundueadvantageinfavoroftheManalastaswhouptothispresent
timehasbeencontinuouslydevelopingtheirprojectdespitetheprohibitionthereof
xxx

13. However, despite the fact that they were properly notified, the abovenamed
councilorsintheprecedingparagraphhavedeliberatelyandmaliciouslyneglected
and/or refused to attend the scheduled public hearing last 6 April 2001, thereby
unjustly and oppressively discriminating the undersigned without sufficient
justificationwhatsoever

14.Duetotheunlawfulactscommittedbythesix(6)councilors,theundersignedmost
respectfullysubmitsthattheybeprosecutedforviolationofSec.3(f)oftheAnti
GraftandCorruptPracticeAct(R.A.3019asamendedbyR.A.3047,P.D.77and
B.P.195)whichprovidesthat:

Xxx Neglecting or refusing, after due demand or request, without


sufficient justification, to act within a reasonable time on matter
pendingbeforehimforpurposeofobtaining,directlyorindirectly,
from any person interested in the matter some pecuniary or
material benefit or advantage, or for the purpose of favoring his
own interest or giving undue advantage in favor of or
discriminatingagainstanyotherinterestedparty.xxx

15.Asofthisdate,nopublichearingyethaseverbeenconducted,hence,totheprejudice
oftheundersigned

16.Withfullsincerityandhonesty,Ibelievethattherewillbenomorepublichearingthat
will be conducted due (to) the admission made by Hon. ViceMayor Marcelino
D.L.AlvarezandMr.EduardoH.AlmeraascontainedintheirJointAffidavit.
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In their joint counteraffidavits, petitioners denied the accusations of private respondent


Morales. They argued that the assailed Kapasyahan Blg. 39, taon 1998, was unanimously
approvedbytheMunicipalCouncilorsandwasthereafterapprovedbytheProvincialCouncilors
ofNuevaEcija.

[5]
InaResolution dated27June2001,theOfficeoftheDeputyOmbudsmanforLuzon
resolvedtodismissthecomplaintforlackofprobablecause.

[6]
Upon motion of private respondent Morales, however, said Office, in another Resolution,
reconsidereditsearlierfindingoflackofprobablecause.Itheldthattherewasfurtherneedfor
preliminary investigation to determine the criminal liabilities of petitioners in deliberately
absentingthemselvesfromthepublichearingoftheSangguniangBayanheldon6April2001.

[7]
On8November2001,anOrder wasissuedbytheOfficeoftheDeputyOmbudsman
forLuzonreopeningthecaseforfurtherpreliminaryinvestigation.

[8]
In a Resolution dated 5 June 2002, the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon
recommendedthat(1)petitionersbechargedwithandprosecutedforviolationofSec.3(f)of
RepublicActNo.3019and(2)thecorrespondingInformationbefiledincourt.

[9]
On 18 July 2002, an Information dated 5 June 2002, was filed before the Regional
Trial Court (RTC), Branch 34, Gapan, Nueva Ecija, charging petitioners with the violation of
Sec.3(f)ofRepublicActNo.3019.Theaccusatoryportionthereofstates:

Thatonorabout11April2001orsometimepriororsubsequenttheretoinGapan,NuevaEcija,
Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the abovenamed accused, all
publicofficers,beingthentheincumbentCouncilorsoftheMunicipalityofGapan,NuevaEcija,
committing the crime herein charged in relation to and in the performance of their official
function, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and criminally neglect and refuse after due
demand or request, without sufficient justification, to act within a reasonable time on a matter
pending before them by absenting themselves in the public hearing of Kapasyahan Blg. 39,
knowingfullywellthattheirpresenceareindispensable,necessarytojustifythedevelopmentof
the proposed memorial garden thereat, for the development of (sic) discriminating against one
CeliaMorales,theotherinterestedparty.

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ThecasewasdocketedasCriminalCaseNo.10926.

On 28 October 2002, petitioners filed with the RTC a Motion for Reinvestigation with
[10]
PrayertoSuspendProceedings
sincetheInformationhadalreadybeenfiledwiththesaid
trialcourt.

[11]
In an Order
dated 26 March 2003, the RTC denied petitioners motion for lack of
merit.

[12]
Warrants
for the arrest of petitioners were subsequently issued by the RTC, but the
former, without more ado, posted personal cash bail bonds to secure their provisional liberty.
[13]

InalastditchefforttodefertheproceedingsbeforetheRTC,petitionersfiledaMotion
[14]
forReconsiderationoftheOrderdatedMarch26,2003withPrayerforInhibition.

On 1 July 2003, Hon. Rodolfo Beltran, Presiding Judge of RTC Branch 34, recused
[15]
himselffromthecasewithoutresolvingthelatestmotionfiledbypetitioners.

[16]
In an Order
dated 5 August 2003, Hon. Victoriano B. Cabanos, Presiding Judge of
RTCBranch87,resolvedtheabovemotionbydenyingthesame.

Intheinterim,beforepetitionerscouldbearraigned,theprosecutionfiledwiththeRTCa
[17]
MotiontoSuspendAccusedfromPublicOffice
whichpetitionerscounteredbyfilingwith
the same court a Motion to Quash with Urgent Prayer to DeferArraignment and Issuance of
[18]
OrderofSuspension.

[19]
InanOrder
dated16June2005,theRTCgrantedtheprosecutionsprayertosuspend
petitionersfrompublicofficeforsixty(60)daysinviewofSec.63(b)oftheLocalGovernment
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[20]
Code
thus, effectively denying petitioners Motion to Quash with Urgent Prayer to Defer
ArraignmentandIssuanceofOrderofSuspension.Petitionersfiledamotionforreconsideration
[21]
of the order of suspension but it was also denied by the RTC in another Order
dated 25
[22]
November2005,butthistimeissuedbyRTCBranch35,
Gapan,NuevaEcija.

Imputinggraveabuseofdiscretionamountingtolackorexcessofjurisdictiononthepart
oftheRTCin(1)suspendingthemforsixty(60)daysfrompublicofficeand(2)denyingthe
motiontoquash,aswellastheirprayertodefertheirarraignment,petitionersfiledaPetitionfor
CertiorariunderRule65oftheRevisedRulesofCourtbeforetheCourtofAppeals.

On23February2006,theCourtofAppealsissuedaResolutiondismissingthePetition.It
ruledthat:

The petition alleges that petitioners received on December9,2005 a copy of the Order
datedNovember25,2005,whichdeniedtheirmotionforreconsiderationoftheOrderdatedJune
16, 2005. Consequently, the sixty (60) day period within which to file a petition for certiorari
expiredonFebruary7,2006.However,theinstantpetitionwasfiledonlyonFebruary8,2006,as
shown by the post office stamp on the envelope, and was, therefore, late by one (1) day. The
[23]
assailedOrdershadthus(sic)alreadyattainedfinality.

Petitioners moved for the reconsideration of the appellate courts dismissal of their
petition.Theyclaimedthat,inactuality,theirpetitionwasmailedon7February2006andnoton
8February2006.Attachedtopetitionersmotionforreconsiderationwasacertificationbyone
MaritaPangandian,AssistantPostmasterofCabanatuanCityPostOffice,NuevaEcija,aswell
asasimplephotocopyofthepageoftheregistryreceiptbookofsaidpostofficeshowingthat
that subject mail matters addressed to the Court of Appeals were received for mailing on 7
February2006.

The Court of Appeals, however, in a Resolution dated 13 June 2006 found no cogent
reason to disturb its original conclusion that the petition was filed beyond the reglementary
period within which to avail of the extraordinary writ of certiorari. The appellate court held
that:

Settled is the rule that a xerox copy of any document is without evidentiary weight or
value(citationomitted).Moreover,theclerkofthepostofficewhoallegedlyfailedtostampthe
dateFebruary7,2006and,instead,stampedthedateFebruary8,2006ontheenvelopecontaining
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the mail matter addressed to this Court did not execute an affidavit to that effect, so that the
[24]
allegationsintheaffidavitofMrs.Pangandianarehearsay.

Further,theCourtofAppealstookexceptiontothefactthattheOfficeoftheSolicitorGeneral
(OSG),beingtheofficialcounselofthePeopleofthePhilippinesinappealsbeforetheappellate
courtandtheSupremeCourt,wasnotservedacopyofsaidpetition.Initsplace,theProvincial
Prosecutorwastheonefurnishedacopythereof.

Hence,petitionerscometothisCourt,challengingthedismissalbytheCourtofAppeals
oftheirPetitionanchoredonthefollowingarguments:

A.WITHREGARDTOTHEACTUATIONSOFTHECOURTOFAPPEALS:

1. WITH DUE RESPECT, THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN


DISMISSING THE PETITION FOR CERTIORARI FOR ALLEGEDLY HAVING
BEENFILEDONEDAYLATE,CONSIDERINGTHAT:

a. FIRST, THE REGISTRY RECEIPT BOOK OF THE CABANATUAN CITY POST


OFFICE SHOWED AND THE ASSISTANT POSTMASTER STATED THAT THE
MAIL MATTER ADDRESSED TO THE COURT OF APPEALS WAS MAILED BY
THEPETITIONERSON7FEBRUARY2006ANDNOTON8FEBRUARY2006.

b.SECOND,THEPETITIONERSARENOWSUBMITTINGACERTIFIEDCOPYOF
THE REGISTRY RECEIPT BOOK AND AN AFFIDAVIT OF THE CLERK
CONCERNED WHO STAMPED THE NOTATION THAT IT WAS MAILED ON 8
FEBRUARY2006ANDINSTEADOF7FEBRUARY2006.

2. WITH DUE RESPECT, THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN


DENYINGTHEMOTIONFORRECONSIDERATIONONTHEGROUNDTHATNO
COPYOFTHEPETITIONFORCERTIORARIWASFURNISHEDTOTHEOFFICE
OFTHESOLICITORGENERAL.PETITIONERSARENOWSUBMITTINGACOPY
OF THIS PETITION AND THE OTHER PLEADINGS ARE NOW BEING
FURNISHEDTOTHEOFFICEOFTHESOLICITORGENERAL.

B.WITHREGARDTOTHEACTUATIONSOFTHETRIALCOURT:

1. WITH DUE RESPECT, THE HONORABLE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ABUSED


ITSDISCRETION,AMOUNTINGTOLACKOFJURISDICTION,WHENITDENIED
THEMOTIONTOQUASHANDWHENITORDEREDTHESUSPENSIONOFTHE
PETITIONERSCONSIDERINGTHAT:

a.FIRST,THESUBJECTINFORMATIONDATED5JUNE2002WASANINVALID
INFORMATION, CONSIDERING THAT IT WAS NOT SIGNED BY THE
GOVERNMENT PROSECUTOR CONCERNED ON THE DATE IT WAS FILED ON
18JULY2002

b.SECOND,EVENIFITWASBELATEDLYSIGNED,THESAMEINFORMATION
REMAINED AS INVALID AND WAS NOT CURED BY THE FACT OF SIGNING
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ANDCOULDNOTBEGIVENARETROACTIVEEFFECTASIFITWEREVALID
ATTHETIMEITWASORIGINALLYFILED

c.THIRD,EVENIFITWASRENDEREDVALIDBYTHEFACTOFITSBELATED
SIGNING BY THE GOVERNMENT PROSECUTOR CONCERNED, THE SAID
INFORMATION HAS INSUFFICIENT ALLEGATIONS IN IT AND SUCH, THE
SAMESHOULDBEQUASHED

d. FOURTH, THE TRIAL COURT HAS NO JURISDICTION TO TRY AND HEAR


THISCASE,MUCHMOREIMPOSESUSPENSIONAGAINSTTHEPETITIONERS.

e.FIFTH,WITHDUERESPECT,ITWOULDHAVEBEENMOREPRUDENTIFTHE
TRIAL COURT HAD CONDUCTED A PRESUSPENSION HEARING IN
ACCORDANCEWITHTHERULINGOFTHESUPREMECOURTINTHECASEOF
SANTIAGOV.SANDIGANBAYAN,356SCRA636.

f. SIXTH, WITH DUE RESPECT, THE HONORABLE COURT FAILED TO


CONSIDERTHATTHEACCUSEDAREALREADYSERVINGDIFFERENTTERMS
OF OFFICES AND THAT THE ALLEGED ACTS COMPLAINED OF WERE
[25]
COMMITTEDDURINGTHEIRPASTTERMS.

Cuttingthroughtheissues,itwouldappearthatultimately,thecentralquestionandbone
of contention in the petition before us boils down to the appreciation and determination of
factual matters, first and foremost of which is the issue of whether the Petition for Certiorari
filed with the Court of Appeals was indeed mailed on 7 February 2006. And only when the
foregoing issue is resolved in the affirmative, is it still relevant for us to proceed to the legal
questionofwhetherthetrialcourterredindenyingpetitionersmotiontoquashandgrantingthe
Peoplesmotiontosuspendthemfrompublicoffice.

Factual issues are not the proper subject of this Courts discretionary power of judicial
review under Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of Court. We have defined a question of law as
distinguishedfromaquestionoffact,towit:

A question of law arises when there is doubt as to what the law is on a certain state of
facts,whilethereisaquestionoffactwhenthedoubtarisesastothetruthorfalsityofthealleged
facts.Foraquestiontobeoneoflaw,thesamemustnotinvolveanexaminationoftheprobative
valueoftheevidencepresentedbythelitigantsoranyofthem.Theresolutionoftheissuemust
restsolelyonwhatthelawprovidesonthegivensetofcircumstances.Onceitisclearthatthe
issueinvitesareviewoftheevidencepresented,thequestionposedisoneoffact.Thus,thetest
ofwhetheraquestionisoneoflaworoffactisnottheappellationgiventosuchquestionbythe
party raising the same rather, it is whether the appellate court can determine the issue raised
withoutreviewingorevaluatingtheevidence,inwhichcase,itisaquestionoflawotherwiseit
[26]
isaquestionoffact.

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UnderRule45,onlyquestionsoflawmayberaisedinapetitionforreviewoncertiorari
beforethisCourtaswearenotatrieroffacts.Ourjurisdictioninsuchaproceedingislimitedto
reviewingonlyerrorsoflawthatmayhavebeencommittedbythelowercourts.Consequently,
findingsoffactofthetrialcourtandtheCourtofAppealsarefinalandconclusive,andcannot
[27]
be reviewed on appeal.
It is not the function of this Court to reexamine or reevaluate
evidence,whethertestimonialordocumentary,adducedbythepartiesintheproceedingsbelow.
[28]
Theprecedingrulehowever,admitsofcertainexceptionsandhas,inthepast,beenrelaxed
whenthelowercourtsfindingswerenotsupportedbytheevidenceonrecordorwerebasedona
[29]
misapprehension of facts,
or when certain relevant and undisputed facts were manifestly
[30]
overlookedthat,ifproperlyconsidered,wouldjustifyadifferentconclusion.

Bethatasitmay,wearehardpressedtoapplyanyoftheexceptionstothecaseatbar.

Timelinessofanappealisafactualissue.Itrequiresarevieworevaluationofevidence
onwhenthepresentpetitionwasactuallymailedandreceivedbytheappellatecourt.Inthecase
atbar,toprovethattheymailedtheirPetitionforCertiorariaddressedtotheClerkofCourtof
theCourtofAppealson7February2006insteadof8February2006asshownbythestamped
dateontheenvelope,petitionersinitiallysubmitted(1)aphotocopyofthepertinentpageofthe
RegistryBookoftheCabanatuanPostOfficesansanyofficialguaranteethatitwasafaithful
reproductionoftheoriginal(2)anAffidavitofServiceexecutedbyoneLolitaS.Rasestating
underoaththatshewastheonewhoservedcopiesofthePetitionforCertiorari,byregistered
mail,tothepartiesofthesubjectcase,includingthatintendedfortheCourtofAppeals,withan
attachedphotocopyoftheregistryreceiptcorrespondingtothemailsenttotheappellatecourt
and(3)anAffidavitofMerit/CertificationmadeunderoathbyoneMaritaPangandian,claiming
to be the Assistant PostMaster of Cabanatuan City Post Office, which stated that said office
received for mailing on 7 February 2006 four (4) parcels/mail matters addressed to (a) Atty.
RomeoViloria(b)theClerkofCourtofRTCBr.87,Gapan,NuevaEcija(c)theOfficeofthe
Provincial Prosecutor and (d) Court of Appeals Clerk of Court. To be precise, the supposed
AssistantPostMasterattestedinheraffidavitthat:

1.Basedonourrecords,wereceivedinourofficeon7February2006formailingasregistered
mailfour(4)parcels/envelopesaddressedtothefollowingpersons,namely:
a)Atty.RomeoViloria2092
b)TheClerkofCourt,Gapan2093
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c)TheOfficeoftheProvincialProsecutor2094
d)TheClerkofCourt,ManilaA2094(fortheCourtofAppeals)
2.Asapractice,mailmattersaredispatchedinthemorning.Ifthemailmattersarereceivedin
the afternoon, then they are dispatched on the next day. As such, of the said registered
mail matters were received in the afternoon of 7 February 2006, then they were
dispatchedonthenextdayoron8February2006
3.Unknowntome,theregisteredmailmatterforTheClerkofCourtofCourtofAppeals,manila
maynothavebeenstampedwhenitwasreceivedon7February2006and/ormayhave
been stamped with an erroneous date on 8 February 2006 when it was about to be
dispatched.
4.WhenIexaminedtheRegistryBook,itappearedtobethattherewassomeconfusiononthe
part of our new clerk Lorena Datus, as the registered mail matter for the Office of the
ProvincialProsecutorwasalsoenteredas2094whiletheoneintendedforTheClerkof
Court, Manila in the Registry Receipt Book was marked as A2094. With two (2)
registered mail matters with Nos. 2094, it may possibly occur that the other parcel
intendedfortheClerkofCourt,ManilawasnotstampedwiththedateFebruary7,2006
whenitwasreceivedbyourPostOffice.Thefactthatitwasnotstampedmayhavegone
unnoticeduntilthattimethatthesaidmatterswereabouttobedispatchedonFebruary8,
2006andpossibly,oneofourstaffmighthavestampedthecopyfortheCourtofAppeals
withthedate8February2006.
5. This oversight on the erroneous stamping of the date was clearly unintentional and not
deliberateonourpart.
6.Iamexecutingtheforegoingforthepurposeofattestingtothetruthoftheforegoingandupon
therequestofAtty.ChristianB.Floresforthepurposeofprovingthattheregisteredmail
[31]
matterA2094wasreceivedbyourPostOfficeon7February2006.

BothoftheaffidavitssubmittedbypetitionerswerenotarizedbyAtty.BenerOrtizBauto
ofBauto,BautoandFloresLawOfficesevidently,thesamelawfirmasthatofthecounselof
petitioners.

Based on the foregoing documents, nevertheless, the Court of Appeals stood pat in its
dismissalofthepetition.WhenpetitionerscametothisCourtviathepresentpetitionforreview
on certiorari, they attached thereto the same photocopy of the pertinent page of the Registry
BookoftheCabanatuanCityPostOffice,butthistimewithatypewrittennotationcertifiedtrue
copysignedbyoneLorenaGatus,purportedlyaclerkofsuchpostoffice.Likewise,petitioners
annexed to their present petition, the additional affidavit of the same clerk Lorena Gatus
attestingtothefactthatsheerroneouslystampedontheenvelopesofpetitionersmailsthedate8
February2006insteadof7February2006.

Upon closer examination of the aforementioned documents, including those submitted


beforetheappellatecourt,thisCourtfindsnoevidentiarybasistoreversethedismissalbythe
CourtofAppealsofpetitionerspetitionforcertiorariforbeingbelatedlyfiled.

True,petitionerssenttheCourtofAppealsaregisteredmailcontainingseven(7)copies
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of their Petition for Certiorari. But the envelope in which the copies of the petition were
containedborethenotation8February2006asthedateofmailing.Such date fell beyond the
reglementaryperiodwithinwhichtofilesuchapetition.

To dispute the date of mailing as stamped on the envelope of their mail, petitioners
presented the attestation, under oath, of the supposed Assistant Postmaster of the Cabanatuan
CityPostOfficethatthesubjectregisteredmailwasreceivedinourofficeon7February2006
for mailing x x x as well as that of the purported clerk of the same post office admitting to
havingmistakenlystampedtheenvelopeofthesubjectregisteredmailwiththedate8February
2006.

[32]
There is a presumption that official duties have been regularly performed.
On this
basis,wehaveruledinpreviouscasesthatthePostmasterscertificationissufficientevidenceof
the fact of mailing. This presumption, however, is disputable. In this case, the
Affidavit/Certification of the alleged Assistant Postmaster cannot give rise to such a
presumption, for not only does it attest to an irregularity in the performance of official duties
(i.e.,mistakeinstampingthedateontheregisteredmail),itisessentiallyhearsayevidence.

Thoughnotarized,wecannotgivetheaffidavitsoftheAssistantPostmasterandtheclerk
anyprobativevalue,sincetheywerebothnotarizedbyalawyerbelongingtothesamelawfirm
as petitioners counsel and, as such, are selfserving assertions not corroborated by any other
evidence.Consideringtheinterestofhislawfirminthecase,wecannotrelysolelyonthejurat
of the notary public that the affiants/certifiers are indeed who they say they are. The
affiants/certifiershereinclaimedtobeofficersoremployeesoftheCabanatuanCityPostOffice,
butthisCourthasnowayofensuringtheveracityofsuchclaim.

ItwouldhavebeendifferenthadpetitionerspresentedanOfficialReceiptasevidenceof
paymentofappropriatefeescorrespondingtotheissuanceofsuchcertificationsbytheAssistant
Postmasterandtheclerk,whocertifiedthatthephotocopyofthepertinentpageoftheRegistry
Bookwasafaithfulreproductionoftheoriginalandthatshewastheonewhoerroneouslymade
thenotation8February2006ontheenvelopeaddressedtotheClerkofCourtoftheCourtof
Appeals.UnderPhilPostAdministrativeOrderNo.0517dated20December2005,inrelation
to Department of Transportation and Communications Memorandum Circular No. 200017
dated18February2000,concerningfeesforadministrativeservicesrendered,afeeofPhp25.00
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is imposed for certification of every document or information based on record. Without such
receipt,plusthefactthatthejuratsoftheaffidavits/certificationsweremadebyalawyerfrom
thesamelawfirmaspetitionerscounsel,wecannothelpbutdoubtthatthesaiddocumentswere
issuedbytheofficersoftheCabanatuanCityPostOffice.

Inaddition,petitionerscouldhaveeasilypresentedtheoriginalRegistryReceiptNo.A
2094. It would have constituted the best evidence of the fact of mailing on 7 February 2006,
even if a different date had been stamped on the envelope of the subject registered mail.
Regrettably, petitioners have not seen fit to present such original. Their continued failure to
present the original receipt can only lead one to remember the wellsettled rule that when the
evidencetendstoproveamaterialfactwhichimposesaliabilityonaparty,andhehasitinhis
power to produce evidence which from its very nature must overthrow the case made against
himifitisnotfoundedonfact,andherefusestoproducesuchevidence,thepresumptionarises
that the evidence, if produced, would operate to his prejudice, and support the case of his
[33]
adversary.
MerephotocopyofRegistryReceiptNo.A2094militatesagainsttheirposition
asthereisnoindiciumofitsauthenticity.Amerephotocopylacksassuranceofitsgenuineness,
consideringthatphotocopiescaneasilybetamperedwith.

Giventheforegoing,wefindnoreasontoreversetheassailedresolutionsoftheCourtof
Appealsanddisturbitsconclusionstherein.Petitionersmiserablyfailedtoadducecredibleand
sufficientsubstantiationthatanyinadvertencewascommittedbythePostOfficeofCabanatuan
City, Nueva Ecija. Instead of supporting their cause, the affidavits submitted by petitioners,
taken together with the mere photocopy of Registry Receipt No. A2094 without the
presentationoftheoriginalthereof,actuallyleadthisCourttodoubtwhetherpetitionerscounsel
hasbeensincereinhisdealingswiththecourts.Needlesstostress,alawyerisboundbyethical
[34]
principlesintheconductofcasesbeforethecourtsatalltimes.

Ithasbeensaidtimeandagainthattheperfectionofanappealwithintheperiodfixedby
[35]
the rules is mandatory and jurisdictional.
But it is always in the power of this Court to
suspenditsownrules,ortoexceptaparticularcasefromitsoperation,wheneverthepurposesof
[36]
justice require it.
This Court is mindful of the policy of affording litigants the amplest
[37]
opportunity for the determination of their cases on the merits
and of dispensing with
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technicalitieswhenevercompellingreasonssowarrantorwhenthepurposeofjusticerequiresit.
[38]

Assuming that we suspend the rules, in the interest of justice, and direct the Court of
AppealstoadmitpetitionersPetitionforCertiorarievenifitwasonedaylate,wewouldstill
affirm the dismissal of said Petition by the appellate court considering petitioners failure to
servetheOSGwithacopyofthesame.

Inaddressingtheissue,petitionersexploittheoftuseddefenseintheinterestofjustice
andthefactthattheyhavenowfurnishedtheOSGcopiesofthepresentpetition,aswellasother
pleadings.

FailuretofurnishtheOSGacopyofthepetitionfiledbeforetheCourtofAppealswasa
fataldefect.
WeagreewiththedispositionoftheCourtofAppealsinthatwehavestatedinSalazarv.
[39]
Romaquin
thatSection5,Rule110oftheRevisedRulesofCourtprovides:

SEC. 5. Who must prosecute criminal actions. All criminal actions commenced by a
complaint or information shall be prosecuted under the direction and control of the prosecutor.
However, in the Municipal Trial Courts or Municipal CircuitTrial Courts when the prosecutor
assigned thereto or to the case is not available, the offended party, any peace officer, or public
officerchargedwiththeenforcementofthelawviolatedmayprosecutethecase.Thisauthority
shall cease upon actual intervention of the prosecutor or upon elevation of the case to the
RegionalTrialCourt.

The authority of the Provincial Prosecutor to appear for and represent the respondent
PeopleofthePhilippinesisconfinedonlytotheproceedingsbeforethetrialcourt.
Wefurtherelucidatedinthesamecasethat:

Thepleadingsoftheaccusedandcopiesoftheordersorresolutionsofthetrialcourtare
servedonthePeopleofthePhilippinesthroughtheProvincialProsecutor.However,inappeals
beforetheCourtofAppealsandtheSupremeCourteither(a)bywritoferror(b)viapetitionfor
review(c)onautomaticappealor(d)inspecialcivilactionswherethePeopleofthePhilippines
isaparty,thegeneralruleisthattheOfficeoftheSolicitorGeneralisthesolerepresentativeof
thePeopleofthePhilippines.ThisisprovidedforinSection35(l)Chapter12,TitleIIIofBook
IVofthe1987AdministrativeCode,viz:

(l) Represent the Government in the Supreme Court and the Court of
AppealsinallcriminalproceedingsrepresenttheGovernmentanditsofficersin
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the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, and all other courts or tribunals in all
civil actions and special proceedings in which the Government or any officer
thereofinhisofficialcapacityisaparty.

AcopyofthepetitioninsuchactionmustbeservedonthePeopleofthePhilippinesas
mandatedbySection3,Rule46oftheRulesofCourt,throughtheOfficeoftheSolicitorGeneral
(citationomitted).TheserviceofacopyofthepetitiononthePeopleofthePhilippines,through
the Provincial Prosecutor would be inefficacious. The petitioners failure to have a copy of his
petitionservedontherespondent,throughtheOfficeoftheSolicitorGeneral,shallbesufficient
groundforthedismissalofthepetitionasprovidedinthelastparagraphofSection3,Rule46of
theRulesofCourt.Unlessanduntilcopiesofthepetitionaredulyservedontherespondent,the
appellatecourthasnootherrecoursebuttodismissthepetition.

Thepurposeoftheserviceofacopyofthepetitionontherespondentinanoriginalaction
intheappellatecourtpriortotheacquisitionofjurisdictionoverthepersonoftherespondentisto
apprisethelatterofthefilingofthepetitionandtheavermentscontainedthereinand,thus,enable
therespondenttofileanyappropriatepleadingthereonevenbeforetheappellatecourtcanacton
thesaidpetition,ortofilehiscommentthereonifsoorderedbytheappellatecourt.Butifacopy
of the petition is served on the Provincial Prosecutor who is not authorized to represent the
PeopleofthePhilippinesintheappellatecourt,anypleadingfiledbythesaidProsecutorforand
inbehalfofthePeopleofthePhilippinesisunauthorized,andmaybeexpungedfromtherecords.
[40]

[41]
In the more recent case of Go v. Court of Appeals,
this Court, through Mr. Justice
Quisumbing,onceagainmadeclearthatSection1,Rule65inrelationtoSection3,Rule46of
theRulesofCourt,clearlystatesthatinapetitionfiledoriginallyintheCourtofAppeals,the
petitioner is required to serve a copy of the petition on the adverse party before its filing
(citation omitted). If the adverse party appears by counsel, service shall be made on such
counsel pursuant to Section 2, Rule 13. Since the OSG represents the Republic of the
PhilippinesoncethecaseisbroughtbeforethisCourtoftheCourtofAppeals,thenserviceof
thepetitionshouldbemadeonthatoffice(citationomitted).

Asalastditcheffort,petitionersharkonaliberalconstructionoftherulesofprocedurein
ordertobringaboutsubstantialjusticeandappealtothisCourtsexerciseofequityjurisdiction.

Wearenotconvinced.

It must always be remembered that the liberality with which we exercise our equity
jurisdictionisalwaysanchoredonthebasicconsiderationthatthesamemustbewarrantedby
thecircumstancesobtainingineachcase.Asidefromtheabovedisquisition,thereisnoshowing
hereinofanyexceptionalcircumstancethatmayrationalizeadigressionfromtheruleontimely
filingofappeals.
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Rules of procedure are intended to ensure the orderly administration of justice and the
protection of substantive rights in judicial and extrajudicial proceedings. It is a mistake to
supposethatsubstantivelawandadjectivelawarecontradictorytoeachotheror,ashasoften
beensuggested,thatenforcementofproceduralrulesshouldneverbepermittedifitwillresult
inprejudicetothesubstantiverightsofthelitigants.Thisisnotexactlytruetheconceptismuch
misunderstood.Asamatteroffact,thepolicyofthecourtsistogiveeffecttobothkindsoflaw,
as complementing each other, in the just and speedy resolution of the dispute between the
parties. Observance of both substantive and procedural rights is equally guaranteed by due
process,whateverthesourceofsuchrights,beittheConstitutionitselforonlyastatuteorarule
[42]
ofcourt.

Aswehaveputitlongbefore:

Forallitsconcededmerits,equityisavailableonlyintheabsenceoflawandnotasits
replacement. Equity is described as justice outside legality, which simply means that it cannot
supplantalthoughitmay,asoftenhappens,supplementthelaw.Wesaidinanearliercase,and
werepeatitnow,thatallabstractargumentsbasedonlyonequityshouldyieldtopositiverules,
whichpreemptandprevailoversuchpersuasions.Emotionalappealsforjustice,whiletheymay
wring the heart of the Court, cannot justify disregard of the mandate of the law as long as it
remains in force. The applicable maxim, which goes back to the ancient days of the Roman
[43]
juristsandisnowstillreverentlyobservedis`aequetasnunquamcontravenitlegis.

Havingfoundtheexplanationofpetitionerslessthanworthyofcredenceandlackingin
evidentiary support, this Court is obliged to adhere austerely to the procedural rules on the
timelinessofsubmissionbeforethecourt.

Alltold,WefindthattheCourtofAppealsdidnoterrindismissingthepetitionfor(1)
being filed beyond the reglementary period within which to file the same and (2) failure to
observetherequirementofserviceupontheOSGascounselforthePeopleofthePhilippines.

Inviewoftheforegoing,thisCourtseesnoneedtodiscussthesecondassignederror.

WHEREFORE,premisesconsidered,theinstantpetitionisDENIEDforlackofmerit.
The assailed 23 February 2006 Resolution and 13 June 2006 Resolution, both of the Court of
AppealsinCAG.R.SPNo.93272,areherebyAFFIRMED.CostsagainstpetitionersLeoncio
D.Mangahas,ZaldyG.Matias,OrlandoO.Oanes,DanteY.ArcillaandJocelynR.delaCruz.
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SOORDERED.

MINITAV.CHICONAZARIO
AssociateJustice

WECONCUR:

CONSUELOYNARESSANTIAGO
Chairperson

MA.ALICIAAUSTRIAMARTINEZ
AssociateJustice

RUBENT.REYES
AssociateJustice

TERESITAJ.LEONARDODECASTRO
AssociateJustice

ATTESTATION

IattestthattheconclusionsintheaboveDecisionwerereachedinconsultationbeforethecase
wasassignedtothewriteroftheopinionoftheCourtsDivision.

CONSUELOYNARESSANTIAGO
AssociateJustice
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Chairperson,ThirdDivision

CERTIFICATION

PursuanttoArticleVIII,Section13oftheConstitution,andtheDivisionChairmansAttestation,
it is hereby certified that the conclusions in the above Decision were reached in consultation
beforethecasewasassignedtothewriteroftheopinionoftheCourtsDivision.

REYNATOS.PUNO
ChiefJustice

*DesignatedasadditionalmemberinlieuofAssociateJusticeAntonioEduardoB.Nachura,formerSolicitorGeneral.
[1]
Rollo,pp.1138.
[2]
PennedbyCourtofAppealsAssociateJusticeMarinaL.BuzonwithAssociateJusticesAuroraSantiagoLagmanandArcangelita
RomillaLontokAnnexTTofthePetitionid.at392394.
[3]
AnnexVVofthePetitionid.at404407.
[4]
AnnexAofthePetitionid.at4044.
[5]
AnnexEofthePetitionid.at109111.
[6]
Dated27August2001AnnexHofthePetitionid.at135136.
[7]
AnnexIofthePetitionid.at137.
[8]
AnnexMofthePetitionid.at158162.
[9]
AnnexNofthePetitionid.at163164.
[10]
AnnexTofthePetitionid.at193199.
[11]
AnnexZofthePetitionid.at218219.
[12]
Id.at220.
[13]
Id.at221236visvisAnnexAAofthePetitionid.at237.
[14]
AnnexCCofthePetitionid.at238246.
[15]
AnnexDDofthePetitionid.at252253.
[16]
AnnexEEofthePetitionid.at255.
[17]
AnnexGGofthePetitionid.at260264.
[18]
AnnexKKofthePetitionid.at287294.
[19]
AnnexOOofthePetitionid.at313319.
[20]
Sec.63(b).Preventivesuspensionmabeimposedatanytimeaftertheissuesarejoined,whentheevidenceofguiltisstrong,and
giventhegravityoftheoffense,thereisgreatprobabilitythatthecontinuanceinofficeoftherespondentcouldinfluencethe
witnessesorposeathreattothesafterandintegrityoftherecordsandotherevidenceProvided,That,anysinglepreventive
suspension of local elective officials shall not extend beyond sixty (60) days: Provided, further, That in the event that
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severaladministrativecasesarefiledagainstanelectiveofficial,hecannotbepreventivelysuspendedformorethanninety
(90)dayswithinasingleyearonthesamegroundorgroundsexistingandknownatthetimeofthefirstsuspension.
[21]
AnnexRRofthePetitionid.at381388.
[22]
Thecasewasreraffledasecondtimeinviewofthe13October2005OrderofJudgeCabanosinhibitinghimselffromfurther
hearingthecaseinviewofthemotionforinhibitionfiledbypetitioners.
[23]
Rollo,p.393.
[24]
Id.at405406.
[25]
Id.at2325.
[26]
VelayoFong,v.SpousesVelayo,G.R.No.155488,6December2006,510SCRA320,329330.
[27]
DonatoC.CruzTradingCorp.v.CourtofAppeals,400Phil.776,782(2000)Baylonv.CourtofAppeals,371Phil.435,441
(1999).
[28]
Kwokv.PhilippineCarpetManufacturingCorp.,G.R.No.149252,28April2005,457SCRA465,475.
[29]
SwagmanHotelsandTravel,Inc.v.CourtofAppeals,G.R.No.161135,8April2005,455SCRA175,188.
[30]
NewSampaguitaBuildersConstruction,Inc(NSBCI)v.PhilippineNationalBank,479Phil.483,496(2004).
[31]
Rollo,p.293.
[32]
Sec.3(m),Rule131oftheRevisedRulesofCourt.
[33]
HanjinEngineeringandConstructionCo.,Ltd.v.CourtofAppeals,G.R.No.165910,10April2006,487SCRA78,106107.
[34]
PhilippineMerchantMarineSchool,Inc.v.CourtofAppeals,432Phil.733,742(2002).
[35]
PhilippineNationalBankv.CourtofAppeals,316Phil.371,384(1995).
[36]
Republicv.CourtofAppeals,172Phil.741(1978)involvedadelayofsixdaysSiguenzav.CourtofAppeals, G.R. No. L
44050, 16 July 1985, 137 SCRA 570, thirteen days Pacific Asia Overseas Shipping Corporation v. National Labor
RelationsCommission,G.R.No.L76595,6May1988,161SCRA122,onedayCortesv.CourtofAppeals,G.R.No.L
79010,23May1988,161SCRA444,sevendaysOlacaov.NationalLaborRelationsCommission,G.R.No.81390,29
August1989,177SCRA38,twodaysLegastov.CourtofAppeals,G.R.Nos.7685460,25April1989,172SCRA722,
twodaysandCityFairCorporationv.NationalLaborRelationsCommission,313Phil.464(1995),whichalsoconcerned
atardyappeal.
[37]
Aguamv.CourtofAppeals,388Phil.587,594(2000).
[38]
RepublicofthePhilippinesv.Imperial,Jr.,362Phil.466,477(1999).
[39]
G.R.No.151068,21May2004,429SCRA41,4748.
[40]
Id.at4849.
[41]
G.R.No.163745,24August2007,531SCRA158,165166.
[42]
Tupasv.CourtofAppeals,G.R.No.89571,6February1991,193SCRA597,600,citingLimpotv.CourtofAppeals,G.R.No.
44642,20February1989,170SCRA367,369370.
[43]
Aguilav.CourtofFirstInstanceofBatangas,BranchI,G.R.No.L48335,15April1988,160SCRA352,359360.

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