Petitioner filed a complaint for sum of money under the Rule of Procedure for Small Claims Cases before the MTCC, seeking to collect from respondent the amount of ₱23,111.71 which represented her unpaid water bills for the period June 1, 2002 to September 30, 2005.
The MTCC rendered a Decision holding that since petitioner was issued a Certificate of Public Convenience (CPC) by the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) only on August 7, 2003, then, it can only charge respondent the agreed flat rate of ₱75.00 per month prior thereto or the sum of ₱1,050.00 for the period June 1, 2002 to August 7, 2003. Thus, given that respondent had made total payments equivalent to ₱1,685.99 for the same period, she should be considered to have fully paid petitioner.
Aggrieved, petitioner filed a petition for certiorari before the RTC, ascribing grave abuse of discretion on the part of the MTCC.
The RTC dismissed the petition for certiorari, finding that the said petition was only filed to circumvent the non-appealable nature of small claims cases as provided under Section 23 of the Rule of Procedure on Small Claims Cases. The RTC ruled that it cannot supplant the decision of the MTCC with another decision directing respondent to pay petitioner a bigger sum than that which has been awarded.
Petitioner moved for reconsideration but was denied, hence, the instant petition.
Whether or not the RTC erred in dismissing petitioner’s recourse under Rule 65 assailing the propriety of the MTCC Decision in the subject small claims case.
The petition is meritorious.
Petitioner correctly availed of the remedy of certiorari to assail the propriety of the MTCC Decision in the subject small claims case, contrary to the RTC’s ruling.
Section 23 of the Rule of Procedure for Small Claims Cases states that:
SEC. 23. Decision. — After the hearing, the court shall render its decision on the same day, based on the facts established by the evidence. The decision shall immediately be entered by the Clerk of Court in the court docket for civil cases and a copy thereof forthwith served on the parties.
The decision shall be final and unappealable.
Considering the final nature of a small claims case decision under the above-stated rule, the remedy of appeal is not allowed, and the prevailing party may, thus, immediately move for its execution.
Nevertheless, the proscription on appeals in small claims cases, similar to other proceedings where appeal is not an available remedy, does not preclude the aggrieved party from filing a petition for certiorari.
Verily, a petition for certiorari, unlike an appeal, is an original action designed to correct only errors of jurisdiction and not of judgment. Owing to its nature, it is therefore incumbent upon petitioner to establish that jurisdictional errors tainted the MTCC Decision. The RTC, in turn, could either grant or dismiss the petition based on an evaluation of whether or not the MTCC gravely abused its discretion by capriciously, whimsically, or arbitrarily disregarding evidence that is material to the controversy.