Remedial Law

MCBURNIE v. GANZON G.R. Nos. 178034 & 178117 G R. Nos. 186984-85 October 17, 2013, Post Judgment Remedies, Second Motion for Reconsideration, Construction of the Rules of Court


McBurnie, an Australian national, instituted a complaint for illegal dismissal and other monetary claims against the respondents. McBurnie signed a five-year employment agreement with the company EGI as an Executive Vice-President who shall oversee the management of the company’s hotels and resorts within the Philippines. He performed work for the company until he figured in an accident that compelled him to go back to Australia while recuperating from his injuries. While in Australia, he was informed by respondent Ganzon that his services were no longer needed because their intended project would no longer push through.

The respondents opposed the complaint, contending that they did not intend to create an employer-employee relationship, and the execution of the employment contract was solely for the purpose of allowing McBurnie to obtain an alien work permit in the Philippines, which he had not yet obtained.

The LA declared McBurnie as having been illegally dismissed from employment, and awarded salary and benefits for the unexpired term of their employment contract, plus attorney’s fees.

Respondents appealed the LA’s Decision to the NLRC. They filed their Memorandum of Appeal and Motion to Reduce Bond and posted an appeal bond in the amount of ₱100,000.00, contending that the monetary awards of the LA were null and excessive. When their motion for reconsideration was denied, the respondents decided to elevate the matter to the CA via the Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition (CA-G.R. SP No. 90845).

In the meantime, the NLRC dismissed their appeal. The respondents’ motion for reconsideration was denied, which prompted the respondents to file with the CA the Petition for Certiorari (CA-G.R. SP No. 95916).

The CA granted the application for a writ of preliminary injunction, and directed the NLRC, McBurnie, and all persons acting for and under their authority to refrain from causing the execution and enforcement of the LA’s decision in favor of McBurnie. McBurnie sought reconsideration of the issuance of the writ of preliminary injunction, but this was denied by the CA.

McBurnie then filed with the Court a Petition for Review on Certiorari (G.R. Nos. 178034 and 178117) assailing the CA Resolutions that granted the respondents’ application for the injunctive writ. 

The Court denied the petition. A motion for reconsideration was denied with finality.

McBurnie filed a Motion for Leave (1) To File Supplemental Motion for Reconsideration and (2) To Admit the Attached Supplemental Motion for Reconsideration, which was treated by the Court as a second motion for reconsideration. Thus, the motion for leave was denied by the Court. The Court’s Resolution then became final and executory; accordingly, entry of judgment was made in G.R. Nos. 178034 and 178117.

In the meantime, the CA rendered its Decision (in CA-G.R. SP Nos. 90845 and 95916), allowing the respondents’ motion to reduce appeal bond and directing the NLRC to give due course to their appeal.

McBurnie filed a motion for reconsideration. The respondents also moved that the appeal be resolved on the merits by the CA. The CA denied both motions. McBurnie then filed with the Court the Petition for Review on Certiorari.

In the meantime, the NLRC, acting on the CA’s order of remand, accepted the appeal from the LA’s decision, and in its Decision, reversed and set aside the Decision of the LA, and entered a new one dismissing McBurnie’s complaint, declaring that McBurnie was never an employee of any of the respondents, but a potential investor in a project that included said respondents, barring a claim of dismissal, much less, an illegal dismissal. 

The Third Division of this Court rendered its Decision which reversed the CA Decision, and affirmed the NLRC resolution dismissing respondents’ appeal for failure to perfect an appeal and denying their motion for reconsideration.

The respondents’ first motion for reconsideration was denied by the Court for lack of merit. 

Meanwhile, on the basis of the Court’s Decision, McBurnie filed with the NLRC a motion for reconsideration. The motion was granted by the NLRC.

Undaunted by the denial of their first motion for reconsideration of the Decision, the respondents filed with the Court a Motion for Leave to Submit Attached Second Motion for Reconsideration and Second Motion for Reconsideration, which motion for leave was granted. However, the Court denied the second motion “for lack of merit,” “considering that a second motion for reconsideration is a prohibited pleading x x x.”

The Court’s Decision became final and executory. Thus, entry of judgment was made in due course.

The respondents filed a Motion for Leave to File Attached Third Motion for Reconsideration, with an attached Motion for Reconsideration 

The Court en banc issued a TRO enjoining the implementation of the LA’s Decision, which prompted McBurnie’s filing of a Motion for Reconsideration, invoking the fact that the Court’s Decision  had become final and executory, with an entry of judgment already made by the Court.
The Court has reconsidered its Decision and lifted the entry of judgment in G.R. No. 186984-85.

Whether or not the third motion for reconsideration, a prohibited pleading under Section 2, Rule 56 of the Rules of Court, may be granted.

At the outset, the Court emphasizes that second and subsequent motions for reconsideration are, as a general rule, prohibited. Section 2, Rule 52 of the Rules of Court provides that “no second motion for reconsideration of a judgment or final resolution by the same party shall be entertained.” The rule rests on the basic tenet of immutability of judgments. “At some point, a decision becomes final and executory and, consequently, all litigations must come to an end.”

The general rule, however, against second and subsequent motions for reconsideration admits of settled exceptions. For one, the present Internal Rules of the Supreme Court, particularly Section 3, Rule 15 thereof, provides:

Sec. 3. Second motion for reconsideration. ― The Court shall not entertain a second motion for reconsideration, and any exception to this rule can only be granted in the higher interest of justice by the Court en banc upon a vote of at least two-thirds of its actual membership. 

There is reconsideration “in the higher interest of justice” when the assailed decision is not only legally erroneous, but is likewise patently unjust and potentially capable of causing unwarranted and irremediable injury or damage to the parties. A second motion for reconsideration can only be entertained before the ruling sought to be reconsidered becomes final by operation of law or by the Court’s declaration.

A second motion for reconsideration “in the higher interest of substantial justice,” as allowed under the Internal Rules when the assailed decision is (1)”legally erroneous,” (2)”patently unjust” and (3)”potentially capable of causing unwarranted and irremediable injury or damage to the parties.” 

In Tirazona v. PET, Inc., we also explained that a second motion for reconsideration may be allowed in instances of “extraordinarily persuasive reasons and only after an express leave shall have been obtained.” 

In Apo Fruits Corporation v. Land Bank, we allowed a second motion for reconsideration as the issue involved therein was a matter of public interest, as it pertained to the proper application of a basic constitutionally-guaranteed right in the government’s implementation of its agrarian reform program. 

It is also recognized that in some instances, the prudent action towards a just resolution of a case is for the Court to suspend rules of procedure, for “the power of this Court to suspend its own rules or to except a particular case from its operations whenever the purposes of justice require it, cannot be questioned.”

The rules of procedure should be viewed as mere tools designed to facilitate the attainment of justice. Their strict and rigid application, which would result in technicalities that tend to frustrate rather than promote substantial justice, must always be avoided. Even the Rules of Court envision this liberality. This power to suspend or even disregard the rules can be so pervasive and encompassing so as to alter even that which this Court itself has already declared to be final, as we are now compelled to do in this case. x x x.

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