• Appeal bond important in perfecting an appeal

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    Persida Acosta

    Dear PAO,    
    My employer failed to attach the required appeal bond in the proceedings before the National Labor Relations Commission. Their counsel filed a “Motion to Reduce Bond,” with an indication that they are moving for its reduction because their cause is rather meritorious than my allegations.

    I won the labor case filed against them before the labor arbiter. I worry that even if they are at fault, their appeal will still be considered and it would take a longer time for me to claim what is due me. Is a mere filing of the motion to reduce the appeal bond sufficient to satisfy requirements of the law in payment of the appeal bond for the perfection of an appeal?

    Sincerely yours,
    Willy

    Dear Willy,
    Fairly recent is the case of Turks Shawarma Co. et al. v. Feliciano Pasaron, et al. (G.R. No. 207156, January 16, 2017) penned by Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo, who stressed the importance of the payment of the appeal bond in the perfection of an appeal:

    “The court has time and again held that ‘[t]he right to appeal is neither a natural right nor is it a component of due process. It is a mere statutory privilege, and may be exercised only in the manner and in accordance with the provisions of the law. The party who seeks to avail of the same must comply with the requirements of the rules. Failing to do so, the right to appeal is lost.’”

    Article 223 of the Labor Code, which sets forth the rules on appeal from the labor arbiter’s monetary award, provides:

    Art. 223. Appeal. —Decisions, awards or orders of the labor arbiter are final and executory unless appealed to the commission by any or both parties within ten (10) calendar days from receipt of such decisions, awards or orders. Such appeal may be entertained only on any of the following grounds:

    (a) If there is prima facie evidence of abuse of discretion on the part of the labor arbiter;

    (b) If the decision, order or award was secured through fraud or coercion, including graft and corruption;

    (c) If made purely on questions of law; and

    (d) If serious errors in the finding of facts are raised which would cause grave or irreparable damage or injury to the appellant.

    “In case of a judgment a monetary award, an appeal by the employer may be perfected only upon the posting of a cash or surety bond issued by a reputable bonding company duly accredited by the commission in the amount equivalent to the monetary award in the judgment appealed from. xx xx.

    xx xx (Emphasis supplied)
    “Meanwhile, Sections 4 and 6 of Rule VI of the 2005 Revised Rules of Procedure of the NLRC, which were in effect when petitioners filed their appeal, provide:

    “Section 4. Requisites for perfection of appeal. -(a) The appeal shall be: 1) filed within the reglamentary period as provided in Section 1 of this Rule; 2) verified by the appellant himself in accordance with Section 4, Rule 7 of the Rules of Court, as amended; 3) in the form of a memorandum of appeal which shall state the grounds relied upon and the arguments in support thereof: the relief prayed for, and with a statement of the date the appellant received the appealed decision, resolution or order; 4) in three (3) legibly typewritten or printed copies; and 5) accompanied by i) proof of payment of the required appeal fee; ii) posting of a cash or surety bond as provided in Section 6 of this Rule; iii) a certificate of non-forum shopping; and iv) proof of service upon the other parties.

    xx xx
    “b) A mere notice of appeal without complying with the other requisites aforestated shall not stop the running of the period for perfecting an appeal.

    xx xx
    “Section 6. Bond. —In case the decision of the labor arbiter or the regional director involves a monetary award, an appeal by the employer may be perfected only upon the posting of a bond, which shall either be in the form of cash deposit or surety bond equivalent in amount to the monetary award, exclusive of damages and attorney’s fees.

    xx xx
    “No motion to reduce bond shall be entertained except on meritorious grounds, and upon the posting of a bond in a reasonable amount. The mere filing of a motion to reduce bond without complying with the requisites in the preceding paragraphs shall not stop the running of the period to perfect an appeal.

    “It is clear from both the Labor Code and the NLRC Rules of Procedure that there is legislative and administrative intent to strictly apply the appeal bond requirement, and the court should give utmost regard to this intention.” The posting of cash or surety bond is therefore mandatory and jurisdictional; failure to comply with this requirement renders the decision of the labor arbiter final and executory. This indispensable requisite for the perfection of an appeal ‘is to assure the workers that if they finally prevail in the case[,] the monetary award will be given to them upon the dismissal of the employer’s appeal [and]is further meant to discourage employers from using the appeal to delay or evade payment of their obligations to the employees.’” [Emphasis supplied]

    Your situation falls squarely in the above-cited case, where the employer failed to post the required appeal bond and merely banked on the fact that their counsel filed a motion to reduce it. The Supreme Court made it clear that while there are exceptional cases where they grant the right to appeal despite the party’s failure to post the required bond and that they have considered motions to reduce the same, such circumstances, however, must clearly provide for meritorious reasons.

    In your case, since your employer merely indicated and anchored on their motion to reduce bond their own belief that their case is far more meritorious than your cause, the motion will likely not be entertained as the indication is a mere declaration of their intent to appeal and is not a meritorious ground required by law. This being so, and the fact that the posting of the appeal bond is a jurisdictional requirement, it will be more probable that your employer’s appeal will be dismissed.

    Again, we find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated.

    We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.

    Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to dearpao@manilatimes.net

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