I am a plaintiff in a case for ejectment. The judge assigned to our case already ordered filing of position papers and reminded the parties’ lawyers that it would be better to file the pleadings personally. She cautioned that the date of receipt of the court shall be deemed the date of filing of the position papers, in case the parties opt for a private courier. My legal counsel sent our position paper through a private courier in the afternoon of the last day of filing, which was a Friday. It came to my knowledge that the court received our position paper on a Monday because the court had no office on Saturday, when our pleading was actually delivered by the private courier. Is the judge correct in dismissing my position paper, given these circumstances?
The reminder and caution made by the judge in your case finds basis in the case of Manuel L. Bautista, et al. vs. Margarita Peralta (G.R. No. 202088, March 8, 2017) penned by Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta. The pertinent case clearly stated:
“Though filing of pleadings thru a private courier is not prohibited by the Rules, it is established in jurisprudence that the date of actual receipt of pleadings by the court is deemed the date of filing of such pleadings, and not the date of delivery thereof to a private letter-forwarding agency.” [Emphasis supplied]
The same was also explained in the case of the Heirs of Miranda Sr. vs. Miranda (G.R. No. 179638, July 8, 2013) penned by Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo, as cited in the case mentioned above, which said:
“Under Section 3, Rule 13 of the Rules of Court, pleadings may be filed in court either personally or by registered mail. In the first case, the date of filing is the date of receipt. In the second case, the date of mailing is the date of receipt.
In this case, however, the counsel for petitioners filed the Notice of Appeal via a private courier, a mode of filing not provided in the Rules. Though not prohibited by the Rules, we cannot consider the filing of petitioners’ Notice of Appeal via LBC timely filed. It is established jurisprudence that “the date of delivery of pleadings to a private letter-forwarding agency is not to be considered as the date of filing thereof in court;” instead, “the date of actual receipt by the court x x x is deemed the date of filing of that pleading.” Records show that the Notice of Appeal was mailed on the 15th day and was received by the court on the 16th day or one day beyond the reglamentary period. Thus, the CA [Court of Appeals] correctly ruled that the Notice of Appeal was filed out of time.” [Emphasis supplied]
Also, in the case of Philippine National Bank vs. Commissioner of Internal Revenue (G.R. No. 172458, December 14, 2011), Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-de Castro cited the cases mentioned above and concluded:
“It is a jurisprudential rule that the date [of]delivery of pleadings to a private letter-forwarding agency is not to be considered as the date of filing thereof in court, and that in such cases, the date of actual receipt by the court, and not the date of delivery to the private carrier, is deemed the date of filing of that pleading (citing: Benguet Electric Corporation Inc. vs. NLRC, 209 SCRA 60-61). Clearly, the present Petition For Review was filed four (4) days late.” [Emphasis supplied]
The instant Petition For Review is an appeal from the decision of the court in division. Accordingly, the applicable rule is that the fifteen-day reglamentary period to perfect an appeal is mandatory and jurisdictional in nature; that failure to file an appeal within the reglamentary period renders the assailed decision final and executory and no longer subject to review (citing: Armigos vs. Court of Appeals, 179 SCRA 1; Jocson vs Baguio, 179 SCRA 550). Petitioner had thus lost [his]right to appeal from the decision of this court in division.” [Emphasis supplied]
In all the cases quoted, the Supreme Court clearly and simply announced that whenever in the filing of a pleading a private courier was used, it is the court’s actual receipt of the same that shall be deemed as its date of filing. In your case, the judge even made caution or even reminded you of this technicality. Nevertheless, you or your counsel still chose to file your pleading via private courier despite the clear circumstance that the actual date of your filing is already the last day of the reglamentary period given to you by law, and that you actually made the mailing in the afternoon of that day. While you may argue that it could be the making of the courier that the same was merely delivered the next day and that the court was unable to receive it because it was a Saturday, the jurisprudential rules on the matter are clear. Jurisprudence or decisions of the Supreme Court have a force of law in our country, thus the same should be accorded respect and must be observed. It may be technical in nature, but we are bound to follow it. And it is certain that only in exceptional circumstances, without the palpable neglect of the party, can this rule be relaxed. Thus, the judge was likely correct in dismissing your complaint for not being able to file your pleading or position paper on time.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.