CASE BRIEF 2019-0009

CASE: Quirino T. Dela Cruz vs. National Police Commission [G.R. No. 215545, January 07, 2019]

PONENTE: Leonen, J.:

SUBJECT:

  1. Civil Procedure– Rule 45: Questions of law; question of fact.

FACTS:        For unlawfully arresting Sonny Villarias and for searching his house against his will without legal grounds, Special Police Officer 4 Quirino Dela Cruz (SPO4 Dela Cruz), Police Officer 1 Ariel Cantorna (PO1 Cantorna) were found by the NAPOLCOM guilty of grave misconduct.

SPO4 Dela Cruz filed before the Civil Service Commission an Appeal, which was dismissed. In its September 11, 2012 Decision, the Civil Service Commission found that the Appeal had been filed out of time, as SPO4 Dela Cruz did so on January 14, 2011, beyond the fifteen (15)-day period after the Decision for review was promulgated on December 15, 2010. Thus, the questioned Resolution had attained finality.

SPO4 Dela Cruz moved for reconsideration, insisting that he filed his Appeal within the allowable period, but it was denied for lack of merit.

SPO4 Dela Cruz filed before the Court of Appeals a Petition for Review, but it was dismissed for lack of merit.

Thus, SPO4 Dela Cruz filed before this Court a Petition for Review on Certiorari.

SPO4 Dela Cruz insists that the Court of Appeals erred when it held that his Appeal was filed beyond the allowable period. He points out that the Civil Service Commission reckoned his period for appeal from the Resolution’s promulgation date, December 15, 2010, as opposed to the date he said he actually received it, which was on January 4, 2011. Moreover, SPO4 Dela Cruz points out that when the National Police Commission held him liable for grave misconduct, it committed reversible erroras it did not expound on his alleged grave misconduct and summarily disregarded the evidence he presented in his defense. He also argues that the evidence Villarias submitted was insufficient to justify SPO4 Dela Cruz ‘s dismissal.

 
Thus, the issues raised by SPO4 Dela Cruz for this Court’s resolution are:

First, whether or not the Court of Appeals erred when it sustained the Civil Service Commission’s dismissal of SPO4 Dela Cruz ‘s appeal for having been filed out of time; and

Second, whether or not the evidence presented to the National Police Commission was sufficient to establish SPO4 Dela Cruz ‘s liability for grave misconduct.


ISSUES:

  1. Whether the issues raised by SPO4 Dela Cruz are proper for review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court.
  2. Whether the relaxation of procedural rules is warranted in this case.

RULING:
1. Under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, a petition for review on certiorari shall only pertain to questions of law. The factual findings of the Court of Appeals bind this Court. While several exceptions to these rules were provided by jurisprudence, they must be alleged, substantiated, and proved by the parties so this Court may evaluate and review the facts of the case.

Both of SPO4 Dela Cruz ‘s arguments are questions of fact not proper for review in this case. The date he received the assailed National Police Commission Resolution is a question of fact that was resolved by the Civil Service Commission. As the Court of Appeals pointed out, the Civil Service Commission might have resolved his motion for reconsideration differently, had SPO4 Dela Cruz  substantiated his claim with evidence that he received the National Police Commission Resolution on January 4, 2011. Yet, SPO4 Dela Cruz  failed to do so. It is not this Court’s role to review the evidence to resolve this question. Further, SPO4 Dela Cruz  has not addressed the December 15, 2010 Resolution of the National Police Commission, which found that his motion for reconsideration was filed out of time. Thus, the January 12, 2010 Decision would have already attained finality when he failed to timely seek its reconsideration, regardless of whether the December 15, 2010 Resolution was received on January 4, 2011.

Similarly, whether there was sufficient evidence to find SPO4 Dela Cruz liable of grave misconduct is also an evidentiary matter, which this Court will not look into. He claims that the judgment was based on a misapprehension of factsto persuade this Court to review the case’s factual questions. However, he has failed to sufficiently substantiate this claim to convince this Court to look into the evidence.

2. The relaxation of procedural rules is warranted only if compelling and justifiable reasons exist.

In Asia United Bank v. Goodland Company [650 Phil. 174 (2010)], the Court held:

The relaxation or suspension of procedural rules or the exemption of a case from their operation is warranted only by compelling reasons or when the purpose of justice requires it.

Procedural rules, should be treated with utmost respect and due regard since they are designed to facilitate the adjudication of cases to remedy the worsening problem of delay in the resolution of rival claims and in the administration of justice. The requirement is in pursuance to the Bill of Rights inscribed in the Constitution which guarantees that “all persons shall have a right to the speedy disposition of their cases before all judicial, quasi-judicial and administrative bodies.” There have been some instances wherein this Court allowed a relaxation in the application of the rules, but this flexibility was “never intended to forge a bastion for erring litigants to violate the rules with impunity.” A liberal interpretation and application of the rules of procedure can be resorted to only in proper cases and under justifiable causes and circumstances.

This is not a case that calls for relaxation of the rules. This Court will not tolerate abuse of police authority over civilians. Where a police officer has been shown to have committed atrocities against a civilian, such as in this case, and is punished for his actions, he will find no relief in this Court.

————————————————-

THINGS DECIDED:

A)      Under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, a petition for review on certiorari shall only pertain to questions of law.

B)       The determination on whether or not SPO4 Dela Cruz  filed his appeal to the CSC on time is a question of fact.

C)      Whether there was sufficient evidence to find SPO4 Dela Cruz liable of grave misconduct is also an evidentiary matter, which is not a proper subject of review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court.

D) The relaxation or suspension of procedural rules or the exemption of a case from their operation is warranted only by compelling reasons or when the purpose of justice requires it.

‘Stand by things decided’ ~ Stare Decisis


For more Case Briefs visit us at Stare Decisis or like us on Facebook @staredecisispage

======================

Stare Decisis