Central Bicol State University of Agriculture vs Province of Camarines Sur
G.R. No. 210861 July 29, 2015
Facts: Petitioner Central Bicol State University of Agriculture (CBSUA) is a government educational institution that primarily provides advanced instruction and research in agriculture and allied sciences. It was established under Batas Pambansa Bilang (BP) 198, as amended by Republic Act No. (RA) 9717. Under BP 198, then Camarines Sur Agricultural College in Pili, Camarines Sur was converted into a state college, known as Camarines Sur State Agricultural College. Thereafter, it was converted into what is now known as CBSUA under RA 9717. Section 17 of BP 198 granted several real properties to CBSUA. The foregoing grant was confirmed in Section 18 of RA 9717. Sometime in 1998, respondent Province of Camarines Sur (Province) sought the reconstitution of Origina Certificate of Title (OCT) No. 1029 registered in its name, which covered one of the parcels of land granted to CBSUA under the foregoing laws. By virtue thereof, OCT No. 1029 was reconstituted as OCT RO-917. Subsequently, the Province caused the subdivision of one of the lots covered by OCT RO-917 into two lots: Lot 3-P-1, with an area of 561,945 square meters, and Lot 3-P-2, with an area of 63,829 square meters. Lot 3-P-1 was thereafter covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 41093. Subsequently, or sometime in February 2011, armed personnel deployed by the Province allegedly forcibly entered a portion of Lot 3-P-1 (subject land) being occupied by CBSUA. The said armed personnel purportedly destroyed the fences and other structures erected thereon by CBSUA. As a result, the latter was prevented from further utilizing the subject land as pasture area for large cattle which, in turn, were being used for laboratory experiments by the students enrolled in its science and veterinary courses. CBSUA learned later on that the Province allocated the subject land for the housing project of respondent Gawad Kalinga Foundation, Inc. (GKFI) for rebel returnees. Hence, on April 12, 2011, CBSUA filed a complaint for recovery of ownership, possession and damages, with prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) and/or writ of preliminary mandatory injunction against the Province. In an Order dated May 12, 2011, the RTC denied CBSUA‘s application for the issuance of a TRO and/or writ of preliminary mandatory injunction, finding that CBSUA failed to show that it had superior right over the subject land as against that of the Province. CBSUA‘s motion for reconsideration was denied in an Order dated October 10, 2011, a copy of which CBSUA received on October 17, 2011, which gave CBSUA sixty (60) days or until December 16, 2011 within which to assail the RTC‘s Orders via petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court before the CA. Unfortunately, due to time constraints in securing certified true copies of the RTC‘s Orders, as well as other pertinent documents, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), prosecuting this case on behalf of CBSUA, deemed it necessary and prudent to seek an additional period of ten (10) days from December 16, 2011 or until December 26, 2011 within which to file its petition for certiorari before the CA. On December 26, 2011, CBSUA filed its petition for certiorari(with prayer for the issuance of a TRO and/or writ of preliminary injunction) before the CA, ascribing grave abuse of discretion on the part of the RTC in denying its application for the issuance of a TRO and/or writ of preliminary mandatory injunction. The CA Ruling In a Resolution25 dated February 2, 2012, the CA denied CBSUA‘s motion for extension of time to file petition for certiorari, citing Section 4, paragraph 1, Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, as amended.
Issue: Whether or not there can be extension of time for the filing of a petition for certiorari under Rule 65.
Held: No. As a general rule, a petition for certiorari must be filed strictly within 60 days from notice of judgment or from the order denying a motion for reconsideration. This is in accordance with the amendment introduced by A.M. No. 07-7-12-SC where no provision for the filing of a motion for extension to file a petition for certiorari exists, unlike in the previous Section 4, Rule 6532 of the Rules of Court which allowed the filing of such a motion but only for compelling reasons and in no case exceeding 15 days.
Under exceptional cases, however, the Court has held that the 60-day period may be extended subject to the court‘s sound discretion.
Eventually, in Labao v. Flores, the Court laid down the following recognized exceptions to the strict observance of the 60-day reglementary period:
(1) most persuasive and weighty reasons;
(2) to relieve a litigant from an injustice not commensurate with his failure to comply with the prescribed procedure;
(3) good faith of the defaulting party by immediately paying within a reasonable time from the time of the default;
(4) the existence of special or compelling circumstances;
(5) the merits of the case;
(6) a cause not entirely attributable to the fault or negligence of the party favored by the suspension of the rules;
(7) a lack of any showing that the review sought is merely frivolous and dilatory;
(8) the other party will not be unjustly prejudiced thereby;
(9) fraud, accident, mistake or excusable negligence without appellant‘s fault;
(10) peculiar legal and equitable circumstances attendant to each case;
(11) in the name of substantial justice and fair play;
(12) importance of the issues involved; and
(13) exercise of sound discretion by the judge guided by all the attendant circumstances.
Thus, there should be an effort on the part of the party invoking liberality to advance a reasonable or meritorious explanation for his/her failure to comply with the rules.