Felix Ng (respondent) filed a complaint for sum of money with the RTC against the petitioner and her husband Marionilo Cabrera (spouses Cabrera), alleging that the latter issued to him the following: (1) Metrobank Check No. 0244694 dated June 30, 2002 for the amount of Thirty-One Thousand Pesos (₱31,000.00); (2) Metrobank Check No. 0244674 dated August 9, 2002 for the amount of Thirty-Eight Thousand Seventy-Four Pesos and Seventy-Six Centavos (₱38,074.76); and (3) Metrobank Check No. 0244745 dated August 15, 2005 for Two Million Five Hundred Thousand Pesos (₱2,500,000.00). That when presented for payment, the said checks were all dishonored as the accounts from which they had been drawn were already closed.
The RTC rendered a Decision in favor of the respondent. On August 8, 2007, the spouses Cabrera received a copy of the RTC Decision dated August 7, 2007. On August 14, 2007, the spouses Cabrera filed with the RTC a motion for reconsideration, which they set for hearing on August 17, 2007. On even date, the spouses Cabrera sent a copy of their motion for reconsideration to the respondent thru registered mail; it was actually received by the respondent on August 21, 2007. The said motion for reconsideration, however, was not heard on August 17, 2007 as the new acting presiding judge of the said court had just assumed office. On August 28, 2007, the RTC issued a notice, which set the said motion for reconsideration for hearing on September 25, 2007.
On September 20, 2007, the respondent filed an opposition to the motion for reconsideration filed by the spouses Cabrera. The respondent alleged that the said motion for reconsideration is a mere scrap of paper since it violated the three-day notice requirement. The respondent pointed out that the spouses Cabrera sent to him a copy of their motion for reconsideration, which was set for hearing on August 17, 2007, via registered mail on August 14, 2007; that he actually received a copy thereof only on August 21, 2007 – four days after the scheduled hearing thereon.
The RTC issued an Order which denied the motion for reconsideration filed by the spouses Cabrera. The RTC pointed out that the spouses Cabrera violated Section 4, Rule 15 of the Rules of Court, which mandates that every motion required to be heard should be served by the movant in such a manner as to ensure its receipt by the other party at least three days before the date of hearing. the Decision was appealed to the CA which was subsequently denied.
Hence this appeal.
Whether the Rules of Court must be construed strictly.
No, the three-day notice requirement is not a hard and fast rule. When the adverse party had been afforded the opportunity to be heard, and has been indeed heard through the pleadings filed in opposition to the motion, the purpose behind the three-day notice requirement is deemed realized. In such case, the requirements of procedural due process are substantially complied with.
The three-day notice rule is not absolute. A liberal construction of the procedural rules is proper where the lapse in the literal observance of a rule of procedure has not prejudiced the adverse party and has not deprived the court of its authority. Indeed, Section 6, Rule 1 of the Rules of Court provides that the Rules should be liberally construed in order to promote their objective of securing a just, speedy and inexpensive disposition of every action and proceeding. Rules of procedure are tools designed to facilitate the attainment of justice, and courts must avoid their strict and rigid application which would result in technicalities that tend to frustrate rather than promote substantial justice.