Bacolor et, al. vs. Makabali Memorial Hospital Inc. – G.R. No. 204325, April 18, 2016

Facts:

The case stemmed from an amended Complaint for illegal dismissal and money claims filed by Petitioners against the Respondents, Allegedly, the Hospital engaged the Petitioners as resident physicians assigned in its ER for one year, Despite the expiration of their contracts, the Hospital continued to employ the Petitioner. The Respondent then after instructed them to resign, and re-apply to the Hospital as resident physicians under a one year fixed term contract. They further alleged that Respondent  later directed them to sign a waiver and offered them “gratitude” pay of ₱27,000.00 but they refused to resign; and because of their refusal, respondents demoted them as assistant physicians in the Operating Room (OR) of the Hospital.

Additionally, petitioners insisted that to compel them to resign, respondents issued notices to explain to Petitioner. In particular, Petitioners were charged various reasons. Consequently, petitioners filed a case for constructive illegal dismissal against respondents. They argued that despite their complaint, respondents still conducted an administrative investigation against them.

Petitioner received notices of termination from the Hospital. Petitioners contended that they were constructively dismissed when respondents demoted them as assistant physicians in the OR of the Hospital. They stated that such demotion was neither necessary nor temporary, and was arbitrarily done to force them to resign.

LA rendered a Decision finding respondents guilty of illegally dismissing petitioners as well as ordering respondents to pay them backwages from the time of their dismissal until finality of the Decision, and separation pay. The Hospital appealed to the National Labor Relations Commission Ruling of the National Labor Relations Commission, the NLRC reversed and set aside the LA Decision and dismissed the complaints. NLRC denied petitioners motion for reconsideration.

Aggrieved, petitioners filed a Petition for Certiorari with the CA ascribing grave abuse of discretion on the part of the NLRC in giving due course to the appeal despite its alleged lack of appeal bond; and in reversing the LA Decision. The Petition was accompanied by three separate Verifications/Certificates of Non-Forum Shopping signed by only 3 Petitioner and their Lawyer instead of all six.

CA issued the assailed Resolution dismissing the Petition for Certiorari for containing a defective Verification/Certification of Non-Forum Shopping.

Issue:

Whether the CA erred in outright dismissing the Petition for being filing of defective verification and certificate against forum shopping

Held:

Yes, the Court summarized the basic tenets involving noncompliance with the requirements on or filing of defective verification and certificate against forum shopping, to wit:

  1. A distinction must be made between non-compliance with the requirement on
    or submission of defective verification, and non-compliance with the requirement
    on or submission of defective certification against forum shopping.
  2. As to verification, non-compliance therewith or a defect therein does not necessarily render the pleading fatally defective. The court may order its submission or correction or act on the pleading if the attending circumstances are such that strict compliance with the Rule may be dispensed with in order that the ends of justice may be served thereby.
  3. Verification is deemed substantially complied with when one who has ample knowledge to swear to the truth of the allegations in the complaint or petition signs the verification, and when matters alleged in the petition have been made in good faith or are true and correct.
  4. As to certification against forum shopping, non-compliance therewith or a defect therein, unlike in verification, is generally not curable by its subsequent submission or correction thereof, unless there is a need to relax the Rule on the ground of “substantial compliance” or presence of “special circumstances or compelling reasons”.
  5. The certification against forum shopping must be signed by all the plaintiffs or petitioners in a case; otherwise, those who did not sign will be dropped as parties to the case. Under reasonable or justifiable circumstances, however, as when all the plaintiffs or petitioners share a common interest and invoke a common cause of action or defense, the signature of only one of them in the certification against forum shopping substantially complies with the Rule.
  6. Finally, the certification against forum shopping must be executed by the party-pleader, not by his counsel. If, however, for reasonable or justifiable reasons, the party-pleader is unable to sign, he must execute a Special Power of Attorney designating his counsel of record to sign on his behalf.

Nonetheless, the CA failed to consider the concept of “substantial compliance” to the requirements of verification and certificate of non-forum shopping, as it has been shown that three of the six petitioners executed their own verification and certificate against forum shopping.

The verification of a pleading is a formal and not a jurisdictional requirement. It is intended to assure that the allegations in a pleading are true and correct. As such, the court may order the correction of unverified pleadings, or it may act on them and waive strict compliance with the rules.

The verification requirement is deemed substantially complied with when a person who has sufficient knowledge to swear to the truth of the allegations in the complaint or petition signs the verification; and matters alleged therein have been made in good faith or are true and correct. Thus, there is substantial compliance if at least one of the petitioners makes a proper verification.

2 thoughts on “Bacolor et, al. vs. Makabali Memorial Hospital Inc. – G.R. No. 204325, April 18, 2016

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: