FASAP vs. PHILIPPINE AIRLINES, INC. – G.R. No. 178083, March 13, 2018

Facts:
August 23, 2006 CA promulgated a decision finding PAL not guilty of Illegal Dismissal for retrenchment of around 1,400 cabin crew. FASAP appealed the said decision to the SC which was raffled to the 3rd division.

July 22, 2008, the SC 3rd Division reversed the promulgation of the CA and entering a new one finding PAL guilty of unlawful retrenchment. PAL then filed a Motion for Reconsideration.

October 2, 2009 the SC 3rd Division for lack of merit, the Motion for Reconsideration was DENIED with FINALITY. The assailed Decision dated July 22, 2008.

Not satisfied, PAL filed the Motion for Reconsideration of the Resolution of October 2, 2009 and Second Motion for Reconsideration of the Decision of July 22, 2008.
On October 5, 2009, the writer of the resolution of October 2, 2009, Justice Consuelo Ynares-Santiago, compulsorily retired from the Judiciary. This case was then raffled to Justice Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr., a member of the newly-constituted regular Third Division. Upon the Court’s subsequent reorganization, this case was transferred to the 1st Division where Justice Velasco, Jr. was meanwhile re-assigned. Justice Velasco, Jr. subsequently inhibited himself from the case due to personal reasons. This case was again re-raffled to Justice Arturo D. Brion, whose membership in the 2nd Division resulted in the transfer of the case to said Division.

On September 7, 2011, the Second Division denied with finality PAL’s Second Motion for Reconsideration of the Decision of July 22, 2008
Thereafter, PAL, through Atty. Estelito P. Mendoza, its collaborating counsel, sent a series of letters inquiring into the propriety of the successive transfers of this case.

On October 4, 2011, the SC En Banc issued a resolution assuming jurisdiction over the case, recalling the September 7, 2011 resolution of the 2nd Division, and ordering the re-raffle of G.R. No. 178083 to a new Member-in-Charge.

March 13, 2012, the Court En Banc directed the re-raffle this case to the remaining Justices of the former Special 3rd Division who participated in resolving the issues.
The petitioner urges the Court to declare as void the October 4, 2011 resolution for not citing any legal basis in recalling the September 7, 2011 resolution of the 2nd Division.

Issue:
Whether the October 4, 2011 resolution recalling the September 7, 2011 decision was void for failure to comply with Section 14, Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution;

Held:
No, Section 14, Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution, which reads “No decision shall be rendered by any court without expressing therein clearly and distinctly the facts and the law on which it is based. The constitutional provision clearly indicates that it contemplates only a decision, which is the judgment or order that adjudicates on the merits of a case. This is clear from the text and tenor of Section 1, Rule 36 of the Rules of Court, the rule that implements the constitutional provision, to wit:
Section 1. Rendition of judgments and final orders. A judgment or final order determining the merits of the case shall be in writing personally and directly prepared by the judge, stating clearly and distinctly the facts and the law on which it is based, signed by him, and filed with the clerk of court.

The October 4, 2011 resolution did not adjudicate on the merits of G.R. No. 178083. SC explicitly stated so in the resolution of March 13, 2012. What SC thereby did was instead to exercise the Court’s inherent power to recall orders and resolutions before they attain finality. In so doing, the Court only exercised prudence in order to ensure that the Second Division was vested with the appropriate legal competence in accordance with and under the Court’s prevailing internal rules to review and resolve the pending motion for reconsideration. The Court acted on its own pursuant to its power to recall its own orders and resolutions before their finality. The October 4, 2011 Resolution was issued to determine the propriety of the September 7, 2011 Resolution given the facts that came to light after the ruling Division’s examination of the records. To point out the obvious, the recall was not a ruling on the merits and did not constitute the reversal of the substantive issues already decided upon by the Court in the FASAP case in its previously issued Decision (of July 22, 2008) and Resolution (of October 2, 2009)

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