G.R. No. 141524, September 14, 2005.
Main Topic – Rule 40.
The petitioners filed a filed an action for annulment of judgment and titles of land before the RTC – O. Mindoro. The petitioners filed various motions including (a) dismissal of motion and (d) declaration of default of respondents. On February 12, 1998 the trial court upon motion for reconsideration by the respondents granted the dismissal of petitioners’ complaint on the ground that the action had already prescribed. Petitioners allegedly received a copy of the order of dismissal on March 3, 1998 and, on the 15th day thereafter or on March 18, 1998, filed a motion for reconsideration. On July 1, 1998, the trial court issued another order dismissing the motion for reconsideration which petitioners received on July 22, 1998. Five days later, on July 27, 1998, petitioners filed a notice of appeal and paid the appeal fees on August 3, 1998. On August 4, 1998, the court a quo denied the notice of appeal, holding that it was filed eight days late.
Petitioners filed a petition for certiorari and mandamus on the ground that they filed their notice of appeal within the reglementary period. They argued that the 15-day reglementary period to appeal started to run only on July 22, 1998 since this was the day they received the final order of the trial court denying their motion for reconsideration.
The Court of Appeals (CA) dismissed the petition and ruled that the 15-day period to appeal should have been reckoned the day they received the day they received the order dismissing their complaint.
Whether or not petitioners’ appeal was filed out of time when petitioners received the last or final order of the court on July 22, 1998 and filed their notice of appeal on July 27, 1998 and paid the appeal docket fee on August 3, 1998
No, petitioners’ appeal was filed on time. Under Rule 41, Section 3, petitioners had 15 days from notice of judgment or final order to appeal the decision of the trial court. On the 15th day of the original appeal period (March 18, 1998), petitioners did not file a notice of appeal but instead opted to file a motion for reconsideration. To standardize the appeal periods provided in the Rules and to afford litigants fair opportunity to appeal their cases, the Court deems it practical to allow a fresh period of 15 days within which to file the notice of appeal in the Regional Trial Court, counted from receipt of the order dismissing a motion for a new trial or motion for reconsideration. Thus, petitioners seasonably filed their notice of appeal within the fresh period of 15 days, counted from July 22, 1998 (the date of receipt of notice denying their motion for reconsideration).
A party litigant may either file his notice of appeal within 15 days from receipt of the Regional Trial Court’s decision or file it within 15 days from receipt of the order (the “final order”) denying his motion for new trial or motion for reconsideration. Obviously, the new 15-day period may be availed of only if either motion is filed; otherwise, the decision becomes final and executory after the lapse of the original appeal period provided in Rule 41, Section 3.
The right to appeal is neither a natural right nor a part of due process. It is merely a statutory privilege and may be exercised only in the manner and in accordance with the provisions of law.