SC Clarifies NLRC Rules of Procedure on Posting and Reduction of Bond
In a February 2012 decision, the Supreme Court clarifies that the Rules of Procedure of the NLRC allows the filing of a motion to reduce bond subject to two conditions: (1) there is meritorious ground, and (2) a bond in a reasonable amount is posted. The filing of a motion to reduce bond and compliance with the two conditions stop the running of the period to perfect an appeal.
The NLRC has full discretion to grant or deny the motion to reduce bond, and it may rule on the motion beyond the 10-day period within which to perfect an appeal. Obviously, at the time of the filing of the motion to reduce bond and posting of a bond in a reasonable amount, there is no assurance whether the appellant’s motion is indeed based on “meritorious ground” and whether the bond he or she posted is of a “reasonable amount.” Thus, the appellant always runs the risk of failing to perfect an appeal.
Section 2, Article I of the Rules of Procedure of the NLRC states that, “These Rules shall be liberally construed to carry out the objectives of the Constitution, the Labor Code of the Philippines and other relevant legislations, and to assist the parties in obtaining just, expeditious and inexpensive resolution and settlement of labor disputes.”
In order to give full effect to the provisions on motion to reduce bond, the appellant must be allowed to wait for the ruling of the NLRC on the motion even beyond the 10-day period to perfect an appeal. If the NLRC grants the motion and rules that there is indeed meritorious ground and that the amount of the bond posted is reasonable, then the appeal is perfected. If the NLRC denies the motion, the appellant may still file a motion for reconsideration as provided under Section 15, Rule VII of the Rules.
If the NLRC grants the motion for reconsideration and rules that there is indeed meritorious ground and that the amount of the bond posted is reasonable, then the appeal is perfected. If the NLRC denies the motion, then the decision of the labor arbiter becomes final and executory.
In any case, the rule that the filing of a motion to reduce bond shall not stop the running of the period to perfect an appeal is not absolute. The Court may relax the rule. Jurisprudence tells us that in labor cases, an appeal from a decision involving a monetary award may be perfected only upon the posting of a cash or surety bond. The Court, however, has relaxed this requirement under certain exceptional circumstances in order to resolve controversies on their merits. These circumstances include: (1) fundamental consideration of substantial justice; (2) prevention of miscarriage of justice or of unjust enrichment; and (3) special circumstances of the case combined with its legal merits, and the amount and the issue involved.
In a number of cases, the Court has relaxed the requirement in order to bring about the immediate and appropriate resolution of controversies on the merits. Some of these cases include: “(a) counsel’s reliance on the footnote of the notice of the decision of the labor arbiter that the aggrieved party may appeal within ten (10) working days; (b) fundamental consideration of substantial justice; (c) prevention of miscarriage of justice or of unjust enrichment, as where the tardy appeal is from a decision granting separation pay which was already granted in an earlier final decision; and (d) special circumstances of the case combined with its legal merits or the amount and the issue involved. (Garcia, et. al. vs. KJ Commercial and Reynaldo Que, G.R. No. 196830, February 29, 2012)
Research, Information and Publications Division
National Labor Relations Commission