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12/15/2016 A.M.No.

111003O

TodayisThursday,December15,2016

RepublicofthePhilippines
SUPREMECOURT
Manila

ENBANC

A.M.No.111003OJuly30,2013

RE:LETTERDATEDAPRIL18,2011OFCHIEFPUBLICATTORNEYPERSIDARUEDACOSTAREQUESTING
EXEMPTIONFROMTHEPAYMENTOFSHERIFF'SEXPENSES

RESOLUTION

REYES,J.:

ThiscasestemmedfromtheFebruary7,2011letter1ofAttorneyPersidaV.RuedaAcosta(Atty.Acosta),Chief
PublicAttorneyofthePublicAttorney'sOffice(PAO),totheOfficeoftheCourtAdministrator(OCA).Inthesaid
letter, Atty. Acosta sought a clarification as to the exemption of PAO's clients from the payment of sheriffs
expenses,allegingthatPAO'sclientsinitsRegionalOfficeinRegionVIIarebeingchargedwiththepaymentof
sheriffsexpensesintheamountofP1,000.00uponthefilingofacivilactionincourt.Sheclaimedthatsheriffs
expenses should not be exacted from PAOs clients since Section 6 of Republic Act No. 94062 (R.A. No. 9406)
specifically exempts them from the payment of docket and other fees incidental to instituting an action in court
andotherquasijudicialbodies.

In its letter3 dated March 23, 2011 to Atty. Acosta, the OCA clarified that PAOs clients, notwithstanding their
exemptionunderSection6ofR.A.No.9406frompaymentof"docketandotherfeesincidentaltoinstitutingan
action in court," are not exempted from the payment of sheriffs expenses. The OCA explained that sheriffs
expenses, strictly speaking, are not considered as "legal fees" under Rule 141 of the Rules of Court since they
arenotpayabletothegovernmenttheyarepayabletothesheriff/processservertodefrayhistravelexpensesin
servingcourtprocessesinrelationtothelitigantscase.

Inherletter4datedApril18,2011totheOCA,Atty.Acostamaintainedthat,whilesheriffsexpensesmaynotbe
strictlyconsideredasalegalfee,theyareneverthelessconsideredasafeewhichisincidentaltothefilingofan
action in court and, hence, should not be exacted from PAOs clients. She pointed out that the imposition of
sheriffs expenses on PAOs clients would render the latters exemption from payment of docket and other fees
under Section 6 of R.A. No. 9406 nugatory. Considering that the matter involves an interpretation of R.A. No.
9406,Atty.AcostarequestedthatthesamebereferredtotheCourtenbancforresolution.

Initsreportandrecommendation5datedSeptember14,2011,theOCAmaintaineditspositionthatPAOsclients
are not exempted from the payment of sheriffs expenses it stressed that the P1,000.00 sheriffs expenses are
notthesameasthesheriffsfeefixedbySection10,Rule141oftheRulesofCourtand,hence,notcoveredby
theexemptiongrantedtoPAOsclientsunderR.A.No.9406.TheOCAfurtherallegedthatthegrantofexemption
to PAOs clients from the payment of sheriffs expenses amounts to disbursement of public funds for the
protection of private interests. Accordingly, the OCA recommended that Atty. Acostas request for exemption of
PAOsclientsfrompaymentofsheriffsexpensesbedenied.

AdoptingtherecommendationoftheOCA,theCourtenbancissuedResolution6datedNovember22,2011which
deniedAtty.Acostasrequestforexemptionfromthepaymentofsheriffsexpenses.

OnJanuary2,2012,Atty.Acostasoughtareconsideration7oftheCourtsResolutiondatedNovember22,2011,
which the Court en banc referred to the OCA for appropriate action. In its report and recommendation8 dated
March 22, 2012, the OCA averred that the exemption of PAOs clients from payment of legal fees is not an
absoluteruleandthattheCourtisnotprecludedfromprovidinglimitationsthereto.Thus,theOCArecommended
thedenialofAtty.Acostasmotionforreconsideration.

OnApril24,2012,theCourtenbancissuedaResolution9whichdeniedtheMotionforReconsiderationfiledby
Atty.Acosta.

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Unperturbed, Atty. Acosta filed a motion for leave to file a second motion for reconsideration10 and a Second
Motion for Reconsideration11 of the Courts Resolution dated April 24, 2012, alleging that the imposition of
sheriffs expenses on PAOs clients is contrary to the language, intent and spirit of Section 6 of R.A. No. 9406
sincesheriffsexpensesareconsideredasfees"incidentaltoinstitutinganactionincourt."Further,sheclaimed
that the said imposition on PAOs clients would hinder their access to the courts contrary to the mandate of
Section11,ArticleIIIoftheConstitution.

After a conscientious review of the contrasting legal disquisitions set forth in this case, the Court still finds the
instantpetitiondevoidofmerit.

At the outset, it bears stressing that this is already the third attempt of Atty. Acosta to obtain from this Court a
declaration exempting PAOs clients from the payment of sheriffs fees the initial request therefor and the
subsequentmotionforreconsiderationhavingbeendeniedbythisCourt.

Asarule,asecondmotionforreconsiderationisaprohibitedpleading.12Thisrule,however,isnotcastinstone.
Asecondmotionforreconsiderationmaybeallowedifthereareextraordinarilypersuasivereasonstherefor,and
uponexpressleaveofcourtfirstobtained.13

Ordinarily,theCourtwouldhavedismissedoutrightAtty.Acostassecondmotionforreconsideration.However,for
reasons to be discussed at length later, there is a need to give due course to the instant petition in order to
reassessandclarifytheCourtspronouncementinourResolutionsdatedNovember22,2011andApril24,2012.

Inanycase,itbearsstressingthatwhatisinvolvedinthiscaseistheCourtsadministrativepowertodetermineits
policy visvis the exaction of legal fees from the litigants. The Courts policy determination respecting
administrativemattersmustnotbeunnecessarilyboundbyproceduralconsiderations.Surely,aruleofprocedure
maynotdebilitatetheCourtandrenderinutileitspowerofadministrationandsupervisionovercourtprocedures.

AtthecoreofthiscaseistheproperinterpretationofSection6ofR.A.No.9406which,inpart,reads:

Sec.6.NewsectionsareherebyinsertedinChapter5,TitleIII,BookIVofExecutiveOrderNo.292,toreadas
follows:

xxxx

Sec. 16D. Exemption from Fees and Costs of the Suit The clients of PAO shall be exempt from payment of
docket and other fees incidental to instituting an action in court and other quasijudicial bodies, as an original
proceedingoronappeal.

Thecostsofthesuit,attorneysfeesandcontingentfeesimposedupontheadversaryofthePAOclientsaftera
successful litigation shall be deposited in the National Treasury as trust fund and shall be disbursed for special
allowancesofauthorizedofficialsandlawyersofthePAO.(Emphasisours)

TheOCAmaintainsthatsheriffsexpensesarenotcoveredbytheexemptiongrantedtoPAOsclientsunderR.A.
No. 9406 since the same are not considered as a legal fee under Rule 141 of the Rules of Court. Stated
differently, the OCA asserts that the exemption provided for under R.A. No. 9406 only covers the legal fees
enumeratedunderRule141oftheRulesofCourt.

Thecourtagrees.

Itisawellsettledprincipleoflegalhermeneuticsthatwordsofastatutewillbeinterpretedintheirnatural,plain
andordinaryacceptationandsignification,unlessitisevidentthatthelegislatureintendedatechnicalorspecial
legal meaning to those words. The intention of the lawmakerswho are, ordinarily, untrained philologists and
lexicographerstousestatutoryphraseologyinsuchamannerisalwayspresumed.14

ThatSection6ofR.A.No.9406exemptsPAOsclientsfromthepaymentof"docketandotherfeesincidentalto
instituting an action in court and other quasijudicial bodies" is beyond cavil. However, contrary to Atty. Acostas
claim,aplainreadingofthesaidprovisionclearlyshowsthattheexemptiongrantedtoPAOsclientscannotbe
extended to the payment of sheriffs expenses the exemption is specifically limited to the payment of fees, i.e.,
docketandotherfeesincidentaltoinstitutinganaction.

Theterm"fees"isdefinedasachargefixedbylaworbyaninstitutionforcertainprivilegesorservices.15Viewed
fromthiscontext,thephrase"docketandotherfeesincidentaltoinstitutinganaction"referstothetotalityofthe
legalfeesimposedunderRule14116oftheRulesofCourt.Inparticular,itincludesfilingordocketfees,appeal
fees, fees for issuance of provisional remedies, mediation fees, sheriffs fees, stenographers fees and
commissionersfees.17Thesearethefeesthatareexactedfortheservicesrenderedbythecourtinconnection
withtheactioninstitutedbeforeit.

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Sheriffsexpenses,however,cannotbeclassifiedasa"fee"withinthepurviewoftheexemptiongrantedtoPAOs
clientsunderSection6ofR.A.No.9406.SheriffsexpensesareprovidedforunderSection10,Rule141ofthe
RulesofCourt,viz:

Sec.10.Sheriffs,PROCESSSERVERSandotherpersonsservingprocesses.

xxxx

Inadditiontothefeeshereinabovefixed,theamountofONETHOUSAND(P1,000.00)PESOSshallbedeposited
with the Clerk of Court upon filing of the complaint to defray the actual travel expenses of the sheriff, process
server or other courtauthorized persons in the service of summons, subpoena and other court processes that
wouldbeissuedrelativetothetrialofthecase.IncasetheinitialdepositofONETHOUSAND(P1,000.00)PESOS
isnotsufficient,thentheplaintifforpetitionershallberequiredtomakeanadditionaldeposit.Thesheriff,process
server or other court authorized person shall submit to the court for its approval a statement of the estimated
travelexpensesforserviceofsummonsandcourtprocesses.Onceapproved,theClerkofCourtshallreleasethe
moneytosaidsherifforprocessserver.Afterservice,astatementofliquidationshallbesubmittedtothecourtfor
approval.Afterrenditionofjudgmentbythecourt,anyexcessfromthedepositshallbereturnedtothepartywho
madethedeposit.xxxx(Emphasisours)

Sheriffsexpensesarenotexactedforanyservicerenderedbythecourttheyaretheamountdepositedtothe
Clerk of Court upon filing of the complaint to defray the actual travel expenses of the sheriff, process server or
other courtauthorized persons in the service of summons, subpoena and other court processes that would be
issued relative to the trial of the case. It is not the same as sheriffs fees under Section 10,18 Rule 141 of the
Rules of Court, which refers to those imposed by the court for services rendered to a party incident to the
proceedingsbeforeit.

Thus,inInRe:ExemptionofCooperativesfromPaymentofCourtandSheriffsFeesPayabletotheGovernment
inActionsBroughtUnderR.A.6938,19theCourtclarifiedthatsheriffsexpensesarenotconsideredaslegalfees,
ratiocinatingthat:

The difference in the treatment between the sheriffs fees and the sheriffs expenses in relation with the
exemptionenjoyedbycooperativesisfurtherdemonstratedbythewordingofSection10,Rule141,whichuses
"fees" in delineating the enumeration in the first paragraph, and "expenses" in qualifying the subsequent
paragraphsofthisprovision.Theintentiontomakeadistinctionbetweenthetwochargesisclearotherwise,the
Ruleswouldnothaveuseddifferentdesignations.Likewise,thedifferencebetweenthetwotermsishighlighted
by a consideration of the phraseology in the first sentence of the second paragraph of Section 10, Rule 141,
which uses the clause "in addition to the fees hereinabove fixed," thereby unequivocally indicating that sheriffs
expensesareseparatechargesontopofthesheriffsfees.(Italicssupplied)

TheCourt,however,isnotunmindfulofthepredicamentofPAOsclients.InexemptingPAOsclientsfrompaying
docketandotherlegalfees,R.A.No.9406intendedtoensurethattheindigentsandthelessprivileged,whodo
not have the means to pay the said fees, would not be denied access to courts by reason of poverty. Indeed,
requiringPAOsclientstopaysheriffsexpenses,despitetheirexemptionfromthepaymentofdocketandother
legalfees,wouldeffectlyfettertheirfreeaccesstothecourtstherebynegatingthelaudableintentofCongressin
enactingR.A.No.9406.

FreeaccesstothecourtsandadequatelegalassistanceareamongthefundamentalrightswhichtheConstitution
extendstothelessprivileged.Thus,Section11,ArticleIIIofthe1987Constitutionmandatesthat"freeaccessto
thecourtsandquasijudicialbodiesandadequatelegalassistanceshallnotbedeniedtoanypersonbyreasonof
poverty." The Constitution affords litigantsmoneyed or poorequal access to the courts moreover, it
specificallyprovidesthatpovertyshallnotbaranypersonfromhavingaccesstothecourts.Accordingly,lawsand
rules must be formulated, interpreted, and implemented pursuant to the intent and spirit of this constitutional
provision.20

Accesstojusticebyall,especiallybythepoor,isnotsimplyanidealinoursociety.Itsexistenceisessentialina
democracyandintheruleoflaw.21Withoutdoubt,oneofthemostpreciousrightswhichmustbeshieldedand
securedistheunhamperedaccesstothejusticesystembythepoor,theunderprivilegedandthemarginalized.22

Havingtheforegoingprinciplesinmind,theCourt,heedingtheconstitutionalmandateofensuringfreeaccessto
thecourtsandadequatelegalassistancetothemarginalizedandlessprivileged,herebyauthorizestheofficials
andemployeesofPAOtoservesummons,subpoenaandothercourtprocessespursuanttoSection3,23Rule14
of the Rules of Court. The authority given herein by the Court to the officials and employees of PAO shall be
limitedonlytocasesinvolvingtheirclient. 1 w p h i1

AuthorizingtheofficialsandemployeesofPAOtoservethesummons,subpoenasandothercourtprocessesin
behalf of their clients would relieve the latter from the burden of paying for the sheriff's expenses despite their
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nonexemption from the payment thereof under Section 6 of R.A. No. 9406. The amount to be defrayed in the
serviceofsummons,subpoenaandothercourtprocessesinbehalfofitsclientswouldconsequentlyhavetobe
takenfromtheoperatingexpensesofPAO.Inturn,theamountadvancedbyPAOasactualtravelexpensesmay
be taken from the amount recovered from the adversaries of PAO's clients as costs of suit, attorney's fees or
contingentfeespriortothedepositthereofintheNationalTreasury.

WHEREFORE,inconsiderationoftheforegoingdisquisitions,theSecondMotionforReconsiderationfiledbyAtty.
PersidaV.RuedaAcostaisDENIED.TheCourt'sResolutionsdatedNovember22,2011andApril24,2012are
hereby AFFIRMED. The request of Atty. Persida V. RuedaAcosta for the exemption of the clients of the Public
Attorney'sOfficefromthepaymentofsheriff'sexpensesisDENIED.

Nevertheless, the officials and employees of the Public Attorney's Office are hereby AUTHORIZED to serve
summons, subpoenas and other court processes in behalf of their clients pursuant to Section 3, Rule 14 of the
Rules of Court, in coordination with the concerned court. The amount to be defrayed in serving the summons,
subpoenasandothercourtprocessescould

be taken from the operating expenses of the Public Attorney's Office which, in turn, may be taken from the
amountrecoveredbyitfromtheadversariesofPAO'sclientsascostsofsuit,attorney'sfeesorcontingentfees
priortothedepositthereofintheNationalTreasury,ordamagesthatsaidclientsmaybedecreedasentitledtoin
caseofthesuccessofPAO'sindigentclients.

SOORDERED.

BIENVENIDOL.REYES
AssociateJustice

WECONCUR:

MARIALOURDESP.A.SERENO
ChiefJustice

ANTONIOT.CARPIO PRESBITEROJ.VELASCO,JR.
AssociateJustice AssociateJustice

TERESITAJ.LEONARDODECASTRO ARTUROD.BRION
AssociateJustice AssociateJustice

DIOSDADOM.PERALTA LUCASP.BERSAMIN
AssociateJustice AssociateJustice

MARIANOC.DELCASTILLO ROBERTOA.ABAD
AssociateJustice AssociateJustice

MARTINS.VILLARAMA,JR. JOSEPORTUGALPEREZ
AssociateJustice AssociateJustice

JOSECATRALMENDOZA ESTELAM.PERLASBERANBE
AssociateJustice AssociateJustice

MARVICMARIOVICTORF.LEONEN
AssociateJustice

Footnotes

1Rollo,pp.56.

2 AN ACT REORGANIZING AND STRENGTHENING THE PUBLIC ATTORNEYS OFFICE (PAO),


AMENDING FOR THE PURPOSE THE PERTINENT PROVISIONS OF EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 292,
OTHERWISEKNOWNASTHE"ADMINISTRATIVECODEOF1987,"ASAMENDED,GRANTINGSPECIAL
ALLOWANCETOPAOOFFICIALSANDLAWYERS,ANDPROVIDINGFUNDSTHEREFOR.

3Rollo,pp.1516.

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4Id.at1921.

5Id.at14.

6Id.at24.

7Id.at2543.

8Id.at8487.

9Id.at88.

10Id.at8998.

11Id.at99123.

12Section2,Rule52inrelationtoSection4,Rule56oftheRULESOFCOURT.

13SeeOrtigasandCo.Ltd.Partnershipv.JudgeVelasco,324Phil.483,489(1996).

14Peoplev.Sandiganbayan(ThirdDivision),G.R.No.167304,August25,2009,597SCRA49,65.

15WebstersThirdNewInternationalDictionary,p.833.

16AsamendedbyA.M.No.04204SCwhichtookeffectonAugust16,2004.

17Re:RequestofNationalCommitteeonLegalAidtoExemptLegalAidClientsfromPayingFiling,Docket
andOtherFees,A.M.No.08117SC,August28,2009,597SCRA350.

18Section10.Sheriffs,PROCESSSERVERSandotherpersonsservingprocesses.

(a)Forservingsummonsandcopyofcomplaint,foreachdefendant,TWOHUNDRED(P200.00)

PESOS

(b)ForservingsubpoenasincivilactionorOTHERproceedings,foreachwitnesstobeserved,ONE
HUNDRED(P100.00)PESOS

(c)Forexecutingawritofattachmentagainstthepropertyofdefendant,FIVEHUNDRED(P500.00)
PESOSperdefendant

(d)Forservingandimplementingatemporaryrestrainingorder,orwritofinjunction,preliminaryor
final,ofanycourt,THREEHUNDRED(P300.00)PESOSperdefendant

(e)Forexecutingawritofreplevin,FIVEHUNDRED(P500.00)PESOS

(f) For filing bonds or other instruments of indemnity or security in provisional remedies, for each
bondorinstrument,ONEHUNDRED(P100.00)PESOS

(g) For executing a writ or process to place a party in possession of real PROPERTY OR estates,
THREEHUNDRED(P300.00)PESOSperproperty

(h) For SERVICES RELATING TO THE POSTING AND PUBLICATION REQUIREMENTS UNDER
RULE39(EXECUTION,SATISFACTIONANDEFFECTOFJUDGMENTS)ANDINEXTRAJUDICIAL
FORECLOSURE OF MORTGAGE BY SHERIFF OR NOTARY PUBLIC besides the cost of
publication,ONEHUNDREDANDFIFTY(P150.00)PESOS

(i) For taking inventory of goods levied upon when the inventory is ordered by the court, THREE
HUNDRED(P300.00)PESOSperdayoractualinventory

(j)Forlevyingonexecutiononpersonalorrealproperty,THREEHUNDRED(P300.00)PESOS

(k)Forissuinganoticeofgarnishment,foreachnotice,ONEHUNDRED(P100.00)PESOS

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(l) For money collected by him ACTUAL OR CONSTRUCTIVE (WHEN HIGHEST BIDDER IS THE
MORTGAGEE AND THERE IS NO ACTUAL COLLECTION OF MONEY) by order, execution,
attachment,oranyotherprocess,judicialorextrajudicialwhichshallimmediatelybeturnedoverto
theClerkofCourt,thefollowingsumsshallbepaidtotheclerkofcourttowit:

(1)OnthefirstFOURTHOUSAND(P4,000.00)PESOS,FIVEANDAHALF(5.5%)percentum

(2)OnallsumsinexcessofFOURTHOUSAND(P4,000.00)PESOS,THREE(3%)percentum

xxxx

19A.M.No.034010datedSeptember1,2009.

20SpousesAlgurav.LocalGovernmentUnitoftheCityofNaga,536Phil.819(2006).

21Supranote17,at356.

22Supranote20.

23 Sec. 3. By whom served. The summons may be served by the sheriff, his deputy, or other proper
courtofficer,orforjustifiablereasonsbyanysuitablepersonauthorizedbythecourtissuingthesummons.

TheLawphilProjectArellanoLawFoundation

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