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NPC VS. NATIONAL POWER CORPORATION vs.

SPOUSES LAOHOO
G.R. No. 151973, July 23, 2009

FACTS:

NAPOCOR (petitioner, for brevity) decided to acquire an easement of


right-of-way over respondents' properties in Samar for its proposed 350 KV
LEYTE-LUZON HVDC POWER TL PROJECT. Petitioner then filed an
Urgent Ex-Parte Motion for the Issuance of a Writ of Possession in both
cases. Spouses Laohoo in filed their Answer to the complaint acknowledging
petitioner's right to expropriate their property, but prayed for payment of just
compensation, damages and attorney's fees

RTC, in both civil cases, issued orders directing the petitioner to pay
the amount fixed as just compensation. Petitioner, through its counsel,
received the said Orders on September 25, 1997. On October 2, 1997,
petitioner filed by registered mail, a Motion for Reconsideration of the said
Orders which the RTC denied in an Order dated October 14, 1997.

On October 30, 1997, petitioner filed a Notice of Appeal by registered


mail for the two civil cases. Respondent Spouses Laohoo filed their
Comment and Opposition to the notice of appeal, contending that the said
appeal was filed six days late.

Petitioner argued that it was only on October 23, 1997 that the Office
of the Regional Legal Counsel, NPC-Visayas Region in Cebu City, received
a copy of the Order of October 14, 1997 denying its motion for
reconsideration. By computing the remaining eight days reckoned from the
date of receipt on October 23, 1997 of the RTCs Order dated October 14,
1997, petitioner insisted that it had until October 31, 1997 within which to file
the notice of appeal and, thus, the filing thereof on October 30, 1997 was
well within the 15-day reglementary period for taking an appeal as provided
by the rules. RTC dismissed the petitioners appeal.

There appears to be a controversy between the petitioner and the


respondents as to when the petitioner received the RTC Order dated October
14, 1997 denying the petitioners motion for reconsideration. This issue
needs to be settled, because the remaining period (i.e., eight days) within
which to appeal is reckoned from the actual date of receipt of the RTC's
Order of denial.

ISSUE:

1. Whether or not petitioner's notice of appeal was filed on time.


2. Whether or not RTC’s Order had already become final and executory.
RULING:

1.No. The appeal was not filed within the reglementary period of 15 days as
provided by the Rules, the appeal is dismissible for having been filed out of
time. The approval of a notice of appeal becomes the ministerial duty of the
lower court, provided the appeal is filed on time. If the notice of appeal is,
however, filed beyond the reglementary period, the trial court may exercise
its power to refuse or disallow the same in accordance with Section 13 of
Rule 41 of the Rules. Let it not be overlooked that the timeliness of an appeal
is a jurisdictional caveat that not even this Court can trifle with. Consequently,
the trial court committed no error in dismissing the appeal.

2.Yes. The failure of the petitioner to perfect an appeal within the period fixed
by law renders final the decision sought to be appealed. As a result, no court
could exercise appellate jurisdiction to review the decision. It is settled that
a decision that has acquired finality becomes immutable and unalterable and
may no longer be modified in any respect, even if the modification is meant
to correct erroneous conclusions of fact or law and whether it will be made
by the court that rendered it or by the highest court of the land. Once a
judgment becomes final and executory, all the issues between the parties
are deemed resolved and laid to rest. All that remains is the execution of the
decision which is a matter of right. The prevailing party is entitled to a writ of
execution, the issuance of which is the trial court’s ministerial duty.

In addition to the non-perfection of the appeal on time, records show


that the notice of appeal failed to indicate the date when the petitioner
received the Order denying its motion for reconsideration. The rules require
that the notice of appeal shall state the material dates showing the timeliness
of the appeal. The indication of date is important in order for the trial court to
determine the timeliness of the petitioner’s appeal.

Petitioner cannot take refuge in the "fresh period rule." In Neypes v.


Court of Appeals, the Court standardized the appeal periods provided in the
rules in order to afford litigants a fair opportunity to appeal their cases. We
allowed a fresh period of fifteen days within which to file a notice of appeal
in the RTC, counted from receipt of the order dismissing a motion for a new
trial or motion for reconsideration. Neypes is inapplicable to the present case,
although procedural laws may be given retroactive effect to actions pending
and undetermined at the time of their passage; there being no vested rights
in the rules of procedure, said retroactive application of procedural rule does
not extend to actions that have already become final and executory, like the
Order of the trial court in the instant case.