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000. NEYPES vs.

PHILIPPINES AND HON. ANTONIO N. ROSALES, Presiding Judge, Branch 43, Regional Trial Court, Roxas,
Oriental Mindoro, Respondents.
September 14, 2005
Petition for Review under Rule 45 of a Decision of the CA

FACTS: The petitioners filed an action for annulment of judgment and titles of land and/or
reconveyance and/or reversion with preliminary injunction before the RTC against the Bureau
of Forest Development, Bureau of Lands, Land Bank of thePhilippines and the heirs of Bernardo del
Mundo. In the course of the proceedings both parties filed various motions with the RTC. Among there
were: (1)motion filed by petitioners to declare the respondent heirs, the Bureau of Lands and the
Bureau of Forest Development in default and (2)motions to dismiss filed by the respondent heirs and
the Land Bank of the Philippines. The trial court granted the petitioners motion to declare the
respondents in default but denied as against the heirs of del Mundo because the substituted service of
summons was improper; the Land Banks motion to dismiss for lack of cause of action was denied; and
the motion to dismiss filed by respondent heirs of del Mundo, based on prescription, was also denied.
On February 12, 1998 the trial court dismissed the petitioners complaint on the ground of prescription.
Petitioners allegedly received the order of dismissal on March 3, 1998 and, on the 15
day 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 July27, 1998, petitioners filed a notice of appeal and paid the appeal fees on August 3, 1998. On
August 4, 1998, the CA denied the notice of appeal, holding that it was filed eight days late. This was
received by petitioners on July 31, 1998. Petitioners
filed a motion for reconsideration but this too was denied in an order dated September 3, 1998.

ISSUE: WON the CA err in ruling that the petitioners Notice of Appeal was filed out of time. (YES)

HELD/RATIO: The SC ruled in favor of the petitioners.
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. Thus, one who
seeks to avail of the right to appeal must comply with the requirements of the Rules. Failure to do so
often leads to the loss of the right to appeal. The period to appeal is fixed by both statute and
procedural rules. An appeal should be taken within 15 days from the notice of judgment or final order
appealed from. A final judgment or order is one that finally disposes of a case, leaving nothing more for
the court to do with respect to it. It is an adjudication on the merits which, considering the evidence
presented at the trial, declares categorically what the rights and obligations of the parties are; or it may
be an order or judgment that dismisses an action.

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. Henceforth, this fresh period rule shall also apply to Rule 40
governing appeals from the Municipal Trial Courts to the Regional Trial Courts; Rule 42 on petitions for
review from the Regional Trial Courts to the Court of Appeals; Rule 43 on appeals from quasi-judicial
agencies to the Court of Appeals and Rule 45 governing appeals by certiorari to the Supreme Court. The
new rule aims to regiment or make the appeal period uniform, to be counted from receipt of the order
denying the motion for new trial, motion for reconsideration (whether full or partial) or any final order
or resolution.

The SC thus held that 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). This pronouncement is not inconsistent with Rule 41, Section 3 of the Rules which
states that the appeal shall be taken within 15 days from notice of judgment or final order appealed
from. The use of the disjunctive word or signifies disassociation and independence of one thing from
another. It should, as a rule, be construed in the sense in which it ordinarily implies. Hence, the use of
or in the above provision supposes that the notice of appeal may be filed within 15 days from the
notice of judgment or within 15 days from notice of the final order, which we already determined to
refer to the July 1, 1998 order denying the motion for a new trial or reconsideration.

Neither does this new rule run counter to the spirit of Section 39 of BP 129 which shortened the appeal
period from 30 days to 15 days to hasten the disposition of cases. The original period of appeal (in this
case March 3-18, 1998) remains and the requirement for strict compliance still applies. The fresh period
of 15 days becomes significant only when a party opts to file a motion for new trial or motion for
reconsideration. In this manner, the trial court which rendered the assailed decision is given another
opportunity to review the case and, in the process, minimize and/or rectify any error of judgment. While
we aim to resolve cases with dispatch and to have judgments of courts become final at some definite
time, we likewise aspire to deliver justice fairly.

To recapitulate, a party litigant may either file his notice of appeal within 15 days from receipt of the
Regional Trial Courts 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, Section3. Petitioners here filed their notice of
appeal on July 27, 1998 or five days from receipt of the order denying their motion
for reconsideration on July 22, 1998. Hence, the notice of appeal was well within the fresh appeal period
of 15 days, as already discussed

DISPOSITIVE: Petition GRANTED. Decision of the CA is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. REMAND to the CA for
further proceedings.