Section 35, Chapter 12, Title III, Book IV of the Administrative Code of 198717 authorizes the OSG to represent the SRA, a government agency established pursuant to Executive Order No. 18, Series of 1986,18 in any litigation, proceeding, investigation, or matter requiring the services of lawyers. It provides:
SEC. 35. Powers and Functions. – The Office of the Solicitor General shall represent the Government of the Philippines, its agencies and instrumentalities and its officials and agents in any litigation, proceeding, investigation, or matter requiring the services of lawyers. When authorized by the President or head of the office concerned, it shall also represent government owned or controlled corporations. The Office of the Solicitor General shall constitute the law office of the Government and, as such, shall discharge duties requiring the services of lawyers. (Emphasis supplied)
The OSG is empowered to deputize legal officers of government departments, bureaus, agencies, and offices in cases involving their respective offices. Paragraph 8 of the same section reads:
(8) Deputize legal officers of government departments, bureaus, agencies, and offices to assist the Solicitor General and appear or represent the Government in cases involving their respective offices, brought before the courts and exercise supervision and control over such legal officers with respect to such cases. (Emphasis supplied)
In National Power Corporation v. Vine Development Corporation,19 this Court ruled that the deputization by the OSG of NAPOCOR counsels in cases involving the NAPOCOR included the authority to file a notice of appeal. The Court explained that the OSG could have withdrawn the appeal if it believed that the appeal would not advance the government’s cause. The Court held that even if the deputized NAPOCOR counsel had no authority to file a notice of appeal, the defect was cured by the OSG’s subsequent manifestation that the deputized NAPOCOR counsel had authority to file a notice of appeal.
The sugar corporations’ reliance on another NAPOCOR case, National Power Corporation v. NLRC,20 is misplaced. There, service of the decision was never made on the OSG, the principal counsel for NAPOCOR. Only the deputized NAPOCOR counsel was served a copy of the decision. Hence, the Court held that the period to appeal the decision did not commence to run. The Court explained that service of the decision on the deputized NAPOCOR counsel was insufficient and not binding on the OSG. This was why the Court stated in that case that the deputized NAPOCOR counsel had no authority to decide whether an appeal should be made.
Noteworthy, in National Power Corporation v. Vine Development Corporation, both the OSG and the deputized NAPOCOR counsel were served copies of the decision subject of the appeal. In National Power Corporation v. NLRC, only the deputized NAPOCOR counsel was furnished a copy of the appealed decision. Hence, the differing rulings by this Court.
In the present case, records show that both the OSG and the deputized SRA counsel were served copies of the RTC decision subject of the appeal. Thus, what applies is National Power Corporation v. Vine Development Corporation. Applying here the doctrine laid down in the said case, deputized SRA counsel Atty. Labay is, without a doubt, authorized to file a notice of appeal.
Assuming Atty. Labay had no authority to file a notice of appeal, such defect was cured when the OSG subsequently filed its opposition to the motion to expunge the notice of appeal. As the OSG explained, its reservation21 to “approve the withdrawal of the case, the non-appeal, or other actions which appear to compromise the interest of the government” was meant to protect the interest of the government in case the deputized SRA counsel acted in any manner prejudicial to government. Obviously, what required the approval of the OSG was the non-appeal, not the appeal, of a decision adverse to government.
We hold that the RTC should have given due course to the notice of appeal that Atty. Labay timely filed. Thus, the 19 December 2006 Decision of the RTC in Civil Case No. Q-02-46236 cannot be deemed to have attained finality.
The next logical step is to remand the case to the RTC. However, a remand would only delay the resolution of this case and frustrate the ends of justice. As a rule, remand is avoided in the following instances: (a) where the ends of justice would not be served; (b) where public interest demands an early disposition of the case; or (c) where the trial court already received all the evidence presented by both parties, and the Supreme Court is in a position, based upon said evidence, to decide the case on its merits.22 All three conditions are present here.