DOJ resolutions became final and executory when petitioner failed to elevate said resolutions directly to the CA within the 60-day reglementary period.

After petitioner’s receipt of the DOJ Secretary’s resolution denying her motion for reconsideration of the resolution dismissing her petition for review of the prosecutors’ resolutions dismissing her complaint for libel, she filed a petition for review before the OP on the pretext that she should first exhaust administrative remedies. Unfortunately, such action was fatal to her case, since MC No. 58 prohibits the filing of such petition with the OP.  As provided under MC No. 58, no appeal from or petition for review of decisions/orders/resolutions of the Secretary of Justice on preliminary investigations of criminal cases shall be entertained by the Office of the President, except those involving offenses punishable by reclusion perpetuato death. Clearly, there was no need for petitioner to file her petition with the OP.

          Notably, in the determination of probable cause during the preliminary investigation, the executive branch of government has full discretionary authority. Thus, the decision whether or not to dismiss the criminal complaint against the private respondent is necessarily dependent on the sound discretion of the Investigating Prosecutor and ultimately, that of the Secretary of Justice.[24]  The resolution of the Investigating Prosecutor is subject to appeal to the Justice Secretary who, under the Revised Administrative Code, exercises the power of control and supervision over said Investigating Prosecutor; and who may affirm, nullify, reverse, or modify the ruling of such prosecutor.[25]

          Indeed, petitioner filed her appeal with the DOJ Secretary, but her appeal was dismissed.   Petitioner filed her motion for reconsideration which was also dismissed.   As there was no more appeal or other remedy available in the ordinary course of law, her remedy was to file a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court on the ground of grave abuse of discretion.[26]   However, petitioner failed to file a petition for certiorari within 60 days from receipt of the DOJ resolution denying her motion for reconsideration.

          Petitioner’s filing of the petition for review with the OP, which is prohibited as discussed above, did not toll the running of the reglementary period for filing a petition with the CA.  Accordingly, the DOJ resolutions became final and executory after the lapse of the period for assailing the same in the CA. Thus, we find no reversible error committed by the CA in dismissing the petition for having been filed beyond the reglementary period.

The doctrine of finality of judgment is grounded on the fundamental principle of public policy and sound practice that, at the risk of occasional error, the judgment of courts and the award of quasi-judicial agencies must become final on some definite date fixed by law.[27] The only exceptions to the general rule are the correction of clerical errors, the so-called nunc pro tunc entries which cause no prejudice to any party, void judgments, and whenever circumstances transpire after the finality of the decision which render its execution unjust and inequitable.[28]None of the exceptions is present to warrant a review.

          In Peña v. Government Service Insurance System,[29] we held that:

x x x it is axiomatic that final and executory judgments can no longer be attacked by any of the parties or be modified, directly or indirectly, even by the highest court of the land. Just as the losing party has the right to file an appeal within the prescribed period, so also the winning party has the correlative right to enjoy the finality of the resolution of the case.[30]

           x x x x

            The rule on finality of decisions, orders or resolutions of a judicial, quasi-judicial or administrative body is “not a question of technicality but of substance and merit,” the underlying consideration therefore, being the protection of the substantive rights of the winning party. Nothing is more settled in law than 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.[31]

About Erineus

Born on December 28, 1965, Surallah, South Cotabato, Southern Mindanao, Philippines.
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