LEGAL NOTE 16: VERIFICATION AND CERTIFICATION ON NON-FORUM SHOPPING

 SOURCE:      SOUTH COTABATO COMMUNICATIONS CORPORATION and GAUVAIN J. BENZONAN  vs. HON. PATRICIA A. STO. TOMAS, SECRETARY OF LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT, ROLANDO FABRIGAR, MERLYN VELARDE, VINCE LAMBOC, FELIPE GALINDO, LEONARDO MIGUEL, JULIUS RUBIN, EDEL RODEROS, MERLYN COLIAO and EDGAR JOPSON (G.R. NO. 173326, 15 DECEMBER 2010)

 

IF THE PRESIDENT SIGNS THE REQUIRED VERIFICATION AND CERTIFICATION AGAINST NON-FORUM SHOPPING IS HE REQUIRED TO PRODUCE A BOARD RESOLUTION.

NO.

Anent the first procedural issue, the Court has summarized the jurisprudential principles on the matter in Cagayan Valley Drug Corporation v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue.[1][15]  In said case, we held that a President of a corporation, among other enumerated corporate officers and employees, can sign the verification and certification against of non-forum shopping in behalf of the said corporation without the benefit of a board resolution.  We quote the pertinent portion of the decision here:

It must be borne in mind that Sec. 23, in relation to Sec. 25 of the Corporation Code, clearly enunciates that all corporate powers are exercised, all business conducted, and all properties controlled by the board of directors. A corporation has a separate and distinct personality from its directors and officers and can only exercise its corporate powers through the board of directors. Thus, it is clear that an individual corporate officer cannot solely exercise any corporate power pertaining to the corporation without authority from the board of directors. This has been our constant holding in cases instituted by a corporation.

In a slew of cases, however, we have recognized the authority of some corporate officers to sign the verification and certification against forum shopping. In Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority v. CA, we recognized the authority of a general manager or acting general manager to sign the verification and certificate against forum shopping; in Pfizer v. Galan, we upheld the validity of a verification signed by an “employment specialist” who had not even presented any proof of her authority to represent the company; in Novelty Philippines, Inc. v. CA, we ruled that a personnel officer who signed the petition but did not attach the authority from the company is authorized to sign the verification and non-forum shopping certificate; and in Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company v. WMC Resources International Pty. Ltd. (Lepanto), we ruled that the Chairperson of the Board and President of the Company can sign the verification and certificate against non-forum shopping even without the submission of the board’s authorization.

 

IN SUMMARY, WHO ARE THE OFFICIALS OF THE COMPANY WHO CAN SIGN THE VERIFICATION AND CERTIFICATION WITHOUT NEED OF A BOARD RESOLUTION?

In sum, we have held that the following officials or employees of the company can sign the verification and certification without need of a board resolution: (1) the Chairperson of the Board of Directors, (2) the President of a corporation, (3) the General Manager or Acting General Manager, (4) Personnel Officer, and (5) an Employment Specialist in a labor case.

While the above cases do not provide a complete listing of authorized signatories to the verification and certification required by the rules, the determination of the sufficiency of the authority was done on a case to case basis. The rationale applied in the foregoing cases is to justify the authority of corporate officers or representatives of the corporation to sign the verification or certificate against forum shopping, being “in a position to verify the truthfulness and correctness of the allegations in the petition.”[2][16] (Emphases supplied.)

 

IS THE REQUIRED CERTIFICATION ON NON-FORUM SHOPPING JURISDICTIONAL?

NO.

Nonetheless, under the circumstances of this case, it bears reiterating that the requirement of the certification of non-forum shopping is rooted in the principle that a party-litigant shall not be allowed to pursue simultaneous remedies in different fora, as this practice is detrimental to an orderly judicial procedure.  However, the Court has relaxed, under justifiable circumstances, the rule requiring the submission of such certification considering that, although it is obligatory, it is not jurisdictional.  Not being jurisdictional, it can be relaxed under the rule of substantial compliance.[3][18]


[1][15]          G.R. No. 151413, February 13, 2008, 545 SCRA 10.

[2][16]          Id. at 17-19.

[3][18]          PNCC Skyway Traffic Management and Security Division Workers Organization (PSTMSDWO) v. PNCC Skyway Corporation, G.R. No. 171231, February 17, 2010.