Almirante: Authority to sign verification and certification of non-forum shopping

Dominador A. Almirante

ON OCT. 20, 2014, petitioner Digitel Employees Union (DEU) filed a petition for certiorari with the Court of Appeals (CA) against respondent Digital Telecoms Philippines Inc. (Digitel). The verification and certification of non-forum shopping included therein was signed by Alan D. Licardo (Licardo) as president of DEU. The board resolution it submitted designating and authorizing him to represent DEU in the suit was issued only on Dec. 15, 2014.

Digitel argued that Licardo had no authority to sign the verification and certification in behalf of DEU at the time the petition was filed. Hence, the petition for certiorari was defective and should be dismissed per Rule 45, Sections 1 and 4 and Rule 7, Section 5 of the Rules of Court.

Does the argument find merit?

Ruling: No.

The Court finds the verification and certification of non-forum shopping in DEU’s petition for certiorari to be substantially compliant with the Rules of Court. The petition was signed by Licardo as president of DEU. In Cagayan Valley Drug Corp. v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, 568 Phil. 572 (2008), the Court recognized the authority of the president of a corporation to sign a verification and certification of non-forum shopping without authority from the board of directors. This recognition was extended to union presidents in PNCC Skyway Traffic Mgm’t. and Security Div. Workers Org. v. PNCC Skyway Corp., 626 Phil. 700 (2010), where the Court gave further consideration to the fact that the board of therein petitioner union subsequently passed a resolution authorizing the president to file the suit.

The Court deemed this a ratification of the president’s act of signing the verification and certification. Nevertheless, the recognition of the authority of the president of a juridical entity (whether a corporation or a union) to sign verifications and certifications without prior board approval is based on the role and function of a president within the juridical entity, such that the president is in a position to verify the truthfulness and correctness of the allegations in the petition.

Furthermore, like in the PNCC case, Licardo’s authority to sign the verification and certification was also given after the petition had been filed. It cannot therefore be said that Licardo was absolutely bereft of authority to sign the petition, considering that he is the president of DEU and the DEU board subsequently ratified his act. The substantive issues raised in this case, and the implications they have for the livelihood of Digitel’s workers, compel this Court, in the name of justice, to relax the rules and allow DEU’s petition to be tried on the merits.

If justice is to be done to the workers of Digitel, they must be afforded the amplest opportunity for the proper and just determination of their cause, free from the constraints of technicalities. For, it is far better to dispose a case on the merits which is a primordial end rather than on a technicality, if it be the case that may result in injustice.

On the other hand, if Digitel is fully confident that the facts and the law are on its side, it should not have any qualms in presenting its case before the appellate court.

(Digitel Employees Union vs. Digital Telecoms Philippines Inc., G.R. 217529, July 3, 2019).