G.R. NO. 157232. December 10, 2007 (Case Brief / Digest)

### Title: National Mines and Allied Workers Union (NAMAWU) vs. Hon. Adelina Calderon-Bargas and Norma G. Mitra

### Facts:
In August 1992, the National Mines and Allied Workers Union (NAMAWU), representing workers, filed a complaint against Norma G. Mitra for unfair labor practices with the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC). The complaint included claims of illegal dismissal, underpayment of wages, nonpayment of holiday pay, and 13th-month pay. On April 22, 1999, a decision favoring the workers was issued by Labor Arbiter Antonio Macam, ordering Mitra to pay a total of P1,669,897.

Following the decision, the NLRC Sheriff Juanito Atienza levied upon a parcel of land owned by Mitra. NAMAWU became the highest bidder and acquired the title to Mitra’s property on December 6, 1999. On July 16, 2001, Mitra filed a complaint for Annulment of Final Deed of Sale and related documents against NAMAWU, Sheriff Atienza, and the Register of Deeds of Morong, Rizal, Dinna P. Mantuano. This case was assigned to Judge Adelina Calderon-Bargas of the RTC, Branch 78, Morong, Rizal.

NAMAWU countered, claiming the RTC lacked jurisdiction as the matter was rooted in a labor dispute previously decided by the NLRC. The RTC initially agreed, dismissing the case on January 21, 2002. Mitra’s Motion for Reconsideration was denied on June 19, 2002, with the court emphasizing the labor dispute’s central role in the lack of notice and procedure questioned by Mitra.

Despite the finality of the dismissal in July 2002, Mitra filed a Motion to Admit Amended Complaint in August 2002, claiming the need acknowledged in the June 2002 order to include NAMAWU as a nominal party and the Register of Deeds as an indispensable party. The RTC granted this motion on January 30, 2003.

### Issues:
1. Whether the RTC had jurisdiction to entertain the amended complaint filed by Mitra.
2. Whether the amendment of the complaint to include NAMAWU as a nominal party and the Register of Deeds as an indispensable party was permissible.

### Court’s Decision:
The Supreme Court’s decision specifically addressed the issues regarding jurisdiction and the procedural aspects concerning the amended complaint. Given the case’s labor dispute nature initially decided by the NLRC and its subsequent impact on property rights, the focal point of analysis hinged on delineating the boundaries of labor and regular courts’ jurisdiction. The Court meticulously dissected the procedural history and the litigants’ actions leading to the controversy’s escalation to the Supreme Court. Each legal issue was examined in light of established jurisprudence, statutory laws, and procedural rules governing labor disputes and civil procedure. The resolution of these issues underscored the Court’s emphasis on jurisdictional prerogatives, the sanctity of final judgments, and the procedural propriety of amendments to pleadings in the pursuit of substantive justice.

### Doctrine:
The Supreme Court reiterated several critical doctrines in this case, including but not limited to:
– The principle of finality of judgments, emphasizing that once a decision becomes final and executory, it is immutable and unalterable.
– The jurisdiction over labor disputes, highlighting that labor arbitrations and decisions rendered by the NLRC are generally exclusive and encompassing of actions arising from labor disputes.
– Rules on amending pleadings, specifically that amendments aimed to confer jurisdiction upon a court where none previously existed or to circumvent procedural limitations are generally disfavored.

### Class Notes:
– **Jurisdiction over Labor Disputes**: Labor disputes are primarily under the jurisdiction of the NLRC, with certain exceptions leading to RTC involvement in cases not classified as labor disputes per se.
– **Finality of Judgments**: Once a judgment is final and executory, it cannot be altered, amended, or appealed, underlining the importance of adhering to applicable appeal or motion for reconsideration periods.
– **Amendment of Pleadings**: Amendments to pleadings are allowed to serve justice but must comply with procedural rules, cannot revive lost jurisdictions, and cannot alter final judgments.

### Historical Background:
The dispute’s essence traced back to labor grievances and extended into civil litigation touching on property rights, reflecting the sometimes-blurred lines between labor disputes and civil claims. The case exemplifies the intricate interplay between labor law and civil jurisdiction in the Philippines, as well as the procedural dynamics within the Philippine legal system regarding finality of judgments and amendments to pleadings.


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