Cerezo vs People, GR 185230, June 1, 2011

(Admin Law, RTC, judicial power)

Facts: Petitioner filed a complaint for libel against respondents. Finding probable cause, the Prosecutor filed the corresponding Information against them, but reversed its earlier finding and recommended the withdrawal of the Information.

Relying on the recommendation o f the prosecutor, the RTC ordered the criminal case dismissed on the ground that it is a settled rule that the determination of the persons to be prosecuted rests primarily with the Public Prosecutor who is vested with quasi-judicial discretion in the discharge of this function. Being vested with such power, he can reconsider his own resolution if he finds that there is reasonable ground to do so.

However, upon petitioner’s motion for reconsideration, the RTC granted the same and reinstated the case after the DOJ Secretary reversed the resolution of the prosecutor.

Issue: Whether or not the RTC judge necessarily has to make an independent evaluation or assessment of the merits of the case.

Held: Yes. Well-entrenched is the rule that once a case is filed with the court, any disposition of it rests on the sound discretion of the court. In thus resolving a motion to dismiss a case or to withdraw an Information, the trial court should not rely solely and merely on the findings of the public prosecutor or the Secretary of Justice. It is the court’s bounden duty to assess independently the merits of the motion, and this assessment must be embodied in a written order disposing of the motion. While the recommendation of the prosecutor or the ruling of the DOJ Secretary is persuasive, it is not binding on courts.

By relying solely on the manifestation of the public prosecutor and the resolution of the DOJ Secretary, the trial court abdicated its judicial power and refused to perform a positive duty enjoined by law.  The said Orders were thus stained with grave abuse of discretion and violated the complainant’s right to due process. They were void, had no legal standing, and produced no effect whatsoever

Ang Tibay vs CIR, 69 Phil 635

(Admin Law, CIR)

Facts: Teodoro Toribio owns and operates Ang Tibay, a leather company which supplies the Philippine Army. Due to alleged shortage of leather, Toribio caused the layoff of members of National Labor Union (NLU). NLU averred that Toribio’s act is not valid. The CIR, decided the case and elevated it to the SC, but a motion for new trial was raised by the NLU. But Ang Tibay filed a motion for opposing the said motion.

Issue: What is the function of CIR as a special court?

Held: To begin with the issue before us is to realize the functions of the CIR. The CIR is a special court whose functions are specifically stated in the law of its creation which is the Commonwealth Act No. 103). It is more an administrative board than a part of the integrated judicial system of the nation. It is not intended to be a mere receptive organ of the government. Unlike a court of justice which is essentially passive, acting only when its jurisdiction is invoked and deciding only cases that are presented to it by the parties litigant, the function of the CIR, as will appear from perusal of its organic law is more active, affirmative and dynamic. It not only exercises judicial or quasi-judicial functions in the determination of disputes between employers and employees but its functions are far more comprehensive and extensive. It has jurisdiction over the entire Philippines, to consider, investigate, decide, and settle any question, matter controversy or disputes arising between, and/ or affecting employers and employees or laborers, and landlords and tenants or farm-laborers, and regulates the relations between them, subject to, and in accordance with, the provisions of CA 103.

The CIR is free from rigidity of certain procedural requirements, but this not mean that it can in justiciable cases coming before it, entirely ignore or disregard the fundamental and essential requirements of due process in trials and investigations of an administrative character. There are cardinal primary rights which must be respected even in proceedings of this character:

(1) the right to a hearing, which includes the right to present one’s cause and submit evidence in support thereof;
(2) The tribunal must consider the evidence presented;
(3) The decision must have something to support itself;
(4) The evidence must be substantial;
(5) The decision must be based on the evidence presented at the hearing; or at least contained in the record and disclosed to the parties affected;
(6) The tribunal or body or any of its judges must act on its own independent consideration of the law and facts of the controversy, and not simply accept the views of a subordinate;
(7) The Board or body should, in all controversial questions, render its decision in such manner that the parties to the proceeding can know the various Issue involved, and the reason for the decision rendered.

The failure to grasp the fundamental issue involved is not entirely attributable to the parties adversely affected by the result. Accordingly, the motion for a new trial should be, and the same is hereby granted, and the entire record of this case shall be remanded to the CIR, with instruction that it reopen the case receive all such evidence as may be relevant, and otherwise proceed in accordance with the requirements set forth.

De Jesus vs. Civil Service Commission, 471 SCRA 624

(Admin Law, quasi-judicial power)

Facts: Sec. 13 of the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) Charter (PD 198, as amended) expressly allowed the director of water districts to be granted per diems, and shall receive no other compensation for services to the district.

CSC issued Resolution No. 95-4073 ruling that it is illegal for any LWUA officer or employee who sits as a member of the board of directors of a water disctrict to receive and collect any additional, double or indirect compensation from said water disctricts except per diems pursuant to Sec. 13 of PD 198 as amended.

CSC based its ruling on Sec.8, Art IX (B) of the 1987 Constitution which is deemed included the power to “promulgate and enforce policies on personnel actions.”

Petitioners argue that CSC had no plenary jurisdiction to construe any provision of PD 198 on matters pertaining to compensation and other benefits of water district directors based on Sec.8 of the decree authorizing LWUA to appoint any of its personnel to sit on the board of director of a water district that has availed financial assistance from LWUA and any such personnel so appointed is entitled to enjoy the rights and privileges pertaining to a regional director.

The present controversy originated from an administrative case filed with the SCS for violations of RA 6713.

Issue: WON CSC has plenary jurisdiction to motu proprio construe PD 198 as amended.

Held: No. For the Court to sustain them would be to allow the board of an admin agency, by merely issuing a resolution, to derogate the broad and extensive powers granted by the Constitution to the CSC.

LWUA has quasi-judicial power only as regards rates or charges fixed by water districts, which it may review to establish compliance with the provisions of PD 198.

Gonzales vs Rosas, GR 145363, February 23, 2004

(Admin Law, Ombudsman, quasi-judicial power)

Facts: Sec. 9 RA 4670 provides that administrative charges against a teacher shall be heard initially by a committee composed of the corresponding School Superintendent of the Division or a duly authorized representative who should at least have the rank of a division supervisor.

Under Rule 43 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, appeals from decisions of the Court of Tax Appeals and quasi-judicial agencies should be taken to the Court of Appeals.

Petitioner Gonzales, a public school teacher was facing a complaint for grave misconduct, dishonesty and estafa. Respondent Rosas, then DECS-National Capital Region Director dismissed petitioner from the service based from the initial administrative proceeding conducted by Nagpacan, the Administrative Officer III of City Schools

Petitioner filed an administrative complaint for violation of Sec. 9 of the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers against the respondents before the Office of the Ombudsman instead of a judicial relief for resolution of the jurisdictional issue and declaration of nullity of the administrative proceeding.

Petitioner filed with the CA a special civil action for certiorari on the ground that the Ombudsman acted with grave abuse of discretion in adopting Director Baliton’s memorandum recommending the dismissal of her complaint against the DECS officials for want of merit. The CA dismissed the case as the proper remedy was a petition for review under Rule 43 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. Petitioner contends that she could not file a petition for review under Rule 43 as it only pertains to appeals from the Court of Tax Appeals and quasi-judicial agencies to the Court of Appeals, implying that the Office of the Ombudsman is not a quasi-judicial agency.

Issue: Whether or not the Office of the Ombudsman is a quasi-judicial agency.

Held: Yes. The Office of the Ombudsman is a quasi-judicial agency covered by the procedure outlined in Rule 43 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. As a rule, appeals from decisions of quasi-judicial agencies, such as the Office of the ombudsman, in administrative disciplinary cases, should be taken to the Court of Appeals under Rule 43.

Macalintal vs PET, GR 191618, June 7, 2011

(Admin Law, PET, Quasi-judicial power)

Facts: Par 7, Sec 4, Art VII of the 1987 Constitution provides: “The Supreme Court, sitting en banc, shall be the sole judge of all contests relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of the President or Vice-President, and may promulgate its rules for the purpose.”

Sec 12, Art. VIII of the Constitution provides: The Members of the Supreme Court and of other courts established by law shall not be designated to any agency performing quasi-judicial or administrative functions.

The case at bar is a motion for reconsideration filed by petitioner of the SC’s decision dismissing the former’s petition and declaring the establishment of the respondent PET as constitutional.

Petitioner argues that PET is unconstitutional on the ground that Sec 4, Art VII of the Constitution does not provide for the creation of the PET, and it violates Sec 12, Art VIII of the Constitution.

The Solicitor General maintains that the constitution of the PET is on firm footing on the basis of the grant of authority to the Supreme Court to be the sole judge of all election contests for the President or Vice-President under par 7, Sec 4, Art VII of the Constitution.

Issue:

  1. Whether or not PET is constitutional.
  2. Whether or not PET exercises quasi-judicial power.

Held:

  1. Yes. The explicit reference of the Members of the Constitutional Commission to a Presidential Electoral Tribunal, with Fr. Joaquin Bernas categorically declaring that in crafting the last paragraph of Sec. 4, Art VII of the 1987 Constitution, they “constitutionalized what was statutory.” Judicial power granted to the Supreme Court by the same Constitution is plenary. And under the doctrine of necessary implication, the additional jurisdiction bestowed by the last paragraph of Section 4, Article VII of the Constitution to decide presidential and vice-presidential elections contests includes the means necessary to carry it into effect.
  2. No. The traditional grant of judicial power is found in Section 1, Article VIII of the Constitution which provides that the power “shall be vested in one Supreme Court and in such lower courts as may be established by law.” The set up embodied in the Constitution and statutes characterize the resolution of electoral contests as essentially an exercise of judicial power. When the Supreme Court, as PET, resolves a presidential or vice-presidential election contest, it performs what is essentially a judicial power.

The COMELEC, HRET and SET are not, strictly and literally speaking, courts of law. Although not courts of law, they are, nonetheless, empowered to resolve election contests which involve, in essence, an exercise of judicial power, because of the explicit constitutional empowerment found in Section 2(2), Article IX-C (for the COMELEC) and Section 17, Article VI (for the Senate and House Electoral Tribunals) of the Constitution.

Mendoza vs Comelec, GR 188308, October 15, 2009

(Admin Law, Comelec, quasi-judicial power)

Facts: Petitioner Mendoza asserts that the COMELEC, exercising judicial power, conducted proceedings in the election contest within SET premises for the gubernatorial position of the Province of Bulacan, between him and the respondent Pagdanganan, without due regard to his fundamental due process rights of notice and participation.

The COMELEC, claims that its decision-making deliberations are internal, confidential and do not require notice to and the participation of the contending parties.

Issue: Whether or not COMELEC has judicial power.

Held: No. Judicial power in our country is vested in one Supreme Court and in such lower courts as may be established by law.

The COMELECs adjudicative function is quasi-judicial since it is a constitutional body, other than a court, vested with authority to decide election contests, and in the course of the exercise of its jurisdiction, to hold hearings and exercise discretion of a judicial nature; it receives evidence, ascertain the facts from these submissions, determine the law and the legal rights of the parties, and on the basis of all these decides on the merits of the case and renders judgment. Despite the exercise of discretion that is essentially judicial in character, particularly with respect to election contests, COMELEC is not a tribunal within the judicial branch of government and is not a court exercising judicial power in the constitutional sense; hence, its adjudicative function, exercised as it is in the course of administration and enforcement, is quasi-judicial.

Under these terms, the COMELEC under our governmental structure is a constitutional administrative agency and its powers are essentially executive in nature (i.e., to enforce and administer election laws),  quasi-judicial (to exercise original jurisdiction over election contests of regional, provincial and city officials and appellate jurisdiction over election contests of other lower ranking officials), and quasi-legislative (rulemaking on all questions affecting elections and the promulgation of its rules of procedure).

 

Odchigue-Bondoc vs Tan Tiong Bio, GR 186652, October 6, 2010

(Admin Law, DOJ Secretary, Prosecutor, Quasi-judicial power)

Facts: Respondent filed a complaint for estafa against Fil-Estate officials including its Corporate Secretary, herein respondent. Petitioner denies the allegations.

The DOJ, by resolution signed by the Chief State Prosecutor for the Secretary of Justice, motu proprio dismissed the petition on finding that there was no showing of any reversible error.

The CA set aside the DOJ Secretary’s resolution holding that it committed grave abuse of discretion in issuing its Resolution dismissing respondent’s petition for review without therein expressing clearly and distinctly the facts on which the dismissal was based, in violation of Sec. 14, Art. VIII of the Constitution (No decision shall be rendered by any court without expressing therein clearly and distinctly the facts and the law on which it is based).

Petitioner asserts in this present petition for review on certiorari that the requirement in Sec. 14, Art. VIII of the Constitution applies only to decisions of “courts of justice”, and it does not extend to decisions or rulings of executive departments such as the DOJ.

Respondent counters that the constitutional requirement is not limited to courts as it extends to quasi-judicial and administrative bodies, as well as to preliminary investigations conducted by these tribunals.

Issue:

  1. Whether or not a prosecutor exercises quasi-judicial power.
  2. Whether or not the DOJ Secretary exercises quasi-judicial power.

Held:

  1. No. A prosecutor does not exercise adjudication or rule-making powers. A preliminary investigation is not a quasi-judicial proceeding, but is merely inquisitorial since the prosecutor does not determine the guilt of innocence of the accused. While the prosecutor makes the determination whether a crime has been committed and whether there is probable cause, he cannot be said to be acting as a quasi-court, for it is the courts, ultimately, that pass judgment on the accused.
  2. No. The Secretary of Justice in reviewing a prosecutor’s order or resolution via appeal or petition for review cannot be considered a quasi-judicial proceeding since the DOJ is not a quasi-judicial body. Sec 14, Art. VIII of the Constitution does not thus extend to resolutions issued by the DOJ Secretary.