Case Brief: MWSS vs Ombudsman

G.R. No. 109113    January 25, 1995

CONCERNED OFFICIALS OF THE METROPOLITAN WATERWORKS AND SEWERAGE SYSTEM (MWSS), petitioners, 

vs.

HON. OMBUDSMAN CONRADO M. VASQUEZ AND MEMBERS OF THE PHILIPPINE LARGE DIAMETER PRESSURE PIPE MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION (PLDPPMA), respondents.

Facts:

Private respondent Philippine Large Diameter Pressure Pipes Manufacturer’s Association (PLDPPMA) filed a complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman on the public bidding conducted by MWSS for projects APM-01 and APM-02 of its Angat Water Supply Optimization Project (AWSOP), which aims to provide 1.3 million liters of water daily to about 3.8 million residents in the metropolitan area.  The  letter of complaint accused the MWSS of an apparent plan even before the bidding to favour suppliers of fiberglass pipes and urged the Ombudsman to conduct an investigation to hold in abeyance the award of contracts.

The Fact finding and Intelligence Bureau of the Office of the Ombudsman issued an injunction directed to the Board of Trustees of the MWSS  (1) to set aside the recommendation of its Pre-qualification, Bids, and Awards Committee for Construction Services and Technical Equipment (PBAC-CSTE) that contract no. APM-01 be given to a contractor offering fiberglass pipes  and (2) to instead award the contract to a complying and responsive bidder.

Petitioner MWSS assailed the order of the Ombudsman for lack of jurisdiction of the Ombudsman over  PLDPPMA’s complaint and for issuing the challenged order contrary to PD 1818 prohibiting the issuance of restraining orders/injunctions in cases involving government infrastructure projects.

Issue:    

Whether or not the Ombudsman has jurisdiction over PLDPPMA’s complaint and has the power to issue orders directing the Board of Trustees of the MWSS to set aside the recommendation of PBAC-CSTE and to instead award the contract to a complying and responsive bidder.

Held:   

No.  While recognizing the investigatory and public assistance duties of the Ombudsman, the assailed orders were an undue interference in the adjudicatory responsibility of the MWSS Board of Trustees rather than a mere directive requiring the proper observance of and compliance with the law.  The Fact finding and Intelligence Bureau of the Office of the Ombudsman reveals a predisposition against the use of fiberglass pipes, a technical, rather than a legal matter.

As a GOCC, MWSS is charged with the construction, maintenance, and operation of waterwork system to insure uninterrupted and adequate supply and distribution of potable water. Therefore, it is the agency that should be in the best position to evaluate the feasibility of the projections of the bidders and to decide which bid is compatible with its development plans.     The exercise of this discretion to reject a bid and to award contracts, which is a purely technical matter, is vested in the MWSS entrusted with such function that even courts or the Ombudsman cannot unduly interfere from. 

Advertisements

Case Brief: American Tobacco Company, et. al. vs Director of Patents

G.R. No. L-26803 .  October 14, 1975

AMERICAN TOBACCO COMPANY, CARNATION COMPANY, CURTISS CANDY COMPANY, CUDAHY PACKING CO., CLUETT, PEABODY & CO., INC., CANNON MILLS COMPANY, FORMICA CORPORATION, GENERAL MOTORS CORPORATION, INTERNATIONAL LATEX CORPORATION, KAYSER-ROTH CORPORATION, M and R DIETETIC LABORATORIES, INC., OLIN MATHIESON, PARFUM CIRO, INC., PROCTER and GAMBLE COMPANY, PROCTER and GAMBLE PHILIPPINE MANUFACTURING CORPORATION, PARFUMS PORVIL DENTRIFICES DU DOCTEUR PIERRE REUNIS SOCIETE ANONYME, R.J. REYNOLDS TOBACCO COMPANY, SWIFT AND COMPANY, STERLING PRODUCTS INTERNATIONAL, THE CLOROX COMPANY, WARNER LAMBERT PHARMACEUTICALS COMPANY and ZENITH RADIO CORPORATION, petitioners,

vs.

THE DIRECTOR OF PATENTS, ATTYS. AMANDO L. MARQUEZ, TEOFILO P. VELASCO, RUSTICO A. CASIA and HECTOR D. BUENALUZ, respondents.

FACTS:

Petitioners are parties to various “inter partes” cases before the Philippine Patent Office.

Under the Trademark Law (R.A. No. 166), the Director of Patents have original jurisdiction over “inter partes” proceedings. This Rule, however, was subsequently amended by the Director of Patents, with the Approval of the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce, authorizing any ranking official designated by the Director of said office to hear “inter partes” proceedings.

In accordance with the amended Rule, the Director of Patents delegated the hearing of petitioners’ cases to hearing officers Attys. Amando Marquez, Teofilo Velasco, Rustico Casia and Hector Buenaluz, the other respondents herein.

Petitioners filed their objections to the Authority of the hearing officers to hear their cases, alleging that the amendment of Rule is illegal and void because under the law, the Director must personally hear and decide “inter partes” cases. Said objections were overruled by the Director of Patents. Hence, this petition.

ISSUE:

Whether the designation of hearing offices other than the Director of Patents is a violation of due process.

HELD:

No. The Supreme Court ruled that the power to decide resides solely in the administrative agency vested by law, this does not preclude a delegation of the power to hold a hearing on the basis of which the decision of the administrative agency will be made.

The rule that requires an administrative officer to exercise his own judgment and discretion does not preclude him from utilizing, as a matter of practical administrative procedure, the aid of subordinates to investigate and report to him the facts, on the basis of which the officer makes his decisions.   It is sufficient that the judgment and discretion finally exercised are those of the officer authorized by law. Neither does due process of law nor the requirements of fair hearing require that the actual taking of testimony be before the same officer who will make the decision in the case. As long as a party is not deprived of his right to present his own case and submit evidence in support thereof, and the decision is supported by the evidence in the record, there is no question that the requirements of due process and fair trial are fully met.   In short, there is no abnegation of responsibility on the part of the officer concerned as the actual decision remains with and is made by said officer. It is, however, required that to “give the substance of a hearing, which is for the purpose of making determinations upon evidence the officer who makes the determinations must consider and appraise the evidence which justifies them.”

Case Brief: San Miguel Corporation and Andres vs. Secretary of Labor, NLRC, and Yanglay

G.R. No. L-39195   May 16, 1975

THE SAN MIGUEL CORPORATION and FRANCISCO ANDRES, petitioners, 

vs.

THE HONORABLE SECRETARY OF LABOR, NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION and GREGORIO YANGLAY, JR., respondents.

Facts:

Yanglay, a thirty-year old married man residing at Cavite City, after leaving the plant at three o’clock in the afternoon of April 22, 1972, was apprehended by Patrolman E. Reyes of the Manila Police Department outside the company compound. Yanglay was carrying a bagful of drugs.  He admitted that he was caught in possession of the said drugs which he had bought from his coworkers and which had been given to them free of charge so as to keep them in the “pink of health”.

At the investigation on June 27, Yanglay denied that he was trafficking illegally in drugs of the company. He said that he bought the drugs from his coworkers in the same way that some workers bought the rice rations of their coworkers.

On the basis of that investigation, Yanglay was dismissed on July 19, 1972.  At the meeting of the union and management panels on September 22, 1972 to thresh out Yanglay’s grievance, the union representative contended that there was no company rule against trafficking in drugs, which were no longer owned by the company after having been issued to its workers, and that the sale of the drugs was like the sale of rice rations which sale was allegedly tolerated by the company officials. The union conceded that suspension should be the proper disciplinary action but not dismissal. Yanglay had been in the service of the company for nine years.

The management panel countered that it is evident that Yanglay’s dismissal was not due to union activities; that the sale of the drugs was a subversion of the company’s efforts to give medical benefits to its workers and that trafficking in rice rations cannot be cited as a justification because the value of the rice is reflected in the workers’ income tax returns.

On December 4, 1972 Yanglay filed a complaint with the NLRC alleging that there was no evidence to justify his dismissal, that the truth was that he owned the medicines in question and that he was dismissed because of his union activities as a “militant shop steward of the Ilaw at Buklod ng Manggagawa”, the union representing the workers of the corporation (NLRC Case No. MC-180).

The case was scheduled for mediation on January 10, 1973. The record does not show what transpired on that date. On January 12, 1973 the corporation filed a memorandum wherein it contended (1) that Yanglay’s case was outside the NLRC’s jurisdiction which extends only to disputes and grievances occurring after September 21, 1972; (2) that Yanglay’s dismissal was justified and (3) that, if the dismissal was not justified, his remedy was to ask for separation pay under the Termination Pay Law.  Yanglay did not submit any memorandum. On February 21, 1973 the mediator submitted a report wherein he concluded that Yanglay “was dismissed on a shaky ground” because the employer had not shown any violation of any company rule or regulation and that the persons to be penalized should be those who sold or delivered the drugs to Yanglay.

As such, the mediator recommended Yanglay’s reinstatement with backwages, and the NLRC adopted the same.

The San Miguel Corporation moved for the reconsideration of the decision on the ground that it was premature because section 14 of the NLRC’s Rules and Regulations requires that the mediator’s factfinding report be passed upon by an arbitrator. The motion was treated as an appeal by the Secretary of Labor. As already stated, he denied it in his resolution dated July 9, 1974. Thereafter, the company, instituted this certiorari proceeding.

Yanglay raised a jurisdictional question which was not brought up by respondent public officials. He contends that this Court has no jurisdiction to review the decisions of the NLRC and the Secretary of Labor “under the principle of separation of powers” and that judicial review is not provided for in Presidential Decree No. 21.

Issue:

Whether or not the Court has a jurisdiction over the decision of the NLRC and the Secretary of labor under the “Principle of Separation of powers” and judicial review is not provided under Presidential Decree 21 (Creating a National Labor Relations Commission)

Held:

The Court has jurisdiction over the case.

It is generally understood that as to administrative agencies exercising quasi-judicial or legislative power there is an underlying power in the courts to scrutinize the acts of such agencies on questions of law and jurisdiction even though no right of review is given by statute. The purpose of judicial review is to keep the administrative agency within its jurisdiction and protect substantial rights of parties affected by its decisions, It is part of the system of checks and balances which restricts the separation of powers and forestalls arbitrary and unjust adjudications.

Judicial review is proper in case of lack of jurisdiction, grave abuse of discretion, error of law, fraud or collusion.

The courts may declare an action or resolution of an administrative authority to be illegal (1) because it violates or fails to comply with some mandatory provision of the law or (2) because it is corrupt, arbitrary or capricious.

Issue:

Whether or not Yanglay’s dismissal is proper.

Held:

No.  Yanglay’s dismissal is not proper.

That was the first time he was caught trafficking in company-supplied drugs. He confessed that necessity forced him to buy the drugs. He promised not to do it again. His impression was that, like the rice rations whose sale was tolerated by the company officials, he could engage in the buy-and-sell of the drugs. He argued that his co-workers, who gave or sold to him the drugs, were equally culpable in sabotaging the company’s practice of rendering free medical assistance to its employees.

The misconduct of employees or workers in misrepresenting to the company that they needed medicines when in fact their purpose was to sell the same should not be tolerated. For such misrepresentations or deceptions, appropriate disciplinary action should be taken against them. On the other hand, in view of the high cost of living and the difficulties of supporting a family it is not surprising that members of the wage-earning class would do anything possible to augment their small income.

Taking into account the circumstances of the case, particularly Yanglay’s initial attitude of confessing that his error was dictated by necessity and his promise not to repeat the same mistake, we are of the opinion that his dismissal was a drastic punishment. He should be reinstated but without back wages because the company acted in good faith in dismissing him.  He has been sufficiently penalized by the loss of his wages from July 19, 1972 up to this time.

Case Brief: Llamas vs. CA et. al.

G.R. No. 149588 August 16, 2010
FRANCISCO R. LLAMAS and CARMELITA C. LLAMAS, Petitioners,
vs.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, BRANCH 66 OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT IN MAKATI CITY and THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondents.

FACTS:

Petitioners are assailing the decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati City convicting them of the offense “Other Forms of Swindling” punishable under Article 316, paragraph 2, of the Revised Penal Code (RPC).

The trial court found that the accused spouses, well-knowing that their parcel of land was mortgaged to the Bank, sold the said land to one Avila, falsely representing the same to be free from all liens and encumbrances whatsoever, and said Conrado P. Avila bought the aforementioned property. After trial on the merits, the RTC rendered its Decision, finding petitioners guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime charged.

On appeal, the Court of Appeals, affirmed the decision of the trial court, and subsequently denied the motion for reconsideration of the petitioners.

Assailing the aforesaid issuances of the appellate court, petitioners filed before the Supreme Court, their petition for review. The Court, however,denied the same for petitioners failure to state the material dates. Since it subsequently denied petitioners motion for reconsideration, the judgment of conviction became final and executory. Thereafter, apprehension of the spouses ensued through a warrant and only Carmelita was arrested.

In 2001, petitioner Francisco moved for the lifting or recall of the warrant of arrest, raising for the first time the issue that the trial court had no jurisdiction over the offense charged. There being no action taken by the trial court on the said motion, petitioners instituted,the instant proceedings for the annulment of the trial and the appellate courts decisions.

In 2009 decision of the Court, it held that, following the ruling in People v. Bitanga, the remedy of annulment of judgment cannot be availed of in criminal cases. The Court likewise rejected petitioners contention that the trial court had no jurisdiction over the case. However, the petitioners still seek another recourse to the Court for the reversal of the 2009 Decision and, consequently, the annulment of their conviction by the trial court.

ISSUE:

Whether the Llamas spouses may avail of the remedy of the annulment of judgment.

HELD:

Yes. The spouses can avail of the annulment of judgment.

In People v. Bitanga, the Court explained that the remedy of annulment of judgment cannot be availed of in criminal cases.

In the interest of justice and for humanitarian reasons, the Court deems it necessary to re-examine this case. xxx This Court has, on occasion, suspended the application of technical rules of procedure where matters of life, liberty, honor or property, among other instances, are at stake.  It has allowed some meritorious cases to proceed despite inherent procedural defects and lapses on the principle that rules of procedure are mere tools designed to facilitate the attainment of justice. The strict and rigid application of rules that tend to frustrate rather than promote substantial justice must always be avoided. It is far better and more prudent for the court to excuse a technical lapse and afford the parties a review of the case to attain the ends of justice, rather than dispose of the case on technicality and cause grave injustice to the parties.

SC noted that the case was allowed to run its course as a petition for certiorari, such that in its April 12, 2004 Resolution, it said “Considering the allegations, issues and arguments adduced in the petition for review on certiorari x x x.”

Likewise, in its February 10, 2003 Resolution, SC said, “It appearing that Atty. Francisco R. Llamas, in his own behalf and as counsel for petitioners, has failed to file their reply to the Solicitor Generals comment on the petition for review on certiorari within the extended period x x x.””

Thus, the SC, at the first instance, had recognized that the petition, although captioned differently, was indeed one for certiorari.

Since SC resolved to treat the petition as one for certiorari, the doctrine in People v. Bitanga no longer finds application in this case.

(As to the criminal aspect of the case, the court acquitted the petitioners on the ground that their guilt was not proven beyond reasonable doubt.)

 

Case Brief: Ang Tibay vs. CIR

G.R. No. L-46496  February 27, 1940

ANG TIBAY, represented by TORIBIO TEODORO, manager and propietor, and NATIONAL WORKERS BROTHERHOOD, petitioners,

vs.

THE COURT OF INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS and NATIONAL LABOR UNION, INC., respondents

Facts: 

The Solicitor General in behalf of the respondent Court of Industrial Relations has filed a motion for reconsideration wherein the court has considered the legal conclusions stated in Spanish language.

The respondent National Labor Union, Inc., on the other hand, prays for the vacation of the judgment of the majority of this court and remanded the case to the Court of Industrial Relations for new trial averring among other issues that Toribio Teodoro claimed that there was shortage of Ang Tibay leather shoes thus it made him necessary to lay off the members of the National Labor Union, Inc.

That the supposed lack of leather materials claimed by Toribio Teodoro was but a scheme to systematically prevent the forfeiture of this bond despite the breach of his contract with the Philippine Army.

That the employer Toribio Teodoro was guilty of unfair labor practice for discriminating against the National Labor Union, Inc. and unjustly favoring the National Workers’ Brotherhood.

Issue:

Whether or not the issues should be properly directed, resolved or determined by the Court of Industrial Relation.

Held:

Yes, The CIR is a special court whose functions are specifically stated in the law of its creation. It is more an administrative than part of the integrated judicial system of the nation. It is not intended to be a more receptive organ of the Government.

The CIR or any of its judges, therefore, must act on its or his own independent consideration of the law and facts of the controversy, and not simply accept the views of a subordinate in arriving at a decision.

The CIR should, in all controversial questions, render its decision in such a manner that the parties to the proceeding can know the various issues involved, and the reasons for the decision rendered. The performance of this duty is inseparable from the authority conferred upon it.

Accordingly, the motion for 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 w/ the requirements set forth herein above.

Case Brief: Drilon vs. Gaurana

G.R. No. L-35482 April 30, 1987

MANUEL DRILON, petitioner,

vs.

LUIS GAURANA and Honorable VALERIO ROVIRA, as Judge of the Court of First Instance of Iloilo, Branch IV, respondents.

 

Facts:

A parcel of agricultural land in Iloilo is covered by Free Patent No. 455943 in the name of Manuel Drilon, who was then issued Original Certificate of Title by the Register of Deeds.

In 1970, respondent Gaurana filed a case for annulment of free patent involving the same land, alleging that he purchased the land from Evangeline Gaurana, wife of the respondent. Gaurana filed another case for “Forcible Entry” in the same land, alleging that Drilon “by means of stealth, force, and strategy,” took possession of the south-east portion of the same land.

Drilon’s motion focused on two grounds: lack of jurisdiction, since the cause of action of respondent Luis Gaumna was one for recovery of ownership and possession of real property and not merely one of “forcible entry;” and (b) pendency of another action for the same cause. Both motions were dismissed, as “plaintiff did not split his cause of action and the alleged act of dispossession occurred subsequent to the filing of the complaint, and therefore, the only issue before him was the question of de facto possession.” Drilon was then declared in default by the court, and was ejected from the property.

Drilon then filed a motion, praying that the court had no jurisdiction to try the case of forcible entry), which was denied as well. Hence, the appeal.

 

Issues:

Whether or not the lower court erred in holding that there was no splitting of a single cause of action.

Whether or not the lower court was correct in dismissing the motions due to the pendency of another action between the same parties.

 

Held:

It is true that a party may not institute more than one suit for a single cause of action (Rule 2, Sec. 3, Revised Rules of Court) and if two or more complaints are brought for different parts of a single cause of action, the firing of the first may be pleaded in abatement of the other (Rule 2, Sec. 4. Revised Rules of Court). However, a forcible entry or unlawful detainer action has an entirely different subject from that of an action for reconveyance of title. What is involved in a forcible entry case is merely the issue of material possession or possession de facto; whereas in an action for reconveyance, ownership is the issue. So much so that the pendency of an action for reconveyance of title over the same property does not divest the city or municipal court of its jurisdiction to try the forcible entry or unlawful detainer case, nor preclude or bar execution of judgment in the ejectment case where the only issue involved is material possession or possession de facto.

It must be stated that the purpose of an action of forcible entry and detainer is that, regardless of the actual condition of the title to the property, the party in peaceable quiet possession shall not be turned out by strong hand, violence or terror. In affording this remedy of restitution the object of the statute is to prevent breaches of the peace and criminal disorder which would ensue from the withdrawal of the remedy, and the reasonable hope such withdrawal would create that some advantage must accrue to those persons who, believing themselves entitled to the possession of property, resort to force to gain possession rather than to some appropriate action in the courts to assert their claims. This is the philosophy at the foundation of all these actions of forcible entry and detainer which are designed to compel the party out of possession to respect and resort to the law alone to obtain what he claims is his.

With respect to the second assignment of error, while there may be Identity of parties and subject matter in the forcible entry case and Civil Case No. 8323, for annulment of free patent and/or reconveyance, the rights asserted and the relief prayed for in the said cases are not the same. In the former case, the legal right claimed is possession, while in the latter case, the legal right asserted is ownership. SC cannot assent to the proposition that the motion to dismiss the forcible entry case in view of the pendency of an action for quieting of title and recovery of possession of the same parcel of land since the causes of action in the two cases are distinct from each other.

Case Brief: Ramiscal vs. Sandiganbayan

G.R. Nos. 140576-99. December 13, 2004
JOSE S. RAMISCAL, JR., petitioner,
vs.
HONORABLE SANDIGANBAYAN (Fourth Division), ALBANO & ASSOCIATES and the ASSOCIATION OF GENERALS & FLAG OFFICERS, INC., respondents.

Facts:
Jose S. Ramiscal Jr., Julian Alzaga, Manuel Satuito, Elizabeth Liang and Jesus Garcia were charged with Malversation through Falsification of Public Documents before the Sandiganbayan. The Information alleged that Ramiscal, et. al. misappropriated and converted the amount of P250,318,200.00 for their personal use from the funds of AFP-RSBS.
Ramiscal filed with the Sandiganbayan an “Urgent Motion to Declare Nullity of Information and to Defer Issuance of Warrant of Arrest.” He argued, that the Sandiganbayan had no jurisdiction over the case because the AFP-RSBS is a private entity. The said Urgent Motion was later adopted by Alzaga and Satuito. The Urgent Motion was denied by the Sandiganbayan. Ramiscal, et. al. filed a Motion for Reconsideration. In a Resolution issued, the Sandiganbayan sustained Ramiscal, et. al.’s contention that the AFP-RSBS is a private entity. Hence, it reconsidered its earlier Resolution and ordered the dismissal of their criminal case. Upon denial of its Motion for Reconsideration, the prosecution filed the present special civil action for certiorari with the Supreme Court.

Issue:
Whether or not the AFP-RSBS is not a government entity.

Held:
No, the AFP-RSBS is a government entity. It was created by Presidential Decree 361. Its purpose and functions are akin to those of the GSIS and the SSS, as in fact it is the system that manages the retirement and pension funds of those in the military service. Members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police are expressly excluded from the coverage of The GSIS Act of 1997. Therefore, soldiers and military personnel, who are incidentally employees of the Government, rely on the administration of the AFP-RSBS for their retirement, pension and separation benefits. Its enabling law further mandates that the System shall be administered by the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines through an agency, group, committee or board, which may be created and organized by him and subject to such rules and regulations governing the same as he may, subject to the approval of the Secretary of National Defense, promulgate from time to time. Moreover, the investment of funds of the System shall be decided by the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines with the approval of the Secretary of National Defense. The funds of the AFP-RSBS, except for the initial seed money, come entirely from contributions and that no part thereof come from appropriations. While it may be true that there have been no appropriations for the contribution of funds to the AFP-RSBS, the Government is not precluded from later on adding to the funds in order to provide additional benefits to them. The above considerations indicate that the character and operations of the AFP-RSBS are imbued with public interest. As such, we hold that the same is a government entity and its funds are in the nature of public funds.