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Apolega v. Hizon [G.R. No. L-23832. September 28, 1968]

28 Aug

FACTS

Melanio Hizon filed a notice of claim for compensation with Regional Office No. 5, Department of Labor, San Pablo City, for injury sustained by him, while under the employ of Proceso Apolega, now petitioner. Regional Administrator issued an award requiring petitioner to pay the claimant for medical expenses, compensation benefits and fee. Later, Hizon died from complication resulting from the injury suffered in the aforesaid accident and the following year his widow in her own behalf and as guardian ad litem of their minor children, filed a death compensation claim with the same office. The claims were both uncontroverted. After the case have been decided in favor of Mrs. Hizon and her children, the Regional Office issued a writ of execution against the properties of the petitioner, pursuant to Section 51 of the Workmen’s Compensation Act as amended by Section 17 of Republic Act 4119. Petitioner contends that the Commission or the duly deputized officials in the Regional Offices of the Department of Labor have no authority to issue writs of execution, and questions the constitutionality of Section 17, Republic Act 4119, which amended Section 51 of the Workmen’s Compensation Act and vests such authority in the Commission and its duly deputized officials.

ISSUE

Whether or not Section 17 of Republic Act 4119 is unconstitutional on the ground that power to enforce a final award made under the Workmen’s Compensation Act was vested “in any court of record in the jurisdiction of which the accident occurred” (Section 51, Act 3428).

RULING

The power to enforce awards under the Workmen’s Compensation Act is expressly vested in the Commission or the duly deputized officials in the Regional Offices of the Department of Labor (R.A. 4119). This grant of power does not contravene the Constitution. Execution is a necessary step in the enforcement of the award, and while it is procedural in nature and therefore essentially falls within the rule-making power of this Court, it may be legislated upon by Congress under its constitutional authority to “repeal, alter or supplement the rules concerning pleading, practice and procedure …” (Section 13, Article VIII, Constitution of the Philippines). In the law under consideration, the legislative intent to vest in the Commission the power to enforce its awards is clear, in contrast of Republic Act 997 which did not authorize the Reorganization Commission to transfer such judicial power from the courts of justice to the officials appointed or offices. In one case (Lo Chi, et al. vs. De Leon, et al., L-18584, January 30, 1967), where the Regional Administrator issued a writ of execution to enforce a compensation award, the Supreme Court held that “inasmuch as the writ of execution was issued by Regional Administrator De Leon on December 2, 1960, before the effectivity of Republic Act 4119, the said writ is therefore null and void,” thus impliedly upholding the constitutionality of Republic Act 4119.

 

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