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Category Archives: Administrative Law

Peralta v. Civil Service Commission [G.R. No. 95832. August 10, 1992]

FACTS

Pursuant to Civil Service Act of 1959 (R.A. No. 2260) which conferred upon the Commissioner of Civil Service to prescribe, amend and enforce suitable rules and regulations for carrying into effect the provisions of this Civil Service Law, the Commission interpreted provisions of Republic Act No. 2625 amending the Revised Administrative Code and adopted a policy that when an employee who was on leave of absence without pay on a day before or on a day time immediately preceding a Saturday, Sunday or Holiday, he is also considered on leave of absence without pay on such Saturday, Sunday or Holiday. Petitioner Peralta, affected by the said policy, questioned the said administrative interpretation.

ISSUES

Whether or not the Civil Service Commission’s interpretative construction is:

  • (1) valid and constitutional.
  • (2) binding upon the courts.

RULING

  • (1) NO. The construction by the respondent Commission of R.A. 2625 is not in accordance with the legislative intent. R.A. 2625 specifically provides that government employees are entitled to leaves of absence with full pay exclusive of Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays. The law speaks of the granting of a right and the law does not provide for a distinction between those who have accumulated leave credits and those who have exhausted their leave credits in order to enjoy such right. Ubi lex non distinguit nec nos distinguere debemus.The fact remains that government employees, whether or not they have accumulated leave credits, are not required by law to work on Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays and thus they can not be declared absent on such non-working days. They cannot be or are not considered absent on non-working days; they cannot and should not be deprived of their salary corresponding to said non-working days just because they were absent without pay on the day immediately prior to, or after said non-working days. A different rule would constitute a deprivation of property without due process.
  • (2) NO. Administrative construction, is not necessarily binding upon the courts. Action of an administrative agency may be disturbed or set aside by the judicial department if there is an error of law, or abuse of power or lack of jurisdiction or grave abuse of discretion clearly conflicting with either the letter or the spirit of a legislative enactment. When an administrative or executive agency renders an opinion or issues a statement of policy, it merely interprets a pre-existing law; and the administrative interpretation of the law is at best advisory, for it is the courts that finally determine what the law means.

The general rule vis-a-vis legislation is that an unconstitutional act is not a law; it confers no rights; it imposes no duties; it affords no protection; it creates no office; it is in legal contemplation as inoperative as though it had never been passed.

But, as held in Chicot County Drainage District vs. Baxter State Bank:

. . . . It is quite clear, however, that such broad statements as to the effect of a determination of unconstitutionality must be taken with qualifications. The actual existence of a statute, prior to such determination is an operative fact and may have consequences which cannot always be ignored. The past cannot always be erased by a new judicial declaration. The effect of the subsequent ruling as to invalidity may have to be considered in various aspects — with respect to particular relations, individual and corporate; and particular conduct, private and official.

To allow all the affected government employees, similarly situated as petitioner herein, to claim their deducted salaries resulting from the past enforcement of the herein invalidated CSC policy, would cause quite a heavy financial burden on the national and local governments considering the length of time that such policy has been effective. Also, administrative and practical considerations must be taken into account if this ruling will have a strict restrospective application. The Court, in this connection, calls upon the respondent Commission and the Congress of the Philippines, if necessary, to handle this problem with justice and equity to all affected government employees.

 

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Victorias Milling Co. Inc. v. Social Security Commission [G.R. No. L-16704. March 17, 1962]

FACTS

The Social Security Commission issued its Circular No. 22 of the following tenor:

Effective November 1, 1958, all Employers in computing the premiums due the System, will take into consideration and include in the Employee’s remuneration all bonuses and overtime pay, as well as the cash value of other media of remuneration. All these will comprise the Employee’s remuneration or earnings, upon which the 3-1/2% and 2-1/2% contributions will be based, up to a maximum of P500 for any one month.

Upon receipt of a copy thereof, petitioner Victorias Milling Company, Inc., through counsel, wrote the Social Security Commission in effect protesting against the circular as contradictory to a previous Circular No. 7, expressly excluding overtime pay and bonus in the computation of the employers’ and employees’ respective monthly premium contributions, and submitting, “In order to assist your System in arriving at a proper interpretation of the term ‘compensation’ for the purposes of” such computation, their observations on Republic Act 1161 and its amendment and on the general interpretation of the words “compensation”, “remuneration” and “wages”. Counsel further questioned the validity of the circular for lack of authority on the part of the Social Security Commission to promulgate it without the approval of the President and for lack of publication in the Official Gazette.

ISSUE

Whether or not Circular No. 22 is a rule or regulation as contemplated in Section 4(a) of Republic Act 1161 empowering the Social Security Commission “to adopt, amend and repeal subject to the approval of the President such rules and regulations as may be necessary to carry out the provisions and purposes of this Act.”

 

RULING

No. The Commission’s Circular No. 22 is not a rule or regulation that needed the approval of the President and publication in the Official Gazette to be effective, but a mere administrative interpretation of the statute, a mere statement of general policy or opinion as to how the law should be construed. The Circular purports merely to advise employers-members of the System of what, in the light of the amendment of the law, they should include in determining the monthly compensation of their employees upon which the social security contributions should be based. The Circular neither needs approval from the President nor publication in the Official Gazette.

 

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

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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Joson v. Executive Secretary [G.R. No. 131255. May 20, 1998]

FACTS

Petitioner Governor Joson was filed a complaint before the Office of the President for barging violently into the session hall of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan in the company of armed men. The case was endorsed to the DILG. For failure to file an answer after three (3) extensions, petitioner was declared in default and ordered the petitioner 60-day preventive suspension. Petitioner later “Motion to Conduct Formal Investigation”. DILG denied the motion declaring that the submission of position papers substantially complies with the requirements of procedural due process in administrative proceedings. Later, the Executive Secretary, by authority of the President, adopted the findings and recommendation of the DILG Secretary.  The former imposed on petitioner the penalty of suspension from office for six (6) months without pay.

ISSUES

Whether or not:

  • (a) Preventive suspension is proper;
  • (b) Procedural due process is violated;
  • (c) The resolution of DILG Secretary is invalid on the ground of undue delegation; that it is the President who is the Disciplining Authority, not the Secretary of DILG;

RULING

“(a) Yes. Preventive suspension may be imposed by the Disciplining Authority at any time (a) after the issues are joined; (b) when the evidence of guilt is strong; and (c) given the gravity of the offense, there is great probability that the respondent, who continues to hold office, could influence the witnesses or pose a threat to the safety and integrity of the records and other evidence. The act of respondent in allegedly barging violently into the session hall of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan in the company of armed men constitutes grave misconduct.  The allegations of complainants are bolstered by the joint-affidavit of two (2) employees of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.  Respondent who is the chief executive of the province is in a position to influence the witnesses.  Further, the history of violent confrontational politics in the province dictates that extreme precautionary measures be taken.

“(b) Yes. The rejection of petitioner’s right to a formal investigation denied him procedural due process.  Section 5 of A. O. No. 23 provides that at the preliminary conference, the  Investigating Authority shall summon the parties to consider whether they desire a formal investigation.  This provision does not give the Investigating Authority the discretion to determine whether a formal investigation would be conducted.  The records show that petitioner filed a motion for formal investigation. There is nothing in the Local Government Code and its Implementing Rules and Regulations nor in A.O. No. 23 that provide that administrative cases against elective local officials can be decided on the basis of position papers.  A.O. No. 23 states that the Investigating Authority may require the parties to submit their respective memoranda but this is only after formal investigation and hearing.

“(c) No. The DILG resolution is valid. The President remains the Disciplining Authority.  What is delegated is the power to investigate, not the power to discipline. The power to discipline evidently includes the power to investigate.   As the Disciplining Authority, the President has the power derived from the Constitution itself to investigate complaints against local government officials.  A. O. No. 23, however, delegates the power to investigate to the DILG or a Special Investigating Committee, as may be constituted by the Disciplining Authority.  This is not undue delegation, contrary to petitioner Joson’s claim.

Under the doctrine of qualified political agency “…which recognizes the establishment of a single executive, all executive and administrative organizations are adjuncts of the Executive Department, the heads of the various executive departments are assistants and agents of the Chief Executive, and, except in cases where the Chief Executive is required by the Constitution or law to act in person or the exigencies of the situation demand that he act personally, the multifarious executive and administrative functions of the Chief Executive are performed by and through the executive departments, and the acts of the Secretaries of such departments, performed and promulgated in the regular course of business, are, unless disapproved or reprobated by the Chief Executive presumptively the acts of the Chief Executive.”

This doctrine is corollary to the control power of the President provided in the Constitution. Control is said to be the very heart of the power of the presidency. As head of the Executive Department, the President, however, may delegate some of his powers to the Cabinet members except when he is required by the Constitution to act in person or the exigencies of the situation demand that he acts personally. The members of Cabinet may act for and in behalf of the President in certain matters because the President cannot be expected to exercise his control (and supervisory) powers personally all the time.   Each head of a department is, and must be, the President’s alter ego in the matters of that department where the President is required by law to exercise authority.

 

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Padua v. Ranada [G.R. No. 141949. October 14, 2002]

FACTS

Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) issued Resolution No. 2001-89 authorizing provisional toll rate adjustments on Metro Manila Skyway. It was thereafter published in newspapers of general circulation for three (3) consecutive weeks. However, there was no hearing conducted for the matter. Deliberations were not even attended by Board Members except TRB Executive Director Jaime Dumlao, Jr. Petitioners assail the validity of the resolution.

ISSUES

Whether or not Resolution No. 2001-89 is invalid on the ground that:

  • (a) it was in violation of due process;
  • (b) the provisional toll rate adjustments are exorbitant, oppressive, onerous and unconscionable; and,
  • (c) TRB Executive Director Jaime Dumlao, Jr. alone authorized the provisional increase.

RULING

“(a) No. TRB clearly complied with the publication requirements. Also, the TRB may grant and issue ex-parte to any petitioner, without need of notice, publication or hearing, provisional authority to collect, pending hearing and decision on the merits of the petition, the increase in rates prayed for or such lesser amount as the TRB may in its discretion provisionally grant.

“(b) No. This is obviously a question of fact requiring knowledge of the formula used and the factors considered in determining the assailed rates.  Definitely, this task is within the province of the TRB. The SC takes cognizance of the wealth of jurisprudence on the doctrine of primary administrative jurisdiction and exhaustion of administrative remedies.  In this era of clogged court dockets, the need for specialized administrative boards or commissions with the special knowledge, experience and capability to hear and determine promptly disputes on technical matters or intricate questions of facts, subject to judicial review in case of grave abuse of discretion, is indispensable.  Between the power lodged in an administrative body and a court, the unmistakable trend is to refer it to the former.”

“(c) No. It is not true that it was TRB Executive Director Dumlao, Jr. alone who issued Resolution No. 2001-89.  The Resolution itself contains the signature of the four TRB Directors. Petitioner Padua would argue that while these Directors signed the Resolution, none of them personally attended the hearing.  This argument is misplaced. Under our jurisprudence, an administrative agency may employ other persons, such as a hearing officer, examiner or investigator, to receive evidence, conduct hearing and make reports, on the basis of which the agency shall render its decision.  Such a procedure is a practical necessity. Corollarily, in a catena of cases, the Supreme Court laid down the cardinal requirements of due process in administrative proceedings, one of which is that “the tribunal or body or any of its judges 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.”  Thus, it is logical to say that this mandate was rendered precisely to ensure that in cases where the hearing or reception of evidence is assigned to a subordinate, the body or agency shall not merely rely on his recommendation but instead shall personally weigh and assess the evidence which the said subordinate has gathered.”

 

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Fe Mah-Arevalo v. Mape [A.M. P-09-2622. April 07, 2009]

DOROTHY FE MAH-AREVALOcomplainant,
vs.
ELMER P. MAPE, Legal Researcher III, RTC Branch 17, respondent.

[A.M. P-09-2622. April 07, 2009]

FACTS:

Complainant accused respondent (to the Office of the Court Administrator or OCA) of gross ignorance of the law and incompetence relative to a Special Proceeding. The complainant faulted the respondent for issuing an entry of judgment and a certificate of finality certifying that the decision in the Special Proceeding Case became final and executory on the very same day the decision was rendered.  For this reason, the complainant prayed that the permanent appointment of respondent as Legal Researcher III be denied. Additionally, the complainant objected to the change of status of the respondent’s appointment from probationary to permanent on the following grounds: (1) Falsification of daily time record (DTR) – the respondent made it appear in his DTR that he was present when he was actually in Cebu City on that day; (2) Grave threats –the respondent threatened to kill the complainant and her family, taking out his .45 caliber gun and pointing it upwards; (3) Grave misconduct – the respondent is always seen in court with a .45 caliber gun, creating fear among the court employees. Respondent submitted his comment, disputing the charges against him. At the same time, he accused the complainant of dishonesty and malversation of court funds.  He claimed that the complainant’s grievances against him stemmed from his discovery of the shortage she incurred in the collection of Judiciary Development Fund and Special Allowance for the Judiciary.

ISSUES:

Political Law (Administrative Law)

(1)  Whether or not the respondent is liable of the charges against him.

(2)  Whether or not the complainant is liable of the counter-charges against her.

RULINGS:

Political Law (Administrative Law)

(1)  No. Complaint against respondent was dismissed. (1) On the falsification charges, the Judge concluded that there was no such falsification, the incident being a product of inadvertence as someone may have by accident punched his time card that day. The prior filing of Leave of Absence negates bad faith on the part of the respondent. The Court also concurred with the Judge’s finding that there was no evidence other than the complainant’s bare allegation, showing that the respondent committed the imputed acts of grave threats and grave misconduct. Finally, the Court found no basis exists to hold the respondent liable for gross ignorance of the law in immediately issuing an entry of judgment and certificate of finality in the Special Proceedings.

(2)  No, but complainant was admonished. There was insufficient evidence to support the charge of malversation against her, but found her liable for violation of confidentiality under Canon II, Sections 1, 2 and 3 of the of the Code of Conduct for Court Personnel. The violation occurred, according to the Judge, when the complainant, not being a party to Special Proceedings, or one authorized to do so, secured  copies of the decision, entry of judgment, and certificate of finality, and furnished these copies to the Office of the Solicitor General. The Court did not agree on these findings by the judge that there exists confidentiality. Even if the documents were to be considered as classified, the complainant still cannot be held liable for unauthorized disclosure of classified information under the Revised Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service, Rule IV, Section 52, B(23) which provides:

Disclosing or misusing confidential or classified information officially known to him by reason of his office and not made available to the public, to further his private interests or give undue advantage to anyone, or to prejudice the public interests.

There is none on the records any indication that the complainant made the disclosure “to further (his) private interests or give undue advantage to anyone, or to prejudice the public interests.”  The Office of the Solicitor General, too, to which the copies were sent, represented a party to the case and, hence, has the right to access these records.

At best, the complainant was only guilty of releasing information without observance of the internal procedures of the court, and for undertaking the dissemination of the copies of the documents disclosed without being the staff member authorized to do so. These infractions may have been the reasons for the Judge’s strong reaction to the release of documents by the complainant. To be sure, the complainant’s action must be discouraged. It cannot be accepted, however, that her act was grave or contemptuous, and that it should be classified as a less grave offense under Rule IV, Section 52, B(23)  of the Revised Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service.  The complainant’s lapse should merit only the warning that a repetition of the same or a similar offense in the future shall not go unpunished.

 

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