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[G.R. No. 131442.

July 10, 2003] DEVELOPMENT COORDINATOR WILHELMINA


BANGUS FRY FISHERFOLK DIWATA MAGBUHOS, ANGELITA LINESES, respondents.
BINAY, ELMA GARCIA, VIRGILIO PANGUIO, ARSENIO DECISION
CASTILLO, ARIEL PANGUIO, ANTONIO PANGUIO, CARPIO, J.:
ANTONIO BUNQUIN, GENEROSO BUNQUIN, CHARLIE The Case
DIMAYACYAC, RENATO PANGUIO, ATILANO BUNQUIN, This is a petition for review[1] of the Order[2] dated 7 November
CARLOS CHAVEZ, JUAN DIMAYACYAC, FILEMON 1997 of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 7 (Manila RTC),
BUNQUIN, MARIO MAGBUHOS, MAURO MAGBUHOS, dismissing petitioners complaint for lack of cause of action and lack of
NORA MAGBUHOS, JEOVILYN, GENALYN and JORVAN jurisdiction.
QUIMUEL, minors, represented by their parents The Facts
FELICIANA and SABINO QUIMUEL, MARICAR On 30 June 1997, Regional Executive Director Antonio G.
MAGBUHOS, minor, represented by her Principe (RED Principe) of Region IV, Department of Environment and
parents CARMELITA and ANTONIO MAGBUHOS, MARLO Natural Resources (DENR), issued an Environmental Clearance
BINAY, minor, represented by his parents EFRENITA and Certificate (ECC) in favor of respondent National Power Corporation
CHARLITO BINAY, and the BANGUS, BANGUS FRY and (NAPOCOR). The ECC authorized NAPOCOR to construct a
other MARINE LIFE OF MINOLO COVE, petitioners, temporary mooring facility in Minolo Cove, Sitio Minolo, Barangay San
vs. THE HONORABLE ENRICO LANZANAS as Judge of Isidro, Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro. The Sangguniang Bayan of
the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch VII, THE Puerto Galera has declared Minolo Cove, a mangrove area and
DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL breeding ground for bangus fry, an eco-tourist zone. [3]
RESOURCES Region IV, represented by its Regional The mooring facility would serve as the temporary docking site of
Executive Director and its Regional Director for NAPOCORs power barge, which, due to turbulent waters at its former
Environment, THE NATIONAL POWER CORPORATION, mooring site in Calapan, Oriental Mindoro, required relocation to a
ORIENTAL MINDORO ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE, safer site like Minolo Cove. The 14.4 megawatts power barge would
PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT OF ORIENTAL MINDORO, provide the main source of power for the entire province of Oriental
herein represented by GOVERNOR RODOLFO VALENCIA, Mindoro pending the construction of a land-based power plant in
PUERTO GALERA MAYOR GREGORIO DELGADO, VICE Calapan, Oriental Mindoro. The ECC for the mooring facility was valid
MAYOR ARISTEO ATIENZA, and MEMBERS OF THE for two years counted from its date of issuance or until 30 June 1999. [4]
SANGGUNIANG BAYAN OF PUERTO GALERA, JUAN Petitioners, claiming to be fisherfolks from Minolo, San Isidro,
ASCAN, JR., RAFAEL ROMEY, CENON SALCEDO, JERRY Puerto Galera,[5] sought reconsideration of the ECC issuance. RED
DALISAY, SIMON BALITAAN, RENATO CATAQUIS, Principe, however, denied petitioners plea on 15 July 1997. On 21 July
MARCELINO BANAAG, DANIEL ENRIQUEZ, AMELYN 1997, petitioners filed a complaint with the Regional Trial Court of
MARCO, GABRIEL ILAGAN, MUNICIPAL ENGINEER Manila, Branch 7, for the cancellation of the ECC and for the issuance
RODEL RUBIO, and MUNICIPAL PLANNING and of a writ of injunction to stop the construction of the mooring facility.
Impleaded as defendants were the following: (1) NAPOCOR, (2) RED

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Principe, (3) DENR Region IV Technical Director for Environment Aftercarefulevaluationandanalysis,thisCourtfindstheMotiontoDismiss
Oscar Dominguez, (4) Oriental Mindoro Electric Cooperative tenableandmeritorious.
(ORMECO), which is engaged in the distribution of electricity in Petitionershaveclearlyfailedtoexhaustalladministrativeremediesbefore
Oriental Mindoro, and (5) certain officials of Puerto Galera. takingthislegalactioninCourtxxx.
[6]
Petitioners subsequently amended their complaint to include as ItisxxxworthmentioningthatthedecisionoftheRegionalDirectormay
additional defendants the elective officials of Oriental Mindoro stillbexxxelevatedtotheOfficeoftheSecretaryoftheDENRtofully
represented by then Governor Rodolfo G. Valencia. Petitioners further complywiththeprocessofexhaustionofadministrativeremedies.Andwell
prayed for the demolition of mooring structures that respondents had settledistheruleinourjurisdictionthatbeforebringinganactioninor
already built. resortingtotheCourtsofJustice,allremediesofadministrativecharacter
On 28 July 1997, prior to the filing of the amended complaint, the affectingordeterminativeofthecontroversyatthatlevelshouldfirstbe
trial court issued a 20-day temporary restraining order enjoining the
exhaustedbytheaggrievedparty(Pestanasvs.Dyogi,L25786,February27,
construction of the mooring facility. However, the trial court lifted the
1978).Andpetitionersfailuretoexhaustadministrativeremediesrendershis
same on 6 August 1997 on NAPOCORs manifestation that the
[sic]petitiondismissible(Chiavs.ActingCollectorofCustoms,177SCRA
provincial government of Oriental Mindoro was the one undertaking the
construction of the mooring facility.[7] 755).Andadismissalonthegroundoffailuretoexhaustadministrative
On 28 August 1997, before filing their answers, respondents remediesistantamounttoadismissalbasedonlackofcauseofaction
ORMECO and the provincial officials of Oriental Mindoro moved to (Baguirovs.Basa,Jr.,214SCRA437;Pinedavs.CFIofDavao,111Phil.
dismiss the complaint. These respondents claimed that petitioners 643;Sarabiavs.SecretaryofAgriculture&NaturalResources,L16002,May
failed to exhaust administrative remedies, rendering the complaint 23,1961;Gone,etal.vs.DistrictEngineer,et.al.,L22782,August29,1975;
without cause of action. They also asserted that the Manila RTC has AbeAbe,etal.vs.Manta,et.al.,L4827,May31,1979)althoughitdoesnot
no jurisdiction to enjoin the construction of the mooring facility in affectthejurisdictionofthecourtoverthesubjectmatter(Mun.ofLa
Oriental Mindoro, which lies outside the Manila RTCs territorial Trinidad,etal.vs.CFIofBaguioBenguet,etal.,L33889,June28,1983).
jurisdiction. Moreover,thisCourtfindstheOppositionofthePetitionershighlyuntenable
Petitioners opposed the motion on the ground that there was no andbereftofmeritsthatthecontrovertedactinquestionispatentlyillegaland
need to exhaust administrative remedies. They argued that the therewasanimmediateneedforjudicialintervention.
issuance of the ECC was in patent violation of Presidential Decree No. TheECCinquestionwasissuedbytheRegionalOfficeoftheDENRwhich
1605,[8] Sections 26 and 27 of Republic Act No. 7160, [9] and the hasjurisdictionandauthorityoverthesamexxx.Andcorollarytothis,the
provisions of DENR Department Administrative Order No. 96-37 (DAO issueastowhetherornottheMinoloCoveiswithintheenclosedcovesand
96-37) on the documentation of ECC applications. Petitioners also watersembracedbyPuertoGalerabayandprotectedbyMedioislandisa
claimed that the implementation of the ECC was in patent violation of clearquestionoffactwhichtheDENRmayappropriatelyresolvebefore
its terms. resortingto[the]Court[s].
In its order of 7 November 1997, the trial court granted the motion ThisCourtislikewiseawareandcognizantofitsterritorialjurisdictioninthe
and dismissed petitioners complaint.
enforcementofWritofInjunction.Thattruly,[a]writofinjunctioncanonly
Hence, this petition.
beenforcedwithin[the]territorialjurisdictionofthisCourtbutnotforacts
The Ruling of the Trial Court
whicharebeingorabouttobecommittedoutsideitsterritorial
The trial courts order dismissing the complaint reads in part:
jurisdiction.Thus,inPhilippineNationalBankvs.Pineda,197SCRA1,the

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HonorableSupremeCourtruled:RegionalTrialCourtscanonlyenforcetheir The Issue
writsofinjunctionwithintheirrespectivedesignatedterritories.Furthermore, The issue is whether the trial court erred in dismissing petitioners
wefindtheissuanceofthepreliminaryinjunctiondirectedagainstthe complaint for lack of cause of action and lack of jurisdiction.
ProvincialSheriffofNegrosOccidentalajurisdictionalpaux[sic]pas(from The Ruling of the Court
BlackDictionarymeansjurisdictionalfalsity)astheCourtsofFirstInstance The petition has no merit.
nowRegionalTrialCourt[s],canonlyenforcetheirwritsofinjunctionwithin Jurisdiction of the Manila RTC over the Case
theirrespectivedesignatedterritories. Jurisdiction over the subject matter of a case is conferred by
Andfinally,thisCourtisnotunmindfuloftherelevantandsquareapplication law. Such jurisdiction is determined by the allegations in the complaint,
inthecaseatbarofPresidentialDecreeNo.1818,ExecutiveOrderNo.380 irrespective of whether the plaintiff is entitled to all or some of the
datedNovember27,1989,andCircularNo.291oftheSupremeCourtthat reliefs sought.[11]
A perusal of the allegations in the complaint shows that petitioners
theNationalPowerCorporation(NPC)isapublicutility,createdunder
principal cause of action is the alleged illegality of the issuance of the
speciallegislation,engagedinthegenerationanddistributionofelectric
ECC. The violation of laws on environmental protection and on local
powerandenergy.ThemooringsiteofNPCinPuertoGalera,Oriental government participation in the implementation of environmentally
Mindoroisoneofitsinfrastructureprojectsfallingwithinthemantleof critical projects is an issue that involves the validity of NAPOCORs
ExecutiveOrderNo.380,November27,1989xxx. ECC. If the ECC is void, then as a necessary consequence,
AndasheldbytheSupremeCourtinthecaseofNationalPowerCorporation NAPOCOR or the provincial government of Oriental Mindoro could not
vs.HonorableAbrahamP.Vera,etal.,170SCRA721,courtsarewithout construct the mooring facility. The subsidiary issue of non-compliance
jurisdictiontoissueinjunctivewritsagainst[the]NationalPower with pertinent local ordinances in the construction of the mooring
Corporation.ThelatterenjoystheprotectivemantleofP.D.1818,(Circular facility becomes immaterial for purposes of granting petitioners main
No.291). prayer, which is the annulment of the ECC. Thus, if the court has
xxx jurisdiction to determine the validity of the issuance of the ECC, then it
Injunctioninthiscaseisnotamereancillary[sic]writbutthemainaction has jurisdiction to hear and decide petitioners complaint.
itselftogetherwiththeAnnulmentoftheEnvironmentalClearanceCertificate Petitioners complaint is one that is not capable of pecuniary
(ECC).Evenassumingarguendothatthecourt[can]annultheECChowcan estimation. It falls within the exclusive and original jurisdiction of the
thelatterenforcethesameagainsttheProvincialGovernmentofOriental Regional Trial Courts under Section 19(1) of Batas Pambansa Blg.
Mindorowhichwasimpleadedbythepetitionersasanecessarypartytogether 129, as amended by Republic Act No. 7691. The question of whether
withtheOrientalMindoroElectricCooperativeandthegovernmentofficials petitioners should file their complaint in the Regional Trial Court of
ofPuertoGalera,OrientalMindoro,whoseactsandfunctionsarebeing Manila or Oriental Mindoro then becomes a matter of venue, to be
performedoutsidetheterritorialjurisdictionofthiscourt?xxxIndisputably, determined by the residence of the parties.[12]
theinjunctionandannulmentofECCasprayedforinthepetitionare Petitioners main prayer is the annulment of the ECC. The
inseparablexxx. principal respondent, DENR Region IV, has its main office at the L & S
Building, Roxas Boulevard, Manila.Regional Executive Director
Theconclusion,therefore,isinescapablethatpetitionershavefailedto
Principe of the DENR Region IV, who issued the ECC, holds office
exhaustalltheavailableadministrativeremediesandthisCourthasno
there. Plainly, the principal respondent resides in Manila, which is
jurisdictiontoissuetheinjunctivewritprayedforintheAmended
within the territorial jurisdiction of the Manila RTC. Thus, petitioners
[Complaint].[10] filed their complaint in the proper venue.

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On the other hand, the jurisdiction of Regional Trial Courts to ECC prior to the projects operation. [19]NAPOCOR thus secured the
issue injunctive writs is limited to acts committed or about to be ECC because the mooring facility in Minolo Cove, while not an
committed within their judicial region.[13]Moreover, Presidential Decree environmentally critical project, is located within an environmentally
No. 1818 (PD No. 1818) prohibited [14] courts from issuing injunctive critical area under Presidential Proclamation No. 2146, issued on 14
writs against government infrastructure projects like the mooring facility December 1981.[20]
in the present case. Republic Act No. 8975 (RA No. 8975), which took The rules on administrative appeals from rulings of the DENR
effect on 26 November 2000, superseded PD No. 1818 and delineates Regional Directors on the implementation of PD No. 1586 are found in
more clearly the coverage of the prohibition, reserves the power to Article VI of DAO 96-37, which provides:
issue such writs exclusively with this Court, and provides penalties for SECTION1.0.AppealtotheOfficeoftheSecretary.Anypartyaggrievedby
its violation.[15] Obviously, neither the Manila RTC nor the Oriental thefinaldecisionoftheREDmay,within15daysfromreceiptofsuch
Mindoro RTC can issue an injunctive writ to stop the construction of the decision,fileanappealwiththeOfficeoftheSecretary.Thedecisionofthe
mooring facility. Only this Court can do so under PD No. 1818 and later Secretaryshallbeimmediatelyexecutory.
under RA No. 8975. Thus, the question of whether the Manila RTC has SECTION2.0.GroundsforAppeal.Thegroundsforappealshallbelimitedto
jurisdiction over the complaint considering that its injunctive writ is not graveabuseofdiscretionandseriouserrorsinthefindingsoffactwhich
enforceable in Oriental Mindoro is academic. wouldcausegraveorirreparableinjurytotheaggrievedparty.Frivolous
Clearly, the Manila RTC has jurisdiction to determine the validity appealsshallnotbecountenanced.
of the issuance of the ECC, although it could not issue an injunctive SECTION3.0.WhoMayAppeal.Theproponentoranystakeholder,including
writ against the DENR or NAPOCOR. However, since the construction
butnotlimitedto,theLGUsconcernedandaffectedcommunities,mayfilean
of the mooring facility could not proceed without a valid ECC, the
appeal.
validity of the ECC remains the determinative issue in resolving
The DENR Procedural Manual for DAO 96-37 explains these
petitioners complaint.
provisions thus:
Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies
FinaldecisionsoftheREDmaybeappealed.Thesedecisionsincludethose
The settled rule is before a party may seek the intervention of the
courts, he should first avail of all the means afforded by administrative relatingtotheissuanceornonissuanceofanECC,andtheimpositionoffines
processes. Hence, if a remedy within the administrative machinery is andpenalties.Byinference,thedecisionoftheSecretaryontheissuanceor
still available, with a procedure prescribed pursuant to law for an nonissuanceoftheECCmayalsobeappealedbasedonthisprovision.Resort
administrative officer to decide the controversy, a party should first tocourtspriortoavailingofthisremedywouldmaketheappellantsaction
exhaust such remedy before resorting to the courts. The premature dismissibleonthegroundofnonexhaustionofadministrativeremedies.
invocation of a courts intervention renders the complaint without cause Therighttoappealmustbeexercisedwithin15daysfromreceiptbythe
of action and dismissible on such ground.[16] aggrievedpartyofsuchdecision.Failuretofilesuchappealwithinthe
RED Principe of the DENR Region IV Office issued the ECC requisiteperiodwillresultinthefinalityoftheREDsorSecretarys
based on (1) Presidential Decree No. 1586 (PD No. 1586) and its decision(s),whichcannolongerbedisturbed.
implementing rules establishing the Environmental Impact Statement AnappealshallnotstaytheeffectivityoftheREDsdecision,unlessthe
System, (2) DAO 96-37[17] and (3) the Procedural Manual of DAO 96- Secretarydirectsotherwise.
37. Section 4[18] of PD No. 1586 requires a proponent of an Therighttoappealdoesnotpreventtheaggrievedpartyfromfirstresortingto
environmentally critical project, or a project located within an thefilingofamotionforreconsiderationwiththeRED,togivetheREDan
environmentally critical area as declared by the President, to secure an opportunitytoreevaluatehisdecision.(Emphasisadded)

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Instead of following the foregoing procedure, petitioners bypassed NAPOCOR claims that since Minolo Cove lies outside of Puerto
the DENR Secretary and immediately filed their complaint with the Galera Bay as protected by Medio Island, [24] PD No. 1605 does not
Manila RTC, depriving the DENR Secretary the opportunity to review apply to this case. However, petitioners assert that Minolo Cove is one
the decision of his subordinate, RED Principe. Under the Procedural of the enclosed coves of Puerto Galera[25] and thus protected under PD
Manual for DAO 96-37 and applicable jurisprudence, petitioners No. 1605. This is a question of fact that the DENR Secretary should
omission renders their complaint dismissible for lack of cause of action. have first resolved. In any event, there is no dispute that NAPOCOR
[21]
Consequently, the Manila RTC did not err in dismissing petitioners will use the mooring facility for its power barge that will supply 14.4
complaint for lack of cause of action. megawatts of electricity to the entire province of Oriental Mindoro,
On the Alleged Patent Illegality of the ECC including Puerto Galera. The mooring facility is obviously a
Petitioners nevertheless contend that they are exempt from filing government-owned public infrastructure intended to serve a basic need
an appeal with the DENR Secretary because the issuance of the ECC of the people of Oriental Mindoro. The mooring facility is not a
was in patent violation of existing laws and regulations. These are (1) commercial structure; commercial or semi-commercial wharf or
Section 1 of Presidential Decree No. 1605, as amended, (2) Sections commercial docking as contemplated in Section 1 of PD No.
26 and 27 of Republic Act No. 7160 (Local Government Code of 1991), 1605. Therefore, the issuance of the ECC does not violate PD No.
and (3) the provisions of DAO 96-37 on the documentary requirements 1605 which applies only to commercial structures like wharves,
for the zoning permit and social acceptability of the mooring facility. marinas, hotels and restaurants.
Petitioners contention is without merit. While the patent illegality of Sections 26 and 27 of RA No. 7160
an act exempts a party from complying with the rule on exhaustion of Congress introduced Sections 26 and 27 in the Local Government
administrative remedies,[22] this does not apply in the present case. Code to emphasize the legislative concern for the maintenance of a
Presidential Decree No. 1605 sound ecology and clean environment.[26] These provisions require
Presidential Decree No. 1605 (PD No. 1605), [23] as amended by every national government agency or government-owned
Presidential Decrees Nos. 1605-A and 1805, declares as ecologically and controlled corporation to hold prior consultations with the local
threatened zone the coves and waters embraced by Puerto Galera government unit concerned and to secure the prior approval of
Bay as protected by Medio Island. This decree provides in part: its sanggunian before implementing any project or program that may
Section1.Anyprovisionoflawtothecontrarynotwithstanding,the cause pollution, climatic change, depletion of non-renewable
constructionofmarinas,hotels,restaurants,othercommercialstructures; resources, loss of cropland, rangeland, or forest cover and extinction of
commercialorsemicommercialwharfs[sic];commercialdockingwithinthe animal or plant species. Sections 26 and 27 respectively provide:
enclosedcovesofPuertoGalera;thedestructionofitsmangrovestands;the Section26.DutyofNationalGovernmentAgenciesintheMaintenanceof
devastationofitscoralsandcoastlinebylargebarges,motorboats,tugboat EcologicalBalance.Itshallbethedutyofeverynationalagencyor
propellers,andanyformofdestructionbyotherhumanactivitiesarehereby governmentownedorcontrolledcorporationauthorizedorinvolvedinthe
prohibited. planningandimplementationofanyprojectorprogramthatmay
Section2.xxx causepollution,climaticchange,depletionofnonrenewableresources,loss
Nopermitfortheconstructionofanywharf,marina,hotel,restaurantsand ofcropland,rangeland,orforestcoverandextinctionofanimalorplant
othercommercialstructuresinPuertoGalerashallbeissuedwithoutprior species,toconsultwiththelocalgovernmentunits,nongovernmental
approvaloftheOfficeofthePresidentupontherecommendationofthe organizations,andothersectorsconcernedandexplainthegoalsand
PhilippineTourismAuthority.(Emphasissupplied) objectivesoftheprojectorprogram,itsimpactuponthepeopleandthe

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communityintermsofenvironmentalorecologicalbalance,andthemeasures Under DAO 96-37, an ECC applicant for a project located within
thatwillbeundertakentopreventorminimizetheadverseeffectsthereof. an environmentally critical area is required to submit an Initial
Section27.PriorConsultationsRequired.Noprojectorprogramshallbe Environment Examination, which must contain a brief description of the
implementedbygovernmentauthoritiesunlesstheconsultationsmentionedin environmental setting and a documentation of the consultative process
Sectionxxx26hereofarecompliedwith,andpriorapprovalofthe undertaken, when appropriate.[29] As part of the description of the
sanggunianconcernedisobtained:Provided,Thatoccupantsinareaswhere environmental setting, the ECC applicant must submit a certificate of
suchprojectsaretobeimplementedshallnotbeevictedunlessappropriate locational clearance or zoning certificate.
relocationsiteshavebeenprovided,inaccordancewiththeprovisionsofthe Petitioners further contend that NAPOCOR, in applying for the
Constitution. ECC, did not submit to the DENR Region IV Office the documents
proving the holding of consultations and the issuance of a locational
In Lina, Jr. v. Pao,[27] the Court interpreted these provisions in this
clearance or zoning certificate. Petitioners assert that this omission
manner:
Section27oftheCodeshouldbereadinconjunctionwithSection26thereof renders the issuance of the ECC patently illegal.
The contention is also without merit. While such documents are
xxx.
part of the submissions required from a project proponent, their mere
Thus,theprojectsandprogramsmentionedinSection27shouldbe
absence does not render the issuance of the ECC patently illegal. To
interpretedtomeanprojectsandprogramswhoseeffectsareamongthose justify non-exhaustion of administrative remedies due to the patent
enumeratedinSections26and27,towit,thosethat:(1)maycausepollution; illegality of the ECC, the public officer must have issued the ECC
(2)maybringaboutclimaticchange;(3)maycausethedepletionofnon [without any] semblance of compliance, or even an attempt to comply,
renewableresources;(4)mayresultinlossofcropland,rangeland,orforest with the pertinent laws; when manifestly, the officer has acted without
cover;(5)mayeradicatecertainanimalorplantspecies;and(6)otherprojects jurisdiction or has exceeded his jurisdiction, or has committed a grave
orprogramsthatmaycallfortheevictionofaparticulargroupofpeople abuse of discretion; or when his act is clearly and obviously devoid of
residinginthelocalitywherethesewillbeimplemented. any color of authority.[30]
Again, Sections 26 and 27 do not apply to this case because as RED Principe, as chief of DENR Region IV, is the officer duly
petitioners admit,[28] the mooring facility itself is not environmentally authorized under DAO 96-37[31] to issue ECCs for projects located
critical and hence does not belong to any of the six types of projects within environmentally critical areas.RED Principe issued the ECC on
mentioned in the law. There is no statutory requirement for the the recommendation of Amelia Supetran, the Director of the
concerned sanggunian to approve the construction of the mooring Environmental Management Bureau. Thus, RED Principe acted with
facility. It is another matter if the operation of the power barge is at full authority pursuant to DENR regulations. Moreover, the legal
issue. As an environmentally critical project that causes pollution, the presumption is that he acted with the requisite authority.[32] This clothes
operation of the power barge needs the prior approval of the RED Principes acts with presumptive validity and negates any claim
concerned sanggunian. However, what is before this Court is only the that his actions are patently illegal or that he gravely abused his
construction of the mooring facility, not the operation of the power discretion. While petitioners may present proof to the contrary, they
barge. Thus, the issuance of the ECC does not violate Sections 26 and must do so before the proper administrative forum before resorting to
27 of RA No. 7160. judicial remedies.
Documentary Requirements for On the Alleged Non-Compliance with the Terms of the ECC
ECC Applications Lastly, petitioners claim that they are justified in immediately
seeking judicial recourse because NAPOCOR is guilty of violating the

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conditions of the ECC, which requires it to secure a separate ECC for ANTONIO M. BERNARDO, ERNESTO A. DOMINGO, JR. and JESUS
the operation of the power barge. The ECC also mandates NAPOCOR C. CRUZ, petitioners, vs. BENJAMIN S. ABALOS, SR.,
to secure the usual local government permits, like zoning and building BENJAMIN "BENHUR" D. ABALOS, JR., DR. EDEN C.
permits, from the municipal government of Puerto Galera. DIAZ, ROMEO F. ZAPANTA, ARCADIO S. DE VERA and
The contention is similarly without merit. The fact that THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, respondents.
NAPOCORs ECC is subject to cancellation for non-compliance with its DECISION
conditions does not justify petitioners conduct in ignoring the procedure SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J.:
prescribed in DAO 96-37 on appeals from the decision of the DENR This is a petition for certiorari[1] seeking the nullification of Resolution
Executive Director. Petitioners vigorously insist that NAPOCOR should No. 98-3208 of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) En
comply with the requirements of consultation and locational clearance Banc promulgated on December 1, 1998 dismissing the complaint for vote
prescribed in DAO 96-37. Ironically, petitioners themselves refuse to buying filed by petitioners against respondents.
abide with the procedure for filing complaints and appealing decisions On April 21, 1998, petitioners Antonio M. Bernardo, Ernesto A.
laid down in DAO 96-37. Domingo, Jr. and Jesus C. Cruz filed with the COMELEC a criminal
DAO 96-37 provides for a separate administrative proceeding to complaint against respondents Benjamin S. Abalos, Sr., Benjamin C. Abalos,
address complaints for the cancellation of an ECC. Under Article IX of Jr., Dr. Eden C. Diaz, Romeo Zapanta and Arcadio de Vera for vote buying in
DAO 96-37, complaints to nullify an ECC must undergo an violation of Section 261, paragraphs (a), (b) and (j) of the Omnibus Election
administrative investigation, after which the hearing officer will submit Code (OEC), in relation to Section 28 of Republic Act 6646 and Section 68 of
his report to the EMB Director or the Regional Executive Director, who the OEC. The complaint, docketed as E.O. Case No. 98-110,[2] alleged that:
will then render his decision. The aggrieved party may file an appeal to 1.OnApril14,1998(Tuesday),respondentMandaluyongCityMayor
the DENR Secretary, who has authority to issue cease and desist BenjaminS.Abalos,Sr.,andhissonrespondentBenjamin"Benhur"C.
orders. Article IX also classifies the types of violations covered under Abalos,Jr.,candidateforCityMayorofthesamecityintheMay11,1998
DAO 96-37, including projects operating without an ECC or violating elections,conspiringwithrespondentsDr.EdenC.Diaz,SchoolsDivision
the conditions of the ECC. This is the applicable procedure to address Superintendent,RomeoF.Zapanta,AssistantSchoolsDivision
petitioners complaint on NAPOCORs alleged violations and not the Superintendent,andArcadiodeVera,President,MandaluyongFederationof
filing of the instant case in court. PublicSchoolTeachers,sponsored,arrangedandconductedanallexpense
A Final Word freetransportation,foodanddrinksaffairfortheMandaluyongCitypublic
The Court commends petitioners for their courageous efforts to schoolteachers,registeredvotersofsaidcity,attheTayabasBayBeach
safeguard and maintain the ecological balance of Minolo Cove. This Resort,Sariaya,QuezonProvince.
Court recognizes the utmost importance of protecting the environment.
[33] 2.Amongtheidentifiedpublicschoolteacherspresent,broughtinaround
Indeed, we have called for the vigorous prosecution of violators of
twelve(12)buses,wereCorazonMayoya,PrincipalofHighwayHills
environmental laws.[34] Legal actions to achieve this end, however,
ElementarySchool,herAssistantPrincipalandMr.DantedelRemigio;Mrs.
must be done in accordance with established rules of procedure that
were intended, in the first place, to achieve orderly and efficient Diaz,PrincipalofMandaluyongCityHighSchoolandMr.Alvia;Mrs.
administration of justice. Parillo,AndresBonifacioElementarySchool;Mrs.GregoriaIgnacio,
WHEREFORE, we DENY the petition for lack of merit. PrincipalofDoaPilarGonzagaElementarySchoolandMrs.Bolantes;Mrs.
SO ORDERED. Diaz,Principal,NuevedeFebreroElementarySchool;Ms.Magsalin,
[G.R. No. 137266. December 5, 2001] PrincipalofMandaluyongScienceHighSchoolandMrs.RitaBondayril;

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Mrs.DeVera,FabellaElementarySchool;Ms.Anselmo,PrincipalofIsaac On December 1, 1998, the COMELEC En Banc issued the assailed
LopezElementarySchoolandMrs.Fayton;Mrs.SylviaLiwanag,District Resolution No. 98-3208[6] dismissing the complaint "for insufficiency of
Supervisor,DistrictII,Mrs.Nalaonan,PrincipalofAmadoT.Reyes evidence to establish a prima facie case,"
ElementarySchool;Mrs.TeresitaVicencio,MandaluyongCityElementary Consideringthatthiscomplaint,beingcriminalinnature,musthaveallits
School;OfficersoftheMandaluyongFederationofPublicSchoolTeachers allegationssupportedbydirect,strong,convincingandindubitableevidence;
namely:Mrs.ErlindaIlagan,Treasurer;Ms.NancydeLeon,Auditor;Ms. andthatthesubmittedevidenceofthecomplainantaremereselfserving
FortunataGondran,PRO;Mr.NenitoPumariga,BusinessManager;Mr.Jose statementsanduncorroboratedaudioandvisualrecordingsandaphotograph;
Guerrero,Sgt.atarms;andBoardMembersMs.VirginiaCarillo,Ms.Wilma andconsideringfurtherthattheevidenceoftherespondentshavemore
Fernandez,Mr.ArturoMoralesandMr.TeddyAngeles. probativevalueandbelievablethantheevidenceofsaidcomplainants;and
3.Duringthewholedayaffair,thebackgroundmusicloudlyandrepeatedly thattheburdenofprooflieswiththecomplainantsandnotwiththe
playedoverthesoundsystemwasthepoliticaljingleadvertisementof respondents.[7]
MandaluyongCitycandidateforMayor,BenjaminBenhurAbalos,Jr.,sangto On February 09, 1999, petitioners, without first submitting a motion for
thetuneofthesongSHALALALALA. reconsideration, filed the instant petition with this Court.
4.SomeoftheparticipantsworeTshirtswiththenameofcandidateBenhur" They alleged therein that the COMELEC En Banc, in issuing Resolution
Abalos,Jr.,"printedinoversizedcoloredletters. No. 98-3208 dated December 1, 1998, acted "with apparent grave abuse of
5.MayorBenjaminAbalos,Sr.deliveredaspeechwhereinheofferedand discretion."[8]
promisedtheMandaluyongCitypublicschoolteachersandemployeesa The petition must fail.
hazardpayofP1,000.00,andincreasingtheirallowancesfromP1,500.00to Petitioners did not exhaust all the remedies available to them at the
COMELEC level. Specifically, they did not seek a reconsideration of the
P2,000.00forfood,orwithatotalofP3,000.00whichtheywillgetbytheend
assailed COMELEC En Banc Resolution as required by Section 1, Rule 13 of
ofthemonth.
the 1993 COMELEC Rules of Procedure, thus:
6.Theoffersandpromisestosaidpublicschoolteachers,whoaremembersof Section1.WhatPleadingsarenotAllowed.Thefollowingpleadingsarenot
theBoardofElectionInspectorsofMandaluyongCityandregisteredvoters allowed:
thereat,weremadeafewweeksbeforetheelectiontoinduceorunduly xxx
influencethesaidteachersandthepublicingeneral(theotherguests)tovote d)motionforreconsiderationofanenbancruling,resolution,orderor
forthecandidacyofBenjamin"Benhur"Abalos,Jr..
decisionexceptinelectionoffensecases;
7.TheoffersandpromisesofMayorAbalos,Sr.,andtheenthusiastic
xxx.(Emphasisours)
acceptanceofsaidmonetaryincreaseofallowancesbythepublicschool
It is not disputed that petitioners complaint before the COMELEC
teachersandemployeesofMandaluyongCity,isaviolationofSection261
involves an election offense. But in this petition, they conveniently kept silent
pars.(a),(b)and(j)oftheOmnibusElectionCodeagainstvotebuyingand
why they directly elevated to this Court the questioned Resolution without
voteselling.[3] first filing a motion for reconsideration with the COMELEC En Banc. It was
The Director[4] of the Law Department of the COMELEC conducted a only after the respondents had filed their comment on the petition and called
preliminary investigation. All the private respondents filed separate counter- this Courts attention to petitioners' failure to comply with Section 1 of Rule 13
affidavits[5] with prayer to dismiss the complaint. that they, in their Consolidated Reply, advanced the excuse that they "deemed
On November 26, 1998, the Director of the Law Department submitted it best not seek any further dilatorymotion for reconsideration', even if
his findings to the COMELEC En Banc recommending that the complaint be allowed by Sec. 1 (d) of COMELEC Rule 13."[9]
dismissed for insufficiency of evidence.

8
Petitioners' failure to file the required motion for reconsideration utterly Petitioners' complaint expressly states that no supporting affidavits were
disregarded the COMELEC Rules intended "to achieve submitted by the complaining witnesses [14] to sustain their charge of vote
an orderly, just, expeditious and inexpensivedetermination and disposition buying. Suffice it to state that the absence of such supporting affidavits shows
of every action and proceeding brought before the Commission."[10] the frailty of petitioners' complaint. Indeed, it is vulnerable to dismissal.
Contrary to petitioners' statement that a resort to a motion for WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DISMISSED.
reconsideration is "dilatory," it bears stressing that the purpose of the said SO ORDERED.
motion is to give the COMELEC an opportunity to correct the error imputed [G.R. No. 127139. February 19, 1999]
to it.[11] If the error is immediately corrected by way of a motion for JAIME C. LOPEZ, petitioner, vs. CITY OF MANILA and HON.
reconsideration, then it is the most expeditious and inexpensive recourse. But BENJAMIN A.G. VEGA, Presiding Judge, RTC, Manila, Branch
if the COMELEC refuses to correct a patently erroneous act, then it commits a 39, respondents.
grave abuse of discretion justifying a recourse by the aggrieved party to a DECISION
petition for certiorari. QUISUMBING, J.:
A petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil This petition for review on certiorari, assails the Order[1] of the Regional
Procedure, as amended, can only be resorted to if "there is no appeal, or any Trial Court of Manila, Branch 39, promulgated on October 24, 1996,
plain, speedy, and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of dismissing Civil Case No. 96-77510 which sought the declaration of nullity of
law."[12] Having failed to file the required motion for reconsideration of the City of Manila Ordinance No. 7894, filed by petitioner Jaime C. Lopez.
challenged Resolution, petitioners' instant petition is certainly premature. The facts as found by the trial court are as follows:
[13]
Significantly, they have not raised any plausible reason for their direct Section 219 of Republic Act 7160 (R.A. 7160) or the Local Government
recourse to this Court. Code of 1991 requires the conduct of the general revision of real property as
In its assailed Resolution, the COMELEC cited a valid reason for follows:
dismissing petitioners' complaint against private respondents for vote GeneralRevisionofAssessments[2]andPropertyClassificationThe
buying. The COMELEC found that the evidence of the respondents have provincial,cityormunicipalassessorshallundertakeageneralrevisionofreal
"more probative value and believable than the evidence of the complainants;" propertyassessmentswithintwo(2)yearsaftertheeffectivityofthisCode
and that the evidence submitted by petitioners are "mere self-serving andeverythree(3)yearsthereafter.
statements and uncorroborated audio and visual recording and a photograph." Although R.A. 7160 took effect on January 1, 1992, the revision of real
Moreover, Section 28 of Republic Act 6646 provides: property assessments prescribed therein was not yet enforced in the City of
SEC.28.ProsecutionofVotebuyingandVoteselling.Therepresentation Manila. However, the process of real property valuation had already been
ofacomplaintforviolationsofparagraph(a)or(b)ofSection261ofBatas started and done by the former city assessor.
PambansaBlg.881supportedbyaffidavitsofcomplainingwitnesses In 1992, the schedule of real property values in the city was prepared and
attestingtotheofferorpromisebyorofthevotersacceptanceofmoney submitted to the City Council of Manila, but for unknown reason, was not
orotherconsiderationfromtherelatives,leadersorsympathizersof acted upon. Nevertheless, despite the inaction of the City Council, there was a
candidate,shallbesufficientbasisforaninvestigationtobeimmediately continuous update of the fair market values of the real properties within the
city.
conductedbytheCommission,directlyorthroughitsdulyauthorizedlegal
Until the year 1995, the basis for collection of real estate taxes in the
officers,underSection68orSection265ofsaidBatasPambansaBlg.881.
City of Manila was the old, year-1979, real estate market values.
xxx.(Emphasisours) Mrs. Lourdes Laderas, the newly appointed City Assessor of Manila,
received Memorandum Circular No. 04-95 dated March 20, 1995, from the

9
Bureau of Local Government Finance, Department of Finance. This (580%). With respect to the improvement on petitioners property, the tax
memorandum relates to the failure of most of the cities and municipalities of increased by two hundred fifty percent (250%).
Metropolitan Manila, including the City of Manila, to conduct the general As a consequence of these increases, petitioner Jaime C. Lopez, filed on
revision of real property. For this purpose, Mrs. Laderas embarked in a March 18, 1996, a special proceeding for the declaration of nullity of the City
working dialogue with the Office of the City Mayor and the City Council for of Manila Ordinance No. 7894 with preliminary injunction and prayer for
the completion of the task. temporary restraining order (TRO). The petition alleged that Manila
After obtaining the necessary funds from the City Council, the City Ordinance No. 7894 appears to be unjust, excessive, oppressive or
Assessor began the process of general revision based on the updated fair confiscatory. The case was originally raffled to the Regional Trial Court of
market values of the real properties. Manila, Branch 5, which issued the TRO on April 10, 1996.
In the year 1995, the increase in valuation of real properties compared to On the same date, Manila Ordinance No. 7905[4] took effect, reducing by
the year-1979 market values ranges from 600% to 3,330%, but the City fifty percent (50%) the assessment levels[5] (depending on the use of property,
Assessors office initially fixed the general average of increase to e.g., residential, commercial) for the computation of tax due. The new
1,700%. Mrs. Laderas felt that the increase may have adverse reactions from ordinance amended the assessment levels provided by Section 74, [6] paragraph
the public, hence, she ended up reducing the increase in the valuation of real (A) of Manila Ordinance No. 7794.
properties to 1,020%. Moreover, Section 2 of Manila Ordinance No. 7905[7] provides that the
In September 1995, the City Assessors Office submitted the proposed amendment embodied therein shall take effect retroactively to January 1,
schedule of fair market values to the City Council for its appropriate 1996. The same provision indicates the maximum realty tax increases, as
action. The Council acting on the proposed schedule, conducted public follows:
hearings as required by law. The proposed ordinance was subjected to the Sec.2xxxProvided,however,thatthetaxincreaseonresidentiallandsand
regular process in the enactment of ordinances pursuant to the City Charter of improvementsshallinnocaseexceedbytwohundredpercent(200%)ofthe
Manila. The first reading was held on September 12, 1995, the second on taxleviedthereonincalendaryear1995andthetaxincreaseoncommercial
October 28, 1995, and the third on December 12, 1995. In between these andindustrialland,buildingsandotherstructuresshallnotexceedbythree
dates, public hearings on the general revision, which included the schedule of hundredpercent(300%)ofthetaximposedthereonincalendaryear1995;
values of real properties, were had, viz.; on September 28, 1995, October 5, 12 Providedfurther,thatthetaxonalllandsandimprovementsshallinnocase
and 19, 1995 and November 27 and 29, 1995. belowerthanthetaximposedthereonincalendaryear1995.
The proposed ordinance with the schedule of fair market values of real As a result, Manila Ordinance No. 7905 reduced the tax increase of
properties was published in the Manila Standard on October 28, 1995, and the petitioners residential land to one hundred fifty-five percent (155%), while the
Balita on November 1, 1995. On December 12, 1995, the City Council tax increase for residential improvement was eighty-two percent (82%).
enacted Manila Ordinance No. 7894, entitled: An Ordinance Prescribed as the The maximum tax increase on classified commercial estates is three
Revised Schedule of Fair Market Values of Real Properties of the City of hundred percent (300%) but the tax increase on commercial land was only,
Manila. The ordinance was approved by the City Mayor on December 27, two hundred eighty-eight percent (288%), and seventy-two percent (72%) on
1995, and made effective on Jan. 01, 1996. Thereafter, notices of the revised commercial portion of the improvement.
assessments were distributed to the real property owners of Manila pursuant to On April 12, 1996, respondent filed a motion for inhibition of the
Sec. 223 of R.A. 7160.[3] presiding judge of RTC, Branch 5, alleging that Judge Amelia Andrade had
With the implementation of Manila Ordinance No. 7894, the tax on the shown markedly indulgent attitude towards the petitioner. Hence, Judge
land owned by the petitioner was increased by five hundred eighty percent Andrade inhibited herself and directed the forwarding of the case record to the
Clerk of Court for its re-raffle to another branch of the court.

10
Despite the amendment brought about by Manila Ordinance No. 7905, I. DID THE RESPONDENT TRIAL COURT IN CIVIL CASE NO.
the controversy proceeded and the case was re-raffled to Branch 39 of the 96-77510 ERR IN HOLDING THAT THE PETITIONER
court which acted on the motions submitted by the parties for resolution, viz.: FAILED TO EXHAUST ALL ADMINISTRATIVE
1) application for preliminary injunction by the petitioner, and 2) motion to REMEDIES, AND THEREFORE, THE PETITION OUGHT
dismiss by the respondent. The reason relied upon by the City of Manila for TO BE DISMISSED? AND;
the dismissal of the petition was for failure of the petitioner to exhaust II. DID THE RESPONDENT COURT ERR IN FAILING TO
administrative remedies. CORRECTLY APPLY SECTIONS 212 AND 221 OF THE
On May 9, 1996, the court directed the issuance of a writ of injunction LOCAL GOVERNMENT CODE OF 1991?
and denied, in the meanwhile, the motion to dismiss by the respondent. The Petitioner contends that when the trial court ruled that it has jurisdiction
reason for the denial of the respondents motion to dismiss was not detailed to over the case, the question of whether he needs to resort to the exhaustion of
avoid a repetition of the unfortunate situation in RTC-Manila, Branch 5, administrative remedies becomes moot and academic. He claims that resort to
wherein the counsel for the respondent assumed bias on the part of Judge administrative remedies on constitutionality of law is merely permissive as
Andrade. provided by Sec. 187 of R.A. 7160, viz.:
On May 22, 1996, the respondent filed the instant motion for xxxProvided,further,Thatanyquestionontheconstitutionalityorlegality
reconsideration on the denial of its motion to dismiss. The movant-respondent oftaxordinancesorrevenuemeasuresmayberaisedonappealwithinthirty
aside from reiterating the basic ground alleged in its motion to dismiss (30)daysfromtheeffectivitythereoftotheSecretaryofJusticewhoshall
underscored the additional premise, which is the happening of a supervening renderadecisionwithinsixty(60)daysfromthedateofreceiptoftheappeal.
event, i.e., the enactment and approval of the City Mayor of Manila Ordinance xxx(emphasissupplied)
No. 7905. Petitioner further asserts that the question of the constitutionality of the
On October 24, 1996, the trial court granted the motion to dismiss filed city ordinance may be raised on appeal, either to the Secretary of Justice or
by the respondent. The dismissal order was justified by petitioners failure to the Regional Trial Court, both having concurrent jurisdiction over the case, in
exhaust the administrative remedies and that the petition had become moot accordance with Batas Pambansa Blg. 129. He states that at the time he
and academic when Manila Ordinance No. 7894 was repealed by Manila instituted this complaint, it was premature to resort to the remedies provided
Ordinance No. 7905. Notwithstanding, the trial court likewise resolved all by R.A. 7160 because he has not received the formal notice of assessment yet,
other interlocking issues. hence, he could not be expected to pay under protest and elevate the
The dispositive portion of the trial courts order is as follows: exorbitant assessment to the Board of Assessment Appeals.
WHEREFORE,findingthemotiondatedMay19,1996filedbytheherein On the other hand, respondent argues that the adjustment of the fair
respondentonMay22,1996sufficientlywelltaken,theorderdatedMay9, market values of real properties in the City of Manila was long overdue, being
1996isherebysetaside.Letthepetitionfiledbythehereinpetitioneron updated only after fifteen (15) years.According to the respondent, petitioner
March8,1996be,asitis,herebyDISMISSED.Theorderofpreliminary filed the case, merely to take advantage of the situation to gain political
injunctiondatedMay9,1996,isalsosetasideandthewritofinjunction mileage and help advance his mayoralty bid.
likewiseissuedpursuantthereto,dissolved. As a general rule, where the law provides for the remedies against the
SOORDERED.[8] action of an administrative board, body, or officer, relief to courts can be
The petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration, but it was denied for sought only after exhausting all remedies provided. The reason rests upon the
lack of merit. presumption that the administrative body, if given the chance to correct its
Hence, the petitioner now comes before this Court raising in his petition mistake or error, may amend its decision on a given matter and decide it
the following issues: properly. Therefore, where a remedy is available within the administrative

11
machinery, this should be resorted to before resort can be made to the courts, Therearehoweveranumberofinstanceswhenthedoctrinemaybedispensed
not only to give the administrative agency the opportunity to decide the matter withandjudicialactionvalidlyresortedtoimmediately.Amongthese
by itself correctly, but also to prevent unnecessary and premature resort to exceptionalcasesare:(1)whenthequestionraisedispurelylegal,(2)when
courts.[9] This rule, however, admits certain exceptions.[10] theadministrativebodyisinestoppel;(3)whentheactcomplainedofis
With regard to questions on the legality of a tax ordinance, the remedies patentlyillegal;(4)whenthereisurgentneedforjudicialintervention;(5)
available to the taxpayer are provided under Sections 187, 226, and 252 of whentheclaiminvolvedissmall;(6)whenirreparabledamagewillbe
R.A. 7160. suffered;(7)whenthereisnootherplain,speedyandadequateremedy;(8)
Section 187 of R.A. 7160 provides, that the taxpayer may question the whenstrongpublicinterestisinvolved;(9)whenthesubjectofcontroversyis
constitutionality or legality of tax ordinance on appeal within thirty (30) days privateland;and(10)inquowarrantoproceeding(citationomitted).
from effectivity thereof, to the Secretary of Justice. The petitioner after Inthecourtsopinion,however,theinstantpetitiondoesnotfallwithinanyof
finding that his assessment is unjust, confiscatory, or excessive, must have
theexceptionsabovementioned.xxx
brought the case before the Secretary of Justice for questions of legality or
xxxInstantpetitioninvolvesnotonlyquestionsoflawbutmoreimportantly
constitutionality of the city ordinance.
Under Section 226 of R.A. 7160, an owner of real property who is not thequestionsoffactswhichthereforeneededthereceptionofevidence
satisfied with the assessment of his property may, within sixty (60) days from contrarytothepositionoftherespondentbeforethehearingofitsmotionfor
notice of assessment, appeal to the Board of Assessment Appeals.[11] reconsideration
Should the taxpayer question the excessiveness of the amount of tax, he Now,onthesecondexceptionontheruleofexhaustionofadministrative
must first pay the amount due, in accordance with Section 252 of R.A. remedies,supra,thereisnoshowingthatadministrativebodies,viz.,The
7160. Then, he must request the annotation of the phrase paid under protest SecretaryofJustice,theCityTreasurer,BoardofAssessmentAppeals,and
and accordingly appeal to the Board of Assessment Appeals by filing a theCentralBoardofAssessmentAppealsareinestoppel.Onthethird
petition under oath together with copies of the tax declarations and affidavits exception,itdoesnotappearthatOrdinanceNo.7894ortheamendatory
or documents to support his appeal.[12] OrdinanceNo.7905arepatentlyillegal.Rethefourthexception,inthelight
The rule is well-settled that courts will not interfere in matters which are ofcircumstancesaspointedelsewhereherein,thematterdoesnotneeda
addressed to the sound discretion of government agencies entrusted with the compellingjudicialintervention.Onthefifthexception,theclaimofthe
regulations of activities coming under the special technical knowledge and petitionerisnotsmall.Rethesixthexception,thecourtdoesnotseeany
training of such agencies.[13] Furthermore, the crux of petitioners cause of irreparabledamagethatthepetitionerwillsufferifhehadpaidorwillpay
action is the determination of whether or not the tax is excessive, oppressive underprotestaspertheordinance.Hecouldalwaysaskforarefundofthe
or confiscatory. This issue is essentially a question of fact and thereby, excessamounthepaidunderprotestorbecreditedthereofifthe
precludes this Court from reviewing the same.[14] administrativebodiesmentionedinthelaw(R.A.7180[15])willfindthathis
We have carefully scrutinized the record of this case and we found no positionismeritorious.Retheseventhexception,thecourtisoftheopinion
cogent reason to depart from the findings made by the trial court on this thatadministrativereliefprovidedforinthelawareplain,speedyand
point. As correctly found by the trial court, the petition does not fall under any adequate.Ontheeightexception,whilethecontroversyinvolvespublic
of the exceptions to excuse compliance with the rule on exhaustion of
interest,judicialinterventionasthepetitionerwouldlikethiscourttodo
administrative remedies, to wit:
shouldbeavoidedasdemonstratedhereinbelowinthediscussionofthethird
Oneofthereasonsforthedoctrineofexhaustionistheseparationofpowers
issue.Theninthandtenthexceptionobviouslyarenotapplicableintheinstant
whichenjoinsuponthejudiciaryabecomingpolicyofnoninterferencewith
case.[16]
matterscomingprimarilywithinthecompetenceofotherdepartment.xxx

12
Proceeding to the second issue, petitioner contends that the respondent a)levyinganannualadvaloremtaxonrealpropertyandan
court failed to apply correctly Sections 212 and 221 of R.A. 7160. The additionaltaxaccruingtotheSEF.
pertinent provisions are set forth below: b)fixingtheassessmentlevelstobeappliedtothemarketvaluesof
Sec.212PreparationofScheduleofFairMarketValuesBeforeany realproperties;
generalrevisionofpropertyassessmentismadepursuanttotheprovisionsof c)providingnecessaryappropriationtodefrayexpensesincidentto
thisTitle,thereshallbepreparedascheduleoffairmarketvaluesbythe generalrevisionofrealpropertyassessments;and
provincial,cityandthemunicipalassessorsofthemunicipalitieswithinthe d)adoptingtheScheduleofFairMarketValuespreparedbythe
MetropolitanManilaAreaforthedifferentclassesofrealpropertysituatedin assessors.[17]
theirrespectivelocalgovernmentunits[LGU]forenactmentbyordinanceof The preparation of fair market values as a preliminary step in the
thesanggunianconcerned.Thescheduleoffairmarketvaluesshallbe conduct of general revision was set forth in Section 212 of R.A. 7160, to
publishedinanewspaperofgeneralcirculationintheprovince,cityor wit: (1) The city or municipal assessor shall prepare a schedule of fair market
municipalityconcerned,orintheabsencethereof,shallbepostedinthe values for the different classes of real property situated in their respective
provincialcapitol,cityormunicipalhallandintwootherconspicuouspublic Local Government Units for the enactment of an ordinance by the sanggunian
placestherein. concerned. (2) The schedule of fair market values shall be published in a
Sec.221.DateofEffectivityofAssessmentorReassessmentAll newspaper of general circulation in the province, city or municipality
assessmentsorreassessmentsmadeafterthefirst(1st)dayofJanuaryofany concerned or the posting in the provincial capitol or other places as required
yearshalltakeeffectonthefirst(1st)dayofJanuaryofthesucceeding by law.
year:Provided,however,Thatthereassessmentofrealpropertyduetoits It was clear from the records that Mrs. Lourdes Laderas, the incumbent
partialortotaldestruction,ortoamajorchangeinitsactualuse,ortoany City Assessor, prepared the fair market values of real properties and in
greatandsuddeninflationordeflationofrealpropertyvalues,ortothegross preparation thereof, she considered the fair market values prepared in the
calendar year 1992. Upon that basis, the City Assessors Office updated the
illegalityoftheassessmentwhenmadeortoanyotherabnormalcause,shall
schedule for the year 1995. In fact, the initial schedule of fair market values of
bemadewithinninety(90)daysfromthedateanysuchcauseorcauses
real properties showed an increase in real estate costs, which ranges from
occurred,andshalltakeeffectatthebeginningofthequarternextfollowing
600% - 3,330% over the values determined in the year 1979. However, after a
assessment. careful study on the movement of prices, Mrs. Laderas eventually lowered the
The petitioner claims that the effectivity date of Manila Ordinance No. average increase to 1,020%. Thereafter, the proposed ordinance with the
7894 and the schedule of the fair market values is January 1, 1996. He schedule of the fair market values of real properties was published in the
contends that Sec. 212 of the R.A. 7160 prohibits the general revision of real Manila Standard on October 28, 1995 and the Balita on November 1, 1995.
property assessment before the approval of the schedule of the fair market [18]
Under the circumstances of this case, there was compliance with the
values. Thus, the alleged revision of real property assessment in 1995 is requirement provided under Sec. 212 of R.A. 7160.
illegal. Thereafter, on January 1, 1996, the Sanggunian approved Manila
Based on the evidence presented by the parties, the steps to be followed Ordinance No. 7894. The schedule of values of real properties in the City of
for the mandatory conduct of General Revision of Real Property assessments, Manila, which formed an integral part of the ordinance, was likewise
pursuant to the provision of Sec. 219 of R.A. No. 7160 are as follows: approved on the same date.
1.ThepreparationofScheduleofFairMarketValues. When Manila Ordinance No. 7894 took effect on January 1, 1996, the
2.TheenactmentofOrdinances: existing assessment levels to be multiplied by the market value of the property

13
in computing the assessed value (taxable value) subject to tax were those Industrial50%25%
enumerated in Section 74 paragraph (A) of Manila Ordinance Number 7794. (2)OnBuildingsandotherstructures:
Coming down to specifics, we find it desirable to lay down the (a)ResidentialFairMarketValue
procedure in computing the real property tax. With the introduction of OverNotOver
assessment levels, tax rates could be maintained, although tax payments can P175,000.000%0%
be made either higher or lower depending on their percentage (assessment 175,000.00P300,000.0010%5%
level) applied to the fair market value of property to derive its assessed 300,000.00500,000.0020%10%
value which is subject to tax. Moreover, classes and values of real properties 500,000.00750,000.0025%12.5%
can be given proper consideration, like assigning lower assessment levels to 750,000.001,000,000.0030%15%
residential properties and higher levels to properties used in business. [19] The 1,000,000.002,000,000.0035%17.5%
procedural steps in computing the real property tax are as follows:
2,000,000.005,000,000.0040%20%
1)Ascertaintheassessmentleveloftheproperty
5,000,000.0010,000,000.0050%25%
2)Multiplythemarketvaluebytheapplicableassessmentlevelofthe
10,000,000.0060%30%
property
(b)Commercial/IndustrialFairMarketValue
3)Findthetaxratewhichcorrespondstotheclass(use)ofthe
OverNotOver
propertyandmultiplytheassessedvaluebytheapplicabletax
300,000.0030%15%
rates.[20]
300,000.00500,000.0035%17.5%
For easy reference, the computation of real property tax is cited below:
500,000.00750,000.0040%20%
MarketValuePxxx
750,000.001,000,000.0050%25%
MultipliedbyAssessmentLevel(x%)
1,000,000.002,000,000.0060%30%
AssessedValuePxxx
2,000,000.005,000,000.0070%35%
MultipliedbyRateofTax(x%)
5,000,000.0010,000,000.0075%37.5%
RealPropertyTaxPxx
10,000,000.0080%40%
=====
(3)OnMachineries:
On April 10, 1996, Manila Ordinance No. 7905 was enacted and
Class
approved to take effect, retroactively to January 1, 1996. As a result of this
new ordinance, the assessment levels applicable to the market values of real Residential50%25%
properties were lowered into half. A comparative evaluation between the old Commercial80%40%
and the new assessment levels is as follows: Industrial66%40%
AssessmentLevels (4)OnspecialclassesTheassessmentlevelsforalllands,buildings,
Ordinance7794Ordinance7905 machineriesandotherimprovementsshallbeasfollows:
OldNew ActualUse
(1)OnLands: Cultural15%7.5%
Class Scientific15%7.5%
Residential20%10% Hospital15%7.5%
Commercial50%25% LocalWaterDistricts15%7.5%

14
GOCCengagedinthesupplyand tax. The lower taxes will ease, in part, the economic predicament of the low
anddistributionofwaterand/or and middle-income groups of taxpayers. In enacting this ordinance, the due
degenerationandtransmissionof process of law was considered by the City of Manila so that the increase in
electricpower10%5% realty tax will not amount to the confiscation of the property.
Despite the favorable outcome of Manila Ordinance No. 7905, the WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby DENIED, and the assailed
petitioner insists that since it was approved on April 10, 1996, it cannot be Order of Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 39 in Civil Case No. 96-
implemented in the year 1996. Using Section 221 of R.A. 7160 as basis for his 77510 is hereby AFFIRMED. COSTS against the petitioner.
argument, petitioner claims that the assessments or reassessments made after SO ORDERED.
the first (1st) day of January of any year shall take effect on the first (1st) day THIRD DIVISION
of January of the succeeding year.
Contrarily, the trial court viewed that Manila Ordinance No. 7905 affects UNIVERSAL ROBINA CORP. (CORN DIVISION),
the resulting tax imposed on the market values of real properties as specified Petitioner,
in Manila Ordinance No. 7894.Therefore, this supervening circumstance has
rendered the petition, moot and academic, for failure of the petitioner to - versus -
amend his cause of action. The trial court said:
Amerecursoryreadingofhispetitionthathequestionedfairmarketvalues LAGUNA LAKE DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY,
andtheassessmentlevelsandtheresultingtaxbasedthereonasimposedby Respondent.
OrdinanceNo.7894.Thepetitioner,however,failedtoamendhis
petition.Thus,itisclearthatthepetitionhasbecomemootandacademic.As G.R. No. 191427
correctlystatedbytherespondent,thefacts,viz.,thetaxratesonlevel
prescribedbyOrdinance7894uponwhichthepetitionwasanchoredno Present:
longerexistbecausethetaxratesinOrdinanceNo.7894havebeenamended,
CARPIO MORALES, J., Chairperson,
otherwise,impliedlyrepealedbyOrdinanceNo.7905.Ifonlyforthis,the
BRION,
petitioncouldbedismissedbutthiscourtfollowedtheadviceoftheSupreme BERSAMIN,
CourtinthecaseofNationalHousingAuthorityvs.CourtofAppeals,et.al. VILLARAMA, JR., and
(121SCRA777)thatthecasemaybedecidedinitstotalityresolvingall SERENO, JJ.
interlockingissuesinordertorenderjusticetoallconcernedandendlitigation
onceandforall.[21]
Although, we are in full accord with the ruling of the trial court, it is Promulgated:
likewise necessary to stress that Manila Ordinance No. 7905 is favorable toMay 30, 2011
the taxpayers when it specifically states that the reduced assessment levels
shall be applied retroactively to January 1, 1996. The reduced assessment DECISION
levels multiplied by the schedule of fair market values of real properties,
provided by Manila Ordinance No. 7894, resulted to decrease in taxes. To that
extent, the ordinance is likewise, a social legislation intended to soften the CARPIO MORALES, J.:
impact of the tremendous increase in the value of the real properties subject to

15
The present petition for review on certiorari assails the Court of Appeals
Decision[1] dated October 27, 2009 and Resolution dated February 23, 2010 in Hearings on petitioners pollution case were thereafter commenced on
CA-G. R. SP No. 107449. March 1, 2001.

Universal Robina Corp. (petitioner) is engaged in, among other things, the Despite subsequent compliance monitoring and inspections conducted by the
manufacture of animal feeds at its plant in Bagong Ilog, Pasig City. LLDA, petitioners wastewater failed to conform to the parameters set by the
aforementioned DAOs.
Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA), respondent, through
its Pollution Control Division Monitoring and Enforcement Section, after In early 2003, petitioner notified LLDA of its plan to upgrade the wastewater
conducting on March 14, 2000 a laboratory analysis of petitioners corn oil treatment facility (WTF) of its corn oil refinery plant in an effort to comply
refinery plants wastewater, found that it failed to comply with government with environmental laws, an upgrade that was completed only in 2007.
standards provided under Department of Environment and Natural Resources
(DENR) Administrative Orders (DAOs) Nos. 34 and 35, series of 1990. On May 9, 2007 on its request,[2] a re-sampling of petitioners
wastewater was conducted which showed that petitioners
LLDA later issued on May 30, 2000 an Ex-Parte Order requiring plant finally complied with government standards.
petitioner to explain why no order should be issued for the cessation of its
operations due to its discharge of pollutive effluents into the Pasig River and Petitioner soon requested for a reduction of penalties, by Manifestation and
why it was operating without a clearance/permit from the LLDA. Motion[3] filed on August 24, 2007 to which it attached copies of its Daily
Operation Reports and Certifications[4] to show that accrued daily penalties
Still later, the LLDA, after receiving a phone-in complaint conducted on should only cover a period of 560 days.
August 31, 2000, another analysis of petitioners wastewater, which showed its
continued failure to conform to its effluent standard in terms of Total After conducting hearings, the LLDA issued its Order to Pay [5] (OP)
Suspended Solids (TSS), Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD), Color and dated January 21, 2008, the pertinent portion of which reads:
Oil/Grease.

16
After careful evaluation of the case, respondent
is found to be discharging pollutive wastewater computed in
two periods reckoned from March 14, 2000 the date of By Order[8] of July 11, 2008, the LLDA denied petitioners motion for
initial sampling until November 3, 2003 the date it
requested for a re-sampling covering 932 days in reconsideration and reiterated its order to pay the aforestated penalties,
consideration of the interval of time when subsequent disposing of the issues thusly:
monitoring was conducted after an interval of more than 2
years and from March 15, 2006 the date when re-sampling
was done until April 17, 2007 covering 448 On the first issue, while it is true that the Authority
days[6] for a total of 1,247 days. failed to state in its OP dated 21 January 2008 the basis for
actual computation of the accumulated daily penalties, the
WHEREFORE, premises considered, respondent is Authority would like to explain that its computation was
hereby ordered to pay within fifteen (15) days from receipt based on the following, to wit:
hereof the accumulated daily penalties amounting to a total
of Pesos: One Million Two Hundred Forty-Seven The computation of accumulated daily penalties
(Thousand) Pesos Only (PHP 1,247,000.00) prior to was reckoned period [sic] from 14 March 2000 the date of
dismissal of the case and without prejudice of filing another initial sampling to 03 November 2003 the date when its
case for its subsequent violations. (emphasis and letter request for re-sampling was received which covers
underscoring supplied) 932 days computed at 6 days per week operation as
reflected in the Reports of Inspection. Since subsequent
inspection conducted after two (2) years and four (4)
months, such period was deducted from the computation.
Petitioner moved to reconsider, praying that it be ordered to pay only Likewise, the period when the LLDA Laboratory was
rehabilitated from December 1, 2000 to June 30, 2001 was
accumulated daily penalties in the sum of Five Hundred Sixty Thousand also deducted with a total of Two Hundred Twelve (212)
days.
(P560,000) Pesos[7] on grounds that the LLDA erred in first, adopting a
straight computation of the periods of violation based on the flawed On the second claim, the same cannot be granted
for lack of legal basis since the documents submitted are
assumption that petitioner was operating on a daily basis without excluding, self-serving. The period from 15 March 2006 to 17 April
among others, the period during which the LLDA Laboratory underwent 2007 was computed from the date of re-sampling when it
failed to conform to the standards set by law up to the date
rehabilitation work from December 1, 2000 to June 30, 2001 (covering 212 of receipt of its letter request for re-sampling prior to its
days); and second, in disregarding the Daily Operation Reports and compliance on May 9, 2007. The period covers 342 days.

Certifications which petitioner submitted to attest to the actual number of its Hence, respondent is found to be discharging
operating days, i.e., 560 days. pollutive wastewater not conforming with the standards set

17
by law computed from March 14, 2000 November 3, 2003
which should have first been exhausted before invoking judicial intervention.
covering 932 days and from March 15, 2006 April 17, 2007
covering 342 days for a total of 1,274 days. [9]

Petitioners motion for reconsideration having been denied by


Petitioner challenged by certiorari the twin orders before the Court of
Resolution of February 23, 2010, it filed the present petition.
Appeals, attributing to LLDA grave abuse of discretion in disregarding its
documentary evidence, and maintaining that the lack of any plain, speedy or
Petitioner cites deprivation of due process and lack of any plain,
adequate remedy from the enforcement of LLDAs order justified such
speedy or adequate remedy as grounds which exempted it from complying
recourse as an exception to the rule requiring exhaustion of administrative
with the rule on exhaustion of administrative remedies.
remedies prior to judicial action.

The petition fails.


By Decision of October 27, 2009 the appellate court affirmed both
LLDA orders, which it found to be amply supported by substantial evidence,
The doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies is a
the computation of the accumulated daily penalties being in accord with
cornerstone of our judicial system. The thrust of the rule is that courts must
prevailing DENR guidelines. The appellate court held that while petitioner
allow administrative agencies to carry out their functions and discharge their
may have offered documentary evidence to support its assertion that the days
responsibilities within the specialized areas of their respective competence.
when it did not operate must be excluded from the computation, the LLDA [10]
The rationale for this doctrine is obvious. It entails lesser expenses and
has the prerogative to disregard the same for being unverified,
provides for the speedier resolution of controversies. Comity and convenience
hence, unreliable.
also impel courts of justice to shy away from a dispute until the system of
administrative redress has been completed.[11]
The appellate court went on to chide petitioners petition for certiorari
as premature since the law provides for an appeal from decisions or orders of
Executive Order No. 192[12] (EO 192) was issued on June 10, 1987
the LLDA to the DENR Secretary or the Office of the President, a remedy
for the salutary purpose of reorganizing the DENR, charging it with the task
of promulgating rules and regulations for the control of water, air and land

18
pollution as well as of promulgating ambient and effluent standards for water . . . Administrative due process cannot be fully
and air quality including the allowable levels of other pollutants and equated with due process in its strict judicial sense for it
is enough that the party is given the chance to be heard
radiations. EO 192 also created the Pollution Adjudication Board under the before the case against him is decided.
Office of the DENR Secretary which took over the powers and functions of
Here, petitioner URC was given ample opportunities to be
the National Pollution Control Commission with respect to the adjudication of heard it was given show cause orders and allowed to
pollution cases, including the latters role as arbitrator for determining participate in hearing to rebut the allegation against it of
discharging pollutive wastewater to the Pasig River, it was
reparation, or restitution of the damages and losses resulting from pollution.[13] given the chance to present evidences in support of its
claims, it was notified of the assailed Order to Pay, and it
was allowed to file a motion for reconsideration. Given
Petitioner had thus available administrative remedy of appeal to the these, we are of the view that the minimum requirements
of administrative due process have been complied with
DENR Secretary. Its contrary arguments to show that an appeal to the DENR in this case.[14] (emphasis in the original)
Secretary would be an exercise in futility as the latter merely adopts the
LLDAs findings is at best, speculative and presumptuous.
In fine, the assailed LLDA orders of January 21, 2008 and July 11,

As for petitioners invocation of due process, it fails too. The 2008 correctly reckoned the two periods within which petitioner was found to

appellate court thus aptly brushed aside this claim, in this wise: have continued discharging pollutive wastewater and applied the penalty as
provided for under Article VI, Section 32 of LLDA Resolution No. 33, Series
Due process, as a constitutional precept, does not of 1996.[15]LLDAs explanation that behind its inclusion of certain days in its
always and in all situations require a trial-type proceeding.
Due process is satisfied when a person is notified of the computation of the imposable penalties that it had already deducted not just
charge against him and given an opportunity to explain or
the period during which the LLDA Laboratory underwent rehabilitation work
defend himself. In administrative proceedings, the filing of
charges and giving reasonable opportunity for the person so from December 1, 2000 to June 30, 2001 (covering 212 days) but had
charged to answer the accusations against him constitute the
minimum requirements of due process. The essence of due also excluded from the computation the period during which no inspections or
process is simply to be heard, or as applied to compliance monitorings were conducted (a period covering two years and
administrative proceedings, an opportunity to explain
ones side, or an opportunity to seek a reconsideration of four months) is well-taken.
the action or ruling complained of.

19
It is noted that during the hearing on June 19, 2007, the LLDA gave prohibitive costs and at a time when its income from the agro-industrial
business was already severely affected by a poor business climate; and that the
petitioner the opportunity to submit within fifteen (15) days.any valid
enforcement of the assailed LLDA orders amounted to a gross disincentive to
documents to show proof of its non-operating dates that would be necessary
its business.
for the possible reduction of the accumulated daily penalties, [16] but petitioner
failed to comply therewith. Without belaboring petitioners assertions, it must be underscored that
the protection of the environment, including bodies of water, is no less urgent
As earlier noted, petitioner filed a Manifestation and Motion to or vital than the pressing concerns of private enterprises, big or small.
which it attached Daily Operation Reports and Certifications, which Everyone must do their share to conserve the national patrimonys meager
voluminous documents were, however, unverified in derogation of Rule X, resources for the benefit of not only this generation, but of those to follow.
Section 2[17] of the 2004 Revised Rules, Regulations and Procedures The length of time alone it took petitioner to upgrade its WTF (from 2003 to
Implementing Republic Act No. 4850. Absent such verification, the LLDA 2007), a move arrived at only under threat of continuing sanctions, militates
may not be faulted for treating such evidence to be purely self-serving. against any genuine concern for the well-being of the countrys waterways.

Respecting LLDAs decision not to attach any evidentiary weight to WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The October 27, 2009
the Daily Operation Reports or Certifications, recall that the LLDA conducted Decision and the February 23, 2010 Resolution, of the Court of Appeals in
an analysis of petitioners wastewater discharge on August 31, 2000, upon
CA-G. R. SP No. 107449, are AFFIRMED.
receiving a phone-in complaint. And it conducted too an analysis on May 3,
2002 in the course of periodic compliance monitoring. The Daily Operation
Reports for both August 31, 2000[18] and May 3, 2002[19] submitted by
petitioner clearly manifest that the plant did not operate on those dates. On the SO ORDERED.
other hand, LLDAs Investigation Report and Report of Inspection [20] dated
[G.R. NO. 142571 : May 5, 2006]
August 31, 2000 and May 3, 2002, respectively, disclose otherwise. Petitioner
NATIONAL IRRIGATION
never disputed the factual findings reflected in these reports. Thus spawns ADMINISTRATION, Petitioner, v. LEONCIO C.
doubts on the veracity and accuracy of the Daily Operation Reports. ENCISO, Respondent.
DECISION
GARCIA, J.:
Petitioner asserts that LLDA had not credited it for undertaking
The instant Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of
remedial measures to rehabilitate its wastewater treatment facility, despite the the Rules of Court seeks to nullify and set aside the Decision

20
dated March 20, 20001 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA- defendants filed a motion to dismiss on grounds of non-
G.R. CV No. 59681 affirming an earlier decision of the exhaustion of administrative remedies and lack of cause of
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati City, Branch 141, in its action. The RTC denied the motion and proceeded to trial.
Civil Case No. 94-005, an action for a sum of money with In a decision dated February 27, 1998, the RTC rendered
damages thereat commenced by the respondent against the judgment for respondent, as plaintiff, holding petitioner, as
herein petitioner, its Administrator and its Assistant defendant, liable, thus:
Administrator for Systems and Operations and Equipment WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered ordering
Management. defendant National Irrigation Administration to pay plaintiff
Succinctly summarized by the Court of Appeals in the assailed the sum of P259,154.01 with legal rate of interest of 12% per
decision are the following undisputed facts: annum effective on 1 August 1985 until fully paid;
Records show that in 1984, defendant-appellant [petitioner] P50,000.00, as and for attorney's fees; and the costs of suit.
National Irrigation Administration (NIA) commenced the SO ORDERED.
widening of the Binahaan River in Brgy. Cansamada, Dagami, Both parties went up to the Court of Appeals (CA). For its
Leyte. This project was divided into small sections costing not part, petitioner contended that the trial court erred in denying
more than P50,000.00 each so as not to require public its motion to dismiss and thereafter holding it liable to
bidding. However, pre-bidding was nevertheless conducted by respondent. On the other hand, respondent interposed that
NIA and participated in by different contractors to determine the trial court erred in failing to hold petitioner's co-
the possible lowest bid which shall serve as the cost of the defendants personally liable for damages and in adjudging
project. With this arrangement, contractors are assigned to petitioner NIA solely liable based on the face value of the
work on specific sections without formal contracts. When the work accomplished in 1985. The CA, however, found no
works for the assigned sections are completed to NIA's reversible error in the appealed decision and affirmed it as
satisfaction, NIA will then prepare the requisite contract and follows:rbl r l l lbrr
other pertinent documents so that the contractor can collect WHEREFORE, finding no reversible error in the appealed
payment. decision which is in accord with the evidence and
Plaintiff-appellant [respondent] Enciso, doing business as a jurisprudential principle on the matter, the same is hereby
contractor under the name LCE Construction, worked on a AFFIRMED.
portion of the river from "station 16 + 400 to station 16 + SO ORDERED.
900". His first billing of P227,165.90 was paid by NIA. Only petitioner NIA came to this Court via this Petition for
However, his second and final billing of P259,154.01 was Review raising the following issues for resolution:
denied on the ground that the work done on the right side of the court of appeals erred in affirming the ruling of the
the river was not accomplished. [Words in bracket supplied.] regional trial court denying petitioner's motion to dismiss
Respondent finally instituted a complaint for collection of a (annex "c" hereof) which averred, among other things, that
sum of money with damages and attorney's fees with the RTC respondent failed to exhaust administrative remedies
of Makati City, thereat docketed as Civil Case No. 94-005 and available to him under the law.
eventually raffled to Branch 141 thereof. Petitioner and co-

21
the court of appeals erred in declaring that petitioner is liable jurisdiction extends to all government-owned or controlled
to respondent for the alleged work at petitioner's project corporations, including their subsidiaries, and other self-
though the alleged assignment was done in violation of governing boards, commissions, agencies of the Government,
existing rules and regulations. and as herein prescribed, including non-governmental entities
The Court finds the petition meritorious. subsidized by the government, those funded by donations
Petitioner raised the issue of non-exhaustion of administrative through the government, those required to pay levies or
remedies in its appeal before the CA, on account of government share, and those for which the government has
respondent's failure to file his claim before the Commission on put up a counterpart fund or those partly funded by the
Audit (COA) prior to instituting a complaint for collection of government. [Emphasis supplied.]
sum of money with the RTC. Instead of addressing the COA, as one of the three (3) independent constitutional
question, however, the CA discussed NIA's separate and commissions, is specifically vested with the power, authority
distinct corporate personality from the government or the and duty to examine, audit and settle all accounts pertaining
State, which is a non-issue. What the CA failed to rule upon to the revenue and receipts of, and expenditures or uses of
is, given the fact that NIA is a government entity vested with funds and property owned or held in trust by the government,
a separate corporate personality from the State, whether NIA, or any of its subdivisions, agencies or instrumentalities. To
being a government entity disbursing public funds or tax- ensure the effective discharge of its functions, COA has been
payers' money is subject to the jurisdiction of COA such that empowered, subject to the limitations imposed by Article
any claim for collection of sum of money against it, specially IX(D) of the 1987 Constitution, to define the scope of its audit
in this instance where it is not covered by any written and examination and establish the techniques and methods
contract, must be initially lodged before the COA. required therefor, and promulgate accounting and auditing
The issue should have been resolved in the affirmative. rules and regulations, including those for the prevention and
Among the powers vested upon COA as provided for in disallowance of irregular, unnecessary, excessive, extravagant
Section 26, Presidential Decree No. 1445, are the following: or unconscionable expenditures or uses of government funds
SECTION 26. General jurisdiction. - The authority and powers and properties.2
of the Commission shall extend to and comprehend all In the instant case, when determining the regularity of
matters relating to auditing procedures, systems and controls, disbursement of public funds by the petitioner NIA for the
the keeping of the general accounts of the Government, the alleged services rendered by respondent in the widening
preservation of vouchers pertaining thereto for a period of ten project involving a portion of Binahaan River in Barangay
years, the examination and inspection of the books, records, Cansamada, Dagami, Leyte more specifically, from station 16
and papers relating to those accounts; and the audit and + 400 to station 16 + 900 thereof, the accounting and
settlement of the accounts of all persons respecting funds or auditing principles, rules and regulations set by COA must be
property received or held by them in an accountable capacity, taken into consideration. In this light, it is highly doubtful
as well as the examination, audit, and settlement of all claims whether respondent may compel petitioner NIA's officers to
of any sort due from or owing to the Government or any of its release payment of his claims without any previously
subdivisions, agencies and instrumentalities. The said approved contract for the supposed river-widening project in

22
violation of existing COA rules and regulations, without administrative agency concerned every opportunity to correct
subjecting said official to administrative and/or personal its error and to dispose of the case. However, we are not
liabilities and/or accountabilities. amiss to reiterate that the principle of exhaustion of
Be that as it may, for the supposed refusal or failure by the administrative remedies as tested by a battery of cases is not
concerned public officials to act over respondent's money an ironclad rule. This doctrine is a relative one and its
claim or even the mere inaction for an unreasonable period, flexibility is called upon by the peculiarity and uniqueness of
the proper and immediate remedy of the respondent was to the factual and circumstantial settings of a case. Hence, it is
file his claim with the COA, such inaction or refusal to pay disregarded (1) when there is a violation of due process, (2)
being tantamount to disallowance of the claim. Only after when the issue involved is purely a legal question, (3) when
COA has ruled on the claim, may the injured party invoke the administrative action is patently illegal amounting to lack
judicial intervention by bringing the matter to this Court on or excess of jurisdiction, (4) when there is estoppel on the
petition for certiorari . part of the administrative agency concerned, (5) when there
Exhaustion of administrative remedies is a doctrine of long is irreparable injury, (6) when the respondent is a department
standing and courts have clear guidelines on the matter. Paat secretary whose acts as an alter ego of the President bears
v. Court of Appeals3 wrote: the implied and assumed approval of the latter, (7) when to
This Court in a long line of cases has consistently held that require exhaustion of administrative remedies would be
before a party is allowed to seek the intervention of the court, unreasonable, (8) when it would amount to a nullification of a
it is a pre-condition that he should have availed of all the claim, (9) when the subject matter is a private land in land
means of administrative processes afforded him. Hence, if a case proceedings, (10) when the rule does not provide a
remedy within the administrative machinery can still be plain, speedy and adequate remedy, and (11) when there are
resorted to by giving the administrative officer concerned circumstances indicating the urgency of judicial intervention.
every opportunity to decide on a matter that comes within his Petitioner had timely raised this ground to dismiss the action
jurisdiction then such remedy should be exhausted first before the RTC, and since there is no showing that
before court's judicial power can be sought. The premature respondent's case falls under any one of the accepted
invocation of court's intervention is fatal to one's cause of exceptions, petitioner's motion to dismiss should have been
action. Accordingly, absent any finding of waiver granted, forthwith dismissing the case for lack of cause of
or estoppel the case is susceptible of dismissal for lack of action.
cause of action. This doctrine of exhaustion of administrative Anent the second issue, the legality or regularity of
remedies was not without its practical and legal reasons, for petitioner's payment of respondent's claim may be best
one thing, availment of administrative remedy entails lesser addressed in a proper case before the COA, considering that
expenses and provides for a speedier disposition of there might be factual matters involved therein, which is
controversies. It is no less true to state that the courts of definitely not within the province of the present Petition for
justice for reasons of comity and convenience will shy away Review on Certiorari .
from a dispute until the system of administrative redress has WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby GRANTED. The appealed
been completed and complied with so as to give the decision is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE, and

23
respondent's Complaint before the RTC is DISMISSED for lack
of cause of action, with costs against respondent.
SO ORDERED.

24