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G.R. No.

L-28066 September 22, 1976

PEREGRINA ASTUDILLO, petitioner-appellant,


vs.
THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF PEOPLE'S HOMESITE AND HOUSING CORPORATION,
RAMON P. MITRA, SALUD O. MITRA, and REGISTER OF DEEDS, QUEZON CITY, respondents-
appellees.

Jose Villa Agustin for petitioner-appellant.

San Juan, Africa, Gonzales & San Agustin for appellees Mitras.

Manuel L. Lazaro & Leonardo A. Reyes, Gov't. Corp. Counsel's Office for appellee Board of Director
of the PHHC.

AQUlNO, J.: têñ .£îhqwâ£

Peregrina Astudillo appealed from the "resolution" dated April 18, 1967 of the Court of First Instance
of Rizal, Quezon City Branch V, granting the motion for summary judgment filed by Ramon P. Mitra
and dismissing her petition for certiorari and mandamus (Civil Case No. Q-8741).

According to the pleadings of respondents Mitra and the People's Homesite and Housing
Corporation (PHHC) *, Mitra on December 28, 1957 applied, in behalf of his minor son, Ramon Mitra Ocampo, for the purchase of
Lot 16, Block E-155 of the East Avenue Subdivision of the PHHC in Piñahan, Quezon City.

His application was approved on January 3, 1958. He made a downpayment of P840, an amount
equivalent to ten percent of the price of the lot. On September 9, 1961 the PHHC and Mitra executed
a contract of conditional sale. After Mitra had paid in full the price, which totalled more than nine
thousand pesos, a final deed of sale was executed in his favor on February 18, 1965. Transfer
Certificate of Title No. 89875 was issued to him on March 1, 1965.

The lot in question is acqually in the possession of Peregrina Astudillo. She constructed thereon a
residential house (a shanty, according to Mitra). She admits that she has been squatting on the said
lot "uninterruptedly since 1957 up to the present" (p. 52, Record). She filed with the administrative
investigating committee of the PHHC a request dated February 24, 1963, praying for the cancellation
of the award of Lot 16 to Congressman Mitra and asking the committee to recommend that it be re-
awarded to her. No action was taken on that request.

On May 3, 1965 Peregrina filed in the lower court her aforementioned petition against the PHHC
board of directors, the register of deeds of Quezon City and the spouses Ramon P. Mitra and Salud
O. Mitra. She questioned the legality of the award of Lot 16 to Mitra. She asked that Lot 16 be sold
to her.

After the respondents had filed their answers, the Mitra spouses filed a verified motion for summary
judgment. They assumed that there was no genuine issue as to any material fact. Peregrina
Astudillo opposed the motion. The parties submitted memoranda.
The lower court treated the motion for summary judgment as a motion to dismiss. It dismissed
Peregrina's petition on the grounds that she is a mala fide squatter and that the sale of Lot 16 to
Mitra cannot be assailed by means of certiorari and mandamus. Peregrina appealed to this Court.

Her four assignments of error raise questions of law. She contends that the lower court erred in
holding that certiorari and mandamus do not lie in this case and that she has no right to question the
award to Mitra, and in not holding that the award of Lot 16 to him was in contravention of the Anti-
Graft and Corrupt Practice Law and of the constitutional provision that a Senator or Representative
should not directly or indirectly be financially interested in any contract with the government of any
subdivision or instrumentality thereof during his term of office.

In the ultimate analysis the issue is whether Peregrina Astudillo has a cause of action to annul the
sale of Lot 16 to Mitra and to compel the PHHC board to award that lot to her.

We hold that she has no cause of action to impugn the award to Mitra and to require that she be
allowed to purchase the lot. As a squatter, she has no possessory rights over Lot 16. In the eyes of
the law, the award to Mitra did not prejudice her since she was bereft of any rights over the said lot
which could have been impaired by that award (Bañez vs. Court of Appeals, L-30351, September
11, 1974, 59 SCRA 15, 22).

The record does not show, and Peregrina does not claim, that she is a member of the Piñahan
Homeowners Association some of whose members are "deserving squatters" (Kempis vs. Gonzales,
L-31701, October 31, 1974, 60 SCRA 439).

In the familiar language of procedure, she was not entitled to sue Mitra and the PHHC for the
enforcement or protection of a right, or the prevention of a wrong. Those respondents did not commit
any delict or wrong in violation of her rights because, in the first place, she has no right to the lot. Not
being principally or subsidiarily bound in the contract of sale between Mitra and the PHHC, she is not
entitled to ask for its annulment (Art. 1397, Civil Code).

Peregrina invokes the PHHC charter (erroneously referred to as section 11 of Commonwealth Act
No. 648) which provides that the PHHC should acquire buildings so as to provide "decent housing
for those who may be unable otherwise to provide themselves therewith" and that it should acquire
large estates for their resale to bona fide occupants.

Those provisions do not sustain her action in this case. They do not justify her act of squatting on a
government-owned lot and then demanding that the lot be sold her because she does not yet own a
residential lot and house. She is not a bona fide occupant of Lot 16.

The State is committed to promote social justice and to maintain adequate social services in the field
of housing (Secs. 6 and 7, Art. II, New Constitution). But the State's solicitude for the destitute and
the have-nots does not mean that it should tolerate usurpations of property, public or private.

"In carrying out its social readjustment policies, the government could not simply lay aside moral
standards, and aim to favor usurpers, squatters, and intruders, unmindful of the lawful and unlawful
origin and character of their occupancy. Such a Policy would perpetuate conflicts instead of attaining
their just solution" (Bernardo vs. Bernards, 96 Phil. 202, 206).

Indeed, the government has enunciated a militant policy against squatters. Thus, Letter of Instruction
No. 19 dated October 2, 1972 orders city and district engineers "to remove all illegal constructions,
including buildings ... and those built without permits on public or private property" and provides for
the relocation of squatters (68 O.G. 7962. See Letter of Instruction No. 19-A). As noted by Justice
Sanchez, "since the last global war, squatting on another's property in this country has become a
widespread vice" (City of Manila vs. Garcia, L-26053, February 21, 1967, 19 SCRA 413, 418).

The lower court did not err in holding that Peregrina Astudillo cannot use the special civil actions of
certiorari and mandamus to secure a judicial review of the award of Lot 16 to Mitra. Rule 65 of the
Rules of Court provides: ñé+.£ªw ph!1

SECTION 1. Petition for certiorari. — When any tribunal, board, or officer exercising
judicial functions, has acted without or in excess of its or his jurisdiction, or with grave
abuse of discretion and there is no appeal, nor any plain, speedy, and adequate
remedy in the ordinary course of law, a person aggrieved thereby may file a verified
petition in the proper court alleging the facts with certainty and praying that judgment
be rendered annulling or modifying the proceedings, as the law requires, of such
tribunal, board or officer.

The petition shall be accompanied by a certified true copy of the judgment or order
subject thereof, together with copies of all pleadings and documents relevant and
pertinent thereto.

SEC. 3. Petition for mandamus. — When any tribunal, corporation, board, or person
unlawfully neglects the performance of an act which the law specifically enjoins as a
duty resulting from an office, trust, or station, or unlawfully excludes another from the
use and enjoyment of a right or office to which such other is entitled, and there is no
other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law, the person
agrieved thereby may file a verified petition in the proper court alleging the facts with
certainty and praying that judgment be rendered commanding the defendant,
immediately or at some other specified time, to do the act required to be done to
protect the rights of the petitioner, and to pay the damages sustained by the
petitioner by reason of the wrongful acts of the defendant.

Respondent PHHC board is not the board contemplated in section 1 of Rule 65. It does not exercise
judicial functions. The award being questioned was a routinary corporate act that was within the
board's competence. No jurisdictional issue was involved in that award. certiorari lies only for the
correction of jurisdictional errors (Gov't. of the P.I. vs. Judge of 1st Instance of Iloilo 34 Phil 157,
159).

Nor is the relief sought by Peregrina Astudillo, which is to compel the PHHC board to cancel the
award of Lot 16 to Mitra and to resell it to her, a right that can be enforced by mandamus. What she
wants is to force the PHHC to execute a contract of sale in her favor. That is not within the purview
of the writ of mandamus.

Thus, it was held that "the writ of mandamus is not an appropriate or even admissible remedy to
enforce, the performance of a private contract which has not been fully performed by either party"
(Quiogue vs. Romualdez, 46 Phil. 337). In Jacinto vs. Director of Lands, 49 Phil. 853, a petition for a
writ of mandamus to compel the Director of Lands to execute a deed of conveyance for certain lots
in favor of the petitioner was denied. Generally, title to property cannot be litigated in a mandamus
proceeding (City of Manila vs. Posadas, 48 Phil. 309, 337).

It is not a ministerial duty of the PHHC board to award Lot 16 to Peregrina. Anyway, it has already
been shown that as a squatter she is not clothed with any right to Lot 16 that may be enforced in a
court of justice.
The PHHC board completely ignored the alleged demands of Peregrina for the purchase of Lot 16. It
did not render any decision against her. Its inaction cannot be assailed by certiorari or mandamus.

Peregrina's other assignment of error is that the award of Lot 16 to Congressman Mitra was a
violation of section 3(h) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Law and of section 17, Article VI of
the 1935 Constitution, now section 11, Article VIII of the new Constitution.

On the other hand, Mitra contends that the PHHC performs proprietary functions. He observed that
the following high-ranking officials were awarded PHHC lots: Felixberto Serrano, Dominador
Antonio, Manuel Lim, Fernando Lopez, Pacita M. Gonzales, Genaro Magsaysay, Daniel Romualdez,
Felipe A. Abrigo, Bartolome Cabangbang, Juan Duran, Manuel Enverga, Angel Fernandez, Jose
Nuguid, Antonio de Pio, Lorenzo Teves, Faustino Tobia, Pedro Trono, Marcelino Veloso and
Valeriano Yancha.

We are of the opinion that that assignment of error need not be resolved in this case. Having shown
that Peregrina has no cause of action to assail the award of Lot 16 to Mitra, it follows that in this
particular case she cannot assail that award by invoking the provisions of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt
Practices Law and the Constitution. This is not the proper forum for the ventilation of that question.
(See Commonwealth Act No. 626; Hernandez vs. Albano, 112 Phil. 506; Solidum and Concepcion,
Jr. vs. Hernandez, 117 Phil. 335).

WHEREFORE, the lower court's order of dismissal is affirmed. No costs.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 85279 July 28, 1989

SOCIAL SECURITY SYSTEM EMPLOYEES ASSOCIATION (SSSEA), DIONISION T. BAYLON,


RAMON MODESTO, JUANITO MADURA, REUBEN ZAMORA, VIRGILIO DE ALDAY, SERGIO
ARANETA, PLACIDO AGUSTIN, VIRGILIO MAGPAYO, petitioner,
vs.
THE COURT OF APPEALS, SOCIAL SECURITY SYSTEM (SSS), HON. CEZAR C. PERALEJO,
RTC, BRANCH 98, QUEZON CITY, respondents.

Vicente T. Ocampo & Associates for petitioners.

CORTES, J:

Primarily, the issue raised in this petition is whether or not the Regional Trial Court can enjoin the
Social Security System Employees Association (SSSEA) from striking and order the striking
employees to return to work. Collaterally, it is whether or not employees of the Social Security
System (SSS) have the right to strike.

The antecedents are as follows:

On June 11, 1987, the SSS filed with the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City a complaint for
damages with a prayer for a writ of preliminary injunction against petitioners, alleging that on June 9,
1987, the officers and members of SSSEA staged an illegal strike and baricaded the entrances to
the SSS Building, preventing non-striking employees from reporting for work and SSS members
from transacting business with the SSS; that the strike was reported to the Public Sector Labor -
Management Council, which ordered the strikers to return to work; that the strikers refused to return
to work; and that the SSS suffered damages as a result of the strike. The complaint prayed that a
writ of preliminary injunction be issued to enjoin the strike and that the strikers be ordered to return
to work; that the defendants (petitioners herein) be ordered to pay damages; and that the strike be
declared illegal.

It appears that the SSSEA went on strike after the SSS failed to act on the union's demands, which
included: implementation of the provisions of the old SSS-SSSEA collective bargaining agreement
(CBA) on check-off of union dues; payment of accrued overtime pay, night differential pay and
holiday pay; conversion of temporary or contractual employees with six (6) months or more of
service into regular and permanent employees and their entitlement to the same salaries,
allowances and benefits given to other regular employees of the SSS; and payment of the children's
allowance of P30.00, and after the SSS deducted certain amounts from the salaries of the
employees and allegedly committed acts of discrimination and unfair labor practices [Rollo, pp. 21-
241].

The court a quo, on June 11, 1987, issued a temporary restraining order pending resolution of the
application for a writ of preliminary injunction [Rollo, p. 71.] In the meantime, petitioners filed a
motion to dismiss alleging the trial court's lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter [Rollo, pp. 72-
82.] To this motion, the SSS filed an opposition, reiterating its prayer for the issuance of a writ of
injunction [Rollo, pp. 209-222]. On July 22,1987, in a four-page order, the court a quo denied the
motion to dismiss and converted the restraining order into an injunction upon posting of a bond, after
finding that the strike was illegal [Rollo, pp. 83- 86]. As petitioners' motion for the reconsideration of
the aforesaid order was also denied on August 14, 1988 [Rollo, p. 94], petitioners filed a petition
for certiorari and prohibition with preliminary injunction before this Court. Their petition was docketed
as G.R. No. 79577. In a resolution dated October 21, 1987, the Court, through the Third Division,
resolved to refer the case to the Court of Appeals. Petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration
thereof, but during its pendency the Court of Appeals on March 9,1988 promulgated its decision on
the referred case [Rollo, pp. 130-137]. Petitioners moved to recall the Court of Appeals' decision. In
the meantime, the Court on June 29,1988 denied the motion for reconsideration in G.R. No. 97577
for being moot and academic. Petitioners' motion to recall the decision of the Court of Appeals was
also denied in view of this Court's denial of the motion for reconsideration [Rollo, pp. 141- 143].
Hence, the instant petition to review the decision of the Court of Appeals [Rollo, pp. 12-37].

Upon motion of the SSS on February 6,1989, the Court issued a temporary restraining order
enjoining the petitioners from staging another strike or from pursuing the notice of strike they filed
with the Department of Labor and Employment on January 25, 1989 and to maintain the status
quo [Rollo, pp. 151-152].

The Court, taking the comment as answer, and noting the reply and supplemental reply filed by
petitioners, considered the issues joined and the case submitted for decision.

The position of the petitioners is that the Regional Trial Court had no jurisdiction to hear the case
initiated by the SSS and to issue the restraining order and the writ of preliminary injunction, as
jurisdiction lay with the Department of Labor and Employment or the National Labor Relations
Commission, since the case involves a labor dispute.

On the other hand, the SSS advances the contrary view, on the ground that the employees of the
SSS are covered by civil service laws and rules and regulations, not the Labor Code, therefore they
do not have the right to strike. Since neither the DOLE nor the NLRC has jurisdiction over the
dispute, the Regional Trial Court may enjoin the employees from striking.

In dismissing the petition for certiorari and prohibition with preliminary injunction filed by petitioners,
the Court of Appeals held that since the employees of the SSS, are government employees, they are
not allowed to strike, and may be enjoined by the Regional Trial Court, which had jurisdiction over
the SSS' complaint for damages, from continuing with their strike.

Thus, the sequential questions to be resolved by the Court in deciding whether or not the Court of
Appeals erred in finding that the Regional Trial Court did not act without or in excess of jurisdiction
when it took cognizance of the case and enjoined the strike are as follows:

1. Do the employees of the SSS have the right to strike?

2. Does the Regional Trial Court have jurisdiction to hear the case initiated by the SSS and to enjoin
the strikers from continuing with the strike and to order them to return to work?

These shall be discussed and resolved seriatim

The 1987 Constitution, in the Article on Social Justice and Human Rights, provides that the State
"shall guarantee the rights of all workers to self-organization, collective bargaining and negotiations,
and peaceful concerted activities, including the right to strike in accordance with law" [Art. XIII, Sec.
31].

By itself, this provision would seem to recognize the right of all workers and employees, including
those in the public sector, to strike. But the Constitution itself fails to expressly confirm this
impression, for in the Sub-Article on the Civil Service Commission, it provides, after defining the
scope of the civil service as "all branches, subdivisions, instrumentalities, and agencies of the
Government, including government-owned or controlled corporations with original charters," that
"[t]he right to self-organization shall not be denied to government employees" [Art. IX(B), Sec. 2(l)
and (50)]. Parenthetically, the Bill of Rights also provides that "[tlhe right of the people, including
those employed in the public and private sectors, to form unions, associations, or societies for
purposes not contrary to law shall not abridged" [Art. III, Sec. 8]. Thus, while there is no question that
the Constitution recognizes the right of government employees to organize, it is silent as to whether
such recognition also includes the right to strike.

Resort to the intent of the framers of the organic law becomes helpful in understanding the meaning
of these provisions. A reading of the proceedings of the Constitutional Commission that drafted the
1987 Constitution would show that in recognizing the right of government employees to organize, the
commissioners intended to limit the right to the formation of unions or associations only, without
including the right to strike.

Thus, Commissioner Eulogio R. Lerum, one of the sponsors of the provision that "[tlhe right to self-
organization shall not be denied to government employees" [Art. IX(B), Sec. 2(5)], in answer to the
apprehensions expressed by Commissioner Ambrosio B. Padilla, Vice-President of the Commission,
explained:

MR. LERUM. I think what I will try to say will not take that long. When we proposed
this amendment providing for self-organization of government employees, it does not
mean that because they have the right to organize, they also have the right to strike.
That is a different matter. We are only talking about organizing, uniting as a union.
With regard to the right to strike, everyone will remember that in the Bill of Rights,
there is a provision that the right to form associations or societies whose purpose is
not contrary to law shall not be abridged. Now then, if the purpose of the state is to
prohibit the strikes coming from employees exercising government functions, that
could be done because the moment that is prohibited, then the union which will go on
strike will be an illegal union. And that provision is carried in Republic Act 875. In
Republic Act 875, workers, including those from the government-owned and
controlled, are allowed to organize but they are prohibited from striking. So, the fear
of our honorable Vice- President is unfounded. It does not mean that because we
approve this resolution, it carries with it the right to strike. That is a different matter.
As a matter of fact, that subject is now being discussed in the Committee on Social
Justice because we are trying to find a solution to this problem. We know that this
problem exist; that the moment we allow anybody in the government to strike, then
what will happen if the members of the Armed Forces will go on strike? What will
happen to those people trying to protect us? So that is a matter of discussion in the
Committee on Social Justice. But, I repeat, the right to form an organization does not
carry with it the right to strike. [Record of the Constitutional Commission, vol. 1, p.
569].

It will be recalled that the Industrial Peace Act (R.A. No. 875), which was repealed by the Labor
Code (P.D. 442) in 1974, expressly banned strikes by employees in the Government, including
instrumentalities exercising governmental functions, but excluding entities entrusted with proprietary
functions:

.Sec. 11. Prohibition Against Strikes in the Government. — The terms and conditions
of employment in the Government, including any political subdivision or
instrumentality thereof, are governed by law and it is declared to be the policy of this
Act that employees therein shall not strike for the purpose of securing changes or
modification in their terms and conditions of employment. Such employees may
belong to any labor organization which does not impose the obligation to strike or to
join in strike: Provided, however, That this section shall apply only to employees
employed in governmental functions and not those employed in proprietary functions
of the Government including but not limited to governmental corporations.

No similar provision is found in the Labor Code, although at one time it recognized the right of
employees of government corporations established under the Corporation Code to organize and
bargain collectively and those in the civil service to "form organizations for purposes not contrary to
law" [Art. 244, before its amendment by B.P. Blg. 70 in 1980], in the same breath it provided that
"[t]he terms and conditions of employment of all government employees, including employees of
government owned and controlled corporations, shall be governed by the Civil Service Law, rules
and regulations" [now Art. 276]. Understandably, the Labor Code is silent as to whether or not
government employees may strike, for such are excluded from its coverage [Ibid]. But then the Civil
Service Decree [P.D. No. 807], is equally silent on the matter.

On June 1, 1987, to implement the constitutional guarantee of the right of government employees to
organize, the President issued E.O. No. 180 which provides guidelines for the exercise of the right to
organize of government employees. In Section 14 thereof, it is provided that "[t]he Civil Service law
and rules governing concerted activities and strikes in the government service shall be observed,
subject to any legislation that may be enacted by Congress." The President was apparently referring
to Memorandum Circular No. 6, s. 1987 of the Civil Service Commission under date April 21, 1987
which, "prior to the enactment by Congress of applicable laws concerning strike by government
employees ... enjoins under pain of administrative sanctions, all government officers and employees
from staging strikes, demonstrations, mass leaves, walk-outs and other forms of mass action which
will result in temporary stoppage or disruption of public service." The air was thus cleared of the
confusion. At present, in the absence of any legislation allowing government employees to strike,
recognizing their right to do so, or regulating the exercise of the right, they are prohibited from
striking, by express provision of Memorandum Circular No. 6 and as implied in E.O. No. 180. [At this
juncture, it must be stated that the validity of Memorandum Circular No. 6 is not at issue].

But are employees of the SSS covered by the prohibition against strikes?

The Court is of the considered view that they are. Considering that under the 1987 Constitution "[t]he
civil service embraces all branches, subdivisions, instrumentalities, and agencies of the
Government, including government-owned or controlled corporations with original charters" [Art.
IX(B), Sec. .2(l) see also Sec. 1 of E.O. No. 180 where the employees in the civil service are
denominated as "government employees"] and that the SSS is one such government-controlled
corporation with an original charter, having been created under R.A. No. 1161, its employees are
part of the civil service [NASECO v. NLRC, G.R. Nos. 69870 & 70295, November 24,1988] and are
covered by the Civil Service Commission's memorandum prohibiting strikes. This being the case, the
strike staged by the employees of the SSS was illegal.

The statement of the Court in Alliance of Government Workers v. Minister of Labor and
Employment [G.R. No. 60403, August 3, 1:983, 124 SCRA 11 is relevant as it furnishes the rationale
for distinguishing between workers in the private sector and government employees with regard to
the right to strike:

The general rule in the past and up to the present is that 'the terms and conditions of
employment in the Government, including any political subdivision or instrumentality
thereof are governed by law" (Section 11, the Industrial Peace Act, R.A. No. 875, as
amended and Article 277, the Labor Code, P.D. No. 442, as amended). Since the
terms and conditions of government employment are fixed by law, government
workers cannot use the same weapons employed by workers in the private sector to
secure concessions from their employers. The principle behind labor unionism in
private industry is that industrial peace cannot be secured through compulsion by
law. Relations between private employers and their employees rest on an essentially
voluntary basis. Subject to the minimum requirements of wage laws and other labor
and welfare legislation, the terms and conditions of employment in the unionized
private sector are settled through the process of collective bargaining. In government
employment, however, it is the legislature and, where properly given delegated
power, the administrative heads of government which fix the terms and conditions of
employment. And this is effected through statutes or administrative circulars, rules,
and regulations, not through collective bargaining agreements. [At p. 13; Emphasis
supplied].

Apropos is the observation of the Acting Commissioner of Civil Service, in his position paper
submitted to the 1971 Constitutional Convention, and quoted with approval by the Court in Alliance,
to wit:

It is the stand, therefore, of this Commission that by reason of the nature of the public
employer and the peculiar character of the public service, it must necessarily regard
the right to strike given to unions in private industry as not applying to public
employees and civil service employees. It has been stated that the Government, in
contrast to the private employer, protects the interest of all people in the public
service, and that accordingly, such conflicting interests as are present in private labor
relations could not exist in the relations between government and those whom they
employ. [At pp. 16-17; also quoted in National Housing Corporation v. Juco, G.R. No.
64313, January 17,1985,134 SCRA 172,178-179].

E.O. No. 180, which provides guidelines for the exercise of the right to organize of government
employees, while clinging to the same philosophy, has, however, relaxed the rule to allow
negotiation where the terms and conditions of employment involved are not among those fixed by
law. Thus:

.SECTION 13. Terms and conditions of employment or improvements thereof, except


those that are fixed by law, may be the subject of negotiations between duly
recognized employees' organizations and appropriate government authorities.

The same executive order has also provided for the general mechanism for the settlement of labor
disputes in the public sector to wit:

.SECTION 16. The Civil Service and labor laws and procedures, whenever
applicable, shall be followed in the resolution of complaints, grievances and cases
involving government employees. In case any dispute remains unresolved after
exhausting all the available remedies under existing laws and procedures, the parties
may jointly refer the dispute to the [Public Sector Labor- Management] Council for
appropriate action.

Government employees may, therefore, through their unions or associations, either petition the
Congress for the betterment of the terms and conditions of employment which are within the ambit of
legislation or negotiate with the appropriate government agencies for the improvement of those
which are not fixed by law. If there be any unresolved grievances, the dispute may be referred to the
Public Sector Labor - Management Council for appropriate action. But employees in the civil service
may not resort to strikes, walk-outs and other temporary work stoppages, like workers in the private
sector, to pressure the Govemment to accede to their demands. As now provided under Sec. 4, Rule
III of the Rules and Regulations to Govern the Exercise of the Right of Government- Employees to
Self- Organization, which took effect after the instant dispute arose, "[t]he terms and conditions of
employment in the government, including any political subdivision or instrumentality thereof and
government- owned and controlled corporations with original charters are governed by law and
employees therein shall not strike for the purpose of securing changes thereof."

II

The strike staged by the employees of the SSS belonging to petitioner union being prohibited by law,
an injunction may be issued to restrain it.

It is futile for the petitioners to assert that the subject labor dispute falls within the exclusive
jurisdiction of the NLRC and, hence, the Regional Trial Court had no jurisdiction to issue a writ of
injunction enjoining the continuance of the strike. The Labor Code itself provides that terms and
conditions of employment of government employees shall be governed by the Civil Service Law,
rules and regulations [Art. 276]. More importantly, E.O. No. 180 vests the Public Sector Labor -
Management Council with jurisdiction over unresolved labor disputes involving government
employees [Sec. 16]. Clearly, the NLRC has no jurisdiction over the dispute.

This being the case, the Regional Trial Court was not precluded, in the exercise of its general
jurisdiction under B.P. Blg. 129, as amended, from assuming jurisdiction over the SSS's complaint
for damages and issuing the injunctive writ prayed for therein. Unlike the NLRC, the Public Sector
Labor - Management Council has not been granted by law authority to issue writs of injunction in
labor disputes within its jurisdiction. Thus, since it is the Council, and not the NLRC, that has
jurisdiction over the instant labor dispute, resort to the general courts of law for the issuance of a writ
of injunction to enjoin the strike is appropriate.

Neither could the court a quo be accused of imprudence or overzealousness, for in fact it had
proceeded with caution. Thus, after issuing a writ of injunction enjoining the continuance of the strike
to prevent any further disruption of public service, the respondent judge, in the same order,
admonished the parties to refer the unresolved controversies emanating from their employer-
employee relationship to the Public Sector Labor - Management Council for appropriate action
[Rollo, p. 86].

III

In their "Petition/Application for Preliminary and Mandatory Injunction," and reiterated in their reply
and supplemental reply, petitioners allege that the SSS unlawfully withheld bonuses and benefits
due the individual petitioners and they pray that the Court issue a writ of preliminary prohibitive and
mandatory injunction to restrain the SSS and its agents from withholding payment thereof and to
compel the SSS to pay them. In their supplemental reply, petitioners annexed an order of the Civil
Service Commission, dated May 5, 1989, which ruled that the officers of the SSSEA who are not
preventively suspended and who are reporting for work pending the resolution of the administrative
cases against them are entitled to their salaries, year-end bonuses and other fringe benefits and
affirmed the previous order of the Merit Systems Promotion Board.

The matter being extraneous to the issues elevated to this Court, it is Our view that petitioners'
remedy is not to petition this Court to issue an injunction, but to cause the execution of the aforesaid
order, if it has already become final.

WHEREFORE, no reversible error having been committed by the Court of Appeals, the instant
petition for review is hereby DENIED and the decision of the appellate court dated March 9, 1988 in
CA-G.R. SP No. 13192 is AFFIRMED. Petitioners' "Petition/Application for Preliminary and
Mandatory Injunction" dated December 13,1988 is DENIED.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 108725 September 25, 1998

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES and FARMERS COOPERATIVE MARKETING ASSOCIATION


(FACOMA), San Jose, Occidental Mindoro, petitioners,
vs.
THE HON. EMILIO L. LEACHON, JR., Presiding Judge, RTC, Branch 46, 4th Judicial Region,
San Jose, Occidental Mindoro, respondents.

PURISIMA, J.:

The People of the Philippines, represented by the Provincial Prosecutor of Occidental Mindoro, and
the private complainant, Farmers Cooperative Marketing Association (FACOMA), brought this
special civil action for certiorariand mandamus, to annul the orders, dated January 18 and February
4, 1993, respectively, of Presiding Judge Emilio L. Leachon, Jr. of the Regional Trial Court, Branch
46, San Jose, occidental Mindoro, who dismissed Criminal Case Nos. R-2877 and R-2828, and
denied herein petitioners' motion for reconsideration. Petioners further pray that respondent Judge
be ordered to proceed with the trial of said cases.

The antecedent facts that matter are, as follows:

On August 7, 1990, pursuant to the Resolution of the Municipal Trial Court of San Jose, Occidental
Mindoro, the Provincial Prosecutor of Occidental Mindoro filed two separate informations for violation
of P.D. 772, otherwise known as the Anti-Squatting Law, against Noli Hablo. Edmundo Mapindan
and Diego Case Nos. R-2877 and R-2828, before the Regional Trial Court of Occidental Mindoro
presided over by respondent judge.

The cases proceeded to trial. After presenting its evidence, the prosecution rested the cases,
sending in a written offer of evidence on November 14, 1991.

On August 18, 1992, almost a year after the prosecution had rested the respondent Judge issued an
Order dismissing the said cases motu proprio on the ground of "lack of jurisdiction."

From the aforesaid order of dismissal, petitioners appealed to this Court via a Petition for Certiorari,
Prohibition and Mandamus, which was referred to the Court of Appeals for proper disposition.

On December 24, 1992, the 12th Division of the Court of Appeals came out with a decision reversing
the appealed Order of dismissal, ordering continuation of trial of subject criminal cases, and
disposing, thus:

IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING considerations, the petition is given due course
and the orders of respondent judge dated August 19, 1992 and September 1, 1992
are set aside and declared null and void. Respondent judge is hereby directed to
proceed with the hearing of the case, i.e., with the presentation of evidence by the
accused, then the rebuttal or surrebuttal evidence, if necessary and thereafter, to
decide the case on the basis of the evidence adduced. No pronouncement as to
costs.

SO ORDERED.

On January 19, 1993, instead of conducting the trial, as directed by the Court of Appeals, the
respondent judge dismissed the cases motu proprio, once more, opining that P.D. 772 is rendered
obsolete and deemed repealed by Sections 9 and 10, Article XIII of the 1987 Constitution, which
provide that "urban or rural poor dwellers shall not be evicted nor their dwellings demolished except
in accordance with law and in a just and humane manner.

Petitioners' Motion for Reconsideration interposed on January 29, 1993, having been denied by the
respondent Judge on February 4, 1993, petitioners found their way to this court via the instant
petition.

The issue posited here is whether or not the respondent judge acted with grave abuse of discretion
amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in dismissing subject criminal cases for violation of the
Anti-Squatting Law, and in declaring the said law as repugnant to the provisions of the provisions of
the 1987 Constitution.
To begin with, to every legislative act attaches the presumption of constitutionality. (Misolas vs.
Panga, 181 SCRA 648; Alvarez vs. Guingona, Jr., 252 SCRA 695). Unless otherwise repealed by a
subsequent law or adjudged unconstitutional by this Court, a law will always be presumed valid and
the first and fundamental duty of the court is to apply the law. (Lim vs. Pacquing, 240 SCRA 649;
National Federation of Labor vs. Eisma, 127 SCRA 419)

Then, too, it is a basic rule of statutory construction that repeals by implication are not favored
unless it is manifest that such is the legislative intent. (Napocor vs. Province of Lanao del Sur, 264
SCRA 271) This doctrine is premised on the rationale that the will of the legislature cannot be
overturned by the judicial function of construction and interpretation. (Ty vs. Trampe, 250 SCRA 500;
Frivaldo vs. Comelec, 257 SCRA 727; Agujetas vs. Court of Appeals, 261 SCRA 17)

Presidential Decree No. 772, otherwise known as the Anti-Squatting Law, enjoys this presumption of
constitutionality. At the time the respondent Judge rendered the questioned Decision and issued the
orders of dismissal in 1993, Presidential Decree No. 772, Anti-Squatting Law, was still effective.
Neither has this Court declared its unconstitutionality, notwithstanding the social justice provision of
Article XIII of the 1987 Constitution, specifically on urban land reform and housing.

Article XIII of the 1987 Constitution, provides:

Sec. 9. The State shall, by law, and for the common good, undertake, in cooperation
with the private sector, a continuing program of urban land reform and housing which
will make available at affordable cost decent housing and basic services to
underprivileged and homeless citizens in urban centers and resettlement areas. It
shall also promote adequate employment opportunities to such citizens. In the
implementation of such program the State shall respect the rights of small property
owners.

Sec. 10. Urban or rural poor dwellers shall not be evicted nor their dwellings
demolished, except in accordance with law and in a just and humane manner.

No resettlement of urban or rural dwellers shall be undertaken without adequate


consultation with them and the communities where they are to be relocated.

Presidential Decree No. 772, on the other hand, states:

Sec. 1. Any person with the use of force, intimidation or threat, or taking advantage
of the absence or tolerance of the landowner, succeeds in occupying or possessing
the property of the latter against his will for residential, commercial or any other
purposes, shall be punished by imprisonment ranging from six months to one year or
a fine not less than one thousand or more than five thousand pesos at the discretion
of the Court, with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency.

If the offender is a corporation or association, the maximum penalty of five years and
the fine of thousand pesos shall be imposed upon the president, director, manager or
managing partners thereof.

In dismissing subject criminal cases for anti-squatting, respondent Judge ratiocinated that "if all the
accused in these cases were convicted and ordered evicted, it will run counter to the said specific
constitutional provisions because the conviction and eviction will not be in a just and humane
manner as the government has not yet undertaken the resettlement of urban and rural dwellers
(referring to all accused in the cases at bar) and neither has the government consulted all the
accused as to where they should be relocated."

From the aforequoted portion of the questioned disposition below, it can be gleaned that the reason
of respondent Judge in dismissing subject cases is that the eviction of the accused was not effected
in a just and humane manner as the government has not yet established a resettlement area for the
accused, and those who would be evicted have not been consulted as to the place of their
relocation. The import of the Order of dismissal under scrutiny is that should the eviction be in a just
and humane manner, the same shall be valid and upheld.

The Court holds that the respondent judge did not err in so construing the aforecited constitutional
provision. Under the Constitution, what makes the eviction and demolition of urban or rural poor
dwellers illegal or unlawful is when the same are not done in accordance with law and in a just and
humane manner.

However, respondent Judge erred in predicating the validity or legality of eviction on the existence of
a resettlement plan and area. The constitutional requirement that the eviction and demolition be in
accordance with law and conducted in a just and humane manner does not mean that the validity or
legality of the demolition or eviction is hinged on the existence of a resettlement area designated or
earmarked by the government. What is meant by "in accordance with law" and "just and humane
manner" is that the person to be evicted be accorded due process or an opportunity to controvert the
allegation that his or her occupation or possession of the property involved is unlawful or against the
will of the landowner; that should the illegal or unlawful occupation be proven, the occupant be
sufficiently notified before actual eviction or demolition is done; and that there be no loss of lives,
physical injuries or unnecessary loss of or damage to properties.

Precisely, the enactment of an anti-squatting law affords the alleged "squatters" the opportunity to
present their case before a competent court where their rights will be amply protected and due
process strictly observed. By filing the proper informations in court, complainants have complied with
the first requirement of due process, that is, the opportunity for the accused to be heard and present
evidence to show that his or her occupation or possession of the property is not against the will or
without the consent of the landowner and is not tainted by the use of force, intimidation, threat or by
the taking advantage of the absence of or tolerance by the landowners.

Furthermore, what gives impetus to P.D. 772 is the constitutional mandate that — "no person shall
be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." Far from contravening, P.D. 772
conforms with the 1987 Constitution, in that it protects the rights of a property owner against unlawful
and illegal intrusion.

It should likewise be noted that a constitutional question will not be decided unless it is properly
raised in appropriate cases (Tropical Homes Inc. vs. National Housing Authority, 142 SCRA 540).
Before the court can assume jurisdiction over a constitutional question, the following requisites must
first be met: (1) there must be an actual case or controversy, including a conflict of rights susceptible
of judicial determination; (2) the constitutional question must be raised by a proper party; (3) the
constitutional question must be raised at the earliest opportunity; and (4) the resolution of the
constitutional question must be necessary for the resolution of the case. (Board of Optometry vs.
Colet, 260 SCRA 88)

In the case at bar, the respondent Judge dismissed subject cases motu proprio, after the
prosecution had rested the same and without giving the three accused an, opportunity to present
their evidence. What is more, there is no showing that the issue of constitutionality of P.D. 772 was
ever posed by the accused. Consequently, such an issue cannot be given due course for the simple
reason that it was not raised by the proper party at the earliest opportunity.

But the foregoing antecedent facts and proceedings notwithstanding, the petition cannot now
prosper because on October 27, 1997, Republic Act No. 8368, entitled "An Act Repealing
Presidential Decree No. 772 Entitled "Penalizing Squatting and Other Similar Acts" was enacted.
Section 3 of the said Act provides that "all pending cases under the provisions of Presidential Decree
No. 772 shall be dismissed upon the effectivity of this Act."

WHEREFORE, the Petition is hereby DISMISSED, without any pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 118978 May 23, 1997

PHILIPPINE TELEGRAPH AND TELEPHONE COMPANY, * petitioner,


vs.
NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION and GRACE DE GUZMAN, respondents.

REGALADO, J.:

Seeking relief through the extraordinary writ of certiorari, petitioner Philippine Telegraph and
Telephone Company (hereafter, PT & T) invokes the alleged concealment of civil status and
defalcation of company funds as grounds to terminate the services of an employee. That employee,
herein private respondent Grace de Guzman, contrarily argues that what really motivated PT & T to
terminate her services was her having contracted marriage during her employment, which is
prohibited by petitioner in its company policies. She thus claims that she was discriminated against
in gross violation of law, such a proscription by an employer being outlawed by Article 136 of the
Labor Code.

Grace de Guzman was initially hired by petitioner as a reliever, specifically as a "Supernumerary


Project Worker," for a fixed period from November 21, 1990 until April 20, 1991 vice one C.F.
Tenorio who went on maternity leave.1Under the Reliever Agreement which she signed with
petitioner company, her employment was to be immediately terminated upon expiration of the
agreed period. Thereafter, from June 10, 1991 to July 1, 1991, and from July 19, 1991 to August 8,
1991, private respondent's services as reliever were again engaged by petitioner, this time in
replacement of one Erlinda F. Dizon who went on leave during both periods.2 After August 8, 1991,
and pursuant to their Reliever Agreement, her services were terminated.

On September 2, 1991, private respondent was once more asked to join petitioner company as a
probationary employee, the probationary period to cover 150 days. In the job application form that
was furnished her to be filled up for the purpose, she indicated in the portion for civil status therein
that she was single although she had contracted marriage a few months earlier, that is, on May 26,
1991.3

It now appears that private respondent had made the same representation in the two successive
reliever agreements which she signed on June 10, 1991 and July 8, 1991. When petitioner
supposedly learned about the same later, its branch supervisor in Baguio City, Delia M. Oficial, sent
to private respondent a memorandum dated January 15, 1992 requiring her to explain the
discrepancy. In that memorandum, she was reminded about the company's policy of not accepting
married women for employment.4

In her reply letter dated January 17, 1992, private respondent stated that she was not aware of
PT&T's policy regarding married women at the time, and that all along she had not deliberately
hidden her true civil status.5Petitioner nonetheless remained unconvinced by her explanations.
Private respondent was dismissed from the company effective January 29, 1992,6 which she readily
contested by initiating a complaint for illegal dismissal, coupled with a claim for non-payment of cost
of living allowances (COLA), before the Regional Arbitration Branch of the National Labor Relations
Commission in Baguio City.

At the preliminary conference conducted in connection therewith, private respondent volunteered the
information, and this was incorporated in the stipulation of facts between the parties, that she had
failed to remit the amount of P2,380.75 of her collections. She then executed a promissory note for
that amount in favor of petitioner7. All of these took place in a formal proceeding and with the
agreement of the parties and/or their counsel.

On November 23, 1993, Labor Arbiter Irenarco R. Rimando handed down a decision declaring that
private respondent, who had already gained the status of a regular employee, was illegally
dismissed by petitioner. Her reinstatement, plus payment of the corresponding back wages and
COLA, was correspondingly ordered, the labor arbiter being of the firmly expressed view that the
ground relied upon by petitioner in dismissing private respondent was clearly insufficient, and that it
was apparent that she had been discriminated against on account of her having contracted marriage
in violation of company rules.

On appeal to the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC), said public respondent upheld the
labor arbiter and, in its decision dated April 29, 1994, it ruled that private respondent had indeed
been the subject of an unjust and unlawful discrimination by her employer, PT & T. However, the
decision of the labor arbiter was modified with the qualification that Grace de Guzman deserved to
be suspended for three months in view of the dishonest nature of her acts which should not be
condoned. In all other respects, the NLRC affirmed the decision of the labor arbiter, including the
order for the reinstatement of private respondent in her employment with PT & T.

The subsequent motion for reconsideration filed by petitioner was rebuffed by respondent NLRC in
its resolution of November 9, 1994, hence this special civil action assailing the aforestated decisions
of the labor arbiter and respondent NLRC, as well as the denial resolution of the latter.

1. Decreed in the Bible itself is the universal norm that women should be regarded with love and
respect but, through the ages, men have responded to that injunction with indifference, on the
hubristic conceit that women constitute the inferior sex. Nowhere has that prejudice against
womankind been so pervasive as in the field of labor, especially on the matter of equal employment
opportunities and standards. In the Philippine setting, women have traditionally been considered as
falling within the vulnerable groups or types of workers who must be safeguarded with preventive
and remedial social legislation against discriminatory and exploitative practices in hiring, training,
benefits, promotion and retention.

The Constitution, cognizant of the disparity in rights between men and women in almost all phases
of social and political life, provides a gamut of protective provisions. To cite a few of the primordial
ones, Section 14, Article II8 on the Declaration of Principles and State Policies, expressly recognizes
the role of women in nation-building and commands the State to ensure, at all times, the
fundamental equality before the law of women and men. Corollary thereto, Section 3 of Article
XIII9 (the progenitor whereof dates back to both the 1935 and 1973 Constitution) pointedly requires
the State to afford full protection to labor and to promote full employment and equality of
employment opportunities for all, including an assurance of entitlement to tenurial security of all
workers. Similarly, Section 14 of Article XIII 10 mandates that the State shall protect working women
through provisions for opportunities that would enable them to reach their full potential.

2. Corrective labor and social laws on gender inequality have emerged with more frequency in the
years since the Labor Code was enacted on May 1, 1974 as Presidential Decree No. 442, largely
due to our country's commitment as a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Elimination
of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). 11

Principal among these laws are Republic Act No. 6727 12 which explicitly prohibits discrimination
against women with respect to terms and conditions of employment, promotion, and training
opportunities; Republic Act No. 6955 13which bans the "mail-order-bride" practice for a fee and the
export of female labor to countries that cannot guarantee protection to the rights of women workers;
Republic Act No. 7192 14 also known as the "Women in Development and Nation Building Act," which
affords women equal opportunities with men to act and to enter into contracts, and for appointment,
admission, training, graduation, and commissioning in all military or similar schools of the Armed
Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police; Republic Act No. 7322 15 increasing the
maternity benefits granted to women in the private sector; Republic Act No. 7877 16 which outlaws
and punishes sexual harassment in the workplace and in the education and training environment;
and Republic Act No. 8042, 17 or the "Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995," which
prescribes as a matter of policy, inter alia, the deployment of migrant workers, with emphasis on
women, only in countries where their rights are secure. Likewise, it would not be amiss to point out
that in the Family Code, 18 women's rights in the field of civil law have been greatly enhanced and
expanded.

In the Labor Code, provisions governing the rights of women workers are found in Articles 130 to
138 thereof. Article 130 involves the right against particular kinds of night work while Article 132
ensures the right of women to be provided with facilities and standards which the Secretary of Labor
may establish to ensure their health and safety. For purposes of labor and social legislation, a
woman working in a nightclub, cocktail lounge, massage clinic, bar or other similar establishments
shall be considered as an employee under Article 138. Article 135, on the other hand, recognizes a
woman's right against discrimination with respect to terms and conditions of employment on account
simply of sex. Finally, and this brings us to the issue at hand, Article 136 explicitly prohibits
discrimination merely by reason of the marriage of a female employee.

3. Acknowledged as paramount in the due process scheme is the constitutional guarantee of


protection to labor and security of tenure. Thus, an employer is required, as a condition sine qua
non prior to severance of the employment ties of an individual under his employ, to convincingly
establish, through substantial evidence, the existence of a valid and just cause in dispensing with the
services of such employee, one's labor being regarded as constitutionally protected property.

On the other hand, it is recognized that regulation of manpower by the company falls within the so-
called management prerogatives, which prescriptions encompass the matter of hiring, supervision of
workers, work assignments, working methods and assignments, as well as regulations on the
transfer of employees, lay-off of workers, and the discipline, dismissal, and recall of employees. 19 As
put in a case, an employer is free to regulate, according to his discretion and best business
judgment, all aspects of employment, "from hiring to firing," except in cases of unlawful
discrimination or those which may be provided by law. 20

In the case at bar, petitioner's policy of not accepting or considering as disqualified from work any
woman worker who contracts marriage runs afoul of the test of, and the right against, discrimination,
afforded all women workers by our labor laws and by no less than the Constitution. Contrary to
petitioner's assertion that it dismissed private respondent from employment on account of her
dishonesty, the record discloses clearly that her ties with the company were dissolved principally
because of the company's policy that married women are not qualified for employment in PT & T,
and not merely because of her supposed acts of dishonesty.

That it was so can easily be seen from the memorandum sent to private respondent by Delia M.
Oficial, the branch supervisor of the company, with the reminder, in the words of the latter, that
"you're fully aware that the company is not accepting married women employee (sic), as it was
verbally instructed to you." 21 Again, in the termination notice sent to her by the same branch
supervisor, private respondent was made to understand that her severance from the service was not
only by reason of her concealment of her married status but, over and on top of that, was her
violation of the company's policy against marriage ("and even told you that married women
employees are not applicable [sic] or accepted in our company.") 22 Parenthetically, this seems to be
the curious reason why it was made to appear in the initiatory pleadings that petitioner was
represented in this case only by its said supervisor and not by its highest ranking officers who would
otherwise be solidarily liable with the corporation. 23

Verily, private respondent's act of concealing the true nature of her status from PT & T could not be
properly characterized as willful or in bad faith as she was moved to act the way she did mainly
because she wanted to retain a permanent job in a stable company. In other words, she was
practically forced by that very same illegal company policy into misrepresenting her civil status for
fear of being disqualified from work. While loss of confidence is a just cause for termination of
employment, it should not be simulated. 24 It must rest on an actual breach of duty committed by the
employee and not on the employer's caprices. 25 Furthermore, it should never be used as a
subterfuge for causes which are improper, illegal, or unjustified. 26

In the present controversy, petitioner's expostulations that it dismissed private respondent, not
because the latter got married but because she concealed that fact, does have a hollow ring. Her
concealment, so it is claimed, bespeaks dishonesty hence the consequent loss of confidence in her
which justified her dismissal.

Petitioner would asseverate, therefore, that while it has nothing against marriage, it nonetheless
takes umbrage over the concealment of that fact. This improbable reasoning, with interstitial
distinctions, perturbs the Court since private respondent may well be minded to claim that the
imputation of dishonesty should be the other way around.

Petitioner would have the Court believe that although private respondent defied its policy against its
female employees contracting marriage, what could be an act of insubordination was
inconsequential. What it submits as unforgivable is her concealment of that marriage yet, at the
same time, declaring that marriage as a trivial matter to which it supposedly has no objection. In
other words, PT & T says it gives its blessings to its female employees contracting marriage, despite
the maternity leaves and other benefits it would consequently respond for and which obviously it
would have wanted to avoid. If that employee confesses such fact of marriage, there will be no
sanction; but if such employee conceals the same instead of proceeding to the confessional, she will
be dismissed. This line of reasoning does not impress us as reflecting its true management policy or
that we are being regaled with responsible advocacy.

This Court should be spared the ennui of strained reasoning and the tedium of propositions which
confuse through less than candid arguments. Indeed, petitioner glosses over the fact that it was its
unlawful policy against married women, both on the aspects of qualification and retention, which
compelled private respondent to conceal her supervenient marriage. It was, however, that very
policy alone which was the cause of private respondent's secretive conduct now complained of. It is
then apropos to recall the familiar saying that he who is the cause of the cause is the cause of the
evil caused.

Finally, petitioner's collateral insistence on the admission of private respondent that she supposedly
misappropriated company funds, as an additional ground to dismiss her from employment, is
somewhat insincere and self-serving. Concededly, private respondent admitted in the course of the
proceedings that she failed to remit some of her collections, but that is an altogether different story.
The fact is that she was dismissed solely because of her concealment of her marital status, and not
on the basis of that supposed defalcation of company funds. That the labor arbiter would thus
consider petitioner's submissions on this supposed dishonesty as a mere afterthought, just to bolster
its case for dismissal, is a perceptive conclusion born of experience in labor cases. For, there was
no showing that private respondent deliberately misappropriated the amount or whether her failure to
remit the same was through negligence and, if so, whether the negligence was in nature simple or
grave. In fact, it was merely agreed that private respondent execute a promissory note to refund the
same, which she did, and the matter was deemed settled as a peripheral issue in the labor case.

Private respondent, it must be observed, had gained regular status at the time of her dismissal.
When she was served her walking papers on January 29, 1992, she was about to complete the
probationary period of 150 days as she was contracted as a probationary employee on September
2, 1991. That her dismissal would be effected just when her probationary period was winding down
clearly raises the plausible conclusion that it was done in order to prevent her from earning security
of tenure. 27 On the other hand, her earlier stints with the company as reliever were undoubtedly
those of a regular employee, even if the same were for fixed periods, as she performed activities
which were essential or necessary in the usual trade and business of PT & T. 28 The primary
standard of determining regular employment is the reasonable connection between the activity
performed by the employee in relation to the business or trade of the employer. 29

As an employee who had therefore gained regular status, and as she had been dismissed without
just cause, she is entitled to reinstatement without loss of seniority rights and other privileges and to
full back wages, inclusive of allowances and other benefits or their monetary equivalent. 30 However,
as she had undeniably committed an act of dishonesty in concealing her status, albeit under the
compulsion of an unlawful imposition of petitioner, the three-month suspension imposed by
respondent NLRC must be upheld to obviate the impression or inference that such act should be
condoned. It would be unfair to the employer if she were to return to its fold without any sanction
whatsoever for her act which was not totally justified. Thus, her entitlement to back wages, which
shall be computed from the time her compensation was withheld up to the time of her actual
reinstatement, shall be reduced by deducting therefrom the amount corresponding to her three
months suspension.

4. The government, to repeat, abhors any stipulation or policy in the nature of that adopted by
petitioner PT & T. The Labor Code state, in no uncertain terms, as follows:

Art. 136. Stipulation against marriage. — It shall be unlawful for an employer to


require as a condition of employment or continuation of employment that a woman
shall not get married, or to stipulate expressly or tacitly that upon getting married, a
woman employee shall be deemed resigned or separated, or to actually dismiss,
discharge, discriminate or otherwise prejudice a woman employee merely by reason
of marriage.

This provision had a studied history for its origin can be traced to Section 8 of Presidential Decree
No. 148, 31 better known as the "Women and
Child Labor Law," which amended paragraph (c), Section 12 of Republic Act No. 679, 32 entitled "An
Act to Regulate the Employment of Women and Children, to Provide Penalties for Violations
Thereof, and for Other Purposes." The forerunner to Republic Act No. 679, on the other hand, was
Act No. 3071 which became law on March 16, 1923 and which regulated the employment of women
and children in shops, factories, industrial, agricultural, and mercantile establishments and other
places of labor in the then Philippine Islands.

It would be worthwhile to reflect upon and adopt here the rationalization in Zialcita, et
al. vs. Philippine Air Lines, 33 a decision that emanated from the Office of the President. There, a
policy of Philippine Air Lines requiring that prospective flight attendants must be single and that they
will be automatically separated from the service once they marry was declared void, it being violative
of the clear mandate in Article 136 of the Labor Code with regard to discrimination against married
women. Thus:

Of first impression is the incompatibility of the respondent's policy or regulation with


the codal provision of law. Respondent is resolute in its contention that Article 136 of
the Labor Code applies only to women employed in ordinary occupations and that
the prohibition against marriage of women engaged in extraordinary occupations, like
flight attendants, is fair and reasonable, considering the pecularities of their chosen
profession.

We cannot subscribe to the line of reasoning pursued by respondent. All along, it


knew that the controverted policy has already met its doom as early as March 13,
1973 when Presidential Decree No. 148, otherwise known as the Women and Child
Labor Law, was promulgated. But for the timidity of those affected or their labor
unions in challenging the validity of the policy, the same was able to obtain a
momentary reprieve. A close look at Section 8 of said decree, which amended
paragraph (c) of Section 12 of Republic Act No. 679, reveals that it is exactly the
same provision reproduced verbatim in Article 136 of the Labor Code, which was
promulgated on May 1, 1974 to take effect six (6) months later, or on November 1,
1974.

It cannot be gainsaid that, with the reiteration of the same provision in the new Labor
Code, all policies and acts against it are deemed illegal and therefore abrogated.
True, Article 132 enjoins the Secretary of Labor to establish standards that will
ensure the safety and health of women employees and in appropriate cases shall by
regulation require employers to determine appropriate minimum standards for
termination in special occupations, such as those of flight attendants, but that is
precisely the factor that militates against the policy of respondent. The standards
have not yet been established as set forth in the first paragraph, nor has the
Secretary of Labor issued any regulation affecting flight attendants.

It is logical to presume that, in the absence of said standards or regulations which


are as yet to be established, the policy of respondent against marriage is patently
illegal. This finds support in Section 9 of the New Constitution, which provides:

Sec. 9. The State shall afford protection to labor, promote full employment and
equality in employment, ensure equal work opportunities regardless of sex, race, or
creed, and regulate the relations between workers and employees. The State shall
assure the rights of workers to self-organization, collective bargaining, security of
tenure, and just and humane conditions of work . . . .
Moreover, we cannot agree to the respondent's proposition that termination from
employment of flight attendants on account of marriage is a fair and reasonable
standard designed for their own health, safety, protection and welfare, as no basis
has been laid therefor. Actually, respondent claims that its concern is not so much
against the continued employment of the flight attendant merely by reason of
marriage as observed by the Secretary of Labor, but rather on the consequence of
marriage-pregnancy. Respondent discussed at length in the instant appeal the
supposed ill effects of pregnancy on flight attendants in the course of their
employment. We feel that this needs no further discussion as it had been adequately
explained by the Secretary of Labor in his decision of May 2, 1976.

In a vain attempt to give meaning to its position, respondent went as far as invoking
the provisions of Articles 52 and 216 of the New Civil Code on the preservation of
marriage as an inviolable social institution and the family as a basic social institution,
respectively, as bases for its policy of non-marriage. In both instances, respondent
predicates absence of a flight attendant from her home for long periods of time as
contributory to an unhappy married life. This is pure conjecture not based on actual
conditions, considering that, in this modern world, sophisticated technology has
narrowed the distance from one place to another. Moreover, respondent overlooked
the fact that married flight attendants can program their lives to adapt to prevailing
circumstances and events.

Article 136 is not intended to apply only to women employed in ordinary occupations,
or it should have categorically expressed so. The sweeping intendment of the law, be
it on special or ordinary occupations, is reflected in the whole text and supported by
Article 135 that speaks of non-discrimination on the employment of women.

The judgment of the Court of Appeals in Gualberto, et al. vs. Marinduque Mining & Industrial
Corporation 34considered as void a policy of the same nature. In said case, respondent, in dismissing
from the service the complainant, invoked a policy of the firm to consider female employees in the
project it was undertaking as separated the moment they get married due to lack of facilities for
married women. Respondent further claimed that complainant was employed in the project with an
oral understanding that her services would be terminated when she gets married. Branding the
policy of the employer as an example of "discriminatory chauvinism" tantamount to denying equal
employment opportunities to women simply on account of their sex, the appellate court struck down
said employer policy as unlawful in view of its repugnance to the Civil Code, Presidential Decree No.
148 and the Constitution.

Under American jurisprudence, job requirements which establish employer preference or conditions
relating to the marital status of an employee are categorized as a "sex-plus" discrimination where it
is imposed on one sex and not on the other. Further, the same should be evenly applied and must
not inflict adverse effects on a racial or sexual group which is protected by federal job discrimination
laws. Employment rules that forbid or restrict the employment of married women, but do not apply to
married men, have been held to violate Title VII of the United States Civil Rights Act of 1964, the
main federal statute prohibiting job discrimination against employees and applicants on the basis of,
among other things, sex. 35

Further, it is not relevant that the rule is not directed against all women but just against married
women. And, where the employer discriminates against married women, but not against married
men, the variable is sex and the discrimination is unlawful. 36 Upon the other hand, a requirement that
a woman employee must remain unmarried could be justified as a "bona fide occupational
qualification," or BFOQ, where the particular requirements of the job would justify the same, but not
on the ground of a general principle, such as the desirability of spreading work in the workplace. A
requirement of that nature would be valid provided it reflects an inherent quality reasonably
necessary for satisfactory job performance. Thus, in one case, a no-marriage rule applicable to both
male and female flight attendants, was regarded as unlawful since the restriction was not related to
the job performance of the flight attendants. 37

5. Petitioner's policy is not only in derogation of the provisions of Article 136 of the Labor Code on
the right of a woman to be free from any kind of stipulation against marriage in connection with her
employment, but it likewise assaults good morals and public policy, tending as it does to deprive a
woman of the freedom to choose her status, a privilege that by all accounts inheres in the individual
as an intangible and inalienable right. 38 Hence, while it is true that the parties to a contract may
establish any agreements, terms, and conditions that they may deem convenient, the same should
not be contrary to law, morals, good customs, public order, or public policy. 39 Carried to its logical
consequences, it may even be said that petitioner's policy against legitimate marital bonds would
encourage illicit or common-law relations and subvert the sacrament of marriage.

Parenthetically, the Civil Code provisions on the contract of labor state that the relations between the
parties, that is, of capital and labor, are not merely contractual, impressed as they are with so much
public interest that the same should yield to the common good. 40 It goes on to intone that neither
capital nor labor should visit acts of oppression against the other, nor impair the interest or
convenience of the public. 41 In the final reckoning, the danger of just such a policy against marriage
followed by petitioner PT & T is that it strikes at the very essence, ideals and purpose of marriage as
an inviolable social institution and, ultimately, of the family as the foundation of the nation. 42 That it
must be effectively interdicted here in all its indirect, disguised or dissembled forms as discriminatory
conduct derogatory of the laws of the land is not only in order but imperatively required.

ON THE FOREGOING PREMISES, the petition of Philippine Telegraph and Telephone Company is
hereby DISMISSED for lack of merit, with double costs against petitioner.

SO ORDERED

G.R. No. 101476 April 14, 1992

EXPORT PROCESSING ZONE AUTHORITY, petitioner,


vs.
THE COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS, TERESITA VALLES, LORETO ALEDIA and PEDRO
ORDONEZ, respondents.

GRIÑO-AQUINO, J.:

On May 30, 1980, P.D. 1980 was issued reserving and designating certain parcels of land in Rosario
and General Trias, Cavite, as the "Cavite Export Processing Zone" (CEPZ). For purposes of
development, the area was divided into Phases I to IV. A parcel of Phase IV was bought by Filoil
Refinery Corporation, formerly Filoil Industrial Estate, Inc. The same parcel was later sold by Filoil to
the Export Processing Zone Authority (EPZA).

Before EPZA could take possession of the area, several individuals had entered the premises and
planted agricultural products therein without permission from EPZA or its predecessor, Filoil. To
convince the intruders to depart peacefully, EPZA, in 1981, paid a P10,000-financial-assistance to
those who accepted the same and signed quitclaims. Among them were Teresita Valles and Alfredo
Aledia, father of respondent Loreto Aledia.

Ten years later, on May 10, 1991, respondent Teresita Valles, Loreto Aledia and Pedro Ordoñez
filed in the respondent Commission on Human Rights (CHR) a joint complaint (Pinagsamahang
Salaysay) praying for "justice and other reliefs and remedies" ("Katarungan at iba pang tulong"). The
CHR conducted an investigation of the complaint.

According to the CHR, the private respondents, who are farmers, filed in the Commission on May
10, 1991 a verified complaint for violation of their human rights. They alleged that on March 20,
1991, at 10:00 o'clock in the morning. Engineer Neron Damondamon, EPZA Project Engineer,
accompanied by his subordinates and members of the 215th PNP Company, brought a bulldozer
and a crane to level the area occupied by the private respondents who tried to stop them by showing
a copy of a letter from the Office of the President of the Philippines ordering postponement of the
bulldozing. However, the letter was crumpled and thrown to the ground by a member of
Damondamon's group who proclaimed that: "The President in Cavite is Governor Remulla!"

On April 3, 1991, mediamen who had been invited by the private respondents to cover the
happenings in the area were beaten up and their cameras were snatched from them by members of
the Philippine National Police and some government officials and their civilian followers.

On May 17, 1991, the CHR issued an Order of injunction commanding EPZA, the 125th PNP
Company and Governor Remulla and their subordinates to desist from committing further acts of
demolition, terrorism, and harassment until further orders from the Commission and to appeal before
the Commission on May 27, 1991 at 9:00 a.m. for a dialogue (Annex A).

On May 25, 1991, two weeks later, the same group accompanied by men of Governor Remulla,
again bulldozed the area. They allegedly handcuffed private respondent Teresita Valles, pointed
their firearms at the other respondents, and fired a shot in the air.

On May 28, 1991, CHR Chairman Mary Concepcion Bautista issued another injunction Order
reiterating her order of May 17, 1991 and expanded it to include the Secretary of Public Works and
Highways, the contractors, and their subordinates. The order reads as follows:

Considering the sworn statements of the farmers whose farmlands are being
bulldozed and the wanton destruction of their irrigation canals which prevent
cultivation at the farmlands as well as the claim of ownership of the lands by some
farmers-complainants, and their possession and cultivation thereof spanning
decades, including the failure of the officials concerned to comply with the
Constitutional provision on the eviction of rural "squatters", the Commission
reiterates its Order of May 17, 1991, andfurther orders the Secretary of Public Works
and Highways, their Contractors and representatives to refrain and desist from
bulldozing the farmlands of the complainants-farmers who have come to the
Commission for relief, during the pendency of this investigation and to refrain from
further destruction of the irrigation canals in the area until further orders of the
Commission.

This dialogue is reset to June 10, 1991 at 9 00 a.m. and the Secretary of the
Department of Public Works and Highways or his representative is requested to
appear. (p. 20, Rollo; emphasis supplied)
On July 1, 1991, EPZA filed in the CHR a motion to lift the Order of Injunction for lack of authority to
issue injunctive writs and temporary restraining orders.

On August 16, 1991, the Commission denied the motion.

On September 11, 1991, the petitioner, through the Government Corporate Counsel, filed in this
Court a special civil action of certiorari and prohibition with a prayer for the issuance of a restraining
order and/or preliminary injunction, alleging that the CHR acted in excess of its jurisdiction and with
grave abuse of discretion in issuing the restraining order and injunctive writ; that the private
respondents have no clear, positive right to be protected by an injunction; that the CHR abused its
discretion in entertaining the private respondent's complaint because the issue raised therein had
been decided by this Court, hence, it is barred by prior judgment.

On September 19, 1991, this Court issued a temporary restraining order, ordering the CHR to cease
and desist from enforcing and/or implementing the questioned injunction orders.

In its comment on the petition, the CHR asked for the immediate lifting of this Court's restraining
order, and for an order restraining petitioner EPZA from doing further acts of destruction and
harassment. The CHR contends that its principal function under Section 18, Art. 13 of the 1987
Constitution, "is not limited to mere investigation" because it is mandated, among others, to:

a. Investigate, on its own or on complaint by any party, all forms of human rights
violations involving civil and political rights;

b. Adopt its operational guidelines and rules of procedure, and cite for contempt for
violations thereof in accordance with the Rules of Court;

c. Provide appropriate legal measures for the protection of human rights of all
persons within the Philippines, as well as Filipinos residing abroad, and provide for
preventive measures and legal aid services to the under privileged whose human
rights have been violated or need protection;

d. Monitor the Philippine Government's compliance with international treaty


obligations on human rights. (Emphasis supplied.) (p. 45, Rollo)

On November 14, 1991, the Solicitor General filed a Manifestation and Motion praying that he be
excused from filing a Comment for the CHR on the ground that the Comment filed by the latter "fully
traversed and squarely met all the issues raised and discussed in the main Petition for Certiorari and
Prohibition" (p. 83, Rollo).

Does the CHR have jurisdiction to issue a writ of injunction or restraining order against supposed
violators of human rights, to compel them to cease and desist from continuing the acts complained
of?

In Hon. Isidro Cariño, et al. vs. Commission on Human Rights, et al., G.R No. 96681, December 2,
1991, we held that the CHR is not a court of justice nor even a quasi-judicial body.

The most that may be conceded to the Commission in the way of adjudicative power
is that it may investigate, i.e., receive evidence and make findings of fact as regards
claimed human rights violations involving civil and political rights. But fact-finding is
not adjudication, and cannot be likened to thejudicial function of a court of justice, or
even a quasi-judicial agency or official. The function of receiving evidence and
ascertaining therefrom the facts of a controversy is not a judicial function, properly
speaking. To be considered such, the faculty of receiving evidence and making
factual conclusions in a controversy must be accompanied by the authority
of applying the law to those factual conclusions to the end that the controversy may
be decided or determined authoritatively, finally and definitely, subject to such
appeals or modes of review as may be provided by law. This function, to repeat, the
Commission does not have.

xxx xxx xxx

Hence it is that the Commission on Human Rights, having merely the power "to
investigate," cannot and should not "try and resolve on the merits" (adjudicate) the
matters involved in Striking Teachers HRC Case No. 90-775, as it has announced it
means to do; and it cannot do so even if there be a claim that in the administrative
disciplinary proceedings against the teachers in question, initiated and conducted by
the DECS, their human rights, or civil or political rights had been transgressed. More
particularly, the Commission has no power to "resolve on the merits" the question of
(a) whether or not the mass concerted actions engaged in by the teachers constitute
a strike and are prohibited or otherwise restricted by law; (b) whether or not the act of
carrying on and taking part in those actions, and the failure of the teachers to
discontinue those actions and return to their classes despite the order to this effect
by the Secretary of Education, constitute infractions of relevant rules and regulations
warranting administrative disciplinary sanctions, or are justified by the grievances
complained of by them; and (c) what were the particular acts done by each individual
teacher and what sanctions, if any, may properly be imposed for said acts or
omissions. (pp. 5 & 8.)

The constitutional provision directing the CHR to "provide for preventive measures and legal aid
services to the underprivileged whose human rights have been violated or need protection" may not
be construed to confer jurisdiction on the Commission to issue a restraining order or writ of injunction
for, if that were the intention, the Constitution would have expressly said so. "Jurisdiction is conferred
only by the Constitution or by law" (Oroso, Jr. vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. Nos. 76828-32, 28 January
1991; Bacalso vs. Ramolete, G.R. No. L-22488, 26 October 1967, 21 SCRA 519). It is never derived
by implication (Garcia, et al. vs. De Jesus, et al., G.R. No. 88158; Tobon Uy vs. Commission on
Election, et al.. G.R. Nos. 97108-09, March 4, 1992).

Evidently, the "preventive measures and legal aid services" mentioned in the Constitution refer to
extrajudicial and judicial remedies (including a preliminary writ of injunction) which the CHR may
seek from the proper courts on behalf of the victims of human rights violations. Not being a court of
justice, the CHR itself has no jurisdiction to issue the writ, for a writ of preliminary injunction may only
be issued "by the judge of any court in which the action is pending [within his district], or by a Justice
of the Court of Appeals, or of the Supreme Court. It may also be granted by the judge of a Court of
First Instance [now Regional Trial Court] in any action pending in an inferior court within his district."
(Sec. 2, Rule 58, Rules of Court). A writ of preliminary injunction is an ancillary remedy. It is
available only in a pending principal action, for the preservation or protection of the rights and
interest of a party thereto, and for no other purpose

WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari and prohibition is GRANTED. The orders of injunction dated
May 17 and 28, 1991 issued by the respondent Commission on Human Right are here by
ANNULLED and SET ASIDE and the temporary restraining order which this Court issued on
September 19, 1991, is hereby made PERMANENT.
SO ORDERED.

A.M. No. 11-10-03-O July 30, 2013

RE: LETTER DATED APRIL 18, 2011 OF CHIEF PUBLIC ATTORNEY PERSIDA RUEDA-COSTA
REQUESTING EXEMPTION FROM THE PAYMENT OF SHERIFF'S EXPENSES

RESOLUTION

REYES, J.:

This case stemmed from the February 7, 2011 letter1 of Attorney Persida V. Rueda-Acosta (Atty.
Acosta), Chief Public Attorney of the Public Attorney's Office (PAO), to the Office of the Court
Administrator (OCA). In the said letter, Atty. Acosta sought a clarification as to the exemption of
PAO's clients from the payment of sheriffs expenses, alleging that PAO's clients in its Regional
Office in Region VII are being charged with the payment of sheriff’s expenses in the amount of
₱1,000.00 upon the filing of a civil action in court. She claimed that sheriff’s expenses should not be
exacted from PAO’s clients since Section 6 of Republic Act No. 94062 (R.A. No. 9406) specifically
exempts them from the payment of docket and other fees incidental to instituting an action in court
and other quasi-judicial bodies.

In its letter3 dated March 23, 2011 to Atty. Acosta, the OCA clarified that PAO’s clients,
notwithstanding their exemption under Section 6 of R.A. No. 9406 from payment of "docket and
other fees incidental to instituting an action in court," are not exempted from the payment of sheriff’s
expenses. The OCA explained that sheriff’s expenses, strictly speaking, are not considered as "legal
fees" under Rule 141 of the Rules of Court since they are not payable to the government; they are
payable to the sheriff/process server to defray his travel expenses in serving court processes in
relation to the litigant’s case.

In her letter4 dated April 18, 2011 to the OCA, Atty. Acosta maintained that, while sheriff’s expenses
may not be strictly considered as a legal fee, they are nevertheless considered as a fee which is
incidental to the filing of an action in court and, hence, should not be exacted from PAO’s clients.
She pointed out that the imposition of sheriff’s expenses on PAO’s clients would render the latter’s
exemption from payment of docket and other fees under Section 6 of R.A. No. 9406 nugatory.
Considering that the matter involves an interpretation of R.A. No. 9406, Atty. Acosta requested that
the same be referred to the Court en banc for resolution.

In its report and recommendation5 dated September 14, 2011, the OCA maintained its position that
PAO’s clients are not exempted from the payment of sheriff’s expenses; it stressed that the
₱1,000.00 sheriff’s expenses are not the same as the sheriff’s fee fixed by Section 10, Rule 141 of
the Rules of Court and, hence, not covered by the exemption granted to PAO’s clients under R.A.
No. 9406. The OCA further alleged that the grant of exemption to PAO’s clients from the payment of
sheriff’s expenses amounts to disbursement of public funds for the protection of private interests.
Accordingly, the OCA recommended that Atty. Acosta’s request for exemption of PAO’s clients from
payment of sheriff’s expenses be denied.

Adopting the recommendation of the OCA, the Court en banc issued Resolution6 dated November
22, 2011 which denied Atty. Acosta’s request for exemption from the payment of sheriff’s expenses.

On January 2, 2012, Atty. Acosta sought a reconsideration7 of the Court’s Resolution dated
November 22, 2011, which the Court en banc referred to the OCA for appropriate action. In its report
and recommendation8 dated March 22, 2012, the OCA averred that the exemption of PAO’s clients
from payment of legal fees is not an absolute rule and that the Court is not precluded from providing
limitations thereto. Thus, the OCA recommended the denial of Atty. Acosta’s motion for
reconsideration.

On April 24, 2012, the Court en banc issued a Resolution9 which denied the Motion for
Reconsideration filed by Atty. Acosta.

Unperturbed, Atty. Acosta filed a motion for leave to file a second motion for reconsideration10 and a
Second Motion for Reconsideration11 of the Court’s Resolution dated April 24, 2012, alleging that the
imposition of sheriff’s expenses on PAO’s clients is contrary to the language, intent and spirit of
Section 6 of R.A. No. 9406 since sheriff’s expenses are considered as fees "incidental to instituting
an action in court." Further, she claimed that the said imposition on PAO’s clients would hinder their
access to the courts contrary to the mandate of Section 11, Article III of the Constitution.

After a conscientious review of the contrasting legal disquisitions set forth in this case, the Court still
finds the instant petition devoid of merit.

At the outset, it bears stressing that this is already the third attempt of Atty. Acosta to obtain from this
Court a declaration exempting PAO’s clients from the payment of sheriff’s fees – the initial request
therefor and the subsequent motion for reconsideration having been denied by this Court.

As a rule, a second motion for reconsideration is a prohibited pleading.12 This rule, however, is not
cast in stone. A second motion for reconsideration may be allowed if there are extraordinarily
persuasive reasons therefor, and upon express leave of court first obtained.13

Ordinarily, the Court would have dismissed outright Atty. Acosta’s second motion for
reconsideration. However, for reasons to be discussed at length later, there is a need to give due
course to the instant petition in order to reassess and clarify the Court’s pronouncement in our
Resolutions dated November 22, 2011 and April 24, 2012.

In any case, it bears stressing that what is involved in this case is the Court’s administrative power to
determine its policy vis-à-vis the exaction of legal fees from the litigants. The Court’s policy
determination respecting administrative matters must not be unnecessarily bound by procedural
considerations. Surely, a rule of procedure may not debilitate the Court and render inutile its power
of administration and supervision over court procedures.

At the core of this case is the proper interpretation of Section 6 of R.A. No. 9406 which, in part,
reads:

Sec. 6. New sections are hereby inserted in Chapter 5, Title III, Book IV of Executive Order No. 292,
to read as follows:

xxxx

Sec. 16-D. Exemption from Fees and Costs of the Suit – The clients of PAO shall be exempt from
payment of docket and other fees incidental to instituting an action in court and other quasi-judicial
bodies, as an original proceeding or on appeal.

The costs of the suit, attorney’s fees and contingent fees imposed upon the adversary of the PAO
clients after a successful litigation shall be deposited in the National Treasury as trust fund and shall
be disbursed for special allowances of authorized officials and lawyers of the PAO. (Emphasis ours)
The OCA maintains that sheriff’s expenses are not covered by the exemption granted to PAO’s
clients under R.A. No. 9406 since the same are not considered as a legal fee under Rule 141 of the
Rules of Court. Stated differently, the OCA asserts that the exemption provided for under R.A. No.
9406 only covers the legal fees enumerated under Rule 141 of the Rules of Court.

The court agrees.

It is a well-settled principle of legal hermeneutics that words of a statute will be interpreted in their
natural, plain and ordinary acceptation and signification, unless it is evident that the legislature
intended a technical or special legal meaning to those words. The intention of the lawmakers–who
are, ordinarily, untrained philologists and lexicographers–to use statutory phraseology in such a
manner is always presumed.14

That Section 6 of R.A. No. 9406 exempts PAO’s clients from the payment of "docket and other fees
incidental to instituting an action in court and other quasi-judicial bodies" is beyond cavil. However,
contrary to Atty. Acosta’s claim, a plain reading of the said provision clearly shows that the
exemption granted to PAO’s clients cannot be extended to the payment of sheriff’s expenses; the
exemption is specifically limited to the payment of fees, i.e., docket and other fees incidental to
instituting an action.

The term "fees" is defined as a charge fixed by law or by an institution for certain privileges or
services.15 Viewed from this context, the phrase "docket and other fees incidental to instituting an
action" refers to the totality of the legal fees imposed under Rule 14116 of the Rules of Court. In
particular, it includes filing or docket fees, appeal fees, fees for issuance of provisional remedies,
mediation fees, sheriff’s fees, stenographer’s fees and commissioner’s fees.17 These are the fees
that are exacted for the services rendered by the court in connection with the action instituted before
it.

Sheriff’s expenses, however, cannot be classified as a "fee" within the purview of the exemption
granted to PAO’s clients under Section 6 of R.A. No. 9406. Sheriff’s expenses are provided for under
Section 10, Rule 141 of the Rules of Court, viz:

Sec. 10. Sheriffs, PROCESS SERVERS and other persons serving processes.–

xxxx

In addition to the fees hereinabove fixed, the amount of ONE THOUSAND (₱1,000.00) PESOS shall
be deposited with the Clerk of Court upon filing of the complaint to defray the actual travel expenses
of the sheriff, process server or other court-authorized persons in the service of summons, subpoena
and other court processes that would be issued relative to the trial of the case. In case the initial
deposit of ONE THOUSAND (₱1,000.00) PESOS is not sufficient, then the plaintiff or petitioner shall
be required to make an additional deposit. The sheriff, process server or other court authorized
person shall submit to the court for its approval a statement of the estimated travel expenses for
service of summons and court processes. Once approved, the Clerk of Court shall release the
money to said sheriff or process server. After service, a statement of liquidation shall be submitted to
the court for approval. After rendition of judgment by the court, any excess from the deposit shall be
returned to the party who made the deposit. x x x x (Emphasis ours)

Sheriff’s expenses are not exacted for any service rendered by the court; they are the amount
deposited to the Clerk of Court upon filing of the complaint to defray the actual travel expenses of
the sheriff, process server or other court-authorized persons in the service of summons, subpoena
and other court processes that would be issued relative to the trial of the case. It is not the same as
sheriff’s fees under Section 10,18 Rule 141 of the Rules of Court, which refers to those imposed by
the court for services rendered to a party incident to the proceedings before it.

Thus, in In Re: Exemption of Cooperatives from Payment of Court and Sheriff’s Fees Payable to the
Government in Actions Brought Under R.A. 6938,19 the Court clarified that sheriff’s expenses are not
considered as legal fees, ratiocinating that:

The difference in the treatment between the sheriff’s fees and the sheriff’s expenses in relation with
the exemption enjoyed by cooperatives is further demonstrated by the wording of Section 10, Rule
141, which uses "fees" in delineating the enumeration in the first paragraph, and "expenses" in
qualifying the subsequent paragraphs of this provision. The intention to make a distinction between
the two charges is clear; otherwise, the Rules would not have used different designations. Likewise,
the difference between the two terms is highlighted by a consideration of the phraseology in the first
sentence of the second paragraph of Section 10, Rule 141, which uses the clause "in addition to the
fees hereinabove fixed," thereby unequivocally indicating that sheriff’s expenses are separate
charges on top of the sheriff’s fees. (Italics supplied)

The Court, however, is not unmindful of the predicament of PAO’s clients. In exempting PAO’s
clients from paying docket and other legal fees, R.A. No. 9406 intended to ensure that the indigents
and the less privileged, who do not have the means to pay the said fees, would not be denied
access to courts by reason of poverty. Indeed, requiring PAO’s clients to pay sheriff’s expenses,
despite their exemption from the payment of docket and other legal fees, would effectly fetter their
free access to the courts thereby negating the laudable intent of Congress in enacting R.A. No.
9406.

Free access to the courts and adequate legal assistance are among the fundamental rights which
the Constitution extends to the less privileged. Thus, Section 11, Article III of the 1987 Constitution
mandates that "free access to the courts and quasi-judicial bodies and adequate legal assistance
shall not be denied to any person by reason of poverty." The Constitution affords litigants—moneyed
or poor—equal access to the courts; moreover, it specifically provides that poverty shall not bar any
person from having access to the courts. Accordingly, laws and rules must be formulated,
interpreted, and implemented pursuant to the intent and spirit of this constitutional provision.20

Access to justice by all, especially by the poor, is not simply an ideal in our society. Its existence is
essential in a democracy and in the rule of law.21 Without doubt, one of the most precious rights
which must be shielded and secured is the unhampered access to the justice system by the poor,
the underprivileged and the marginalized.22

Having the foregoing principles in mind, the Court, heeding the constitutional mandate of ensuring
free access to the courts and adequate legal assistance to the marginalized and less privileged,
hereby authorizes the officials and employees of PAO to serve summons, subpoena and other court
processes pursuant to Section 3,23 Rule 14 of the Rules of Court. The authority given herein by the
Court to the officials and employees of PAO shall be limited only to cases involving their client. 1âw phi1

Authorizing the officials and employees of P AO to serve the summons, subpoenas and other court
processes in behalf of their clients would relieve the latter from the burden of paying for the sheriff's
expenses despite their non-exemption from the payment thereof under Section 6 of R.A. No. 9406.
The amount to be defrayed in the service of summons, subpoena and other court processes in
behalf of its clients would consequently have to be taken from the operating expenses of P AO. In
turn, the amount advanced by PAO as actual travel expenses may be taken from the amount
recovered from the adversaries of PAO's clients as costs of suit, attorney's fees or contingent fees
prior to the deposit thereof in the National Treasury.
WHEREFORE, in consideration of the foregoing disquisitions, the Second Motion for
Reconsideration filed by Atty. Persida V. Rueda-Acosta is DENIED. The Court's Resolutions dated
November 22, 2011 and April 24, 2012 are hereby AFFIRMED. The request of Atty. Persida V.
RuedaAcosta for the exemption of the clients of the Public Attorney's Office from the payment of
sheriff's expenses is DENIED.

Nevertheless, the officials and employees of the Public Attorney's Office are hereby AUTHORIZED
to serve summons, subpoenas and other court processes in behalf of their clients pursuant to
Section 3, Rule 14 of the Rules of Court, in coordination with the concerned court. The amount to be
defrayed in serving the summons, subpoenas and other court processes could

be taken from the operating expenses of the Public Attorney's Office which, in turn, may be taken
from the amount recovered by it from the adversaries of PAO's clients as costs of suit, attorney's
fees or contingent fees prior to the deposit thereof in the National Treasury, or damages that said
clients may be decreed as entitled to in case of the success of P AO' s indigent clients.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 209283

CECILIA RACHEL V. QUISUMBING, Petitioner,


vs.
LORETTA ANN P. ROSALES, MA. VICTORIA V. CARDONA and NORBERTO DELA CRUZ, in
their capacities as Chairperson and Members, respectively, of the COMMISSION ON HUMAN
RIGHTS, Respondents.

DECISION

BRION, J.:

Before this Court is the petition for certiorari and prohibition1 under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court filed
by petitioner Commissioner Cecilia Rachel V. Quisumbing (petitioner) to annul and set aside the
Show Cause Order dated September 18, 2013 issued by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR),
through its Chairperson Loretta Ann P. Rosales (Chairperson Rosales).

The Antecedents

In a meeting of the CHR held on September 18, 2013, several complaints of former employees of
the petitioner, namely: Ma. Regina D. Eugenio (Eugenio), Elizabeth Diego-Buizon (Buizon),
Alexander B. Fernandez (Fernandez), and Jesse Ayuste (Ayuste) were taken up by the CHR. Only
respondents Chairperson Rosales, Commissioner Ma. Victoria V. Cardona and Commissioner
Norberto dela Cruz (Commissioner dela Cruz) were present during the meeting; the petitioner was
on sick leave while Commissioner Jose Manuel S. Mamauag (Commissioner Mamauag) was away
on official business.

In their affidavits, Eugenio, Buizon, Fernandez and Ayuste accused the petitioner of: (1) seriously
maltreating and inflicting upon them mental abuse through her unreasonable behavior and demands
on how they should work in or out of the office; (2) taking a cut from some of her employees’ salaries
to form an office fund under her sole control; (3) repeatedly misplacing and taking no action on
official documents requiring her action;
(4) forging another commissioner’s signature; (5) hiring employees who do not come to work; and (6)
contracting consultancy work for another government agency.

On the bases of these affidavits, the CHR issued on the same day Resolution CHR (IV) No. A2013-
148 (CHR Resolution), through Chairperson Rosales, a Show Cause Order (dated September 18,
2013), requesting the petitioner to submit within five (5) days from receipt, a written explanation as to
why she should not be held liable for any administrative disciplinary actions, and to transmit the
written explanation together with her supporting documents to the Office of the Ombudsman. The
Show Cause Order specified allegations of the petitioner’s involvement in the commission of certain
acts of malfeasance or misfeasance constituting misconduct, dishonesty, oppression, grave abuse
of authority and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of service, all in violation of the Civil Service
Laws and Rules and the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.
The Show Cause Order was served at the petitioner’s office on September 19, 2013.

On September 26, 2013, Commissioner Mamauag issued a Memorandum stating his concurrence
with the September 18, 2013 CHR Resolution.

On September 27, 2013, Chairperson Rosales sent letters to the President of the Republic of the
Philippines and the Office of the Ombudsman regarding the complaints and allegations against the
petitioner. Attached to the letters were copies of the Show Cause Order and the CHR Resolution.
Chairperson Rosales brought attention to the serious allegations against the petitioner and prayed
for the Offices’ appropriate action. Chairperson Rosales also requested the Office of the
Ombudsman to act on the complaint in accordance with the established investigation and
prosecutorial procedures.

On October 4, 2013, the petitioner filed with the CHR Secretariat a Manifestation and Motion to
Dismiss the Show Cause Order. The petitioner assailed the validity of the Show Cause Order,
claiming that its issuance is null and void because it denied her due process.

Without waiting for the CHR to act on her motion, the petitioner filed on October 16, 2013, the
present Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition before this Court.

On October 23, 2013, the CHR through Chairperson Rosales and Commissioners dela Cruz and
Mamauag issued an Order stating that it could no longer act on petitioner’s Motion to Dismiss since
the case had been forwarded to the Office of the Ombudsman by virtue of its letter dated September
27, 2013.

The Petition

The petitioner imputes the following errors committed by the respondents:

I. The respondents acted without jurisdiction and/or with grave abuse of discretion amounting
to lack of jurisdiction in ordering the petitioner to show cause why she should not be held
liable for administrative disciplinary actions on the bases of the allegations stated in the
Show Cause Order, in violation of the petitioner’s right to due process of law.

II. The respondents acted without jurisdiction and/or with grave abuse of discretion
amounting to lack of jurisdiction in filing charges with the President of the Republic of the
Philippines and the Office of the Ombudsman against the petitioner without due process of
law.
The petitioner argues that the respondents gravely abused their discretion when they issued the
Show Cause Order and the CHR Resolution during the meeting held on September 18, 2013,
knowing fully well that the petitioner would not be able to attend the same. The petitioner claims that
the respondents acted in bad faith and with malice when they brought up at this meeting, during her
absence, the complaints of her former employees, thereby depriving her of the opportunity to refute
the allegations and to participate as a member of the CHR.

The petitioner also questions the validity of the Show Cause Order as it appears to have been
issued by Chairperson Rosales alone. She points out that Chairperson Rosales, without reference to
the other members of the CHR, solely signed and issued the Show Cause Order. Citing GMCR, Inc.
v. Bell Telecommunication Philippines, Inc.,2 the petitioner contends that the act of a single member,
though he may be its head, done without the participation of others, cannot be considered the act of
the collegial body itself. Since the CHR is a collegial body requiring the concurrence of majority of its
members in order to validly arrive at a decision, the act of Chairperson Rosales in issuing the Show
Cause Order amounted to usurpation of the authority and prerogative of the CHR.

The petitioner further maintains that the Show Cause Order is insufficient to enable her to respond to
the allegations made because it does not specifically state: (1) the "acts of malfeasance or
misfeasance by way of misconduct, grave abuse of authority and conduct prejudicial to the best
interest of service" that she allegedly committed; and (2) the "civil service laws and rules, and the
Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees" that she allegedly
violated. Thus, the petitioner claims that she was denied due process of law. 1âw phi 1

The petitioner lastly alleged that the respondents gravely abused their discretion when they referred
the affidavits of her former employees to the President of the Republic of the Philippines and the
Office of the Ombudsman. She claims that since the CHR, as a body, was not empowered by law to
act on disciplinary complaints against its own members, the respondents have no authority to issue
the Show Cause Order.

The Office of the Solicitor General’s Comment

The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) filed its Comment3 dated January 13, 2014, on behalf of
the respondents, arguing that the petitioner availed of the wrong remedy when she filed the special
civil action for certiorari to assail the Show Cause Order. The OSG points out that a special civil
action for certiorari is available only when any tribunal, board or officer exercising judicial or quasi-
judicial functions has acted without or in excess or its jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion
amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. Since the respondents, acting in their official capacities
as Chairperson and Members of the CHR, were not engaged in judicial or quasi-judicial functions
when they issued the assailed Show Cause Order, the petition for certiorari should be dismissed for
being an improper remedy.

The OSG also asserts that the petitioner failed to show that the respondents acted with grave abuse
of discretion in issuing the Show Cause Order. The OSG emphasizes that aside from petitioner’s
bare allegations of malice and bad faith, she did not offer any convincing evidence proving that the
respondents exercised their power in an arbitrary or despotic manner, by reason of passion or
personal hostility.

The OSG lastly submits that the petitioner failed to exhaust all administrative remedies available to
her before instituting the present petition. Since the petitioner had an ample administrative remedy
under the law to protect her right, it was premature for her to commence the present petition before
the Court.
The Issue

The ultimate issue to be resolved is whether the petitioner is entitled to the issuance of the writs of
certiorari and prohibition.

The Court’s Ruling

We dismiss the petition.

We stress, at the outset, that the subsequent referral of the case to the Office of the Ombudsman for
appropriate prosecutorial action rendered the issues raised in the present petition moot and
academic insofar as the CHR is concerned.

Records disclose that the CHR, through Chairperson Rosales and Commissioners Dela Cruz and
Mamauag, issued an Order stating that it could no longer act on the petitioner’s Motion to Dismiss
since the case had been forwarded to the Office of the Ombudsman. Thus, no practical relief can be
granted to the petitioner by resolving the present petition since the proceedings before the CHR –
the initiation of an investigation through the issuance of the assailed Show Cause Order – had been
terminated.

The petition likewise fails for plain lack of merit. The OSG correctly argued that the respondents, in
their official capacities as Chairperson and Members of the CHR, did not engage in judicial or quasi-
judicial functions; they did not adjudicate the rights and obligations of the contending parties but
simply undertook to initiate the investigation of the allegations against the petitioner. The inquiry was
not a quasi-judicial proceeding, where offenses were charged, parties were heard and penalties
were imposed. It was at most, an exercise of fact-finding investigation, which is entirely distinct and
different from the concept of adjudication.4 The power to initiate an investigation and to refer the
matter to the Office of the Ombudsman is within the power of the CHR as an entity with its own
distinct personality and is recognized by no less than the Constitution.5 Thus, the CHR did not
commit any grave abuse of discretion in its actions.

The petition also fails with respect to the petitioner's claim of denial of due process. There can be no
denial of due process where a party was afforded an opportunity to present his case.6 In the present
case, the petitioner was given ample opportunity to air her side on the allegations against her after
being sufficiently apprised of the allegations against her; she was afforded the chance to submit her
written explanation. Unfortunately, the petitioner failed to avail of that right, and chose to directly
seek the intervention of this Court. These circumstances, by themselves, point the prematurity of the
petition.

Jurisprudence tells us that the essence of due process in administrative proceedings is the chance
to explain one's side, or seek a reconsideration of the action or ruling complained of. As long as the
parties are given the opportunity to be heard before any definitive action is taken, the demands of
due process are sufficiently met.7

In sum, we find that the petition for certiorari and prohibition should be dismissed for mootness and
for lack of merit.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, we hereby DISMISS the petition for certiorari and prohibition.

SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 100150 January 5, 1994

BRIGIDO R. SIMON, JR., CARLOS QUIMPO, CARLITO ABELARDO, AND GENEROSO


OCAMPO, petitioners,
vs.
COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS, ROQUE FERMO, AND OTHERS AS JOHN
DOES, respondents.

The City Attorney for petitioners.

The Solicitor General for public respondent.

VITUG, J.:

The extent of the authority and power of the Commission on Human Rights ("CHR") is again placed
into focus in this petition for prohibition, with prayer for a restraining order and preliminary injunction.
The petitioners ask us to prohibit public respondent CHR from further hearing and investigating CHR
Case No. 90-1580, entitled "Fermo, et al. vs. Quimpo, et al."

The case all started when a "Demolition Notice," dated 9 July 1990, signed by Carlos Quimpo (one
of the petitioners) in his capacity as an Executive Officer of the Quezon City Integrated Hawkers
Management Council under the Office of the City Mayor, was sent to, and received by, the private
respondents (being the officers and members of the North EDSA Vendors Association,
Incorporated). In said notice, the respondents were given a grace-period of three (3) days (up to 12
July 1990) within which to vacate the questioned premises of North EDSA.1Prior to their receipt of
the demolition notice, the private respondents were informed by petitioner Quimpo that their stalls
should be removed to give way to the "People's Park".2 On 12 July 1990, the group, led by their
President Roque Fermo, filed a letter-complaint (Pinag-samang Sinumpaang Salaysay) with the
CHR against the petitioners, asking the late CHR Chairman Mary Concepcion Bautista for a letter to
be addressed to then Mayor Brigido Simon, Jr., of Quezon City to stop the demolition of the private
respondents' stalls, sari-sari stores, and carinderia along North EDSA. The complaint was docketed
as CHR Case No. 90-1580.3 On 23 July 1990, the CHR issued an Order, directing the petitioners "to
desist from demolishing the stalls and shanties at North EDSA pending resolution of the
vendors/squatters' complaint before the Commission" and ordering said petitioners to appear before
the CHR.4

On the basis of the sworn statements submitted by the private respondents on 31 July 1990, as well
as CHR's own ocular inspection, and convinced that on 28 July 1990 the petitioners carried out the
demolition of private respondents' stalls, sari-sari stores and carinderia,5 the CHR, in its resolution of
1 August 1990, ordered the disbursement of financial assistance of not more than P200,000.00 in
favor of the private respondents to purchase light housing materials and food under the
Commission's supervision and again directed the petitioners to "desist from further demolition, with
the warning that violation of said order would lead to a citation for contempt and arrest."6

A motion to dismiss,7 dated 10 September 1990, questioned CHR's jurisdiction. The motion also
averred, among other things, that:
1. this case came about due to the alleged violation by the (petitioners) of the Inter-
Agency Memorandum of Agreement whereby Metro-Manila Mayors agreed on a
moratorium in the demolition of the dwellings of poor dwellers in Metro-Manila;

xxx xxx xxx

3. . . . , a perusal of the said Agreement (revealed) that the moratorium referred to


therein refers to moratorium in the demolition of the structures of poor dwellers;

4. that the complainants in this case (were) not poor dwellers but independent
business entrepreneurs even this Honorable Office admitted in its resolution of 1
August 1990 that the complainants are indeed, vendors;

5. that the complainants (were) occupying government land, particularly the sidewalk
of EDSA corner North Avenue, Quezon City; . . . and

6. that the City Mayor of Quezon City (had) the sole and exclusive discretion and
authority whether or not a certain business establishment (should) be allowed to
operate within the jurisdiction of Quezon City, to revoke or cancel a permit, if already
issued, upon grounds clearly specified by law and ordinance.8

During the 12 September 1990 hearing, the petitioners moved for postponement, arguing that the
motion to dismiss set for 21 September 1990 had yet to be resolved. The petitioners likewise
manifested that they would bring the case to the courts.

On 18 September 1990 a supplemental motion to dismiss was filed by the petitioners, stating that
the Commission's authority should be understood as being confined only to the investigation of
violations of civil and political rights, and that "the rights allegedly violated in this case (were) not civil
and political rights, (but) their privilege to engage in business."9

On 21 September 1990, the motion to dismiss was heard and submitted for resolution, along with
the contempt charge that had meantime been filed by the private respondents, albeit vigorously
objected to by petitioners (on the ground that the motion to dismiss was still then unresolved).10

In an Order,11 dated 25 September 1990, the CHR cited the petitioners in contempt for carrying out
the demolition of the stalls, sari-sari stores and carinderia despite the "order to desist", and it
imposed a fine of P500.00 on each of them.

On 1 March 1991,12 the CHR issued an Order, denying petitioners' motion to dismiss and
supplemental motion to dismiss, in this wise:

Clearly, the Commission on Human Rights under its constitutional mandate had
jurisdiction over the complaint filed by the squatters-vendors who complained of the
gross violations of their human and constitutional rights. The motion to dismiss
should be and is hereby DENIED for lack of merit.13

The CHR opined that "it was not the intention of the (Constitutional) Commission to create only a
paper tiger limited only to investigating civil and political rights, but it (should) be (considered) a
quasi-judicial body with the power to provide appropriate legal measures for the protection of human
rights of all persons within the Philippines . . . ." It added:
The right to earn a living is a right essential to one's right to development, to life and
to dignity. All these brazenly and violently ignored and trampled upon by respondents
with little regard at the same time for the basic rights of women and children, and
their health, safety and welfare. Their actions have psychologically scarred and
traumatized the children, who were witness and exposed to such a violent
demonstration of Man's inhumanity to man.

In an Order,14 dated 25 April 1991, petitioners' motion for reconsideration was denied.

Hence, this recourse.

The petition was initially dismissed in our resolution15 of 25 June 1991; it was subsequently
reinstated, however, in our resolution16 of 18 June 1991, in which we also issued a temporary
restraining order, directing the CHR to "CEASE and DESIST from further hearing CHR No. 90-
1580."17

The petitioners pose the following:

Whether or not the public respondent has jurisdiction:

a) to investigate the alleged violations of the "business rights" of the private respondents whose
stalls were demolished by the petitioners at the instance and authority given by the Mayor of Quezon
City;

b) to impose the fine of P500.00 each on the petitioners; and

c) to disburse the amount of P200,000.00 as financial aid to the vendors affected by the demolition.

In the Court's resolution of 10 October 1991, the Solicitor-General was excused from filing his
comment for public respondent CHR. The latter thus filed its own comment,18 through Hon. Samuel
Soriano, one of its Commissioners. The Court also resolved to dispense with the comment of private
respondent Roque Fermo, who had since failed to comply with the resolution, dated 18 July 1991,
requiring such comment.

The petition has merit.

The Commission on Human Rights was created by the 1987


Constitution.19 It was formally constituted by then President Corazon Aquino via Executive Order No.
163,20 issued on 5 May 1987, in the exercise of her legislative power at the time. It succeeded, but so
superseded as well, the Presidential Committee on Human Rights.21

The powers and functions22 of the Commission are defined by the 1987 Constitution, thus: to —

(1) Investigate, on its own or on complaint by any party, all forms of human rights
violations involving civil and political rights;

(2) Adopt its operational guidelines and rules of procedure, and cite for contempt for
violations thereof in accordance with the Rules of Court;

(3) Provide appropriate legal measures for the protection of human rights of all
persons within the Philippines, as well as Filipinos residing abroad, and provide for
preventive measures and legal aid services to the underprivileged whose human
rights have been violated or need protection;

(4) Exercise visitorial powers over jails, prisons, or detention facilities;

(5) Establish a continuing program of research, education, and information to


enhance respect for the primacy of human rights;

(6) Recommend to the Congress effective measures to promote human rights and to
provide for compensation to victims of violations of human rights, or their families;

(7) Monitor the Philippine Government's compliance with international treaty


obligations on human rights;

(8) Grant immunity from prosecution to any person whose testimony or whose
possession of documents or other evidence is necessary or convenient to determine
the truth in any investigation conducted by it or under its authority;

(9) Request the assistance of any department, bureau, office, or agency in the
performance of its functions;

(10) Appoint its officers and employees in accordance with law; and

(11) Perform such other duties and functions as may be provided by law.

In its Order of 1 March 1991, denying petitioners' motion to dismiss, the CHR theorizes that the
intention of the members of the Constitutional Commission is to make CHR a quasi-judicial
body.23 This view, however, has not heretofore been shared by this Court. In Cariño v. Commission
on Human Rights,24 the Court, through then Associate Justice, now Chief Justice Andres Narvasa,
has observed that it is "only the first of the enumerated powers and functions that bears any
resemblance to adjudication or adjudgment," but that resemblance can in no way be synonymous to
the adjudicatory power itself. The Court explained:

. . . (T)he Commission on Human Rights . . . was not meant by the fundamental law
to be another court or quasi-judicial agency in this country, or duplicate much less
take over the functions of the latter.

The most that may be conceded to the Commission in the way of adjudicative power
is that it may investigate, i.e., receive evidence and make findings of fact as regards
claimed human rights violations involving civil and political rights. But fact finding is
not adjudication, and cannot be likened to the judicial function of a court of justice, or
even a quasi-judicial agency or official. The function of receiving evidence and
ascertaining therefrom the facts of a controversy is not a judicial function, properly
speaking. To be considered such, the faculty of receiving evidence and making
factual conclusions in a controversy must be accompanied by the authority of
applying the law to those factual conclusions to the end that the controversy may be
decided or determined authoritatively, finally and definitively, subject to such appeals
or modes of review as may be provided by law. This function, to repeat, the
Commission does not have.
After thus laying down at the outset the above rule, we now proceed to the other kernel of this
controversy and, its is, to determine the extent of CHR's investigative power.

It can hardly be disputed that the phrase "human rights" is so generic a term that any attempt to
define it, albeit not a few have tried, could at best be described as inconclusive. Let us observe. In a
symposium on human rights in the Philippines, sponsored by the University of the Philippines in
1977, one of the questions that has been propounded is "(w)hat do you understand by "human
rights?" The participants, representing different sectors of the society, have given the following
varied answers:

Human rights are the basic rights which inhere in man by virtue of his humanity. They
are the same in all parts of the world, whether the Philippines or England, Kenya or
the Soviet Union, the United States or Japan, Kenya or Indonesia . . . .

Human rights include civil rights, such as the right to life, liberty, and property;
freedom of speech, of the press, of religion, academic freedom, and the rights of the
accused to due process of law; political rights, such as the right to elect public
officials, to be elected to public office, and to form political associations and engage
in politics; and social rights, such as the right to an education, employment, and
social services.25

Human rights are the entitlement that inhere in the individual person from the sheer
fact of his humanity. . . . Because they are inherent, human rights are not granted by
the State but can only be recognized and protected by it.26

(Human rights include all) the civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights
defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.27

Human rights are rights that pertain to man simply because he is human. They are
part of his natural birth, right, innate and inalienable.28

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as, or more specifically, the International
Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights, suggests that the scope of human rights can be understood to include those that relate to an
individual's social, economic, cultural, political and civil relations. It thus seems to closely identify the
term to the universally accepted traits and attributes of an individual, along with what is generally
considered to be his inherent and inalienable rights, encompassing almost all aspects of life.

Have these broad concepts been equally contemplated by the framers of our 1986 Constitutional
Commission in adopting the specific provisions on human rights and in creating an independent
commission to safeguard these rights? It may of value to look back at the country's experience under
the martial law regime which may have, in fact, impelled the inclusions of those provisions in our
fundamental law. Many voices have been heard. Among those voices, aptly represented perhaps of
the sentiments expressed by others, comes from Mr. Justice J.B.L. Reyes, a respected jurist and an
advocate of civil liberties, who, in his paper, entitled "Present State of Human Rights in the
Philippines,"29 observes:

But while the Constitution of 1935 and that of 1973 enshrined in their Bill of Rights
most of the human rights expressed in the International Covenant, these rights
became unavailable upon the proclamation of Martial Law on 21 September 1972.
Arbitrary action then became the rule. Individuals by the thousands became subject
to arrest upon suspicion, and were detained and held for indefinite periods,
sometimes for years, without charges, until ordered released by the Commander-in-
Chief or this representative. The right to petition for the redress of grievances
became useless, since group actions were forbidden. So were strikes. Press and
other mass media were subjected to censorship and short term licensing. Martial law
brought with it the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, and judges lost
independence and security of tenure, except members of the Supreme Court. They
were required to submit letters of resignation and were dismissed upon the
acceptance thereof. Torture to extort confessions were practiced as declared by
international bodies like Amnesty International and the International Commission of
Jurists.

Converging our attention to the records of the Constitutional Commission, we can see the following
discussions during its 26 August 1986 deliberations:

MR. GARCIA . . . , the primacy of its (CHR) task must be made clear in view of the
importance of human rights and also because civil and political rights have been
determined by many international covenants and human rights legislations in the
Philippines, as well as the Constitution, specifically the Bill of Rights and subsequent
legislation. Otherwise, if we cover such a wide territory in area, we might diffuse its
impact and the precise nature of its task, hence, its effectivity would also be curtailed.

So, it is important to delienate the parameters of its tasks so that the commission can
be most effective.

MR. BENGZON. That is precisely my difficulty because civil and political rights are
very broad. The Article on the Bill of Rights covers civil and political rights. Every
single right of an individual involves his civil right or his political right. So, where do
we draw the line?

MR. GARCIA. Actually, these civil and political rights have been made clear in the
language of human rights advocates, as well as in the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights which addresses a number of articles on the right to life, the right
against torture, the right to fair and public hearing, and so on. These are very specific
rights that are considered enshrined in many international documents and legal
instruments as constituting civil and political rights, and these are precisely what we
want to defend here.

MR. BENGZON. So, would the commissioner say civil and political rights as defined
in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?

MR. GARCIA. Yes, and as I have mentioned, the International Covenant of Civil and
Political Rights distinguished this right against torture.

MR. BENGZON. So as to distinguish this from the other rights that we have?

MR. GARCIA. Yes, because the other rights will encompass social and economic
rights, and there are other violations of rights of citizens which can be addressed to
the proper courts and authorities.

xxx xxx xxx


MR. BENGZON. So, we will authorize the commission to define its functions, and,
therefore, in doing that the commission will be authorized to take under its wings
cases which perhaps heretofore or at this moment are under the jurisdiction of the
ordinary investigative and prosecutorial agencies of the government. Am I correct?

MR. GARCIA. No. We have already mentioned earlier that we would like to define
the specific parameters which cover civil and political rights as covered by the
international standards governing the behavior of governments regarding the
particular political and civil rights of citizens, especially of political detainees or
prisoners. This particular aspect we have experienced during martial law which we
would now like to safeguard.

MR. BENGZON. Then, I go back to that question that I had. Therefore, what we are
really trying to say is, perhaps, at the proper time we could specify all those rights
stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and defined as human rights.
Those are the rights that we envision here?

MR. GARCIA. Yes. In fact, they are also enshrined in the Bill of Rights of our
Constitution. They are integral parts of that.

MR. BENGZON. Therefore, is the Gentleman saying that all the rights under the Bill
of Rights covered by human rights?

MR. GARCIA. No, only those that pertain to civil and political rights.

xxx xxx xxx

MR. RAMA. In connection with the discussion on the scope of human rights, I would
like to state that in the past regime, everytime we invoke the violation of human
rights, the Marcos regime came out with the defense that, as a matter of fact, they
had defended the rights of people to decent living, food, decent housing and a life
consistent with human dignity.

So, I think we should really limit the definition of human rights to political rights. Is
that the sense of the committee, so as not to confuse the issue?

MR. SARMIENTO. Yes, Madam President.

MR. GARCIA. I would like to continue and respond also to repeated points raised by
the previous speaker.

There are actually six areas where this Commission on Human Rights could act
effectively: 1) protection of rights of political detainees; 2) treatment of prisoners and
the prevention of tortures; 3) fair and public trials; 4) cases of disappearances; 5)
salvagings and hamletting; and 6) other crimes committed against the religious.

xxx xxx xxx

The PRESIDENT. Commissioner Guingona is recognized.

MR. GUINGONA. Thank You Madam President.


I would like to start by saying that I agree with Commissioner Garcia that we
should, in order to make the proposed Commission more effective, delimit as much
as possible, without prejudice to future expansion. The coverage of the concept and
jurisdictional area of the term "human rights". I was actually disturbed this morning
when the reference was made without qualification to the rights embodied in the
universal Declaration of Human Rights, although later on, this was qualified to refer
to civil and political rights contained therein.

If I remember correctly, Madam President, Commissioner Garcia, after mentioning


the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, mentioned or linked the concept
of human right with other human rights specified in other convention which I do not
remember. Am I correct?

MR. GARCIA. Is Commissioner Guingona referring to the Declaration of Torture of


1985?

MR. GUINGONA. I do not know, but the commissioner mentioned another.

MR. GARCIA. Madam President, the other one is the International Convention on
Civil and Political Rights of which we are signatory.

MR. GUINGONA. I see. The only problem is that, although I have a copy of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights here, I do not have a copy of the other
covenant mentioned. It is quite possible that there are rights specified in that other
convention which may not be specified here. I was wondering whether it would be
wise to link our concept of human rights to general terms like "convention," rather
than specify the rights contained in the convention.

As far as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is concerned, the Committee,


before the period of amendments, could specify to us which of these articles in the
Declaration will fall within the concept of civil and political rights, not for the purpose
of including these in the proposed constitutional article, but to give the sense of the
Commission as to what human rights would be included, without prejudice to
expansion later on, if the need arises. For example, there was no definite reply to the
question of Commissioner Regalado as to whether the right to marry would be
considered a civil or a social right. It is not a civil right?

MR. GARCIA. Madam President, I have to repeat the various specific civil and
political rights that we felt must be envisioned initially by this provision — freedom
from political detention and arrest prevention of torture, right to fair and public trials,
as well as crimes involving disappearance, salvagings, hamlettings and collective
violations. So, it is limited to politically related crimes precisely to protect the civil and
political rights of a specific group of individuals, and therefore, we are not opening it
up to all of the definite areas.

MR. GUINGONA. Correct. Therefore, just for the record, the Gentlemen is no longer
linking his concept or the concept of the Committee on Human Rights with the so-
called civil or political rights as contained in the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights.

MR. GARCIA. When I mentioned earlier the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, I
was referring to an international instrument.
MR. GUINGONA. I know.

MR. GARCIA. But it does not mean that we will refer to each and every specific
article therein, but only to those that pertain to the civil and politically related, as we
understand it in this Commission on Human Rights.

MR. GUINGONA. Madam President, I am not even clear as to the distinction


between civil and social rights.

MR. GARCIA. There are two international covenants: the International Covenant and
Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and
Cultural Rights. The second covenant contains all the different rights-the rights of
labor to organize, the right to education, housing, shelter, et cetera.

MR. GUINGONA. So we are just limiting at the moment the sense of the committee
to those that the Gentlemen has specified.

MR. GARCIA. Yes, to civil and political rights.

MR. GUINGONA. Thank you.

xxx xxx xxx

SR. TAN. Madam President, from the standpoint of the victims of human rights, I
cannot stress more on how much we need a Commission on Human Rights. . . .

. . . human rights victims are usually penniless. They cannot pay and very few
lawyers will accept clients who do not pay. And so, they are the ones more abused
and oppressed. Another reason is, the cases involved are very delicate — torture,
salvaging, picking up without any warrant of arrest, massacre — and the persons
who are allegedly guilty are people in power like politicians, men in the military and
big shots. Therefore, this Human Rights Commission must be independent.

I would like very much to emphasize how much we need this commission, especially
for the little Filipino, the little individual who needs this kind of help and cannot get
it. And I think we should concentrate only on civil and political violations because if
we open this to land, housing and health, we will have no place to go again and we
will not receive any response. . . .30 (emphasis supplied)

The final outcome, now written as Section 18, Article XIII, of the 1987 Constitution, is a provision
empowering the Commission on Human Rights to "investigate, on its own or on complaint by any
party, all forms of human rights violations involving civil and political rights" (Sec. 1).

The term "civil rights,"31 has been defined as referring —

(t)o those (rights) that belong to every citizen of the state or country, or, in wider
sense, to all its inhabitants, and are not connected with the organization or
administration of the government. They include the rights of property, marriage,
equal protection of the laws, freedom of contract, etc. Or, as otherwise defined civil
rights are rights appertaining to a person by virtue of his citizenship in a state or
community. Such term may also refer, in its general sense, to rights capable of being
enforced or redressed in a civil action.

Also quite often mentioned are the guarantees against involuntary servitude, religious persecution,
unreasonable searches and seizures, and imprisonment for debt.32

Political rights,33 on the other hand, are said to refer to the right to participate, directly or indirectly, in
the establishment or administration of government, the right of suffrage, the right to hold public
office, the right of petition and, in general, the rights appurtenant to citizenship vis-a-vis the
management of government.34

Recalling the deliberations of the Constitutional Commission, aforequoted, it is readily apparent that
the delegates envisioned a Commission on Human Rights that would focus its attention to the more
severe cases of human rights violations. Delegate Garcia, for instance, mentioned such areas as the
"(1) protection of rights of political detainees, (2) treatment of prisoners and the prevention of
tortures, (3) fair and public trials, (4) cases of disappearances, (5) salvagings and hamletting, and (6)
other crimes committed against the religious." While the enumeration has not likely been meant to
have any preclusive effect, more than just expressing a statement of priority, it is, nonetheless,
significant for the tone it has set. In any event, the delegates did not apparently take comfort in
peremptorily making a conclusive delineation of the CHR's scope of investigatorial jurisdiction. They
have thus seen it fit to resolve, instead, that "Congress may provide for other cases of violations of
human rights that should fall within the authority of the Commission, taking into account its
recommendation."35

In the particular case at hand, there is no cavil that what are sought to be demolished are the
stalls, sari-sari stores and carinderia, as well as temporary shanties, erected by private respondents
on a land which is planned to be developed into a "People's Park". More than that, the land adjoins
the North EDSA of Quezon City which, this Court can take judicial notice of, is a busy national
highway. The consequent danger to life and limb is not thus to be likewise simply ignored. It is
indeed paradoxical that a right which is claimed to have been violated is one that cannot, in the first
place, even be invoked, if it is, in fact, extant. Be that as it may, looking at the standards hereinabove
discoursed vis-a-vis the circumstances obtaining in this instance, we are not prepared to conclude
that the order for the demolition of the stalls, sari-sari stores and carinderia of the private
respondents can fall within the compartment of "human rights violations involving civil and political
rights" intended by the Constitution.

On its contempt powers, the CHR is constitutionally authorized to "adopt its operational guidelines
and rules of procedure, and cite for contempt for violations thereof in accordance with the Rules of
Court." Accordingly, the CHR acted within its authority in providing in its revised rules, its power "to
cite or hold any person in direct or indirect contempt, and to impose the appropriate penalties in
accordance with the procedure and sanctions provided for in the Rules of Court." That power to cite
for contempt, however, should be understood to apply only to violations of its adopted operational
guidelines and rules of procedure essential to carry out its investigatorial powers. To exemplify, the
power to cite for contempt could be exercised against persons who refuse to cooperate with the said
body, or who unduly withhold relevant information, or who decline to honor summons, and the like, in
pursuing its investigative work. The "order to desist" (a semantic interplay for a restraining order) in
the instance before us, however, is not investigatorial in character but prescinds from an adjudicative
power that it does not possess. In Export Processing Zone Authority vs. Commission on Human
Rights,36 the Court, speaking through Madame Justice Carolina Griño-Aquino, explained:

The constitutional provision directing the CHR to "provide for preventive measures
and legal aid services to the underprivileged whose human rights have been violated
or need protection" may not be construed to confer jurisdiction on the Commission to
issue a restraining order or writ of injunction for, it that were the intention, the
Constitution would have expressly said so. "Jurisdiction is conferred only by the
Constitution or by law". It is never derived by implication.

Evidently, the "preventive measures and legal aid services" mentioned in the
Constitution refer to extrajudicial and judicial remedies (including a writ of preliminary
injunction) which the CHR may seek from proper courts on behalf of the victims of
human rights violations. Not being a court of justice, the CHR itself has no jurisdiction
to issue the writ, for a writ of preliminary injunction may only be issued "by the judge
of any court in which the action is pending [within his district], or by a Justice of the
Court of Appeals, or of the Supreme Court. . . . A writ of preliminary injunction is an
ancillary remedy. It is available only in a pending principal action, for the preservation
or protection of the rights and interests of a party thereto, and for no other purpose."
(footnotes omitted).

The Commission does have legal standing to indorse, for appropriate action, its findings and
recommendations to any appropriate agency of government.37

The challenge on the CHR's disbursement of the amount of P200,000.00 by way of financial aid to
the vendors affected by the demolition is not an appropriate issue in the instant petition. Not only is
there lack of locus standi on the part of the petitioners to question the disbursement but, more
importantly, the matter lies with the appropriate administrative agencies concerned to initially
consider.

The public respondent explains that this petition for prohibition filed by the petitioners has become
moot and academic since the case before it (CHR Case No. 90-1580) has already been fully heard,
and that the matter is merely awaiting final resolution. It is true that prohibition is a preventive
remedy to restrain the doing of an act about to be done, and not intended to provide a remedy for an
act already accomplished. 38 Here, however, said Commission admittedly has yet to promulgate its
resolution in CHR Case No. 90-1580. The instant petition has been intended, among other things, to
also prevent CHR from precisely doing that.39

WHEREFORE, the writ prayed for in this petition is GRANTED. The Commission on Human Rights
is hereby prohibited from further proceeding with CHR Case No. 90-1580 and from implementing the
P500.00 fine for contempt. The temporary restraining order heretofore issued by this Court is made
permanent. No costs.