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June Prill Brett vs.

IAC GR 74223 November 27, 1990

Facts: The director of Mines and Geo-Sciences rendered a decision declaring and recognizing the preferential right of therein petitioner June Prill Brett to explore, develop, exploit and lease an area covered by MAMAKAR mining claims. The said decision was appealed by respondents to the then Ministry of Natural Resources where the appeal was dismissed. Still the respondents filed an appeal to the office of the president but failed to prosecute the same. And yet again they filed motions for reconsideration which were already late as the decision of the Minister had become final and executory. But despite the finality of the decision, the minister reversed the previous decision and rendered the MAMAKAR claims as null and void ab initio which lead the petitioner to seek reconsideration. A change in the minister of the Natural Resources lead to an appeal by the petitioner to reinstate decision of the former minister which then leads to a series of motions and petitions until it ultimately leads to this petition for review on certiorari. Issues: a. WON respondent court erred in dismissing petitioners original action for certiorari on the ground of non-exhaustion of administrative remedies b. WON respondent court erred in invoking Presidential No. 605 to deny petitioners prayer for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction Ruling: It is true that in the courts jurisdiction, unless otherwise provided by law or required by public interest, before bringing an action in or resorting to the courts of justice, all remedies of administrative character affecting or determinative of the controversy at that level should first be exhausted by the aggrieved party. In the case at bar it is our considered opinion that the decision in question, is of such a defective nature. The decision it superseded was already final and executory, the belated motions for reconsideration by the private respondents being patently time-barred. Although the respondents did file a timely appeal, they failed to likewise prosecute the same. It is obvious that the respondent minister gravely abused his discretion in reversing his original decision which prompted petitioner to forthwith invoke the jurisdiction of the courts. Wherefore, judgment is hereby rendered affirming the assailed decision. Also the assailed decision of respondent minister is also reinstated without prejudice to the appeal in the Office of the President taking its due course and the consequent adjudication thereof.