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G.R. No.

74454 September 3, 1998


ALFRED PEARSON, for hime!f "#$ " the "ttor#e%&i#&f"'t of hi 'o&heir('o&
)''eor&i#&i#teret, #"me!%* ELS+E PEARSON&F,EN-ES, .ENR/ PEARSON,
0+LL+A1 PEARSON, 2R., RO3ER- PEARSON, ED,ARD PEARSON, 4.ARLES
PEARSON, FREDR+E4. PEARSON "#$ .ARR/ F. GASSER, petitioners,
vs.
+N-ER1ED+A-E APPELLA-E 4O,R-, .o#. REG+ONAL -R+AL 4O,R-, 3r"#'h 155,
P"i5, 1etro 1"#i!", .o#. Prei$e#ti"! E6e')ti7e Ait"#t8 .o#. 1i#iter of N"t)r"!
Reo)r'e8 .o#. Dire'tor of 1i#e8 D+A1OND 1+N+NG 4ORPORA-+ON, ROSAR+O
1+N+NG DE9ELOP1EN- 4ORPORA-+ON, "#$ A. SOR+ANO
4ORPORA-+ON, respondents.

:,+S,13+NG, J.:
This Petition for Certiorari, Prohibition and Mandamus with Preliminary Injunction and
Prayer for a Restraining Order sees to annul the following!
". #ecision dated $eptember %&, "'(% of respondent Intermediate )ppellate *ourt +now
*ourt of )ppeals, in )*-..R. /o. "01%' which in effect upheld herein private respondents2
mining claims and directed respondent Regional Trial *ourt to resolve the motion to
dismiss in *ivil *ase
/o. 10&0%. 1
3. Order dated 4uly %", "'(1 of the *ourt of 5irst Instance, 6ranch 7 +now Regional Trial
*ourt, 6ranch "00,, Pasig Metro Manila, dismissing *ivil *ase /o. 10&0% on the basis of
an earlier decision of the *ourt of )ppeals upholding the findings of fact of the Minister of
/atural Resources8 ;
%. #ecision dated )ugust %", "'(" of the Office of the President, Minister that petitioners
had abandoned their 96)RO6O9 mining claims and accordingly dismissed their appeal8 3
1. #ecision dated October 3', "':' of the Minister of /atural Resources, affirming the
decision of the #irector of Mines8 4
0. *onsolidated #ecision dated May "3, "':; of the #irector of Mines in Mines
)dministrative *ase /os. <-(": and <-("(, upholding the preferential rights of private
respondents to lease, possess, e=plore and develop their respective 9#I)MO/#9 and
9M)RTI/9 mining claims in >uestion8 5
The petitioners also pray that their mining claims be declared valid and that private
respondents2 mining claims be declared null and void.
The petitioners )lfred Pearson, et al. +hereinafter 9Pearsons9, claim to have inherited the
beneficial interest of the Tambis .old #redging *o., Inc. +hereinafter 9Tambis .old9, upon
its dissolution, owing to the fact that the biggest stocholder of said company and the sole
owner of the claims was their ancestor, ?illiam 5. Pearson, $r. <
Private respondents #iamond Mining *orporation, Rosario Mining #evelopment
*orporation and their assignee ). $oriano *orporation +hereinafter 9Mining *ompanies9,
are domestic corporations organi@ed and e=isting under Philippine laws.
The public respondents are the #irector of Mines, the Minister of /atural Resources, the
Presidential A=ecutive )ssistant, the *ourt of 5irst Instance +*5I,, and the Intermediate
)ppellate *ourt +I)*,. 7 Aach of them had ruled in favor of the Mining *ompanies.
The facts as found by the respondent Minister of /atural Resources and confirmed by the
respondents Presidential A=ecutive )ssistant and the I)* are as follows!
5rom the records and the documentary evidence at hand, it appears that the
Tambis .old #redging *o., Inc. filed in "'"', under the )ct of *ongress of
4uly ", "'&3, declarations of location covering the 96)RO6O-"9 to
96)RO6O-09 placer claims located at the barrio of 6ahi, municipality of
Bianga, province of $urigao del $ur. These declarations of location were
destroyed or lost during the war.
In "'1(, the Tambis .old #redging *o., Inc. filed with the 6ureau of Mines
affidavits to reconstitute the declarations of location for the 96)RO6O9 placer
claims. The affidavits were recorded with the mining recorder on 4anuary "',
"'1'.
On 5ebruary 3', "';&, the Tambis .old #redging *o., Inc. was dissolved.
)ppellants +herein petitioners, were at that time stocholders of the
corporation.
5rom May "& to 4une "", "':&, appellee +now respondent, Rosario Mining,
through its agent Marcelino Manabat, discovered and located the, 9M)RTI/-
"9, 9M)RTI/-39, 9M)RTI/-09, 9M)RTI/-;9 and 9M)RTI/-3:9 placer claims in
the barrio of 6ahi, municipality of 6arobo, province of $urigao del $ur. On
4une 30, "':&, the declarations of location therefor, and the $pecial Power
and +sic, )ttorney appointing Marcelino Manabat as attorney-in-fact, were
registered with the Mining Recorder of $urigao del $ur.
On )ugust %", "':&, the applications for the survey of the 9M)RTI/9 claims
were filed, and, on March "%, "':% and #ecember "(, "':%, the
corresponding orders for survey were issued.
On 4une 33, "':%, appellee +now respondent, Rosario Mining filed the lease
application covering the 9M)RTI/9 placer claims. )fter the survey returns of
said placer claims were approved on 4anuary %, "':0, the notice of lease
was published in 5ebruary 3& and 3:, "':0 issues of the 9Mindanao Times9
and in the 5ebruary 30 and March 1, "':0 issues of the 9Times 4ournal9.
Meanwhile, from 5ebruary 31 to March 0, "':1, appellee +now also
respondent, #iamond Mining, through its agent 4ustiniano #eloso,
discovered and located the 9#I)MO/#-"9 to 9#I)MO/#-:9 placer claims in
the barrio of 6ahi, municipality of 6arobo, province of $urigao del $ur. On
March 30, "':1, the declarations of location therefor, including the $pecial
Power of )ttorney in favor of 4ustiniano #eloso, were registered with the
Mining Recorder of $urigao del $ur.
On )pril ":, "':%, the application for survey of the 9#I)MO/#9 placer claims
were filed, and, on May 3", "':1, the order for survey was issued.
On )pril 33, "':1, appellee #iamond Mining filed the lease applications
covering the 9#I)MO/#9 placer claims. $ubse>uently, after the survey
returns of said claims were approved on #ecember 31, "':1 and 4anuary %,
"':0, the notice of lease application was published in the 5ebruary 30 and
March 1, "':0 issues of the 9Times 4ournal9 and in the 5ebruary 3: and
March ;, "':0 issues of the 9Mindanao Times9.
On "& March "':0, appellants +petitioners herein, filed the adverse claims
against appellees +now private respondents,.
)fter the case was heard by the Panel of Investigators of the 6ureau of
Mines, the #irector of Mines rendred +sic, the decision appealed from.
In his decision, the #irector held that appellants +petitioners, failed to
establish the e=istence of the conflict among the placer claims involved8 that
the 96)RO6O9 placer claims are null and void because their tie points, as
described in the affidavits to reconstitute the declarations of location therefor,
are not the natural objects of permanent monuments prescribed under the
law and their geographical positions cannot be accurately determined8 that,
even if said 96)RO6O9 claims were validly located, the same have been
abandoned due to the failure of the original locators thereof to perform
assessment wors therein, to file the corresponding affidavits of annual wor
obligations, and to pay the real estate ta=es thereon8 and that appellants
+petitioners, are not the successors-in-interest of the Tambis .old #redging
*o., Inc., hence they have no legal personality to institute the adverse
claims. 8
On appeal, the Minister of /atural Resources in a #ecision dated October 3', "':',
affirmed the judgment of the #irector of Mines. 9 Ce agreed with the #irector2s finding on
the issue of abandonment.
/ot satisfied with the decision of the Minister of /atural Resources, the Pearsons
appealed to the Office of the President. They filed a Manifestation re>uesting the Office to
re>uire the Mining *ompanies to file a bond in such amount as may be necessary to
protect the interests of the Pearsons during the pendency of the case before it. )lso, they
prayed for an order for immediate ocular inspection of the area to determine the
fundamental issue of the correct tie point of the controverted mining claims. 1=
In an Order dated 4une 3%, "'(", the Office of the President granted the motion
concerning the bond but denied the re>uest for ocular inspection. In the order, it was
stated that 9the investigation conducted by the Presidential Investigating *ommittee of the
6ureau of Mines has already considered and determined the issue which re>uire no more
+sic, further verification and clarification.9 11 The Pearsons and the Mining *ompanies
separately moved for reconsideration. 1;
$ubse>uently, the Office of the President granted the motion for ocular inspection, and
ordered the creation of an )d Coc Ocular Inspection *ommittee on 4une 3%, "'('. 13 The
Mining *ompanies moved for reconsideration of this order. 14
In a #ecision dated )ugust %", "'(", the Office of the President revoed the order
allowing ocular inspection, dismissed the appeal for lac of merit, and released all monies
that might have been deposited by the Mining *ompanies. The pertinent grounds of its
dismissal are hereunder >uoted! 15
. . . ?e agree with the findings of the Ministry of /atural Resources that
)ppellant2s mining claims are abandoned, if not null and void. Avidence on
record clearly establishes the fact that appellants failed to conduct the
necessary wors on their claim, to file the affidavits of annual wor
obligations, and to pay the real estate ta=es. These ommissions +sic, by
appellants constitute abandonment of their claims. A=ecutive Order /o. "1"
dated )ugust ", "';(, e=plicitly states that unpatented mining claims which
were located more than thirty years ago under the provisions of the Philippine
6ill of "'&3, as amended, and which have not complied with the annual
assessment re>uirement are considered abandoned and their declaration of
location cancelled. On this score, this Office finds no legal justification to
modify, much less reverse, the appealed decision.9
On 4anuary "(, "'(3, the Office of the President issued a Resolution denying the
Pearsons2 motion for reconsideration. 1<
)fter said denial, the Pearsons filed a petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus,
with a writ of preliminary injunction, before 6ranch 7 of the *5I of Pasig to annul the
aforementioned decisions of public respondents and to restrain private respondents from
entering and developing the mining claims involved. 17 This was doceted as *ivil *ase
/o. 10&0%. The Mining *ompanies filed their joint motion to dismiss and opposition to the
preliminary injunction alleging, among others, that the #ecision dated )ugust %", "'(" of
the Office of the President is already final and e=ecutory pursuant to Presidential #ecree
/o. 1;%, $ection 0& which states that!
)ppeals D )ny party not satisfied with the decision or order of the #irector,
may, within five +0, days from receipt thereof, appeal to the $ecretary.
#ecisions of the $ecretary are liewise appealable within five +0, days from
receipt thereof by the affected party to the President of the Philippines whose
decision shall be final and e=ecutory.
=== === ===
Instead of e=pressly resolving the said motion to dismiss, the *5I ordered on October "0,
"'(3 the creation of an )d Coc Ocular Inspection *ommittee 9to determine the correct tie-
point of private respondents2 mineral claim9. 6oth the public and private respondents
moved for reconsideration of said order. 18 The *5I denied both motions and issued the
Order dated #ecember 3", "'(3 scheduling the ocular inspection for 4anuary %, "'(%.
In view of this last order, the Mining *ompanies filed with the I)* their Petition
for Certiorari and Prohibition, assailing the abovementioned orders dated October "0,
"'(3 and #ecember 3", "'(3 allowing the creation of and setting the schedule for ocular
inspection by the )d Coc *ommittee, and praying that the latter court be prohibited from
further proceeding with *ivil *ase /o. 10&0%. The Mining *ompanies argued that when
P.#. /os. ''-), %&', and 1;% were promulgated, it became un>uestionable that the
procedure of adjudicating mining claims was made completely administrative with the
President as the final authority. 19 In their )nswer, the Pearsons assailed the propriety of
the petition since its subjects are two interlocutory orders. ;=
The I)* issued a Restraining Order dated 4anuary %", "'(%, restraining the *5I judge
from implementing his order directing the )d Coc *ommittee to conduct an ocular
inspection. ;1 Bater on, the I)* granted the writ of certiorari, set aside the orders of the
*5I with regard to the )d Coc *ommittee and ocular inspection, and directed the *5I 9to
resolve the joint motion to dismiss filed by the private respondents in said case in light of
what has been stated in this decision.9 The decision of the I)* was promulgated on
$eptember %&, "'(%, and the same became final and e=ecutory with an entry of judgment
issued by the said I)* on 5ebruary ":, "'(1.
)s directed by the I)*, the *5I issued an Order on 4uly %", "'(1 dismissing the petition of
the Pearsons before it.
Cence, the petitioners now come before this *ourt raising in their petition the following
issues! ;;
I. ?CATCAR OR /OT TCA #A*I$IO/ O5 RA$PO/#A/T
I/TARMA#I)TA )PPABB)TA *OERT I/ *)-..R. /O. "01%'
I$ /EBB )/# <OI# 5OR B)*F O5 4ERI$#I*TIO/ O<AR
TCA $E64A*T M)TTAR O5 TCA *)$A8
II. )$$EMI/. )R.EA/#O TC)T IT C)$ 4ERI$#I*TIO/
O<AR TCA *)$A, ?CATCAR OR /OT RA$PO/#A/T
*OERT .R)<ABG )6E$A# IT$ #I$*RATIO/, )MOE/TI/.
TO B)*F O5 4ERI$#I*TIO/, ?CA/ IT .)<A #EA *OER$A
TO )/# #A*I#A# $)I# PATITIO/ #A$PITA TCA *BA)R
$CO?I/. 6G CARAI/ PATITIO/AR TC)T TCA OR#AR$ I/
HEA$TIO/ )RA MARABG I/TARBO*ETORG )/# )RA,
TCARA5ORA, /OT PROPAR $E64A*T M)TTAR O5 )
PATITIO/ 5OR CERTIORARIE/#AR REBA ;0 O5 TCA
REBA$ O5 *OERT8 )/#
III. )$$EMI/. ).)I/ )R.EA/#O TC)T TCA HEA$TIO/A#
I/TARBO*ETORG OR#AR$ )RA PROPAR $E64A*T
O5 CERTIORARI, ?CATCAR OR /OT TCA #A*I$IO/
#)TA# $APTAM6AR %&, "'(% O5 RA$PO/#A/T
I/TARMA#I)TA )PPABB)TA *OERT I$ ) P)TA/T /EBBITG
5OR 6AI/. #A<OI# O5 )/G 5)*TE)B OR BA.)B 6)$I$.
Petitioners maintain that the $upreme *ourt has the e=clusive jurisdiction over all cases
where the jurisdiction of a lower court is in issue, as well as all cases decided by lower
courts involving pure >uestions of law, ;3 pursuant to paragraph 3+c,, $ection 0, )rt 7 of
the present *onstitution which states that!
$ec. 0. The $upreme *ourt shall have the following powers!
=== === ===
+3, Review and revise, reverse, modify, or affirm on appeal or certiorari, as
the law or the Rules of *ourt may provide, final judgments and decrees of
inferior courts in D
=== === ===
+c, )ll cases in which the jurisdiction of any inferior court is in issue.
=== === ===
Biewise, they assert that the 4udiciary )ct of "'1( +R.). /o. 3';,, as amended, also
clearly provides that the $upreme *ourt has e=clusive jurisdiction over the case, pursuant
to Paragraph +%,, $ec. ": thereof, to wit!
$ec. ":. 4urisdiction of the $upreme *ourt. D
=== === ===
The $upreme *ourt shall further have e=clusive jurisdiction to review, revise,
reverse, modify or affirm on certiorari as the law or rules of court may
provide, final judgments and decrees of inferior courts as herein provided in
D
=== === ===
+3, )ll cases in which the jurisdiction of any inferior court in issue.
=== === ===
*onse>uently, they argue that the I)* #ecision dated $eptember %&, "'(% is a patent
nullity for utter want of jurisdiction.
They further argue that the >uestioned orders of the *5I dated October "0, "'(3 and
#ecember 3", "'(3 allowing the creation of and setting the schedule for ocular inspection
by the )d Coc *ommittee were merely interlocutory, and therefore, cannot be subject of a
petition for certiorari in the I)*. ;4
Bastly, they claim that the I)*, in its $eptember %&, "'(1 decision sustaining the #ecision
dated )ugust %", "'(" of the Office of the President dismissing the appeal of petitioners,
has no factual and legal bases. They stress that they have lived in their ancestral home in
the mining area up to the filing of this petition8 they continued performing the assessment
wor on their mineral claims up to "':0 when this case arose, and they were enjoined to
stop their operations by respondent 6ureau of Mines8 that they have performed
assessment wor continuously up to "':08 that they filed religiously their affidavits of
assessment wor8 and that they paid their realty ta=es due, although they admitted that
certain affidavits were filed and certain ta=es were also paid in later years. ;5
Private respondents, in their *omment dated 4une 3;, "'(;, allege that the I)* has
jurisdiction to entertain the original petition for certiorari filed by them against respondents
*5I and the Pearsons under Rule ;0 of the /ew Rules of *ourt. They argue that under
P.#. /os. ''-), %&' and 1;% governing the procedures of adjudicating conflicting mining
claims which were made completely administrative, the decision of the President on
appeal to his Office is final and e=ecutory, and therefore, not subject to judicial review. ;<
The different issues raised in the instant petition may be subsumed in two principal issues!
". ?hether or not respondent I)* committed reversible error in assuming jurisdiction over
the private respondents2 petition for certiorari assailing the trial court2s interlocutory ordersI
3. )ssuming the I)* had validly assumed jurisdiction, whether or not it committed
reversible errors of law in its decision now before usI
?e find the petition entirely devoid of merit. Thus we see, in regard to the first principal
issue, no reversible error committed by the I)* when it assumed jurisdiction over private
respondents2 petition for certiorari involving interlocutory orders of the trial court.
The petitioners launch a two-pronged attac against the jurisdiction of the respondent
appellate court, to wit! first, the I)* could not adjudicate cases where the jurisdiction of the
trial court is in issue8 and second, the orders of the *5I, being merely interlocutory, could
not be the subject of a petition for certiorari in the I)*.
The petitioners err on both counts.
5irstly, the I)* correctly invoed the ruling of this *ourt in Uytiepo vs. Aggabao ;7, to wit!
)s regards the claim that the issues raised by )ggabao in her action filed
with the respondent *ourt of )ppeals involve only >uestions of law and are
therefore e=clusively reviewable by this *ourt, the petitioners apparently
confuse the remedy of special civil action of certiorari under Rule ;0 of the
Rules of *ourt in relation to section %& of the 4udiciary )ct as amended and
an appeal by certiorari under Rule 13 also of the Rules of *ourt in relation to
the fourth paragraph of section ": of the same )ct. The first is a remedy
available in the *ourt of )ppeals, in aid of its appellate jurisdiction, essentially
to correct errors of jurisdiction or abuse of discretion amounting to lac of
jurisdiction. The second lies within the competence of this *ourt for the
review of errors of inferior courts involving only >uestions of law. . . .
?hat private respondents availed of was the first remedy, placing in issue the jurisdiction
of the trial court to create an )d Coc *ommittee and schedule an ocular inspection.
*onsidered in relation to $ection ' of 6.P. 6lg. "3' +The 4udiciary Reorgani@ation )ct of
"'(&,, now incorporated in $ection 1, Rule ;0 of the "'': Rules of *ivil Procedure, which
vested the then I)* with original jurisdiction to issue writs of certiorari and prohibition,
among other au=iliary, writs, 9whether or not in aid of its appellate jurisdiction9, we find that
respondent appellate court correctly assumed jurisdiction over *)-..R. /o. "01%'.
It has also been emphasi@ed in a number of cases ;8 that while this *ourt has concurrent
jurisdiction with the *ourt of )ppeals and the Regional Trial *ourts +for writs enforceable
within their respective regions,, to issue writs of mandamus, prohibition or certiorari, the
litigants are well advised against taing a direct recourse to this *ourt. Instead, they
should initially see the proper relief from the lower courts. )s a court of last resort, this
*ourt should not be burdened with the tas of dealing with causes in the first instance.
?here the issuance of an e=traordinary writ is concurrently within the competence of the
*) or RT*, litigants must observe the principle of hierarchy of courts. This *ourt2s original
jurisdiction to issue e=traordinary writs should be e=ercised only where absolutely
necessary, or where serious and important reasons therefor e=ist.
$econdly, petitioner2s contention that the lower court2s orders of October "0, "'(3 and
#ecember 3", "'(3, being merely interlocutory, are not correctible by certiorari, ignores
this *ourt2s consistent ruling, to wit!
On the procedural issues raised, we hold that where an interlocutory order
was allegedly issued with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lac or
e=cess of jurisdiction, such order may be >uestioned before the *ourt on a
petition for certiorari under Rule ;0 of the Revised Rules of *ourt. To delay
the review of the order until the appeal from the decision of the main case
would not afford the party adversely affected by the said order a speedy,
plain and ade>uate remedy. ;9
In Marcelo vs. De Gu!an, 3= we held that although, as a general rule, an interlocutory
order is not appealable until after the rendition of the judgment on the merits, an e=ception
is made where the remedy of appeal cannot afford an ade>uate and e=peditious relief. In
such e=ception, certiorari can be allowed as a mode of redress to prevent irreparable
damage and injury to a party. ?e further held that where the order complained of is a
patent nullity, a petition for certiorari and mandamus may properly be entertained despite
the e=istence of the remedy of appeal. 31 This we reiterated in "alcedo#Orta$e vs. Court
of Appeals. 3;
#oes the controversy at hand fall under the e=ception where interlocutory orders may be
the subject of a petition for certiorariin the I)*I In our view, it does. 5or the trial court
clearly acted outside of its jurisdiction when it issued the assailed orders creating the )d
Coc *ommittee and scheduling the ocular inspection.
To begin with the lower court did not have jurisdiction over the mining dispute. ?ith the
issuance of Presidential #ecree /os. ''-), %&', and 1;%, 33 the procedure of adjudicating
conflicting mining claims has been made completely administrative in character, with the
President as the final appeal authority. 34 $ection 0& of P.#. 1;%, providing for a
moderni@ed system of administration and disposition of mineral lands, to promote and
encourage the development and e=ploitation thereof, mandates on the matter of 9Protests,
)dverse *laims and )ppeals,9 the following procedure!
)ppeals D )ny party not satisfied with the decision or order of the #irector
may, within five +0, days from receipt there of appeal to the $ecretary.
#ecisions of the $ecretary are liewise appealable within five +0, days from
receipt thereof by the affected party to the President of the Philippines whose
decision shall be final and e=ecutory.
It should be noted that before its amendment, the Mining Baw +*.). /o. "%:, re>uired that
after the filing of adverse claim with the 6ureau of Mines, the adverse claimant had to go
to a court of competent jurisdiction for the settlement of the claim. ?ith the amendment
seeing to e=pedite the resolution of mining conflicts, the #irector of Mines became the
mandatory adjudicator of adverse claims, instead of the *ourt of 5irst instance. 35 Thus, it
cannot escape notice that under $ection ;" of the Mining Baw, as amended by Republic
)ct /os. :1; and 1%((, appeals from the decision of the $ecretary of )griculture and
/atural Resources +then Minister of /atural Resources, on conflicts and disputes arising
out of mining locations may be made to the *ourt of )ppeals or the $upreme *ourt as the
case may be. In contrast, under the decrees issued at the onset of martial law, it has been
e=pressly provided that the decisions of the same $ecretary in mining cases are
appealable to the President of the Philippines under $ection 0& of the Mineral Resources
#evelopment #ecree of "':1 +P.#. /o. 1;%, and $ection : of P.#. /o. "3(" in relation to
P.#. /o. %&'. 3<
The trend at present is to mae the adjudication of mining cases a purely administrative
matter. 37 This does not mean that administrative bodies have complete rein over mining
disputes. The very terms of $ection :% of the Mining Baw, as amended by R.). /o. 1%((,
in re>uiring that the adverse claim must 9state in full detail the nature, boundaries and
e=tent of the adverse claim9 show that the conflicts to be decided by reason of such
adverse claim refer primarily to >uestions of fact. The controversies to be submitted and
resolved by the #irector of Mines under the sections referred only to the overlapping of
claims and administrative matters incidental thereto. 38 Huestions and controversies that
are judicial, not administrative, in nature can be resolved only by the regular courts in
whom is vested the judicial power to resolve and adjudicate such civil disputes and
controversies between litigants in accordance with the established norms of law and
justice. 39 #ecisions of the $upreme *ourt on mining disputes have recogni@ed a
distinction between +", the primary powers granted by pertinent provisions of law to the
then $ecretary of )griculture and /atural Resources +and the bureau directors, of an
e=ecutive or administrative nature, such as 9granting of license, permits, lease and
contracts, or approving, rejecting, reinstating or cancelling applications, or deciding
conflicting applications,9 and +3, controversies or disagreements of civil or contractual
nature between litigants which are >uestions of a judicial nature that may be adjudicated
only by the courts of justice. 4=
This distinction is carried on even under the present law. 41 5indings of fact by the Mines
)djudication 6oard, which e=ercises appellate jurisdiction over decisions or orders of the
panel of arbitrators, shall be conclusive and binding on the parties, and its decision or
order shall be final and e=ecutory. 4; 6ut resort to the appropriate court, through a petition
for review by certiorari, involving >uestions of law, may be made within thirty days from the
receipt of the order or decision of the Mines )djudication 6oard. 43
?ith regard to the second issue, the >uery boils down to whether the I)* committed
reversible error in concluding that petitioners had abandoned their mining claims.
)s found by the I)*!
It will not be amiss to state here that the basis of abandonment of the
Pearsons of their mining claims is well established by the evidence already
presented to the 6ureau of Mines and to the Ministry of /atural Resources.
?e need only to refer to the following reasons found in the decision of the
Ministry of /atural Resources, dated October 3', "':0, to wit!
. . . assuming, in gratia argumentis, that the 96)RO6O9 placer
claims were validly located, said claims have been abandoned
for failure of the claim owners thereof to conduct wors therein,
to file the affidavits of annual wor obligations, and to pay the
real estate ta=es.
The evidence indicate that affidavits of annual assessment
wors have been filed for the 96)RO6O-39 to 96)RO6O-09
placer claims from "'1; to "'0". Cowever, the affidavits for the
years "'0: to "':1, respectively were all filed only on )pril (,
"':0. Thus, during the latter years, no proof was submitted to
show compliance with the annual assessment wors. $o, at the
time the 9#I)MO/#9 and 9M)RTI/9 placer claims were located
and registered, the 96)RO6O9 claims had already been
deemed abandoned and the areas covered thereby open to
relocation.9
$aid decision also too into account A=ecutive Order /o. "1", dated )ugust
", "';(, which provides!
/O?, TCARA5ORA, I, 5AR#I/)/# A. M)R*O$, President of
the Philippines, by virtue of the vested in me by law, do hereby
declare unpatented mining claims which were located more
than thirty years ago under the provisions of the Philippine 6ill
of "'&3, as amended, and which had not complied with the
annual assessment re>uirement, as abandoned and their
declaration of location cancelled. 44
?ell established is the rule that findings of fact made in the decision of the Minister of
/atural Resources +then $ecretary of )griculture and /atural Resources, appealed from
will not be reviewed by this *ourt unless there has been a grave abuse of discretion in
maing said findings by reason of the total absence of competent evidence in support
thereof. 45 )s shown above, the public officials2 judgments are well supported by
substantial evidence. Moreover, by the Pearsons2 own admission, they failed to file the
affidavit of annual assessment wors and to pay the real estate ta=es from "'0:-"':1,
which were filed and paid only later in "':1. 4<
In "anta Rosa Mining Co. vs. %on Minister of &atural Resources 'ose (eido) 'r. and
Director of Mines 'uanito *ernande 47, this *ourt held that while it is recogni@ed that the
right of a locator of a mining claim is a property right, such right is not absolute. It is merely
a possessory right, more so where petitioner2s claims are still unpatented. Mere location
does not mean absolute ownership over the affected land or located claim. It merely
segregates the located land or area from the public domain by barring other would-be
locators from locating the same and appropriating for themselves the minerals found
therein. To rule otherwise would imply the location is all that is needed to ac>uire and
maintain rights over a located mining claim. This cannot be approved or sanctioned
because it is contrary to the intention of the lawmaer that the locator should faithfully and
consistently comply with the re>uirement for annual wors and improvements in the
located mining claims. 48/ot only should there be a valid and subsisting location of the
mineral land but also there should be, thereafter, continuous compliance with all the
re>uirements of law such as the performance of annual assessment wors and payment of
real estate ta=es. 49
?hile it is understandable that petitioners would want this *ourt to reassess the evidence
presented before the mining officials to support their plea of not having abandoned the
mining claim involved, this cannot be done now in this proceeding, for this *ourt is not a
trier of facts. Moreover, we find no cogent, much less compelling, reason to depart from
established practice and precedents. 5or where, as in the case at bar, there is no showing
that there was fraud, collusion, arbitrariness, illegality, imposition or mistae on the part of
the Office of the President or a department head in rendering a >uestioned decision8 nor a
total lac of substantial evidence to support their administrative decisions, their factual
findings and conclusions are entitled to great weight and respect, and will not be interfered
with. 5=
?CARA5ORA, the instant petition is #A/IA#, and the assailed Orders and #ecisions,
particularly the #ecision of the Intermediate )ppellate *ourt in )*-..R. /o. "01%',
including the Order of dismissal of *ivil *ase /o. 10&0%, are hereby )55IRMA#.
/o pronouncement as to costs.
$O OR#ARA#.