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PCGG v. Judge Peña; Feb.

7, 1989

FACTS:

This is a case about the Presidential Commission on Good Government, created


through E.O. 1,charging it with the task of assisting the President in regard to the
recovery of all ill-gotten wealth accumulated by the Marcoses, including the
power to issue freeze orders or sequestration of all business enterprises owned by
them upon showing of a prima facie case.

March 25, 1986 – PCGG issued an order freezing the assets, effects, documents
and records of two export garment manufacturing firms: American Inter-fashion
Corporation and De Soleil Apparel Manufacturing Corporation.

June 27, 1986 – PCGG designated the OIC, Saludo, and Yeung Chun Ho as
authorized signatories to effect deposits and withdrawals of the funds of the two
corporations.

Sept. 4,1986 – PCGG designated Yim Kam Shing as co-signatory, in the absence
of Yeung Chun Ho and Marcelo de Guzman, in the absence of Saludo.

Feb. 3, 1987 – Saludo, in a memorandum, revoked the authorizations previously


issued upon finding that Mr. Yim Kam Shing was a Hong Kong Chinese national
staying in the country on a mere tourist visa. The PCGG Commissioner approved
the
memorandum. Shortly, thereafter, Saludo withdrew funds from Metrobank against
the accounts of the two corporations for payment of the salaries of the stuff.
Yeung Chung Kam, Yeung Chun Ho and Archie Chan instituted through Yim Kam
Shing an action for
damages with prayer for a writ of preliminary injunction against the said bank,
PCGG, the Commissioner and OIC Saludo with the RTC, questiong the aforesaid
revocation of the authorization as signatory previously granted to Yim Kam Shing.
RTC issued TRO.
PCGG filed a motion to dismiss with opposition to Yim‟s prayer for a writ of
preliminary injunction on the ground that the trial court has no jurisdiction over
the Commission or over the subject of the case.

RTC judge denied PCGG‟s motion to dismiss and granted Yim‟s prayer for a writ
of preliminary injunction.

Hence this petition.

ISSUE: Whether or not the RTC can validly restrain PCGG?


HELD: NO. RTC cannot validly retrain PCGG because under its charter, the PCGG
exercises quasi-judicial power; thus it is deemed a co-equal body of RTC.

The main issue is whether regional trial courts have jurisdiction over the petitioner
Presidential Commission on Good Governmnent (hereinafter referred to as the
Commission) and properties sequestered and placed in its custodia legis in the
exercise of its powers under Executive Orders Nos, 1, 2 and 14, as amended, and
whether said regional trial courts may interfere with and restrain or set aside the
orders and actions of the Commission, The Court holds that regional trial courts
do not have such jurisdiction over the Commission and accordingly grants the
petition. To eliminate all doubts, the Court upholds the primacy of administrative
jurisdiction as vested in the Commission and holds that jurisdiction over all
sequestration cases of ill-gotten wealth, assets and properties under the past
discredited regime fall within the exclusive and original jurisdiction of the
Sandiganbayan, subject to review exclusively by this Court.

Quasi Judicial is the term applied to the action or discretion of public


administrative officers who are required to investigate facts, or ascertain the
existence of facts and draw conclusions from them as a basis for their official
action, and to exercise discretion of a judicial nature. A quasi-judicial
proceeding involves the taking and evaluation of evidence, determining facts
based upon the evidence presented and rendering an order or decision
supported by the facts proved.
UP Board of Regents VS Court of Appeals and AROKIASWAMY WILLIAM
MARGARET CELINE
G.R. No. 134625. August 31, 1999

Doctrine:

Due process in an administrative context does not require trial-type proceedings


similar to those in the courts of justice.—It is not tenable for private respondent to
argue that she was entitled to have an audience before the Board of Regents.
Due process in an administrative context does not require trial-type proceedings
similar to those in the courts of justice. It is noteworthy that the U.P. Rules do not
require the attendance of persons whose cases are included as items on the
agenda of the Board of Regents.

If an institution of higher learning can decide who can and who cannot study in
it, it certainly can also determine on whom it can confer the honor and
distinction of being its graduates.—Art. XIV, §5 (2) of the Constitution provides
that “[a]cademic freedom shall be enjoyed in all institutions of higher learning.”
This is nothing new. The 1935 Constitution and the 1973 Constitution likewise
provided for the academic freedom or, more precisely, for the institutional
autonomy of universities and institutions of higher learning. As pointed out by this
Court in Garcia v. Faculty Admission Committee, Loyola School of Theology, it is
a freedom granted to “institutions of higher learning” which is thus given “a wide
sphere of authority certainly extending to the choice of students.” If such
institution of higher learning can decide who can and who cannot study in it, it
certainly can also determine on whom it can confer the honor and distinction of
being its graduates.

Facts:
Private respondent Ms. Arokiaswamy William Margaret Celine a citizen of
India enrolled doctoral program in UP CSSP Diliman QC. She is ready for oral
defense with selected panel members Drs. E. Arsenio Manuel, Serafin Quiason, Sri
Skandarajah, Noel Teodoro, and Isagani Medina, the last included as the dean’s
representative.

Even though Dr. Medina noticed that there were portions of her dissertation
that was lifted from different sources without proper acknowledgement, she was
still allowed to continue to with her oral defense. Four (4) out five (5) give her a
passing mark with condition to incorporate the suggestion made by the panel
members. Dr. Medina did not sign the approval form. Dr. Teodoro also noted that
a revision should be submitted.
On March 24, 1993, The CSSP College Faculty Assembly approved her
graduation pending the final revised copies of her dissertation. Private
respondent submitted the supposedly final revised copies although petitioners
maintained that suggestions were not incorporated. She left a copy for Dr.
Teodoro and Dr. Medina and did not wait for their approval relying to the Dean
Paz remarks during previous meeting that a majority vote was sufficient for her to
pass. The supposedly revised copies were later disapproved by Dr. Teodoro and
Dr. Medina.
Private respondent was disappointed with the administration. She charge
Dr. Diokno and Medina with maliciously working for the disapproval of her
dissertation and further warned Dean Paz against encouraging perfidious act
against her. Dean Paz attempts to exclude the private respondent in the
graduating list in a letter addressed to the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
(Dr. Milagros Ibe), pending for clarification of her charges against panel members
and accusations relating to her dissertation. Unfortunately the letter did not reach
on time and the respondent was allowed to graduate. Dean Paz wrote a letter
that she would not be granted an academic clearance unless she substantiated
the accusations. In a letter addressed to Dean Paz, Dr. Medina formally charged
private respondent with plagiarism and recommended for the withdrawal of her
doctorate degree.
Dean Paz formed an ad-hoc committee (Ventura Committee) to
investigate and recommend to Chancellor Dr. Roman to withdraw her doctorate
degree. Private respondent was informed of the charges in a letter. Ventura
Committee finds at 90 instances or portions of thesis lifted from other sources with
no proper acknowledgement. After it was unanimously approved and endorsed
from the CSSP and Univ. Council the recommendation for withdrawal was
endorsed to Board of Regents who deferred its actions to study further for legal
implications. Private respondent was provided with a copy of findings and in
return she also submitted her written explanation. Another meeting was
scheduled to discuss her answer.
Zafaralla Committee was also created and recommends private
respondent for withdrawal of her degree after establishing the facts the there
were massive lifting from published sources and the private respondent also
admits herself of being guilty of plagiarism.
On the basis of the report and recommendation of the University Council,
the Board of Regents send a letter to inform private respondent that it was
resolved by majority to withdraw your doctorates degree.
On August 10, 1995, private respondent then filed a petition for mandamus
with a prayer for a writ of preliminary mandatory injunction and damages to RTC
QC. She alleged that petitioners had unlawfully withdrawn her degree without
justification and without affording her procedural due process. She prayed that
petitioners be ordered to restore her degree and to pay her P500, 000.00 as moral
and exemplary damages and P1, 500,000.00 as compensation for lost earnings.
RTC dismissed for lack of merit. The Court of Appeals reversed the lower court’s
decision and ordered to restore her doctorates degree.

Issue/s:

1. Whether or not the Court of Appeals erred in granting the writ of mandamus
and ordering petitioners to restore doctoral degree.
2. Whether or not the court of appeals erred in holding that respondent’s
doctoral degree cannot be recalled without violating her right to enjoyment
of intellectual property and to justice and equity.

Held:

The decision of Court of Appeals was reversed.


1. Yes. The court of appeals decisions was based on grounds that the private
respondent was denied of due process and that she graduated and no longer
in the ambit of disciplinary powers of UP.
In all investigations held by the different committee assigned to investigate
the charges, the private respondent was heard on her defense. In fact she was
informed in writing about the charges and was provided with a copy from the
investigating committee. She was asked to submit her explanation which she
forwarded. Private respondent also discussed her case with the UP Chancellor
and Zafaralla Committee during their meetings. She was given the opportunity
to be heard and explain her side but failed to refute the charges of plagiarism
against her.
The freedom of a university does not terminate upon the "graduation" of a
student, as the Court of Appeals held because the "graduation" of such a student
that is in question. The investigation began before graduation. She was able to
graduate because there were many investigations conducted before the Board
finally decided that she should not have been allowed to graduate.
2. Yes. The court held that academic freedom is guaranteed to institutions of
higher learning by Art XIV of the 1987 Constitution. This freedom includes deciding
whom a university will confer degrees on. If the degree is procured by error or
fraud then the Board of Regents, subject to due process being followed, may
cancel that degree.
Art. XIV, Section 5 par. 2 of the Constitution provides that "academic
freedom shall be enjoyed in all institutions of higher learning."
It is a freedom granted to "institutions of higher learning" which is thus given
"a wide sphere of authority certainly extending to the choice of students." If such
institution of higher learning can decide who can and who cannot study in it, it
certainly can also determine on whom it can confer the honor and distinction of
being its graduates.
Carino vs CHR 204 SCRA 483

Facts: Some 800 public school teachers, among them members of the Manila
Public School Teachers Association (MPSTA) and Alliance of Concerned
Teachers (ACT) undertook what they described as amass concerted actions" to
"dramatize and highlight' their plight resulting from the alleged failure of the
public authorities to act upon grievances that had time and again been
brought to the latter's attention. According to them they had decided to
undertake said "mass concerted actions" after the protest rally staged at the
DECS premises on September 14, 1990 without disrupting classes as a last call for
the government to negotiate the granting of demands had elicited no response
from the Secretary of Education. Through their representatives, the teachers
participating in the mass actions were served with an order of the Secretary of
Education to return to work in 24 hours or face dismissal, and a memorandum
directing the DECS officials concerned to initiate dismissal proceedings against
those who did not comply and to hire their replacements. "For failure to heed
the return-to-work order, the CHR complainants (private respondents) were
administratively charged on the basis of the principal's report and given five (5)
days to answer the charges. They were also preventively suspended for ninety
(90) days 'pursuant to Section 41 of P.D. 807' and temporarily replaced. An
investigation committee was consequently formed to hear the charges in
accordance with P.D. 807."

Issue: WON the Commission on Human Rights has jurisdiction, adjudicatory


powers over, or the power to try and decide, or hear and determine, certain
specific type of cases, like alleged human rights violation involving civil or
political rights.

Held: The Court declares the Commission on Human Rights to have no such
power.
The Constitution clearly and categorically grants to the Commission the
power to investigate all forms of human rights violations involving civil and
political rights. It can exercise that power on its own initiative or on complaint of
any person. It may exercise that power pursuant to such rules of procedure as it
may adopt and, in cases of violations of said rules, cite for contempt in
accordance with the Rules of Court. In the course of any investigation
conducted by it or under its authority, it may 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. It may also request
the assistance of any department, bureau, office, or agency in the
performance of its functions, in the conduct of its investigation or in extending
such remedy as may be required by its findings.
But it cannot try and decide cases (or hear and determine causes) as
courts of justice, or even quasi-judicial bodies do. "x x 'It may be said generally
that the exercise of judicial functions is to determine what the law is, and what
the legal rights of parties are, with respect to a matter in controversy; and
whenever an officer is clothed with that authority, and undertakes to determine
those questions, he acts judicially.'x x."
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
Eastern Telecommunications Philippines, Inc. vs. International Communication
Corporation, G.R. No. 135992, Jan. 31, 2006

FACTS:
The Court has promulgated a decision wherein it required respondent to make
20% escrow deposit and to post 10% performance bond. Respondent asks for
partial reconsideration of those portions further claiming that Section 27 of NTC
MC No. 11-9-93 pertains only to applications filed under the E.O. No. 109 and not
to applications voluntary filed. In it’s Manifestation to support the motion for partial
reconsideration, respondent attached letter from Deputy Commissioner OIC
(officer in charge Heceta of NTC stating that xxxxx escrow deposit and
performance bond were required to public telecommunications entities to ensure
that the mandated installation of local exchange lines are installed within three
(3) years pursuant to EO 109 and RA 7925. Since your company has already
complied with its obligation by the installation of more than 300,000 lines in
Quezon City, Malabon City and Valenzuela City in the National Capital Region
and Region V in early 1997, the escrow deposit and performance bond were not
required in your subsequent authorizations xxxxxxx
In a resolution, Court required petitioners and NTC to file their comments on the
motion, Subsequently the OSG in behalf of NTC, declared that it fully agrees with
respondent that escrow deposits and performance bond are not required in
subsequent authorizations for additional/ new areas outside its original roll out
obligation under the Service Area Scheme of E.O. no. 109.
Petitioner did not file any comment it was only after the Court issued a show
cause and compliance Resolution on Oct, 2005 that petitioners manifested in
their Entry of Special Appearance, Manifestation and Compliance that they have
not further comments on the motion for partial recon.

ISSUE: WON interpretation of the NTC (Sec. 27 of NTC MC No. 11-9-93) regarding
the escrow deposit and performance bond shall pertain only to original roll-out
obligation under E.O. no 109?

HELD: YES. The Court holds that the interpretation of the NTC that Section 27 of
NTC MC No. 11-9-93 regarding the escrow deposit and performance bond shall
pertain only to a local exchange operator's original roll-out obligation under E.O.
No. 109, and not to roll-out obligations made under subsequent or voluntary
applications outside E.O. No. 109, should be sustained.
The Court has observed in its Decision that Section 27 of NTC MC No. 11-9- 93
is silent as to whether the posting of an escrow deposit and performance bond is
a condition sine qua non for the grant of a provisional authority.

The OSG agreed with respondent's stance that since the provisional authority in
this case involves a voluntary application not covered by the original service
areas created by the NTC under E.O. No. 109, then it is not subject to the posting
of an escrow deposit and performance bond as required by E.O. No. 109, but only
to the conditions provided in the provisional authority.

The NTC, being the government agency entrusted with the regulation of activities
coming under its special and technical forte, and possessing the necessary rule-
making power to implement its objectives,is in the best position to interpret its own
rules, regulations and guidelines. The Court has consistently yielded and
accorded great respect to the interpretation by administrative agencies of their
own rules unless there is an error of law, abuse of power, lack of jurisdiction or
grave abuse of discretion clearly conflicting with the letter and spirit of the law.

The interpretation of an agency of its own rules should be given more weight
than the interpretation by that agency of the law it is merely tasked to administer.
Thus, in cases where the dispute concerns the interpretation by an agency of its
own rules, one should apply only these standards: “Whether the delegation of
power was valid; whether the regulation was within that delegation; and if so,
whether it was a reasonable regulation under a due process test.”
EDILLO C. MONTEMAYOR vs. LUIS BUNDALIAN

FACTS: An unverified letter-complaint was addressed by private respondent LUIS


BUNDALIAN to the Philippine Consulate General accusing petitioner, then OIC-
Regional Director of the DPWH, of accumulating unexplained wealth, in
violation of Section 8 of Republic Act No. 3019. Private respondent charged
among others that petitioner and his wife purchased a house and lot in Los
Angeles, California and that petitioner’s in-laws who were living in California had
a poor credit standing due to a number of debts they could not have
purchased such an expensive property for petitioner and his wife. Private
respondent also accused petitioner of amassing wealth from lahar funds and
other public works projects.

The PCAGC conducted its own investigation of the complaint. Petitioner fully
participated in the proceedings. After the investigation, the PCAGC found that
petitioner purchased a house and lot in California, for US$195,000.00 evidenced
by a Grant Deed. The body concluded that the petitioner could not have been
able to afford to buy the property on his annual income of P168,648.00 as
appearing on his Service Record. The PCAGC concluded that as petitioner’s
acquisition of the subject property was manifestly out of proportion to his salary,
it has been unlawfully acquired. Thus, it recommended petitioner’s dismissal
from service pursuant to Section 8 of R.A. No. 3019.

The Office of the President, concurring with the findings and adopting the
recommendation of the PCAGC, issued Administrative Order No. 12,4 ordering
petitioner’s dismissal from service with forfeiture of all government benefits.

ISSUE: Whether or not petitioner was denied due process in the investigation
before the PCAGC

HELD: NO. The essence of due process in administrative proceedings is the


opportunity 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 judgment is rendered, the demands of due process are sufficiently
met. In the case at bar, the PCAGC exerted efforts to notify the complainant of
the proceedings but his Philippine residence could not be located. Be that as it
may, petitioner cannot argue that he was deprived of due process because he
failed to confront and cross-examine the complainant. Petitioner voluntarily
submitted to the jurisdiction of the PCAGC by participating in the proceedings
before it. He was duly represented by counsel. He filed his counter-affidavit,
submitted documentary evidence, attended the hearings, moved for a
reconsideration of Administrative Order No. issued by the President and
eventually filed his appeal before the Court of Appeals. His active participation
in every step of the investigation effectively removed any badge of procedural
deficiency, if there was any, and satisfied the due process requirement. He
cannot now be allowed to challenge the procedure adopted by the PCAGC in
the investigation.
It is well to remember that in administrative proceedings, technical rules of
procedure and evidence are not strictly applied. Administrative due process
cannot be fully equated with due process in its strict judicial sense for it is
enough that the party is given the chance to be heard before the case against
him is decided. This was afforded to the petitioner in the case at bar.
DIRECTOR CELSO PASCUAL OF THE TELECOMMUNICATIONS OFFICE, LEGASPI CITY,
petitioner, vs. HON. ORLANDO D. BELTRAN, AS JUDGE, RTC OF TUGUEGARAO,
BRANCH 4, and MRS. MONSERAT RAYMUNDO ASSISTED BY HER HUSBAND
DOMICIANO RAYMUNDO, respondents.

Forum Shopping; Pleadings and Practice; It is settled that the requirement to


file a certificate of non-forum shopping is mandatory and that failure to comply
with this requirement cannot be excused.—It is settled that the requirement to file
a certificate of non-forum shopping is mandatory and that failure to comply with
this requirement cannot be excused. The certification is a peculiar and personal
responsibility of the party, an assurance given to the court or other tribunal that
there are no other pending cases involving basically the same parties, issues and
causes of action.
Forum Shopping; Pleadings and Practice; It is settled that the requirement to
file a certificate of non-forum shopping is mandatory and that failure to comply
with this requirement cannot be excused.—It is settled that the requirement to file
a certificate of non-forum shopping is mandatory and that failure to comply with
this requirement cannot be excused. The certification is a peculiar and personal
responsibility of the party, an assurance given to the court or other tribunal that
there are no other pending cases involving basically the same parties, issues and
causes of action.
Pleadings and Practice; Procedural rules are not to be disdained as mere
technicalities. They may not be ignored to suit the convenience of a party.
Adjective law ensures the effective enforcement of substantive rights through the
orderly and speedy administration of justice.—Procedural rules are not to be
disdained as mere technicalities. They may not be ignored to suit the
_______________
* FIRST DIVISION.
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546 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
Pascual vs. Beltran
convenience of a party. Adjective law ensures the effective enforcement of
substantive rights through the orderly and speedy administration of justice. Rules
are not to be intended to hamper litigants or complicate litigation. But they help
provide for a vital system of justice where suitor’s may be heard in the correct
form and manner, at the prescribed time in a peaceful though adversarial
confrontation before a judge whose authority litigants acknowledge. Public order
and our system of justice are well served by a conscientious observance of the
rules of procedure, particularly by government officials and agencies.
Solicitor General; Public Officers; The Supreme Court further ruled that its
observation should apply as well to a public official who is hailed to court in a civil
suit for damages arising from a felony allegedly committed by him. Any pecuniary
liability he may be held to account for on the occasion of such civil suit is for his
own account. The State is not liable for the same. A fortiori, the Office of the
Solicitor General likewise has no authority to represent him in such civil suit for
damages.—The Court further ruled that its observation should apply as well to a
public official who is hailed to court in a civil suit for damages arising from a felony
allegedly committed by him. Any pecuniary liability he may be held to account
for on the occasion of such civil suit is for his own account. The Sate is not liable
for the same. A fortiori, the Office of the Solicitor General likewise has no authority
to represent him in such a civil suit for damages.
Same; Same; The Solicitor General is the lawyer of the government, any of its
agents and officials in any litigation, proceeding, investigation or matter requiring
the services of a lawyer. The exception is when such officials or agents are being
charged or are being civilly sued for damages arising from a felony.—The Solicitor
General is the lawyer of the government, any of its agents and officials in any
litigation, proceeding, investigation or matter requiring the services of a lawyer.
The exception is when such officials or agents are being charged or are being
civilly sued for damages arising from a felony.
Damages; Actions; An action for recovery of damages for the commission of
an injury to a person is a personal action. A personal action is one brought for the
recovery of personal property, for the enforcement of some contract of recovery
of damages for its breach, or for the recovery of damages for the commission of
an injury to the person or property.—An action for recovery of damages for the
commission of an injury to a person is a personal action. A personal action is one
brought for the recovery of personal property, for the
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Pascual vs. Beltran
enforcement of some contract of recovery of damages for its breach, or for
the recovery of damages for the commission of an injury to the person or property.
Abuse of Discretion; Certiorari; The Supreme Court rules that the trial court did
not commit grave abuse of discretion amounting to excess of or lack of
jurisdiction in issuing the assailed orders. By grave abuse of discretion is meant
such capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment as is equivalent to lack of
jurisdiction, and it must be shown that the discretion was exercised arbitrarily or
despotically. For certiorari to lie, there must be capricious, arbitrarily and
whimsical exercise of power, the very antithesis of the judicial prerogative in
accordance with the centuries of both civil law and common law traditions.—We
rule that the trial court did not commit grave abuse of discretion amounting to
excess of or lack of jurisdiction in issuing the assailed orders. By grave abuse of
discretion is meant such capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment as is
equivalent to lack of jurisdiction, and it must be shown that the discretion was
exercised arbitrarily or despotically. For certiorari to lie, there must be capricious,
arbitrary and whimsical exercise of power, the very antithesis of the judicial
prerogative in accordance with centuries of both civil law and common law
traditions.
PETITION for review on certiorari of the resolutions of the Court of Appeals.
The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.
Macpaul B. Soriano for private respondent.

CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:

This Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court seeks to
nullify the Resolution1 dated 27 January 1997 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R.
SP No. 41488, dismissing the petition, and the subsequent Resolution dated 21 May
1997 denying2 the Motion for Reconsideration.
_______________
1 Rollo, pp. 42-43; penned by Associate Justice Quirino D. Abad Santos, Jr. with
Associate Justices Delilah Vidallon-Magtolis and Demetrio G. Demetria.
2 Id., at pp. 45-46.

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548 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
Pascual vs. Beltran
Petitioner Celso Pascual was then the Regional Director, while, private respondent
Monserat Raymundo was the Human Resource Management Officer of the
Telecommunications Office of the Department of Transportation and
Communications (DOTC), Region II, Tuguegarao City.
On 25 April 1990, private respondent was charged before the DOTC, Region II,
Tuguegarao City, with Conduct Grossly Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the
Service/Gross Insubordination/Violation of Reasonable Office Rules and
Regulations, Gross Discourtesy in the Course of Official Functions and Gross
Dishonesty Through Falsification of Official Document, by petitioner, as Regional
Director of the Telecommunications Office, Region II, Tuguegarao, Cagayan. The
acts which gave rise to the charges are as follows:
“That on March 13, 1990, February 22, 1990, February 20, 1990, February 16, 1990,
February 13, 1990, July 10, 1989, you have deliberately arrogated unto yourself the
authority vested in the Regional Director by signing official
communications/correspondences despite the posting of Regional Office Order
No. 87-01 S. October 6, 1987 notifying all concerned that all official
correspondences shall be signed by the Regional Director; that on similar
instances, on matters relating to the functions of implementing policies and
without being officially issued the delegated authority to sign for and on behalf of
the head of office, had signed communications thereof as an OIC but on the
pretext as a HRMO of the office which is a clear manifestation of open
disobedience/hostility to authority and wanton disregard of reasonable office
rules and regulations and additionally, a conduct prejudicial to the interest of the
service;
That on or about 9:30 AM of March 16, 1990 and some other occasions, while
in the office performing the functions of your position as HRMO of the office and
therefore a pro-people oriented officer, you descended down to the level of an
“unschooled/unlearned” by shouting to the top of your voice and making
discourteous remarks against management you ought to serve openly before
everybody by roaming around entering every room in the office not only making
a mockery of your oath of office but also disturbing the other employees of their
day’s work aside from creating an unwholesome/unpleasant environment within
the office;
That on September 5, 1989, you went on undertime for two (2) hours as
appearing in the report of the official timekeeper whereas in your DTR, the entry
thereof shows that you went out of the office at about 5:00 PM and that
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Pascual vs. Beltran
on January 27, 1989, February 23 and 24, 1989, March 8, 1989, June 20, 1989, July
14, 1989 and September 14, 1989 you went on unauthorized absences during
regular office hours whereas in your DTR, the entries thereof (Time in and Time out)
are complete, hence, the discrepancy and conclusion that you have stolen
government time (theft of government time) and had falsified official documents
which constitute gross dishonesty.”3
On 2 August 1993, DOTC Assistant Secretary Pacifico F. Maghacot, Jr., exonerated
private respondent of the offenses charged. The Order exonerating the private
respondent in part reads:
“On charges of conduct grossly prejudicial to the to the best interest of the
service, gross insubordination and violation of reasonable office rules and
regulations, the prosecution miserably failed to present substantial evidence,
both testimonial and documentary, to warrant the findings of guilt against the
respondent. It was alleged that respondent has committed the acts by
deliberately arrogating herself the authority vested in the Regional Director by
signing official communications/correspondence supposedly to be signed by the
latter. However, not a single evidence or communications relative thereto had
been presented during the hearing that would substantiate such imputation.
Witness Felisa D. Suyo even testified to the effect that there are specific functions
in the job description of an employee which can be performed without prior
authority from the Regional Director. Moreover, the Regional Office Order No. 87-
01 dated October 6, 1987 which was allegedly violated by the herein respondent
is quite vague, as [is] clearly shown in its text, to wit:

Republic of the Philippines


Department of Transportation and Communications
TELECOMMUNICATIONS OFFICE
Regional Office No. IX
Tuguegarao, Cagayan
October 6, 1987

REGIONAL OFFICE ORDER NO. 87-01

SUBJECT: MR. CELSO PASCUAL, DOTC Regional Director,


Telecommunications Office, Assumption to Duty:
_______________
3 Records, pp. 6-7.
550
550 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
Pascual vs. Beltran
Effective today, the undersigned is assuming the duties as DOTC Director of the
Telecommunications Office, Region II.
As such, all official correspondence shall be prepared for the signature of the
undersigned.
(SGD) CELSO V. PASCUAL
Regional Director
The logical interpretation of this order as it should be, is that all official
correspondence usually signed by the Regional Director shall be prepared for his
signature. Routinary correspondence such that within, the scope and function of
an employee as provided in their respective job description are definitely not
included. These conclusion finds support in no less than the testimony of
prosecution witness, Ms. Felisa D. Suyo, during cross examination, thus:
Q Do you agree with me that this memorandum of the
Director is contrary to the job description?
A Yes sir
(TSN, p. 17, October 8, 1991)
xxxx
Q In short Miss Witness, this official order is in conflict
with some of your functions specified under the job
description because it limits what has been written in
the job description, is it not?
A Yes, sir.
(TSN, pp. 25-26 October 8, 1991)
On charges of gross dishonesty in the course of official function, the
prosecution has not proven the same. In fact, it has not presented a single proof
on the matter.
The same is true on the charge of dishonesty through falsification of official
document. The official document being referred to here is the daily time record
or CSC Form No. 48 of the respondent for the month of September, 1989 which
she allegedly falsified the time entry or the 5th day by entering her TIME OUT at
5:00 pm, when she reportedly went undertime at 3:00 pm. Verification of the
original copy of the DTR revealed that there was indeed an alteration or
superimposition thereon. The time entry of 3:00 pm appeared to have been
superimposed over the time entry of 5:00 p.m. or vice versa.
551
VOL. 505, OCTOBER 27, 2006 551
Pascual vs. Beltran
In the direct examination of prosecution witness Mina Flor Talay, she made a
clarification on the matter by testifying to the fact that the correct TIME OUT of
the correspondent was 3:00 p.m., thus:
Q According to your report, this is Civil Service Form No.
48 which shows that respondent was out during
September 5, 1989 which shows that she went out at
3:00 O’clock, is that right?
A Yes sir.
Q And according to this form it was written here that
her time out is 5:00 O’clock.
A No, sir, that is 3:00 O’clock”
(TSN, pp. 32-33, October 8, 1991)
She affirmed said testimonies during cross examination. She said:
Q You stated [a] while ago that Mrs. Raymundo went
undertime for two hours on September 5, 1989. What
was your basis in saying that Mrs. Raymundo went
undertime for two hours?
A It is specified in her DTR on September 5, 1989 that
she went out at 3:00 O’clock, sir.
Q So, this is suppose to be 3:00 O’clock?
A Yes sir.
Q So the actual time is actually reflected in her DTR?
A Yes sir.
(TSN, pp. 34-35, October 8, 1991).
Apparently, the prosecution’s evidence itself belies the charge of dishonesty
and falsification of official documents against the respondent. As to the
tampering on the DTR, the same was not clarified and the person supposedly
liable thereto was not identified too.
xxxx
Needless to say, the guilt of the respondent on all charges was never
established. Therefore, there’s no option but to exonerate her.4
_______________
4Records, pp. 12-15.
552
552 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
Pascual vs. Beltran
On 22 October 1993, private respondent, assisted by her husband Domiciano
Raymundo, filed an action5 for damages arising from Malicious Administrative Suit
against petitioner, in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Tuguegarao, Cagayan,
Branch IV, docketed as Civil Case No. 4693, primarily on the basis of the
administrative complaint for Conduct Grossly Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the
Service/Gross Insubordination/Violation of Reasonable Office Rules and
Regulations, Gross Discourtesy in the Course of Official Functions and Gross
Dishonesty, filed by petitioner against private respondent.
During the trial, petitioner was represented by the Office of the Solicitor General
(OSG).
On 27 September 1995, private respondent filed a motion6 to disqualify the
OSG from representing petitioner on the following grounds: that no right or interest
of the government is involved, that petitioner is sued in his private capacity, and
that petitioner had retired from the government since July 1995.
Petitioner opposed7 the motion on the following grounds: First, petitioner is
being sued for acts arising from and related to his official position and function as
Regional Director of the Telecommunications Office. Second, even if there is an
allegation that petitioner is sued in his private capacity, the same could not
defeat the protection accorded to public officials who are sued for acts related
to or arising from their office. Third, the acts complained of arose from petitioner’s
actions while in the performance of his official duties as Regional Director, thus,
he is entitled to be represented by the OSG under Presidential Decree No. 478
(Defining the Powers and Functions of the Office of the Solicitor General), and
reproduced in Section 35(1), Title 3, Book 4 of the Administrative Code of
1987. Fourth, the presumption is that petitioner acted in the performance of his
official duties, thus, it is preposterous to argue that since petitioner had retired
from public office, he is no longer allowed to be represented by the Solicitor
General. Fifth, there is no law which supports private
_______________
5 Id., at p. 1.
6 Id., at pp. 130-131.
7 Rollo, pp. 140-145.
553
VOL. 505, OCTOBER 27, 2006 553
Pascual vs. Beltran
respondent’s claim that he is no longer allowed to be represented by the OSG.
On 19 January 1996, the public respondent, Hon. Orlando D. Beltran, as Judge
of the RTC of Tuguegarao, Cagayan, issued an order,8 granting the motion to
disqualify. The ratio of the Order reads:
“The Court finds the motion to be meritorious. It may be granted, arguendo that
herein defendant is being sued for acts which he committed in his official
capacity but it is also true that the cause of action is for torts, for which he may
be held personally answerable. Otherwise stated, since it is alleged that
defendant acted with malice and [bad] faith and, thus, he should be made to
pay damages to the plaintiff, the interest of the Government is in no way involved
so that further appearance by the Solicitor General in his defense is unjustified.”
A Motion for Reconsideration was filed but the same was denied in an Order
dated 27 March 1996 wherein public respondent ruminated thus:
“The order disqualifying the Office of the Solicitor General (herein referred to as
SOLGEN) from continuing to appear as counsel for the defendant Celso Pascual
after the latter had retired from the government service was anchored upon the
fact that, as the cause of action of the plaintiff is for damages based on tort, the
defendant may be held personally liable for his acts and, therefore, the interests
of the Government, the protection of which appears to be the sole justification of
SOLGEN’s appearing as defendant’s counsel, is not adversely affected. The
Court, as the movants mistakenly construe the order, did not yet make any finding
that defendant is already liable for the acts complained of as tortuous. It could
not yet have made such findings as no trial has been held nor evidence
presented. Thus, the contention of the movants, on this point at least, has no
factual basis. It could very well be that the plaintiff may not be able to
substantiate her complaint and the Court will dismiss it.
The Court is in full agreement with the movant’s submission that plaintiff has yet
to establish by competent proof her cause of action. On this there can be no
dispute.
_______________
8 Rollo, pp. 157-158.
554
554 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
Pascual vs. Beltran
The Court is not persuaded by the allegations of the movants that to disqualify
the SOLGEN from this case would result in a “disregard of the importance of the
presumption of regularity of performance of public officers” which in turn “would
throw the door wide open and expose public officials acting within the scope of
their functions and authorities (sic) to private litigations.” However this case may
turn out, whether for or against the plaintiff, will not result in a disregard of the
presumption enjoyed by public officials that they have regularly performed their
duty. Neither will an adverse decision against herein defendant mean that the
presumption of regularity of performance of official duty has been disregarded
by this Court to the detriment of the State.”9
On 16 May 1996, the OSG filed a manifestation and motion10 stating, among other
things, that they intend to elevate the issue to the Supreme Court;11 consequently,
they pray that the case be held in abeyance pending resolution of its petition
before the higher court. The RTC in an Order12 dated 28 May 1996 granted the
motion and held in abeyance the case for sixty days in order to afford the OSG
adequate time to file its intended petition with the Supreme Court. The RTC further
ruled that if no petition is filed with the Supreme Court, the case shall be set for
hearing.
On 6 August 1996, petitioner filed a Petition for Certiorari13 with the Court of
Appeals by petitioner. Petitioner contends that the trial court acted with grave
abuse of discretion amounting to lack of or in excess of authority in issuing the
Order dated 19 January 1996, granting private respondent’s Motion to Disqualify
the OSG from appearing in behalf of petitioner and the Order dated 27 March
1996, denying the motion for reconsideration thereof.
On 27 January 1997, the Court of Appeals dismissed14the Petition on two
grounds: 1) that the case is barred by laches as the Petition was filed 118 days
after receipt of the denial of the motion for recon-
_______________
9 Id., at pp. 183-184.
10 Id., at pp. 188-190.
11 But actually filed a Petition for Certiorari in the Court of Appeals.
12 Records, pp. 191-192.
13 CA Rollo, pp. 1-20.
14 Id., at pp. 109-110.

555
VOL. 505, OCTOBER 27, 2006 555
Pascual vs. Beltran
sideration; and 2) violation of Circular No. 28-91, as the Petition was signed by
petitioner’s counsel.
A motion for reconsideration was filed by petitioner but the same was denied
by the Court of Appeals in an Order15dated 12 May 1997.
Hence, this Petition raising two issues for Resolution:
WHETHER THE OSG IS DISQUALIFIED FROM REPRESENTING A PUBLIC OFFICIAL SUED
WHILE IN THE PERFORMANCE OF HIS OFFICIAL DUTIES AND HAD RETIRED DURING
THE PENDENCY OF THE TRIAL
WHETHER THE TECHNICAL ISSUE SHOULD BE GIVEN PREFERENCE OVER THE MORE
SUBSTANTIAL ISSUE INVOLVING PUBLIC POLICY AND GREATER INTEREST OF JUSTICE
A perusal of the foregoing issues readily reveals that petitioner raises two aspects
of the case for consideration, both procedural and substantive.
We deny this petition for its procedural and substantive flaws.
As regards the procedural aspect, petitioner contends that the Court of
Appeals should have given preference to the substantial issue of the case rather
than the technical issue in the greater interest of justice, as it dismissed the Petition
on the ground that it was the Solicitor General who signed the Certification of
non-forum shopping and that the case was filed 118 days late.
We shall first discuss the appellate court’s dismissal of the Petition for non-
compliance with the requirements regarding certification of non-forum shopping.
Note that the certificate of non-forum shopping attached to the Petition
for Certiorari filed with the Court of Appeals was signed by Solicitor Benilda
Tejada.
It is settled that the requirement to file a certificate of non-forum shopping is
mandatory and that failure to comply with this requirement cannot be excused.
The certification is a peculiar and personal responsibility of the party, an
assurance given to the court or other
_______________
15 Rollo, pp. 131-132.
556
556 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
Pascual vs. Beltran
tribunal that there are no other pending cases involving basically the same
parties, issues and causes of action. Hence, the certification must be
accomplished by the party himself because he has actual knowledge of whether
or not he has initiated similar actions or proceedings in different courts or tribunals.
Even his counsel may be unaware of such facts. Thus, the requisite certification
executed by the plaintiff’s counsel will not suffice,16 as in the case at bar.
On the issue of timeliness of the filing of the Petition for Certiorari before the
Court of Appeals, the Petition was filed 118 days late as ruled by the Court of
Appeals.
Since the Petition for Certiorari was filed with the Court of Appeals on 6 August
1996, the Revised Rules of Court should be applied. The Revised Rules of Court do
not fix a specific time frame for the filing of a Special Civil Action
for Certiorari under Rule 65 thereof. Jurisprudence at that time merely requires
that the same be filed within a reasonable time from receipt of the questioned
judgment or order. The period of three months (90 days) has been found as
reasonable to file the Petition for Certiorari.17 A Petition brought after 99 days is
barred by laches.18 Now, under the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, a Petition
for Certiorarishall be filed not later than 60 days from notice of the judgment,
order or resolution.19
As alleged by the petitioner, the Order dated 19 January 1996, issued by public
respondent granting private respondent’s Motion to Disqualify the OSG from
appearing in behalf of the petitioner, was received by petitioner on 9 February
1996, and the Order dated 27 March 1996, denying the motion for reconsideration
was received by petitioner on 10 April 1996. The Petition for Certiorari was filed
with the Court of Appeals on 6 August 1996, or after the lapse of 118 days,
_______________
16 Expertravel & Tours, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 152392, 26 May
2005, 459 SCRA 147, 157.
17 Philgreen Trading Construction Corp. v. Court of Appeals, 338 Phil. 433,

438; 271 SCRA 719, 724 (1997).


18 Claridad v. Santos, G.R. No. L-29594, 27 January 1983, 120 SCRA 148, 153.
19 Section 4, Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure.

557
VOL. 505, OCTOBER 27, 2006 557
Pascual vs. Beltran
from the receipt of the Order denying his motion for reconsideration. Thus, in either
law, the Petition was barred by laches.
Procedural rules are not to be disdained as mere technicalities. They may not
be ignored to suit the convenience of a party. Adjective law ensures the effective
enforcement of substantive rights through the orderly and speedy administration
of justice. Rules are not to be intended to hamper litigants or complicate litigation.
But they help provide for a vital system of justice where suitor’s may be heard in
the correct form and manner, at the prescribed time in a peaceful though
adversarial confrontation before a judge whose authority litigants acknowledge.
Public order and our system of justice are well served by a conscientious
observance of the rules of procedure, particularly by government officials and
agencies.20
Ordinarily, we would dismiss this case solely on procedural grounds as discussed
above. However, considering the significance of the substantive issue, we deem
it just and equitable to also resolve the same.
On matters of substance, what needs to be addressed is the issue of whether
or not a public official is entitled to representation by the OSG in a civil action for
damages arising from an administrative suit filed against him by another public
official. This issue is best resolved by a close scrutiny of the nature and extent of
the power and authority lodged by law on the Solicitor General.
The authority of the OSG to represent the Republic of the Philippines, its
agencies and instrumentalities and its officials and agents, is embodied under
Section 35(1), Chapter 12, Title III, Book IV of the Administrative Code of 1987
which provides that:
“SEC. 35. Powers and Functions.—The Office of the Solicitor General shall
represent the Government of the Philippines, its agencies and instrumentalities
and its officials and agents in any litigation, proceeding, investigation or matter
requiring the services of lawyers. When authorized by the President or head of the
office concerned, it shall also represent government
_______________
20 United Pulp and Paper Co., Inc. v. United Pulp and Paper ChapterFederation
of Free Workers, G.R. No. 141117, 25 March 2004, 428 SCRA 329, 335.
558
558 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
Pascual vs. Beltran
owned or controlled corporations. The Office of the Solicitor General shall
constitute the law office of the Government and, as such, shall discharge duties
requiring the services of lawyers. It shall have the following specific powers and
functions:
(1) Represent the Government in the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals in
all criminal proceedings; represent the Government and its officers in the
Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, and all other courts or tribunals in all civil
actions and special proceedings in which the Government or any officer thereof
in his official capacity is a party.” (Emphasis supplied.)
The import of the above-quoted provision of the Administrative Code of 1987 is to
impose upon the OSG the duty to appear as counsel for the Government, its
agencies and instrumentalities and its officials and agents before the Supreme
Court, the Court of Appeals, and all other courts and tribunals in any litigation,
proceeding, investigation or matter requiring the services of a lawyer. We
emphasized its mandatory character in the case of Gonzales v. Chavez,21 thus:
“It is patent that the intent of the lawmaker was to give the designated official,
the Solicitor General, in this case, the unequivocal mandate to appear for the
government in legal proceedings. Spread out in the laws creating the office is the
discernible intent which may be gathered from the term “shall,” which is invariably
employed, from Act No. 136 (1901) to the more recent Executive Order No. 292
(1987).
xxxx
The decision of this Court as early as 1910 with respect to the duties of the
Attorney-General well applies to the Solicitor General under the facts of the
present case. The Court then declared:
In this jurisdiction, it is the duty of the Attorney General ‘to perform the duties
imposed upon him by law’ and ‘he shall prosecute all causes, civil and criminal,
to which the Government of the Philippine Islands, or any officer thereof, in his
official capacity, is a party x x x.’
xxxx
_______________
21 G.R. No. 97351, 4 February 1992, 205 SCRA 816, 836-837, 846.
559
VOL. 505, OCTOBER 27, 2006 559
Pascual vs. Beltran
The Court is firmly convinced that, considering the spirit and the letter of the law,
there can be no other logical interpretation of Sec. 35 of the Administrative Code
than that it is, indeed, mandatory upon the OSG to “represent the Government of
the Philippines, its agencies and instrumentalities and its officials and agents in
any litigation, proceeding, investigation or matter requiring the services of a
lawyer.” (Emphases supplied.)
The provision allows a public official to be represented by the Solicitor General in
all civil, criminal and special proceedings, when such proceedings arise from the
former’s acts in his official capacity.
However, in the case at bar, petitioner is actually sued in his personal capacity
inasmuch as his principal, the State, can never be the author of any wrongful
act.22 The Complaint filed by the private respondent with the RTC merely
identified petitioner as Director of the Telecommunications Office, but did not
categorically state that he was being sued in his official capacity. The mere
mention in the Complaint of the petitioner’s position as Regional Director of the
Telecommunications Office does not transform the action into one against
petitioner in his official capacity. What is determinative of the nature of the cause
of action are the allegations in the complaint. It is settled that the nature of a
cause of action is determined by the facts alleged in the complaint as
constituting the cause of action.23 The purpose of an action or suit and the law to
govern it is to be determined not by the claim of the party filling the action, made
in his argument or brief, but rather by the complaint itself, its allegations and
prayer for relief.24
Also, it is evident from the Complaint filed by the private respondent before the
RTC that she sued petitioner for allegedly having
_______________
22 Urbano v. Chavez, G.R. Nos. 87977 & 88578, 19 March 1990, 183 SCRA 347.
23 Republic v. Estenzo, G.R. No. L-35512, 29 February 1988, 158 SCRA 282, 285.
24 De Tavera v. Philippine Tuberculosis Society, Inc., 197 Phil. 919, 926; 112 SCRA

243, 248 (1982).


560
560 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
Pascual vs. Beltran
personal motives in filing the administrative case against her. The Complaint in
part reads:
“Sometime on April 25, 1990, the herein defendant (herein petitioner) in utter bad
faith and in grave abuse of his authority and discretion as the Regional
Director, and with the malicious intent of harassing, oppressing, vexing,
embarrassing, molesting, and/or putting to ridicule the herein plaintiff (respondent
herein), and with the further malicious intention of blemishing plaintiff’s good
name and reputation in the community, filed a baseless and unmeritorious
administrative complaint against the herein plaintiff at the Telecommunications
Office, Department of Transportation and Communication in Tuguegarao,
Cagayan.”25(Italics supplied.)
In fact, it can also be observed in the same Complaint that the reliefs sought by
private respondent are directed against the petitioner personally and not his
office. Respondent is claiming liability directly from petitioner. The relief sought by
respondent is stated as follows:
“As a consequence of the filing of the patently malicious, flimsy and baseless
administrative complaint, plaintiff suffered from mental anguish, serious anxiety,
torment, wounded feelings, sleepless nights, besmirched reputation and social
humiliation, apart from the fact that she was exposed to ridicule by his friends and
officemates including his relatives and neighbors not to mention that her
credibility as a public government official, was put into a bad light, for which
reasons she demands by way of moral damages from defendant the amount of
ONE HUNDRED FIFTY THOUSAND PESOS (P150,000.00);
xxxx
Wherefore, it is respectfully prayed of this Honorable Court that after due
proceedings, judgment be rendered in favor of the plaintiff and against the
defendant by condemning the latter to pay to the former the following:

1. A)P150,000.00 as and by way of moral damages;


2. B)P50,000.00 as and by way of exemplary damages;
3. C)P15,000.00 as and by way of actual expenses of litigation;

_______________
25Records, p. 2.
561
VOL. 505, OCTOBER 27, 2006 561
Pascual vs. Beltran

1. D)P10,000.00 as and by way of Attorney’s fees; and such sum of money


representing litigation expenses as maybe proven during the trial on the
merit, plus the cost of suit.”26 (Emphases supplied.)

The authority of the Solicitor General to represent a public official in a suit against
the latter is discussed in the cases of Anti-Graft League of the Philippines, Inc. v.
Ortega.27
In Anti-Graft League of the Philippines, Inc. v. Ortega,28this Court interpreted
such an authority as to embrace “both civil and criminal investigation,
proceeding or matter requiring the services of a lawyer.”
However, in Solicitor General v. Garrido,29 the Court sustained the authority of
the Solicitor General to enter his appearance on behalf of public officials
charged with violating a penal statute for acts connected with the performance
of his official duties.
In the case of Urbano v. Chavez,30 this Court clarified its pronouncements in the
cases of Anti-Graft League of the Philippines, Inc. v. Ortega and Solicitor General
v. Garrido. In the Anti-Graft League of the Philippines, Inc. v. Ortegaand Solicitor
General v. Garrido cases, the OSG was authorized to enter its appearance as
counsel for any public official, against whom a criminal charge had been
instituted, during the preliminary investigation stage thereof. Nevertheless, in the
same case, this Court held that once an information is filed against the public
official, the OSG can no longer represent the said official in the litigation. The
anomaly in this paradigm becomes obvious when, in the event of a judgment of
conviction, the case is brought on appeal to the appellate courts. The OSG, as
the appellate counsel of the People of the Philippines, is expected to take a stand
against the accused. Accordingly, there is a clear conflict of interest here, and
one which smacks of ethical considerations, where the OSG, as counsel for the
public official, defends the latter in the preliminary
_______________
26 Id., at pp. 2-4.
27 G.R. No. L-33912, 11 September 1980, 99 SCRA 644.
28 Id., at p. 648.
29 G.R. No. L-28535, 10 October 1980, 100 SCRA 276, 278.
30 Supra note 22.

562
562 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
Pascual vs. Beltran
investigation stage of the criminal case, and where the same office, as appellate
counsel of the People of the Philippines, represents the prosecution when the
case is brought on appeal. This anomalous situation could not have been
contemplated and allowed by the law, its unconditional terms and provisions
notwithstanding. It is a situation which cannot be countenanced by the Court.
There is likewise another reason, as earlier discussed, why the OSG cannot
represent an accused in a criminal case. Inasmuch as the State can speak and
act only by law, whatever it does say and do must be lawful, and that which in
unlawful is not the word or deed of the State, but is the mere wrong or trespass of
those individual persons who falsely speak and act in its name. Therefore, the
accused public official should not expect the State, through the OSG, to defend
him for a wrongful act which cannot be attributed to the State itself. In the same
light, a public official who is sued in a criminal case is actually sued in his personal
capacity inasmuch as his principal, the State, can never be the author of a
wrongful act, much less commit a crime. The Court further ruled that its
observation should apply as well to a public official who is hailed to court in a civil
suit for damages arising from a felony allegedly committed by him. Any pecuniary
liability he may be held to account for on the occasion of such civil suit is for his
own account. The Sate is not liable for the same. A fortiori, the Office of the Solicitor
General likewise has no authority to represent him in such a civil suit for damages.
To repeat, the Solicitor General is the lawyer of the government, any of its
agents and officials in any litigation, proceeding, investigation or matter requiring
the services of a lawyer. The exception is when such officials or agents are being
charged or are being civilly sued for damages arising from a felony.
This rationale must apply with greater force in the case at bar. Here, the private
respondent filed an action for damages arising from Malicious Administrative Suit
against petitioner with the RTC of Tuguegarao, Cagayan, Branch IV. Petitioner
was sued for damages arising from the administrative complaint he filed against
respondent with the DOTC, for Conduct Grossly Prejudicial to the Best Interest
563
VOL. 505, OCTOBER 27, 2006 563
Pascual vs. Beltran
of the Service/Gross Insubordination/Violation of Reasonable Office Rules and
Regulations, Gross Discourtesy in the Course of Official functions and Gross
Dishonesty. Private respondent was subsequently exonerated by the DOTC for
failure of the petitioner to present substantial evidence to prove his charges
against private respondent.
Also, an action for recovery of damages for the commission of an injury to a
person is a personal action.31 A personal action is one brought for the recovery of
personal property, for the enforcement of some contract of recovery of damages
for its breach, or for the recovery of damages for the commission of an injury to
the person or property.
More so, any liability the petitioner may be held to account for on the occasion
of such civil suit is for his own account and the State is not liable for the same. Thus,
the OSG has no authority to represent him in such civil suit for damages.
Considering the foregoing, we rule that the trial court did not commit grave
abuse of discretion amounting to excess of or lack of jurisdiction in issuing the
assailed orders. By grave abuse of discretion is meant such capricious and
whimsical exercise of judgment as is equivalent to lack of jurisdiction, and it must
be shown that the discretion was exercised arbitrarily or despotically.
For certiorari to lie, there must be capricious, arbitrary and whimsical exercise of
power, the very antithesis of the judicial prerogative in accordance with centuries
of both civil law and common law traditions.32 We do not find here a capricious,
whimsical and arbitrary exercise of power by the Judge or by the Court of
Appeals questioning the act of the lower court.
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the instant Petition is hereby DISMISSED
and the Resolutions dated 27 January 1997 and
_______________
31 Hernandez v. Development Bank of the Philippines, G.R. No. L-31095, 18 June
1976, 71 SCRA 292; The Dial Corporation v. Soriano, G.R. No. L-82330, 31 May
1988, 161 SCRA 737.
32 Rodson Philippines, Inc. v Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 141857, 9 June 2004, 431

SCRA 469, 480.


564
564 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
Villanueva vs. Court of Appeals
21 May 1997 of the Court of Appeals are hereby AFFIRMED. The Orders dated 19
January 1996 and 27 March 1996 of the RTC of Tuguegarao, Cagayan, Branch IV,
in Civil Case No. 4693, disqualifying the Office of the Solicitor General from
appearing as counsel of petitioner are likewise AFFIRMED. The Office of the
Solicitor General is permanently prohibited from representing petitioner in said
case. No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.
Panganiban (C.J., Chairperson), Ynares-Santiago, Austria-
Martinez and Callejo, Sr., JJ., concur.
Petition dismissed, resolutions affirmed.
Note.—Under P.D. No. 78, Section 1, the Office of the Solicitor General is the
legal representative of the government of the Republic of the Philippines and its
agencies and instrumentalities, and its officials and agents in any litigation,
proceeding, investigation, or matter requiring the services of a lawyer, excepting
only as may otherwise be provided by law. (City Warden of the Manila City Jail
vs. Estrella, 364 SCRA 257 [2001])
HLC CONSTRUCTION AND DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION AND HENRY LOPEZ
CHUA, petitioners, vs. EMILY HOMES SUBDIVISION HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION
(EHSHA) et.al [G.R. No. 139360. September 23, 2003]

Facts: Emily Homes Subdivision Homeowners Association (EHSHA) and 150


individual members filed a civil action for breach of contract, damages and
attorney’s fees with the Regional Trial Court against the developers of Emily
Homes Subdivision for allegedly using substandard materials in the construction
of their houses and for not adhering to the house plan specifications. When
respondents asked the HLC to repair their defective housing units, the petitioners
failed to do so.

Issues:

a. It was the HLURB and not the trial court which had jurisdiction over the
case.
YES.
b. The defective certification on non-forum shopping which was signed only
by the president of EHSHA and not by all its members warrants the
dismissal of the complaint. NO.

Ruling:
a. DOCTRINE OF PRIMARY JURISDICTION
The HLURB is the government agency empowered to regulate the real
estate trade and business, having exclusive jurisdiction to hear and
decide cases involving: (a) unsound real estate business practices; (b)
claims involving refunds and any other claims filed by subdivision lot or
condominium unit buyers against the project owner, developer, dealer,
broker or salesman; (c) and cases involving specific performance of
contractual and statutory obligations filed by buyers of subdivision lots or
condominium units against the owner, developer, dealer, broker or
salesman.[9] In this case, respondents’ complaint was for the
reimbursement of expenses incurred in repairing their defective housing
units constructed by petitioners. Clearly, the HLURB had jurisdiction to hear
it.

b. FORUM SHOPPING
The general rule is that the certificate of non-forum shopping must be
signed by all the plaintiffs in a case and the signature of only one of them
is insufficient.[4] However, the Court has also stressed that the rules on
forum shopping were designed to promote and facilitate the orderly
administration of justice and thus should not be interpreted with such
absolute literalness as to subvert its own ultimate and legitimate objective
- It does not thereby prohibit substantial compliance with its provisions
under justifiable circumstances.[6] Respondents EHSHA et.al. filed the
complaint against petitioners as a group, represented by their
homeowners’ association president Mr. Samaon M. Buat. Respondents
raised one cause of action which was the breach of contractual
obligations and payment of damages. They shared a common interest in
the subject matter of the case, being the aggrieved residents of the
poorly constructed and developed Emily Homes Subdivision. Due to the
collective nature of the case, there was no doubt that Mr. Samaon Buat
could validly sign the certificate of non-forum shopping in behalf of all his
co-plaintiffs. In cases therefore where it is highly impractical to require all
the plaintiffs to sign the certificate of non-forum shopping, it is sufficient, in
order not to defeat the ends of justice, for one of plaintiffs, acting as
representative, to sign the certificate provided that, as in Cavile et al., the
plaintiffs share a common interest in the subject matter of the case or filed
the case as a “collective,” raising only one common cause of action or
defense. Finally, though there was no forum shopping in this case, the trial
court should have nonetheless dismissed the complaint for a more
important reason – it had no jurisdiction over it. It is the HLURB, not the trial
court, which had jurisdiction over respondents’ complaint.