Chapter 5 THE QUASI-JUDICIAL POWER
Jurisdiction- is the competence of an office or body to act on a given matter or decide a certain question. Without jurisdiction, the determinations made by the administrative bodies are absolutely null and without any legal effect.
Where jurisdiction is conferred upon:
1. Jurisdiction can be conferred upon the administrative agency by the Constitution.
• Civil Service Commission (CSC) – possess authority over all employees of all branches, subdivisions, instrumentalities, and agencies of the Government including GOCCs with original charters.
• Commission on Elections (COMELEC)- possess
a. exclusive original jurisdiction over:
all contests relating to elections, returns, and qualifications of all elective regional, provincial and city officials
b. appellate jurisdiction over:
all contests involving elective barangay officials decided by trial courts of limited jurisdiction
• Commission on Audit (COA)- shall have the power, authority, and duty to examine, audit and settle all accounts pertaining to the revenue and receipts of, and expenditures or uses of funds and property owned or held in trust by, or pertaining to, the Government, or any of its subdivisions, agencies, or instrumentalities, including GOCCs with original charters, and on a post-audit basis:
a. constitutional bodies, commissions and offices that have been granted fiscal autonomy under this Constitution
b. autonomous state colleges and universities
c. other GOCCs and their subsidiaries; and
d. such non-governmental entities receiving subsidy or equity, directly or indirectly, from or through the Government, which are required by law or the granting institution to submit such audit as a condition of subsidy or equity
2. Legislature also has the power or confer jurisdiction upon the administrative body and so limit or expand its authority.
3. Each administrative body has its own peculiar jurisdiction as conferred upon it by the specific provision of its charter.
– There are some administrative bodies, over which regular courts of justice have no jurisdiction with respect to certain matters, as provided in said administrative bodies’ enabling statutes.
Example: PCGG vs Peña- RTC have no jurisdiction over the PCGG I the exercise of its power and therefore may not interfere with ad restrain or set aside orders and actions of the Commission. In the exercise of its quasi-judicial functions, the Commission is a co-equal body with the RTCs and ‘co-equal bodies have no power to control the other.
Sabio v Gordon: The SC rejected the claim of the petitioners that they were exempted from appearing before a legislative inquiry. Nowhere in the Constitution is any provision granting such exemption. The Congress power of inquiry, being broad, encompasses everything that concerns the administration of existing laws as well as proposed or possibly needed statutes. It even extends to government agencies created by Congress and officers whose positions are within the power of Congress to regulate or even abolish. PCGG belongs to this class.
Cariño vs CHR: The Court declares the CHR to have no such power; and that it was not meant by the fundamental law to be another court or quasi-judicial agency in this country, or duplicate much less take over the functions of the latter.
The most that may be conceded to the Commission in the way of adjudicative power is that it may investigate. But fact finding is not adjudication, and cannot be likened to the judicial function of a court of justice, or even a quasi-judicial agency or official. The function of receiving evidence and ascertaining therefrom the facts of a controversy is not a judicial function, properly speaking. To be considered such, the faculty of receiving evidence and making factual conclusions in a controversy must be accompanied by the authority of applying the law to those factual conclusions to the end that the controversy may be decided or determined authoritatively, finally and definitively, subject to such appeals or modes of review as may be provided by law. This function, to repeat, the Commission does not have.
Lastimosa vs Vasquez: The Ombudsman’s power to investigate and prosecute includes the investigation and prosecution of any crime committed by a public official regardless of whether the acts or omissions complained of are related to, or connected with, or arise from, the performance of his official duty.
It should be noted though that when the Ombudsman conducts a preliminary investigation, he exercises not quasi-judicial but administrative power. He exercises quasi-judicial power though when he addresses disciplinary complaints against public officers.
Settled is the rule that a tribunal, board or officer exercising judicial functions acts without jurisdiction if no authority has been conferred by law to hear and decide the case.
Internt’l Broadcasting Corp vs Jalandoon: considering that the Sandiganbayan had already transferred the sequestered shares of stock in favour of the Republic of the Philippines, any intra-corporate controversy which may have arisen from said ownership would have to be taken up before the SEC which then had jurisdiction over the same, or which had authority to take cognizance of said controversy at the time the case was initiated.
Boiser vs CA: regular courts and not the NTC has the jurisdiction over an alleged breach of contract between two telephone companies and the resultant claim for damages. The SC holds that there was nothing in the Commission’s (NTC) power which authorizes it to adjudicate breach of contract cases, much less award moral and exemplary damages.
Republic vs Marcopper Mining Corp: While the mines regional director has express administrative and regulatory powers over mining operations and installations, he has no adjudicative powers over complaints for violation of pollution control statutes and regulations.
Davao New Town Development Corp vs Commission on the Settlement of Land Problems (COSLAP): Administrative agencies, like the COSLAP, are tribunals of limited jurisdiction and, as such, could wield only such as are specifically granted to then by the enabling statutes. The Court stressed that “the law does not vest jurisdiction on the COSLAP over any land dispute or problem” and that “its jurisdiction is confined only to disputes over lands in which the government has proprietary or regulatory interest.”
Rules of Procedure
Where an administrative body is expressly granted the power of adjudication, it is deemed also vested with the implied power to prescribe the rules to be observed in the conduct of its proceedings.
The 1987 Constitution provides that each of the Constitutional Commissions “en banc may promulgate its own rules concerning pleadings and practice before it or before any of its offices. Such rules, however, shall not diminish, increase, or modify substantive rights. It further provides that the “rules of procedure of special courts and quasi-judicial bodies shall remain effective unless disapproved by the SC.”
But to be valid, the rules must not violate fundamental rights or encroach upon constitutional prerogatives, like the rule-making power of the SC.
Example: Philippine Lawyers Association vs. Agrava: The SC has the exclusive and constitutional power with respect to admission to the practice of law in the Philippines1 and to any member of the Philippine Bar in good standing may practice law anywhere and before any entity, whether judicial or quasi-judicial or administrative, in the Philippines.
Although the transaction of business in the Patent Office involves the use and application of technical and scientific knowledge and training, still, all such business has to be rendered in accordance with the Patent Law, as well as other laws, including the Rules and Regulations promulgated by the Patent Office in accordance with law. Not only this, but practice before the Patent Office involves the interpretation and application of other laws and legal principles, as well as the existence of facts to be established in accordance with the law of evidence and procedure.
Administrative rules of procedure should be construed liberally in order to promote their object and to assist the parties in obtaining a just, speedy and inexpensive determination of their respective claims and defences. There is no denial of due process if the decision was rendered on the evidence presented at the hearing or at least contained in the record and disclosed to the parties affected.
Courts may not in the guise of interpretation, enlarge the scope of a statute and include therein situation not provided for or intended by the law-makers.
DARAB vs Lubrica: the power of administrative agencies to promulgate rules of procedure does not or cannot be construed as allowing it to “grant itself jurisdiction ordinarily conferred only by the Constitution or by the law. Procedure, as distinguished from jurisdiction, is the means by which the power or authority of a court to hear and decide a class of cases are put into action. Rules of procedure are remedial in nature and not substantive. They cover only rules on pleading and practice.
The Subpoena Power
The power to issue subpoena and subpoena duces tecum is not inherent in administrative bodies.
It is settled that these bodies may summon witnesses and require the production of evidence only when duly allowed by law, and always only in connection with the matter they are authorized to investigate.
This power may be expressly granted in the charter of the administrative body. However, the fact that an administrative body has been authorized to conduct an investigation does not necessarily mean it can also summon witnesses and take testimony in the absence of a clear grant of this power from the legislature
Power to investigate vs Power to adjudicate
Cariño vs CHR: The legal meaning of “investigate” is essentially the same: “(t)o follow up step by step by patient inquiry or observation. To trace or track; to search into; to examine and inquire into with care and accuracy; to find out by careful inquisition; examination; the taking of evidence; a legal inquiry;” “to inquire; to make an investigation,” “investigation” being in turn describe as “(a)n administrative function, the exercise of which ordinarily does not require a hearing.. . . an inquiry, judicial or otherwise, for the discovery and collection of facts concerning a certain matter or matters.”
In the legal sense, “adjudicate” means: “To settle in the exercise of judicial authority. To determine finally. Synonymous with adjudge in its strictest sense;” and “adjudge” means: “To pass on judicially, to decide, settle or decree, or to sentence or condemn. . . . Implies a judicial determination of a fact, and the entry of a judgment.”
Pascual vs Board of Medical Examiners: a respondent in an administrative case may invoke his constitutional right against self-incrimination. At stake in this case was the party’s privilege to continue practicing medicine. The proceedings partook of the nature of a criminal suit. Hence, the availability of the right against self-incrimination. However, the administrative determination of facts and the consequent position of suspension/revocation of Authority/License does not make the proceedings criminal
The Contempt Power
the power to punish for contempt is essentially judicial and cannot be claimed as an inherent right by the administrative body
To be validly exercised, it must be expressly conferred upon the body and, additionally, must be used only in connection with its quasi-judicial as distinguished from its purely administrative or routinary functions.
Pursuant to Section 12 of Rule 71 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, quasi-judicial agencies that have the power to cite persons for indirect contempt can only do so by initiating them in the proper RTC. It is not within their jurisdiction and competence to decide the indirect contempt cases.
Methods of Review
Methods of judicial review are prescribed by the:
2. Statutes; or
3. Rules of Court
These methods may be:
a. specific; or
The petition for review shall be perfected within 15 days from receipt of the final administrative decision. One motion for reconsideration may be allowed.
a. If the motion is denied- the movant shall perfect his appeal during the remaining period for appeal reckoned from receipt of the resolution of denial.
b. If the decision is reversed- the appellant shall have 15 days from receipt of the resolution to perfect his appeal.
**The review proceeding shall be filed in the court specified by statute or, in the absence thereof, in any court of competent jurisdiction in accordance with the provisions on venue of the Rules of Court.
Review shall be made on the basis of the record taken as a whole. The findings of fact of the agency when supported by substantial evidence shall be final except when specifically provided otherwise by law.
In the absence of specific rules governing appeals from administrative decisions, the special civil actions and other remedies provided for in the Rules of Court may be availed in the proper cases by an aggrieved party.
The SC may review the decisions of the Office of the President on questions of law and jurisdiction when properly raised. This does not mean judicial supremacy over the Office of the Pres. by the performance by the SC of a duty specifically enjoined upon by it the Constitution, as part of a system of checks and balances.
Primary Jurisdiction or Prior Resort
2 doctrines that must be considered in connection with the judicial review of administrative decisions:
1. doctrine of primary jurisdiction
2. doctrine of exhaustion administrative remedies
The doctrine of primary jurisdiction does not warrant a court to arrogate unto itself authority to resolve a controversy the jurisdiction over which is initially lodged with an administrative body of special competence.
Well-entrenched is the rule that courts will not interfere in matters which are addressed to the sound discretion of the government agency entrusted with the regulation of activities coming under the special and technical training and knowledge of such agency. Administrative agencies are given a wide latitude in the evaluation of evidence and in the exercise of their adjudicative functions, latitude which includes the authority to take judicial notice of facts within their special competence.
The doctrine of primary jurisdiction simply calls for the determination of administrative questions which are ordinarily questions of fact, by administrative agencies rather than courts of justice.
When an administrative agency is conferred quasi-judicial functions, all controversies relating to the subject matter pertaining to its specialization are deemed to be included within its jurisdiction. Split jurisdiction is not favoured.
Observance of this doctrine is required to ensure consistency in administrative findings and also because of the conceded expertise of the administrative body, as compared to the judicial tribunal in resolving the administrative questions in general.
The SC has emphasized that the doctrine of primary jurisdiction applies only to the exercise by an administrative agency of its quasi-judicial function.
The SC clarified that when what is assailed is the validity or constitutionality of a rule or regulation issued by the administrative agency in the performance of its quasi-legislative function, the regular courts have jurisdiction to pass upon the same.
The determination of whether a specific rule or setoff rules issued by an administrative agency contravenes the law or the Constitution is within the jurisdiction of the regular courts.
DOCTRINE OF EXAUSTION OF ADMINISTRATIVE REMEDIES
-Calls for resort first to the appropriate administrative authorities in the resolution of a controversy falling under their jurisdiction before the same may be elevated to the courts of justice for review.
– Non-observance of the doctrine does not affect the jurisdiction of the court and merely results in the lack of cause of action, which is one of the grounds allowed by the Rules of Court for the dismissal of the complaint.
-Failure to exhaust administrative remedies may also constitute forum shopping which would likewise result in a dismissal of a simultaneous resort to a regular court for purposes of obtaining relief.
• When forum shopping exist? Both actions involve:
– same transactions
-same essential facts and circumstances
-raise identical cause of action, subject matters, and issues
-Exhaustion must be raised at the earliest possible time, even before filing the answer to the complaint or pleading asserting a claim, by a motion to dismiss; otherwise, such a ground for dismissal would be deemed waived.
-If a remedy is available within the administrative machinery, this should be resorted to before resort can be made to the courts.
Reasons for this doctrine:
a. The administrative superiors, if given the opportunity, can correct the errors committed by their subordinates.
b. Courts should as much as possible refrain from disturbing the findings of administrative bodies in deference to the doctrine of separation of powers.
c. On practical grounds, it is best that the courts, which are burdened enough as they are wit judicial cases, should not be saddled with the review of administrative cases.
d. Judicial review of administrative cases is usually effected through the special civil actions of certiorari, mandamus, and prohibition, which are available only if there is no other plain, speedy, and adequate remedy.
-The rule applies only where there is an express legal provision requiring such administrative step as a condition precedent to taking action in court.
1. Where there is estoppel on the part of the party invoking the doctrine.
2. Where the challenged administrative act is patently illegal, amounting to lack of jurisdiction.
3. Where there is unreasonable delay or official inaction that will irretrievably prejudice the complaint.
4. Where the amount involved is relatively small as to make the rule impractical and oppressive.
5. Where the question raised is purely legal and will ultimately have to be decided by the courts of justice.
• Issues of law cannot be resolved with finality by the administrative officer. It is properly addressed to a regular court of justice rather than to an administrative body.
6. Where judicial intervention is urgent.
7. Where its application will cause great and irreparable damage.
8. Where the controverted acts violate due process.
9. When the issue of non-exhaustion of administrative remedies has been rendered moot.
10. Where there is no other plain, speedy, and adequate remedy.
11. When strong public interest is involved.
12. In quo warranto proceedings.
Appeal to the President
Is the decision of a Cabinet member has to be appealed first to the President before it may be brought to a court of justice?
Answer: Jurisprudence has been rather seemingly indecisive on this matter. You can base it on these two cases:
Demaisip vs. Court of Appeals: Appeal to the President was not necessary because the Cabinet member was after all is alter ego, and under the doctrine of political agency, the acts of the secretary are the acts of the President.
• Doctrine of qualified political agency- the acts of a department secretary, who is considered to be an alter ego of the President, bear the implied or assumed approval of the latter, and are valid unless the President actually disapproves them.
Calo vs. Fuentes: Appeal to the President was the final step in the administrative process and therefore a condition precedent to appeal to the courts.
1. Question of fact
2. Question of law
QUESTION OF FACT QUESTION OF LAW
The administrative decision lies in the discretion of the legislature, which may or may not permit it as it sees fit. Denial of this remedy does not violate due process for the right to appeal is generally not deemed embraced in the right to hearing . The administrative decision may be appealed to the courts of justice independently of legislative permission or even against legislative prohibition. The judiciary cannot be deprived of its inherent power to review all decisions on questions of law, whether made initially by lower courts and more so by an administrative body only.
The doubt or difference arises as to the truth or the falsehood of the alleged facts. The doubt or difference arises as to what the law is on a certain state of facts.
Involve no examination of the probative value of the evidence presented by the litigants or any of them.
Can the appellate court determine the issue raised without reviewing or evaluating evidence?
Yes= Question of law
No= Question of fact
-Findings of fact of administrative agencies and quasi-judicial bodies, which have acquired expertise because their jurisdiction is confined to specific matters, are generally accorded not only great respect but even finality. They are binding in court unless there is a showing of grave abuse of discretion or where it is clearly shown that they were arrived at arbitrarily or in utter disregard of the evidence on record.
GENERAL RULE: Factual findings of administrative agencies that are affirmed by the court of appeals are conclusive upon and generally not reviewable by the Supreme Court.
1. When the findings are grounded entirely on speculation, surmises or conjectures.
2. When the inference made is manifestly mistaken, absurd, or impossible.
3. When there is grave abuse of discretion.
4. When the judgment is based on a misapprehension of facts.
5. When the findings of fact are conflicting.
6. When in making its findings, the Court of Appeals went beyond the issues of the case, or its findings are contrary to the admissions of both the appellant and the appellee.
7. When the findings are contrary to the trial court.
8. When the findings are conclusions without citation of specific evidence on which they are based.
9. When the facts set forth in the petition, as well as in the petitioners main and reply briefs, are not disputed by the respondent.
10. When the findings of fact are premise on the supposed absence of evidence and contradicted by the evidence on record.
11. When the Court of Appeals manifestly overlooked certain relevant facts not disputed by the parties, which, if properly considered, would justify a different conclusion.
-Administrative bodies may be allowed to resolve questions of law in the exercise of their quasi-judicial function as an incident of their primary power of regulation. However, their determination on this matter is only tentative at best and may be reviewed and reversed by the courts in proper cases whenever necessary.
-The decision of legal questions is an essentially judicial power that may not be withheld or withdrawn from the courts by legislation.
-As a rule, it is only the judicial tribunal that can interpret and decide questions of law with finality.
-Courts may and will, with more freedom, annul administrative interpretations of law and substitute their own reading of the statute under consideration if they believe it has not been correctly applied.