NATIONAL ARTIST FOR LITERATURE VIRGILIO ALMARIO et al., v. THE EXECUTIVE SECRETARY et al., G.R. No. 189028, July 16, 2013

Pleadings and practice. It has been held that the remedies of prohibition and injunction are preventive and, as such, cannot be availed of to restrain an act that is already fait accompli. Where the act sought to be prohibited or enjoined has already been accomplished or consummated, prohibition or injunction becomes moot.

Nevertheless, even if the principal issue is already moot, this Court may still resolve its merits for the future guidance of both bench and bar. Courts will decide a question otherwise moot and academic if it is “capable of repetition, yet evading review.”

It is an opportune time for the Court to assert its role as republican schoolmaster, a teacher in a vital national seminar. There are times when the controversy is of such character that, to prevent its recurrence and to assure respect for constitutional limitations, this Court must pass on the merits of a case.

Administrative law. We have held that an administrative regulation adopted pursuant to law has the force and effect of law. Thus, the rules, guidelines and policies regarding the Order of National Artists jointly issued by the CCP Board of Trustees and the NCCA pursuant to their respective statutory mandates have the force and effect of law.  Until set aside, they are binding upon executive and administrative agencies, including the President himself/herself as chief executor of laws.

Constitutional law; Equal protection. There was a violation of the equal protection clause of the Constitution when the former President gave preferential treatment to respondents Guidote-Alvarez, Caparas, Mañosa and Moreno.  The former President’s constitutional duty to faithfully execute the laws and observe the rules, guidelines and policies of the NCCA and the CCP as to the selection of the nominees for conferment of the Order of National Artists proscribed her from having a free and uninhibited hand in the conferment of the said award. The manifest disregard of the rules, guidelines and processes of the NCCA and the CCP was an arbitrary act that unduly favored respondents Guidote-Alvarez, Caparas, Mañosa and Moreno.  The conferment of the Order of National Artists on said respondents was therefore made with grave abuse of discretion and should be set aside.

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