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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Pleadings and practice; Civil procedure; Consolidation of cases. It is true that under the Rules of Court, trial is permissive and a matter of judicial discretion. This is because trials held in the first instance require the attendance of the parties, their respective counsel and their witnesses, a task that surely entails an expense that can multiply if there are several proceedings upon the same issues involving the same parties. At the trial stage, the avoidance of unnecessary expenses and undue vexation to the parties is the primary objective of consolidation of cases. But the permissiveness of consolidation does not carry over to the appellate stage where the primary objective is less the avoidance of unnecessary expenses and undue vexation than it is the ideal realization of the dual function of all appellate adjudications.
In the appellate stage, therefore, the rigid policy is to make the consolidation of all cases and proceedings resting on the same set of facts, or involving identical claims or interests or parties mandatory. Such consolidation should be made regardless of whether or not the parties or any of them requests it. A mandatory policy eliminates conflicting results concerning similar or like issues between the same parties or interests even as it enhances the administration of justice.
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Period of voluntary submission of soft copies of court-bound papers in cases before the Supreme Court has been extended from June 30 to October 1, 2013, after which compulsory submission is required.
Pleadings and Practice; Anonymous complaints. Under Section 1 of Rule 140 of the Rules of Court, anonymous complaints may be filed against judges, but they must be supported by public records of indubitable integrity. Courts have acted in such instances needing no corroboration by evidence to be offered by the complainant. Thus, for anonymous complaints, the burden of proof in administrative proceedings which usually rests with the complainant, must be buttressed by indubitable public records and by what is sufficiently proven during the investigation. If the burden of proof is not overcome, the respondent is under no obligation to prove his defense.
In the present case, no evidence was attached to the letter-complaint. The complainant never appeared, and no public records were brought forth during the investigation. Respondent Judge Achas denied all the charges made against him, only admitting that he was separated de facto from his wife and that he reared fighting cocks.
The charges that he (1) lives beyond his means, (2) is involved withillegal activities through his connection with the kuratongs, (3) comes to court very untidy and dirty, and (4) decides his cases unfairly in exchange for material and monetary consideration were, therefore, properly recommended dismissed by the OCA for lack of evidence.
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Pleadings and practice; election of IBP governors; strict rotation on election of EVP. On December 4, 2012, the Court issued a resolution addressing the issues with respect to the election of governor for IBP-Western Visayas. In clarifying that the rotational rule was one by exclusion, the Court explained that in the election of governor of a region, all chapters of the region should be given the opportunity to have their nominees elected as governor, to the exclusion of those chapters that had already served in the rotational cycle. Once a rotational cycle would be completed, all chapters of a region, except the chapter which won in the immediately preceding elections, could once again have the equal opportunity to vie for the position of governor of their region. The chapter that won in the immediately preceding election, under the rotational cycle just completed, could only vie for the position of governor after the election of the first governor in the new cycle.
As earlier recited, Section 47 of the IBP By-Laws was amended in the December 14, 2010 Resolution of the Court to read as follows:
“Sec. 47. National Officers. – The Integrated Bar of the Philippines shall have a President, an Executive Vice President, and nine (9) regional Governors. The Executive Vice President shall be elected on a strict rotation basis by the Board of Governors from among themselves, by the vote of at least five (5) Governors. The Governors shall be ex officio Vice President for their respective regions. There shall also be a Secretary and Treasurer of the Board of Governors.
The violation of the rotation rule in any election shall be penalized by annulment of the election and disqualification of the offender from election or appointment to any office in the IBP.”
From the above, it is clear that the amendment was effected to underscore the shift of the rotation from the position of president to that of EVP. The purpose of the system being to ensure that all the regions will have an equal opportunity to serve as EVP and then automatically succeed as president.
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