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MR: Kida vs Senate (G.R. No. 196271 February 28, 2012)

Kida vs Senate of the Philippines
G.R. No. 196271 February 28, 2012
FACTS: We resolve: (a) the motion for reconsideration filed by petitioners Datu Michael Abas Kida, et al. in G.R. No. 196271; (b) the motion for reconsideration filed by petitioner Rep. Edcel Lagman in G.R. No. 197221; (c) the ex abundante ad cautelam motion for reconsideration filed by petitioner Basari Mapupuno in G.R. No. 196305; (d) the motion for reconsideration filed by petitioner Atty. Romulo Macalintal in G.R. No. 197282; (e) the motion for reconsideration filed by petitioners Almarim Centi Tillah, Datu Casan Conding Cana and Partido Demokratiko Pilipino Lakas ng Bayan in G.R. No. 197280; (f) the manifestation and motion filed by petitioners Almarim Centi Tillah, et al. in G.R. No. 197280; and (g) the very urgent motion to issue clarificatory resolution that the temporary restraining order (TRO) is still existing and effective.

These motions assail our Decision dated October 18, 2011, where we upheld the constitutionality of Republic Act (RA) No. 10153. Pursuant to the constitutional mandate of synchronization, RA No. 10153 postponed the regional elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) (which were scheduled to be held on the second Monday of August 2011) to the second Monday of May 2013 and recognized the President’s power to appoint officers-in-charge (OICs) to temporarily assume these positions upon the expiration of the terms of the elected officials.

Issues: (a) Does the Constitution mandate the synchronization of ARMM regional elections with national and local elections?

(b) Does RA No. 10153 amend RA No. 9054? If so, does RA No. 10153 have to comply with the supermajority vote and plebiscite requirements?

(c) Is the holdover provision in RA No. 9054 constitutional?

(d) Does the COMELEC have the power to call for special elections in ARMM?

(e) Does granting the President the power to appoint OICs violate the elective and representative nature of ARMM regional legislative and executive offices?

(f) Does the appointment power granted to the President exceed the President’s supervisory powers over autonomous regions?

Held: YES. Synchronization mandate includes ARMM elections

The Court was unanimous in holding that the Constitution mandates the synchronization of national and local elections. While the Constitution does not expressly instruct Congress to synchronize the national and local elections, the intention can be inferred from the following provisions of the Transitory Provisions (Article XVIII) of the Constitution, which state:

Section 1. The first elections of Members of the Congress under this Constitution shall be held on the second Monday of May, 1987.

The first local elections shall be held on a date to be determined by the President, which may be simultaneous with the election of the Members of the Congress. It shall include the election of all Members of the city or municipal councils in the Metropolitan Manila area.

Section 2. The Senators, Members of the House of Representatives, and the local officials first elected under this Constitution shall serve until noon of June 30, 1992.

Of the Senators elected in the elections in 1992, the first twelve obtaining the highest number of votes shall serve for six years and the remaining twelve for three years.

The inclusion of autonomous regions in the enumeration of political subdivisions of the State under the heading “Local Government” indicates quite clearly the constitutional intent to consider autonomous regions as one of the forms of local governments.

NO. A thorough reading of RA No. 9054 reveals that it fixes the schedule for only the first ARMM elections;11 it does not provide the date for the succeeding regular ARMM elections. In providing for the date of the regular ARMM elections, RA No. 9333 and RA No. 10153 clearly do not amend RA No. 9054 since these laws do not change or revise any provision in RA No. 9054. In fixing the date of the ARMM elections subsequent to the first election, RA No. 9333 and RA No. 10153 merely filled the gap left in RA No. 9054.

We reiterate our previous observations:

This view – that Congress thought it best to leave the determination of the date of succeeding ARMM elections to legislative discretion – finds support in ARMM’s recent history.

To recall, RA No. 10153 is not the first law passed that rescheduled the ARMM elections. The First Organic Act – RA No. 6734 – not only did not fix the date of the subsequent elections; it did not even fix the specific date of the first ARMM elections, leaving the date to be fixed in another legislative enactment. Consequently, RA No. 7647, RA No. 8176, RA No. 8746, RA No. 8753, and RA No. 9012 were all enacted by Congress to fix the dates of the ARMM elections. Since these laws did not change or modify any part or provision of RA No. 6734, they were not amendments to this latter law. Consequently, there was no need to submit them to any plebiscite for ratification.

The Second Organic Act – RA No. 9054 – which lapsed into law on March 31, 2001, provided that the first elections would be held on the second Monday of September 2001. Thereafter, Congress passed RA No. 9140 to reset the date of the ARMM elections. Significantly, while RA No. 9140 also scheduled the plebiscite for the ratification of the Second Organic Act (RA No. 9054), the new date of the ARMM regional elections fixed in RA No. 9140 was not among the provisions ratified in the plebiscite held to approve RA No. 9054. Thereafter, Congress passed RA No. 9333, which further reset the date of the ARMM regional elections. Again, this law was not ratified through a plebiscite.

From these legislative actions, we see the clear intention of Congress to treat the laws which fix the date of the subsequent ARMM elections as separate and distinct from the Organic Acts. Congress only acted consistently with this intent when it passed RA No. 10153 without requiring compliance with the amendment prerequisites embodied in Section 1 and Section 3, Article XVII of RA No. 9054.12 (emphases supplied)

YES. The clear wording of Section 8, Article X of the Constitution expresses the intent of the framers of the Constitution to categorically set a limitation on the period within which all elective local officials can occupy their offices. We have already established that elective ARMM officials are also local officials; they are, thus, bound by the three-year term limit prescribed by the Constitution. It, therefore, becomes irrelevant that the Constitution does not expressly prohibit elective officials from acting in a holdover capacity. Short of amending the Constitution, Congress has no authority to extend the three-year term limit by inserting a holdover provision in RA No. 9054. Thus, the term of three years for local officials should stay at three (3) years, as fixed by the Constitution, and cannot be extended by holdover by Congress.

Admittedly, we have, in the past, recognized the validity of holdover provisions in various laws. One significant difference between the present case and these past cases is that while these past cases all refer to electivebarangay or sangguniang kabataan officials whose terms of office are not explicitly provided for in the Constitution, the present case refers to local elective officials – the ARMM Governor, the ARMM Vice Governor, and the members of the Regional Legislative Assembly – whose terms fall within the three-year term limit set by Section 8, Article X of the Constitution.

Even assuming that a holdover is constitutionally permissible, and there had been statutory basis for it (namely Section 7, Article VII of RA No. 9054), the rule of holdover can only apply as an available option where no express or implied legislative intent to the contrary exists; it cannot apply where such contrary intent is evident.

Congress, in passing RA No. 10153 and removing the holdover option, has made it clear that it wants to suppress the holdover rule expressed in RA No. 9054. Congress, in the exercise of its plenary legislative powers, has clearly acted within its discretion when it deleted the holdover option, and this Court has no authority to question the wisdom of this decision, absent any evidence of unconstitutionality or grave abuse of discretion. It is for the legislature and the executive, and not this Court, to decide how to fill the vacancies in the ARMM regional government which arise from the legislature complying with the constitutional mandate of synchronization.

NO. COMELEC has no authority to hold special elections

Neither do we find any merit in the contention that the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) is sufficiently empowered to set the date of special elections in the ARMM. To recall, the Constitution has merely empowered the COMELEC to enforce and administer all laws and regulations relative to the conduct of an election. Although the legislature, under the Omnibus Election Code (Batas Pambansa Bilang [BP] 881), has granted the COMELEC the power to postpone elections to another date, this power is confined to the specific terms and circumstances provided for in the law. Specifically, this power falls within the narrow confines of the following provisions:

Section 5. Postponement of election. – When for any serious cause such as violenceterrorismloss or destruction of election paraphernalia or records, force majeure, and other analogous causes of such a nature that the holding of a free, orderly and honest election should become impossible in any political subdivision, the Commission, motu proprio or upon a verified petition by any interested party, and after due notice and hearing, whereby all interested parties are afforded equal opportunity to be heard, shall postpone the election therein to a date which should be reasonably close to the date of the election not held, suspended or which resulted in a failure to elect but not later than thirty days after the cessation of the cause for such postponement or suspension of the election or failure to elect.

Section 6. Failure of election. – If, on account of force majeureviolenceterrorismfraud, or other analogous causes the election in any polling place has not been held on the date fixed, or had been suspended before the hour fixed by law for the closing of the voting, or after the voting and during the preparation and the transmission of the election returns or in the custody or canvass thereof, such election results in a failure to elect, and in any of such cases the failure or suspension of election would affect the result of the election, the Commission shall, on the basis of a verified petition by any interested party and after due notice and hearing, call for the holding or continuation of the election not held, suspended or which resulted in a failure to elect on a date reasonably close to the date of the election not held, suspended or which resulted in a failure to elect but not later than thirty days after the cessation of the cause of such postponement or suspension of the election or failure to elect. [emphases and underscoring ours]

YES. The power to appoint has traditionally been recognized as executive in nature. Section 16, Article VII of the Constitution describes in broad strokes the extent of this power, thus:

YES. We reiterate once more the importance of considering RA No. 10153 not in a vacuum, but within the context it was enacted in. In the first place, Congress enacted RA No. 10153 primarily to heed the constitutional mandate to synchronize the ARMM regional elections with the national and local elections. To do this, Congress had to postpone the scheduled ARMM elections for another date, leaving it with the problem of how to provide the ARMM with governance in the intervening period, between the expiration of the term of those elected in August 2008 and the assumption to office – twenty-one (21) months away – of those who will win in the synchronized elections on May 13, 2013.

In our assailed Decision, we already identified the three possible solutions open to Congress to address the problem created by synchronization – (a) allow the incumbent officials to remain in office after the expiration of their terms in a holdover capacity; (b) call for special elections to be held, and shorten the terms of those to be elected so the next ARMM regional elections can be held on May 13, 2013; or (c) recognize that the President, in the exercise of his appointment powers and in line with his power of supervision over the ARMM, can appoint interim OICs to hold the vacated positions in the ARMM regional government upon the expiration of their terms. We have already established the unconstitutionality of the first two options, leaving us to consider the last available option.

In this way, RA No. 10153 is in reality an interim measure, enacted to respond to the adjustment that synchronization requires. Given the context, we have to judge RA No. 10153 by the standard of reasonableness in responding to the challenges brought about by synchronizing the ARMM elections with the national and local elections. In other words, “given the plain unconstitutionality of providing for a holdover and the unavailability of constitutional possibilities for lengthening or shortening the term of the elected ARMM officials, is the choice of the President’s power to appoint – for a fixed and specific period as an interim measure, and as allowed under Section 16, Article VII of the Constitution – an unconstitutional or unreasonable choice for Congress to make?

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Demigillo vs TIDCORP (G.R. No. 168613 March 5, 2013)

Manalang-Demigillo vs Trade and Investment Development Corporation of the Philippines
G.R. No. 168613 March 5, 2013

Facts: On February 12, 1998, the Philippine Export and Foreign Loan Guarantee was renamed Trade and Investment Development Corporation of the Philippines (TIDCORP) pursuant to Republic Act No. 8494 entitled An Act Further Amending Presidential Decree No. 1080, As Amended, by Reorganizing And Renaming the Philippine Export and Foreign Loan Guarantee Corporation, Expanding Its Primary Purpose, and for Other Purposes. Republic Act No. 8494 reorganized the structure of TIDCORP. The issuance of appointments in accordance with the reorganization ensued. Petitioner Rosario Manalang-Demigillo (Demigillo) was appointed as Senior Vice President (PG 15) with permanent status, and was assigned to the Legal and Corporate Services Department (LCSD) of TIDCORP. Petitioner was evaluated and given a ‘poor’ rating for two consecutive evaluations due to her unimproved performance resulting to her name being dropped from the rolls of TIDCORP.

Issue: Whether or not the reorganization is valid resulting to Demigillo’s reassignment valid.

Held: Yes. Under the circumstances, when the members of the Board of Directors effected the assailed 2002 reorganization, they were acting as the responsible members of the Board of Directors of TIDCORP constituted pursuant to Presidential Decree No. 1080, as amended by Republic Act No. 8494, not as the alter egos of the President. We cannot stretch the application of a doctrine that already delegates an enormous amount of power. Also, it is settled that the delegation of power is not to be lightly inferred.

The result of the lengthy consultations and close coordination was the comprehensive reorganization plan that included a new organizational structure, position classification and staffing pattern, qualification standards, rules and regulations to implement the reorganization, separation incentive packages and timetable of implementation. Undoubtedly, TIDCORP effected the reorganization within legal bounds and in response to the perceived need to make the agency more attuned to the changing times.

Having found the 2002 reorganization to be valid and made pursuant to Republic Act No. 8494, we declare that there are no legal and practical bases for reinstating Demigillo to her former position as Senior Vice President in the LCSD. To be sure, the reorganization plan abolished the LCSD, and put in place a setup completely different from the previous one, including a new staffing pattern in which Demigillo would be heading the RCMSS, still as a Senior Vice President of TIDCORP. With that abolition, reinstating her as Senior Vice President in the LCSD became legally and physically impossible.

Demigillo’s contention that she was specifically appointed to the position of Senior Vice President in the LCSD was bereft of factual basis. The records indicate that her permanent appointment pertained only to the position of Senior Vice President. Her appointment did not indicate at all that she was to hold that specific post in the LCSD. Hence, her re-assignment to the RCMSS was by no means a diminution in rank and status considering that she maintained the same rank of Senior Vice President with an accompanying increase in pay grade.

The assignment to the RCMSS did not also violate Demigillo’s security of tenure as protected by Republic Act No. 6656. We have already upheld reassignments In the Civil Service resulting from valid reorganizations. Nor could she claim that her reassignment was invalid because it caused the reduction in her rank, status or salary. On the contrary, she was reappointed as Senior Vice President, a position that was even upgraded like all the other similar positions to Pay Grade 16, Step 4, Level II. In every sense, the position to which she was reappointed under the 2002 reorganization was comparable with, if not similar to her previous position.

Funa vs Agra (G.R. No. 191644 February 19, 2013)

Funa vs Agra
G.R. No. 191644 February 19, 2013

Facts: The petitioner alleges that on March 1, 2010, President Gloria M. Macapagal Arroyo appointed Agra as the Acting Secretary of Justice following the resignation of Secretary Agnes VST Devanadera in order to vie for a congressional seat in Quezon Province; that on March 5, 2010, President Arroyo designated Agra as the Acting Solicitor General in a concurrent capacity; that on April 7, 2010, the petitioner, in his capacity as a taxpayer, a concerned citizen and a lawyer, commenced this suit to challenge the constitutionality of Agra’s concurrent appointments or designations, claiming it to be prohibited under Section 13, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution; that during the pendency of the suit, President Benigno S. Aquino III appointed Atty. Jose Anselmo I. Cadiz as the Solicitor General; and that Cadiz assumed as the Solicitor General and commenced his duties as such on August 5, 2010. Agra renders a different version of the antecedents. He represents that on January 12, 2010, he was then the Government Corporate Counsel when President Arroyo designated him as the Acting Solicitor General in place of Solicitor General Devanadera who had been appointed as the Secretary of Justice; that on March 5, 2010, President Arroyo designated him also as the Acting Secretary of Justice vice Secretary Devanadera who had meanwhile tendered her resignation in order to run for Congress representing a district in Quezon Province in the May 2010 elections; that he then relinquished his position as the Government Corporate Counsel; and that pending the appointment of his successor, Agra continued to perform his duties as the Acting Solicitor General. Notwithstanding the conflict in the versions of the parties, the fact that Agra has admitted to holding the two offices concurrently in acting capacities is settled, which is sufficient for purposes of resolving the constitutional question that petitioner raises herein.

Issue: Whether or not Agra’s holding of concurrent position is unconstitutional.

Held: Yes. At the center of the controversy is the correct application of Section 13, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution, viz:

Section 13. The President, Vice-President, the Members of the Cabinet, and their deputies or assistants shall not, unless otherwise provided in this Constitution, hold any other office or employment during their tenure. They shall not, during said tenure, directly or indirectly practice any other profession, participate in any business, or be financially interested in any contract with, or in any franchise, or special privilege granted by the Government or any subdivision, agency, or instrumentality thereof, including government-owned or controlled corporations or their subsidiaries. They shall strictly avoid conflict of interest in the conduct of their office.

A relevant and complementing provision is Section 7, paragraph (2), Article IX-B of the 1987 Constitution, to wit:

Section 7. x x x Unless otherwise allowed by law or the primary functions of his position, no appointive official shall hold any other office or employment in the Government or any subdivision, agency or instrumentality thereof, including government-owned or controlled corporations or their subsidiaries.

Being designated as the Acting Secretary of Justice concurrently with his position of Acting Solicitor General, therefore, Agra was undoubtedly covered by Section 13, Article VII, supra, whose text and spirit were too clear to be differently read. Hence, Agra could not validly hold any other office or employment during his tenure as the Acting Solicitor General, because the Constitution has not otherwise so provided.

It was of no moment that Agra’s designation was in an acting or temporary capacity. The text of Section 13, supra, plainly indicates that the intent of the Framers of the Constitution was to impose a stricter prohibition on the President and the Members of his Cabinet in so far as holding other offices or employments in the Government or in government-owned or government controlled-corporations was concerned. In this regard, to hold an office means to possess or to occupy the office, or to be in possession and administration of the office, which implies nothing less than the actual discharge of the functions and duties of the office. Indeed, in the language of Section 13 itself, supra, the Constitution makes no reference to the nature of the appointment or designation. The prohibition against dual or multiple offices being held by one official must be construed as to apply to all appointments or designations, whether permanent or temporary, for it is without question that the avowed objective of Section 13, supra, is to prevent the concentration of powers in the Executive Department officials, specifically the President, the Vice-President, the Members of the Cabinet and their deputies and assistants. To construe differently is to “open the veritable floodgates of circumvention of an important constitutional disqualification of officials in the Executive Department and of limitations on the Presidents power of appointment in the guise of temporary designations of Cabinet Members, undersecretaries and assistant secretaries as officers-in-charge of government agencies, instrumentalities, or government-owned or controlled corporations.

It is not amiss to observe, lastly, that assuming that Agra, as the Acting Solicitor General, was not covered by the stricter prohibition under Section 13, supra, due to such position being merely vested with a cabinet rank under Section 3, Republic Act No. 9417, he nonetheless remained covered by the general prohibition under Section 7, supra. Hence, his concurrent designations were still subject to the conditions under the latter constitutional provision. In this regard, the Court aptly pointed out in Public Interest Center, Inc. v. Elma:

The general rule contained in Article IX-B of the 1987 Constitution permits an appointive official to hold more than one office only if “allowed by law or by the primary functions of his position.” In the case of Quimson v. Ozaeta, this Court ruled that, “[t]here is no legal objection to a government official occupying two government offices and performing the functions of both as long as there is no incompatibility.” The crucial test in determining whether incompatibility exists between two offices was laid out in People v. Green – whether one office is subordinate to the other, in the sense that one office has the right to interfere with the other.

Lloren vs COMELEC (G.R. No. 196355 September 18, 2012)

Lloren vs COMELEC
G.R. No. 196355 September 18, 2012

Facts: Petitioner and respondent Rogelio Pua, Jr. (Pua) were the candidates for Vice Mayor of the Municipality of Inopacan, Leyte in the May 10, 2010 Automated National and Local Elections. The Municipal Board of Canvassers proclaimed Pua as the winning candidate with a plurality of 752 votes for garnering 5,682 votes as against petitioner’s 4,930 votes. Alleging massive vote-buying, intimidation, defective PCOS machines in all the clustered precincts, election fraud, and other election-related manipulations, petitioner commenced Election Protest Case (EPC) No. H-026 in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Hilongos, Leyte. In his answer with special and affirmative defenses and counterclaim, Pua alleged that the election protest stated no cause of action, was insufficient in form and content, and should be dismissed for failure of petitioner to pay the required cash deposit.

Issues: Whether or not appeal was perfected.

Whether or not there was a valid election contest.

Held: Yes. The rules on the timely perfection of an appeal in an election case requires two different appeal fees, one to be paid in the trial court together with the filing of the notice of appeal within five days from notice of the decision, and the other to be paid in the COMELEC Cash Division within the 15-day period from the filing of the notice of appeal.

In A.M. No. 07-4-15-SC, the Court promulgated the Rules of Procedure In Election Contests Before The Courts Involving Elective Municipal and Barangay Officials (hereafter, the Rules in A.M. No. 07-4-15-SC), effective on May 15, 2007, to set down the procedure for election contests and quo warranto cases involving municipal and barangay officials that are commenced in the trial courts. The Rules in A.M. No. 07-4-15-SC superseded Rule 35 (“Election Contests Before Courts of General Jurisdiction”) and Rule 36 (“Quo Warranto Case Before Courts of General Jurisdiction”) of the 1993 COMELEC Rules of Procedure.

Under Section 8, of Rule 14 of the Rules in A.M. No. 07-4-15-SC, an aggrieved party may appeal the decision of the trial court to the COMELEC within five days after promulgation by filing a notice of appeal in the trial court that rendered the decision, serving a copy of the notice of appeal on the adverse counsel or on the adverse party if the party is not represented by counsel. Section 9, of Rule 14 of the Rules in A.M. No. 07-4-15-SC prescribes for that purpose an appeal fee of P 1,000.00 to be paid to the trial court rendering the decision simultaneously with the filing of the notice of appeal.

It should be stressed, however, that the Rules in A.M. No. 07-4-15-SC did not supersede the appeal fee prescribed by the COMELEC under its own rules of procedure. As a result, “the requirement of two appeal fees by two different jurisdictions caused a confusion in the implementation by the COMELEC of its procedural rules on the payment of appeal fees necessary for the perfection of appeals.” To remove the confusion, the COMELEC issued Resolution No. 8486, effective on July 24, 2008, whereby the COMELEC clarified the rules on the payment of the two appeal fees by allowing the appellant to pay the COMELEC’s appeal fee of P 3,200.00 at the COMELEC’s Cash Division through the ECAD or by postal money order payable to the COMELEC within a period of 15 days from the time of the filing of the notice of appeal in the trial court.

The non-payment of the motion fee of P 300.00 at the time of the filing of the motion for reconsideration did not warrant the outright denial of the motion for reconsideration, but might only justify the COMELEC to refuse to take action on the motion for reconsideration until the fees were paid, or to dismiss the action or proceeding when no full payment of the fees is ultimately made. The authority to dismiss is discretionary and permissive, not mandatory and exclusive, as expressly provided in Section 18, Rule 40 of the 1993 Rules of Procedure.

Yes. Section 10(c), Rule 2 of the Rules in A.M. No. 10-4-1-SC pertinently provides as follows: Section 10. Contents of the protest or petition.—

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c. An election protest shall also state: (i) that the protestant was a candidate who had duly filed a certificate of candidacy and had been voted for the same office; (ii) the total number of precincts in the municipality; (iii) the protested precincts and votes of the parties in the protested precincts per the Statement of Votes by Precinct or, if the votes of the parties are not specified, an explanation why the votes are not specified; and (iv) a detailed specification of the acts or omissions complained of showing the electoral frauds, anomalies or irregularities in the protested precincts.

As the findings of the RTC show, petitioner did not indicate the total number of precincts in the municipality in his election protest. The omission rendered the election protest insufficient in form and content, and warranted its summary dismissal, in accordance with Section 12, Rule 2 of the Rules in A.M. No. 10-4-1-SC.

GSIS vs Cancino-Erum (A.M. No. RTJ-09-2182 September 5, 2012)

GSIS vs Cancino-Erum
A.M. No. RTJ-09-2182 September 5, 2012

Facts: This administrative complaint emanated from the filing on July 18, 2008 by one Belinda Martizano (Martizano) of a suit to restrain the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), Land Transportation Office (LTO), Stradcom Corporation (STRADCOM), Insurance Commission, and Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) from implementing DOTC Department Order No. 2007-28 (DO 2007-28), an issuance that constituted the LTO the sole insurance provider of compulsory third party liability (CTPL) that was required for the registration of motor vehicles. The suit, docketed as Civil Case No. MC08-3660 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Mandaluyong City, claimed that the implementation of DO 2007-28 would deprive Martizano of her livelihood as an insurance agent.3 She applied for the issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO). On July 21, 2008, Civil Case No. MC08-3660 was raffled and assigned to Branch 213 of the RTC, presided by respondent Judge Carlos A. Valenzuela. On October 2, 2008, GSIS charged respondent RTC Judge Maria A. CancinoErum, the then Executive Judge of the RTC in Mandaluyong City, with grave misconduct, gross ignorance of the law, and violation of the Rules of Court. On the same date, GSIS also charged Judge Valenzuela with grave misconduct, gross ignorance of the law, violation of the Rules of Court, and knowingly rendering an unjust order.6 The charges against the respondents were both based on the non-raffling of Civil Case No.MC08-3660. Allegedly, Judge Erum violated Section 2, Rule 20 of the Rules of Court by assigning Civil Case No. MC08-3660 to Branch 213 without the benefit of a raffle.

Issues: Whether or not the filing of an administrative complaint is the proper remedy against erring judges.

Whether or not respondent Judge violated the rule on raffling of cases.

Held: No. Administrative case is improper for Judges – We have always regarded as a fundamental precept that an administrative complaint against a judge is inappropriate as a remedy for the correction of an act or omission complained of where the remedy of appeal or certiorari is a recourse available to an aggrieved party. Two reasons underlie this fundamental precept, namely: (a) to hold otherwise is to render judicial office untenable, for no one called upon to try the facts or to interpret the law in the process of administering justice can be infallible in his judgment; and (b) to follow a different rule can mean a deluge of complaints, legitimate or otherwise, and our judges will then be immersed in and be ceaselessly occupied with answering charges brought against them instead of performing their judicial functions.

No. The 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure has expressly made the raffle the exclusive method of assigning cases among several branches of a court in a judicial station by providing in Section 2 of Rule 20, as follows:

Section 2. Assignment of Cases. – The assignment of cases to the different branches of a court shall be done exclusively by raffle. The assignment shall be done in open session of which adequate notice shall be given so as to afford interested parties the opportunity to be present.

The avowed purpose of instituting raffle as the exclusive method of assigning cases among several branches of a court in the same station is two-fold: one, to equalize the distribution of the cases among the several branches, and thereby foster the Court’s policy of promoting speedy and efficient disposition of cases; and, two, to ensure the impartial adjudication of cases and thereby obviate any suspicion regarding assignment of cases to predetermined judges.

Circular No. 7, supra, stated that only the maximum number of cases, according to their dates of filing, as could be equally distributed to all the branches in the particular station or grouping should be included in the raffle; and that cases in excess of the number sufficient for equal distribution should be included in the next scheduled raffle.

Despite not strictly following the procedure under Circular No. 7 in assigning Civil Case No. MC08-3660 to Branch 213, the respondents as members of the Raffle Committee could not be held to have violated the rule on the exclusivity of raffle because there were obviously less TRO or injunction cases available at anytime for raffling than the number of Branches of the RTC. Given the urgent nature of TRO or injunction cases, each of them had to be immediately attended to. This peculiarity must have led to the adoption of the practice of raffling such cases despite their number being less than the number of the Branches in Mandaluyong City. The practice did not absolutely contravene Circular No. 7 in view of the circular itself expressly excepting under its fourth paragraph, supra, any incidental or interlocutory matter of such urgent nature (like a TRO application) that might not wait for the regular raffle.

The urgent nature of an injunction or TRO case demands prompt action and immediate attention, thereby compelling the filing of the case in the proper court without delay.