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A.M. No.

RTJ-06-2017

June 19, 2008

LT. GEN. ALFONSO P. DAGUDAG (Ret.), complainant, vs. JUDGE MAXIMO G.W. PADERANGA, Regional Trial Court, Branch 38, Cagayan de Oro City, respondent. DECISION PER CURIAM, J.: This is a complaint for gross ignorance of the law and conduct unbecoming a judge filed by retired Lt. Gen. Alfonso P. Dagudag (Gen. Dagudag), Head of Task Force Sagip Kalikasan, against Judge Maximo G. W. Paderanga (Judge Paderanga), Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 38, Cagayan de Oro City. On or about 30 January 2005, the Region VII Philippine National Police Regional Maritime Group (PNPRMG) received information that MV General Ricarte of NMC Container Lines, Inc. was shipping container vans containing illegal forest products from Cagayan de Oro to Cebu. The shipments were falsely declared as cassava meal and corn grains to avoid inspection by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).1 On 30 and 31 January 2005, a team composed of representatives from the PNPRMG, DENR, and the Philippine Coast Guard inspected the container vans at a port in Mandaue City, Cebu. The team discovered the undocumented forest products and the names of the shippers and consignees: Container Van No. NCLU 2000492-22GI IEAU 2521845-2210 NOLU 2000682-22GI INBU 3125757-BB2210 NCLU 20001591-22GI GSTU 339074-US2210 CRXU 2167567 NCLU 2001570-22GI Shipper Polaris Chua Polaris Chua Rowena Balangot Rowena Balangot Jovan Gomez Jovan Gomez Raffy Enriquez Raffy Enriquez Consignee Polaris Chua Polaris Chua Rowena Balangot Rowena Balangot Jovan Gomez Jovan Gomez Raffy Enriquez Raffy Enriquez

On 2, 9, and 15 February 2005, DENR Forest Protection Officer Lucio S. Canete, Jr. posted notices on the CENRO and PENRO bulletin boards and at the NMC Container Lines, Inc. building informing the unknown owner about the administrative adjudication scheduled on 18 February 2005 at the Cebu City CENRO. Nobody appeared during the adjudication.5 In a resolution6 dated 10 March 2005, Rivac, acting as adjudication officer, recommended to DENR Regional Executive Director Clarence L. Baguilat that the forest products be confiscated in favor of the government. In a complaint7 dated 16 March 2005 and filed before Judge Paderanga, a certain Roger C. Edma (Edma) prayed that a writ of replevin be issued ordering the defendants DENR, CENRO, Gen. Dagudag, and others to deliver the forest products to him and that judgment be rendered ordering the defendants to pay him moral damages, attorneys fees, and litigation expenses. On 29 March 2005, Judge Paderanga issued a writ of replevin8 ordering Sheriff Reynaldo L. Salceda to take possession of the forest products. In a motion to quash the writ of replevin,9 the defendants DENR, CENRO, and Gen. Dagudag prayed that the writ of replevin be set aside: (1) Edmas bond was insufficient; (2) the forest products were falsely declared as cassava meal and corn grains; (3) Edma was not a party-in-interest; (4) the forest products were not covered by any legal document; (5) nobody claimed the forest products within a reasonable period of time; (6) the forest products were already considered abandoned; (7) the forest products were lawfully seized under the Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines; (8) replevin was not proper; (9) courts could not take cognizance of cases pending before the DENR; (10) Edma failed to exhaust administrative remedies; and (11) the DENR was the agency responsible for the enforcement of forestry laws. In a motion to dismiss ad cautelam10 dated 12 April 2005, the defendants prayed that the complaint for replevin and damages be dismissed: (1) the real defendant is the Republic of the Philippines; (2) Edma failed to exhaust administrative remedies; (3) the State cannot be sued without its consent; and (4) Edma failed to allege that he is the owner or is entitled to the possession of the forest products. In an order11 dated 14 April 2005, Judge Paderanga denied the motion to quash the writ of replevin for lack of merit. Gen. Dagudag filed with the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) an affidavit-complaint12 dated 8 July 2005 charging Judge Paderanga with gross ignorance of the law and conduct unbecoming a judge. Gen. Dagudag stated that: During the x x x hearing, [Judge Paderanga] showed manifest partiality in favor of x x x Edma. DENRs counsel was lambasted, cajoled and intimidated by [Judge Paderanga] using words such as "SHUT UP" and "THATS BALONEY." xxxx Edma in the replevin case cannot seek to recover the wood shipment from the DENR since he had not sought administrative remedies available to him. The prudent thing for [Judge Paderanga] to have done was to dismiss the replevin suit outright. xxxx

The crew of MV General Ricarte failed to produce the certificate of origin forms and other pertinent transport documents covering the forest products, as required by DENR Administrative Order No. 07-94. Gen. Dagudag alleged that, since nobody claimed the forest products within a reasonable period of time, the DENR considered them as abandoned and, on 31 January 2005, the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) Officer-in-Charge (OIC), Richard N. Abella, issued a seizure receipt to NMC Container Lines, Inc.2 On 1 February 2005, Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) OIC Loreto A. Rivac (Rivac) sent a notice to NMC Container Lines, Inc. asking for explanation why the government should not confiscate the forest products.3 In an affidavit4 dated 9 February 2005, NMC Container Lines, Inc.s Branch Manager Alex Conrad M. Seno stated that he did not see any reason why the government should not confiscate the forest products and that NMC Container Lines, Inc. had no knowledge of the actual content of the container vans.

[Judge Paderangas] act[s] of taking cognizance of the x x x replevin suit, issuing the writ of replevin and the subsequent denial of the motion to quash clearly demonstrates [sic] ignorance of the law. In its 1st Indorsement13 dated 1 August 2005, the OCA directed Judge Paderanga to comment on the affidavit-complaint. In his comment14 dated 6 September 2005, Judge Paderanga stated that he exercised judicial discretion in issuing the writ of replevin and that he could not delve into the issues raised by Gen. Dagudag because they were related to a case pending before him. In its Report15 dated 10 July 2006, the OCA found that Judge Paderanga (1) violated the doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies; (2) violated the doctrine of primary jurisdiction; and (3) used inappropriate language in court. The OCA recommended that the case be re-docketed as a regular administrative matter; that Judge Paderanga be held liable for gross ignorance of the law and for violation of Section 6, Canon 6 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct for the Philippine Judiciary;16 and that he be fined P30,000. In its Resolution17 dated 16 August 2006, the Court re-docketed the case as a regular administrative matter and required the parties to manifest whether they were willing to submit the case for decision based on the pleadings already filed. Judge Paderanga manifested his willingness to submit the case for decision based on the pleadings already filed.18 Since Gen. Dagudag did not file any manifestation, the Court considered him to have waived his compliance with the 16 August 2006 Resolution.19 The Court finds Judge Paderanga liable for gross ignorance of the law and for conduct unbecoming a judge. The DENR is the agency responsible for the enforcement of forestry laws. Section 4 of Executive Order No. 192 states that the DENR shall be the primary agency responsible for the conservation, management, development, and proper use of the countrys natural resources. Section 68 of Presidential Decree No. 705, as amended by Executive Order No. 277, states that possessing forest products without the required legal documents is punishable. Section 68-A states that the DENR Secretary or his duly authorized representatives may order the confiscation of any forest product illegally cut, gathered, removed, possessed, or abandoned. In the instant case, the forest products were possessed by NMC Container Lines, Inc. without the required legal documents and were abandoned by the unknown owner. Consequently, the DENR seized the forest products. Judge Paderanga should have dismissed the replevin suit outright for three reasons. First, under the doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies, courts cannot take cognizance of cases pending before administrative agencies. In Factoran, Jr. v. Court of Appeals,20 the Court held that: The doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies is basic. Courts, for reasons of law, comity and convenience, should not entertain suits unless the available administrative remedies have first been resorted to and the proper authorities have been given an appropriate opportunity to act and

correct their alleged errors, if any, committed in the administrative forum. (Emphasis ours) In Dy v. Court of Appeals,21 the Court held that a party must exhaust all administrative remedies before he can resort to the courts. In Paat v. Court of Appeals,22 the Court held that: This Court in a long line of cases has consistently held that before a party is allowed to seek the intervention of the court, it is a pre-condition that he should have availed of all the means of administrative processes afforded him. Hence, if a remedy within the administrative machinery can still be resorted to by giving the administrative officer concerned every opportunity to decide on a matter that comes within his jurisdiction then such remedy should be exhausted first before courts judicial power can be sought. The premature invocation of courts intervention is fatal to ones cause of action. Accordingly, absent any finding of waiver or estoppel the case is susceptible of dismissal for lack of cause of action. (Emphasis ours) In the instant case, Edma did not resort to, or avail of, any administrative remedy. He went straight to court and filed a complaint for replevin and damages. Section 8 of Presidential Decree No. 705, as amended, states that (1) all actions and decisions of the Bureau of Forest Development Director are subject to review by the DENR Secretary; (2) the decisions of the DENR Secretary are appealable to the President; and (3) courts cannot review the decisions of the DENR Secretary except through a special civil action for certiorari or prohibition. In Dy,23 the Court held that all actions seeking to recover forest products in the custody of the DENR shall be directed to that agency not the courts. In Paat,24 the Court held that: Dismissal of the replevin suit for lack of cause of action in view of the private respondents failure to exhaust administrative remedies should have been the proper course of action by the lower court instead of assuming jurisdiction over the case and consequently issuing the writ [of replevin]. Exhaustion of the remedies in the administrative forum, being a condition precedent prior to ones recourse to the courts and more importantly, being an element of private respondents right of action, is too significant to be waylaid by the lower court. xxxx Moreover, the suit for replevin is never intended as a procedural tool to question the orders of confiscation and forfeiture issued by the DENR in pursuance to the authority given under P.D. 705, as amended. Section 8 of the said law is explicit that actions taken by the Director of the Bureau of Forest Development concerning the enforcement of the provisions of the said law are subject to review by the Secretary of DENR and that courts may not review the decisions of the Secretary except through a special civil action for certiorari or prohibition. (Emphasis ours)

Second, under the doctrine of primary jurisdiction, courts cannot take cognizance of cases pending before administrative agencies of special competence. The DENR is the agency responsible for the enforcement of forestry laws. The complaint for replevin itself stated that members of DENRs Task Force Sagip Kalikasan took over the forest products and brought them to the DENR Community Environment and Natural Resources Office. This should have alerted Judge Paderanga that the DENR had custody of the forest products, that administrative proceedings may have been commenced, and that the replevin suit had to be dismissed outright. In Tabao v. Judge Lilagan25 a case with a similar set of facts as the instant case the Court held that: The complaint for replevin itself states that the shipment x x x [was] seized by the NBI for verification of supporting documents. It also states that the NBI turned over the seized items to the DENR "for official disposition and appropriate action." x x x To our mind, these allegations [should] have been sufficient to alert respondent judge that the DENR has custody of the seized items and that administrative proceedings may have already been commenced concerning the shipment. Under the doctrine of primary jurisdiction, courts cannot take cognizance of cases pending before administrative agencies of special competence. x x x The prudent thing for respondent judge to have done was to dismiss the replevin suit outright. (Emphasis ours) In Paat,26 the Court held that: [T]he enforcement of forestry laws, rules and regulations and the protection, development and management of forest lands fall within the primary and special responsibilities of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. By the very nature of its function, the DENR should be given a free hand unperturbed by judicial intrusion to determine a controversy which is well within its jurisdiction. The assumption by the trial court, therefore, of the replevin suit filed by private respondents constitutes an unjustified encroachment into the domain of the administrative agencys prerogative. The doctrine of primary jurisdiction does not warrant a court to arrogate unto itself the authority to resolve a controversy the jurisdiction over which is initially lodged with an administrative body of special competence. (Emphasis ours) Third, the forest products are already in custodia legis and thus cannot be the subject of replevin. There was a violation of the Revised Forestry Code and the DENR seized the forest products in accordance with law. In Calub v. Court of Appeals,27 the Court held that properties lawfully seized by the DENR cannot be the subject of replevin: Since there was a violation of the Revised Forestry Code and the seizure was in accordance with law, in our view the [properties seized] were validly deemed in custodia legis. [They] could not be subject to an action for replevin. For it is property lawfully taken by virtue of legal process and considered in the custody of the law, and not otherwise. (Emphasis ours)

Judge Paderangas acts of taking cognizance of the replevin suit and of issuing the writ of replevin constitute gross ignorance of the law. In Tabao,28 the Court held that: Under the doctrine of primary jurisdiction, courts cannot take cognizance of cases pending before administrative of special competence. x x x [T]he plaintiff in the replevin suit who [sought] to recover the shipment from the DENR had not exhausted the administrative remedies available to him. The prudent thing for respondent judge to have done was to dismiss the replevin suit outright. Under Section 78-A of the Revised Forestry Code, the DENR secretary or his authorized representatives may order the confiscation of forest products illegally cut, gathered, removed, or possessed or abandoned. xxxx Respondent judges act of taking cognizance of the x x x replevin suit clearly demonstrates ignorance of the law. x x x [J]udges are expected to keep abreast of all laws and prevailing jurisprudence. Judges are duty bound to have more than just a cursory acquaintance with laws and jurisprudence. Failure to follow basic legal commands constitutes gross ignorance of the law from which no one may be excused, not even a judge. (Emphasis ours) Canon 6 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct for the Philippine Judiciary states that competence is a prerequisite to the due performance of judicial office. Section 3 of Canon 6 states that judges shall take reasonable steps to maintain and enhance their knowledge necessary for the proper performance of judicial duties. Judges should keep themselves abreast with legal developments and show acquaintance with laws.29 The rule that courts cannot prematurely take cognizance of cases pending before administrative agencies is basic. There was no reason for Judge Paderanga to make an exception to this rule. The forest products were in the custody of the DENR and Edma had not availed of any administrative remedy. Judge Paderanga should have dismissed the replevin suit outright. In Espaol v. Toledo-Mupas,30 the Court held that: Being among the judicial front-liners who have direct contact with the litigants, a wanton display of utter lack of familiarity with the rules by the judge inevitably erodes the confidence of the public in the competence of our courts to render justice. It subjects the judiciary to embarrassment. Worse, it could raise the specter of corruption. When the gross inefficiency springs from a failure to consider so basic and elemental a rule, a law, or a principle in the discharge of his or her duties, a judge is either too incompetent and undeserving of the exalted position and title he or she holds, or the oversight or omission was deliberately done in bad faith and in grave abuse of judicial authority. The OCA found Judge Paderanga liable for using inappropriate language in court: "We x x x find respondents intemperate use of

"Shut up!" and "Baloney!" well nigh inappropriate in court proceedings. The utterances are uncalled for."31 Indeed, the 14 and 22 April 2005 transcripts of stenographic notes show that Judge Paderanga was impatient, discourteous, and undignified in court: Atty. Luego: Your Honor, we want to have this motion because that is... Judge Paderanga: I am asking you why did you not make any rejoinder[?] xxxx Atty. Luego: I apologize, Your Honor. We are ready to...

xxxx Atty. Luego: Your Honor please, the shipping company denied the ownership of that lumber. xxxx Atty. Luego: But the shipping company, Your Honor,... Judge Paderanga: Shut up. Thats baloney. You are seizing it from nobody. Then how can you seize it from the shipping company. Are you not? You are a lawyer. Who is in possession of the property? The shipping company. Why did you not issue [a] seizure receipt to the shipping company? Atty. Luego: But the... May I continue, Your Honor?

Judge Paderanga: Ready to what? Proceed. xxxx Atty. Luego: Yes, Your Honor. We filed this motion to quash replevin, Your Honor, on the grounds, first and foremost, it is our contention, Your Honor, with all due respect of [sic] this Honorable Court, that the writ of replevin dated March 29, 2005 was improper, Your Honor, for the reasons that the lumber, subject matter of this case, were apprehended in accordance with... Judge Paderanga: Where is your proof that it was apprehended? Where is your proof? Is that apprehension proven by a seizure receipt? Where is your seizure receipt? Atty. Luego: Under the rules... Judge Paderanga: Where is your seizure receipt? You read your rules. What does [sic] the rules say? Where in your rules does it say that it does not need any seizure receipt? You look at your rules. You point out the rules. You take out your rules and then you point out. Do you have the rules? xxxx Atty. Luego: Your Honor, there was no seizure receipt, but during the apprehension, Your Honor, there was no claimant. Judge Paderanga: Answer me. Is there a seizure receipt? Atty. Luego: But during the apprehension, Your Honor, no owner has [sic] appeared. xxxx Atty. Luego: According to [the] rules, Your Honor, if there is no... Judge Paderanga: Whom are you seizing it from? To [sic] whom are you taking it from? Atty. Luego: From the shipping company, Your Honor. Judge Paderanga: Stop talking about the shipping company. Still you did not issue a seizure receipt here. Well, Im telling you you should have issued [a] seizure receipt to the shipping company. xxxx Judge Paderanga: You are a lawyer. You should know how to write pleadings. You write the pleadings the way it should be, not the way you think it should be. Atty. Luego: Im sorry, Your Honor. Judge Paderanga: You are an officer of the court. You should be careful with your language. You say that I am wrong. Its you who are [sic] wrong because you do not read the law. xxxx Judge Paderanga: Then you read the law. How dare you say that the Court is wrong. xxxx Judge Paderanga: Are you not representing [the DENR]? Atty. Luego: Yes, in this case, Your Honor. Judge Paderanga: Then you are representing them. They are your clients. What kind of a lawyer are you?32 xxxx Atty. Tiamson: Specifically it was stated in the [Factoran] versus Court of Appeals [case] that the Court should not interfere, Your Honor. Judge Paderanga: No. xxxx

Judge Paderanga: The problem with you people is you do not use your heads. Atty. Tiamson: We use our heads, your Honor. xxxx Atty. Tiamson: Your Honor, we would like to put on record that we use our heads, your Honor.33 (Emphasis ours) Section 6, Canon 6 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct for the Philippine Judiciary states that judges shall be patient, dignified, and courteous in relation to lawyers. Rule 3.04, Canon 3 of the Code of Judicial Conduct states that judges should be patient and courteous to lawyers, especially the inexperienced. They should avoid the attitude that the litigants are made for the courts, instead of the courts for the litigants. Judicial decorum requires judges to be temperate in their language at all times. They must refrain from inflammatory, excessively rhetoric, or vile language.34 They should (1) be dignified in demeanor and refined in speech; (2) exhibit that temperament of utmost sobriety and self-restraint; and (3) be considerate, courteous, and civil to all persons who come to their court.35 In Juan de la Cruz v. Carretas,36 the Court held that: A judge who is inconsiderate, discourteous or uncivil to lawyers x x x who appear in his sala commits an impropriety and fails in his duty to reaffirm the peoples faith in the judiciary. He also violates Section 6, Canon 6 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct for the Philippine Judiciary. xxxx It is reprehensible for a judge to humiliate a lawyer x x x. The act betrays lack of patience, prudence and restraint. Thus, a judge must at all times be temperate in his language. He must choose his words x x x with utmost care and sufficient control. The wise and just man is esteemed for his discernment. Pleasing speech increases his persuasiveness. Equanimity and judiciousness should be the constant marks of a dispenser of justice. A judge should always keep his passion guarded. He can never allow it to run loose and overcome his reason. He descends to the level of a sharp-tongued, ill-mannered petty tyrant when he utters harsh words x x x. As a result, he degrades the judicial office and erodes public confidence in the judiciary. Judge Paderangas refusal to consider the motion to quash the writ of replevin, repeated interruption of the lawyers, and utterance of "shut up," "thats baloney," "how dare you say that the court is wrong," "what kind of a lawyer are you?," and "the problem with you people is you do not use your heads" are undignified and very unbecoming a judge. In Office of the Court Administrator v. Paderanga,37 the Court already reprimanded Judge Paderanga for repeatedly saying "shut up," being arrogant, and declaring that he had "absolute power" in court. He has not changed.

Section 8, Rule 140 of the Rules of Court classifies gross ignorance of the law as a serious offense. It is punishable by (1) dismissal from the service, forfeiture of benefits, and disqualification from reinstatement to any public office; (2) suspension from office without salary and other benefits for more than three months but not exceeding six months; or (3) a fine of more than P20,000 but not exceeding P40,000.38 Section 10 of Rule 140 classifies conduct unbecoming a judge as a light offense. It is punishable by (1) a fine of not less than P1,000 but not exceeding P10,000; (2) censure; (3) reprimand; or (4) admonition with warning.39 The Court notes that this is Judge Paderangas third offense. In Office of the Court Administrator v. Paderanga,40the Court held him liable for grave abuse of authority and simple misconduct for unceremoniously citing a lawyer in contempt while declaring himself as having "absolute power" and for repeatedly telling a lawyer to "shut up." InBeltran, Jr. v. Paderanga,41 the Court held him liable for undue delay in rendering an order for the delay of nine months in resolving an amended formal offer of exhibits. In both cases, the Court sternly warned Judge Paderanga that the commission of another offense shall be dealt with more severely. The instant case and the two cases decided against him demonstrate Judge Paderangas arrogance, incorrigibility, and unfitness to become a judge. Judge Paderanga has two other administrative cases pending against him one42 for gross ignorance of the law, knowingly rendering an unjust judgment, and grave abuse of authority, and the other43 for gross misconduct, grave abuse of authority, and gross ignorance of the law. The Court will not hesitate to impose the ultimate penalty on those who have fallen short of their accountabilities. It will not tolerate any conduct that violates the norms of public accountability and diminishes the faith of the people in the judicial system.44 WHEREFORE, the Court finds Judge Maximo G.W. Paderanga, Regional Trial Court, Branch 38, Cagayan de Oro City, GUILTY of GROSS IGNORANCE OF THE LAW and UNBECOMING CONDUCT. Accordingly, the CourtDISMISSES him from the service, with forfeiture of all retirement benefits, except accrued leave credits, and with prejudice to reinstatement or appointment to any public office, including government-owned or controlled corporations. SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 167569 September 4, 2009 CARLOS T. GO, SR., Petitioner, vs. LUIS T. RAMOS, Respondent. x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x G.R. No. 167570 JIMMY T. GO, Petitioner, vs. LUIS T. RAMOS, Respondent. x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x G.R. No. 171946 HON. ALIPIO F. FERNANDEZ, JR., in his capacity as the Commissioner of the BUREAU OF IMMIGRATION; ATTY. FAISAL HUSSIN and ANSARI M. MACAAYAN, in their capacity as Intelligence Officers of the BUREAU OF IMMIGRATION, Petitioners, vs. JIMMY T. GO a.k.a. JAIME T. GAISANO, Respondent. DECISION QUISUMBING, J.: Before us are three petitions. G.R. Nos. 167569 and 167570 are petitions for review on certiorari to set aside the October 25, 2004 Decision1 and February 16, 2005 Resolution2 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 85143 that affirmed the Decision3 dated January 6, 2004 and Order4 dated May 3, 2004 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Pasig City, Branch 167 in SCA No. 2218 upholding the preparation and filing of deportation charges against Jimmy T. Go, the corresponding Charge Sheet5 dated July 3, 2001, and the deportation proceedings thereunder conducted. On the other hand, G.R. No. 171946, also a petition for review on certiorari, seeks to set aside the December 8, 2005 Decision 6 and March 13, 2006 Resolution7 of the appellate court in CA-G.R. SP No. 88277. Considering that the three cases arose from the same factual milieu, the Court resolved to consolidate G.R. Nos. 167570 and 167569 with G.R. No. 171946 per Resolution8 dated February 26, 2007. These petitions stemmed from the complaint-affidavit9 for deportation initiated by Luis T. Ramos before the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation (now Bureau of Immigration) against Jimmy T. Go alleging that the latter is an illegal and undesirable alien. Luis alleged that while Jimmy represents himself as a Filipino citizen, Jimmys personal circumstances and other records indicate that he is not so. To prove his contention, Luis presented the birth certificate of Jimmy, issued by the Office of the Civil Registrar of Iloilo City, which indicated Jimmys citizenship as "FChinese." Luis argued that although it appears from Jimmys birth certificate that his parents, Carlos and Rosario Tan, are Filipinos, the document seems to be tampered, because only the citizenship of Carlos appears to be handwritten while all the other entries were typewritten. He also averred that in September 1989 or thereabout, Jimmy, through stealth, machination and scheming managed to cover up his true citizenship, and with the use of falsified documents and untruthful declarations, was able to procure a Philippine passport from the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Jimmy refuted the allegations in his counter-affidavit,10 averring that the complaint for deportation initiated by Luis was merely a harassment case designed to oust him of his rightful share in their business dealings. Jimmy maintained that there is no truth to the allegation that he is an alien, and insisted that he is a natural-born Filipino. Jimmy alleged that his father Carlos, who was the son of a Chinese father and Filipina mother, elected Philippine citizenship in accordance with Article IV, Section 1, paragraph 411 of the 1935 Constitution and Commonwealth Act No. 62512 (Com. Act No. 625), as evidenced by his having taken the Oath of Allegiance on July 11, 1950 and having executed an Affidavit of Election of Philippine citizenship on July 12, 1950. Although the said oath and affidavit were registered only on September 11, 1956, the reason behind such late registration was sufficiently explained in an affidavit. Jimmy added that he had even voted in the 1952 and 1955 elections.13 He denied that his father arrived in the Philippines as an undocumented alien, alleging that his father has no record of arrival in this country as alleged in the complaint-affidavit precisely because his father was born and raised in the Philippines, and in fact, speaks fluent Ilonggo and Tagalog.14 With regard to the erroneous entry in his birth certificate that he is "FChinese," he maintained that such was not of his own doing, but may be attributed to the employees of the Local Civil Registrars Office who might have relied on his Chinese -sounding surname when making the said entry. He asserted that the said office has control over his birth certificate; thus, if his fathers citizenship appears to be handwritten, it may have been changed when the employees of that office realized that his father has already taken his oath as a Filipino.15 As regards the entry in his siblings certificates of birth, particularly Juliet Go and Carlos Go, Jr., that their father is Chinese, Jimmy averred that the entry was erroneous because it was made without prior consultation with his father.16 In a Resolution17 dated February 14, 2001, Associate Commissioner Linda L. Malenab-Hornilla dismissed the complaint for deportation against Jimmy. Associate Commissioner Hornilla affirmed the findings of the National Bureau of Investigation tasked to investigate the case that Jimmys father elected Filipino citizenship in accordance with the provisions of the 1935 Philippine Constitution. By operation of law, therefore, the citizenship of Carlos was transmitted to Jimmy, making him a Filipino as well. On March 8, 2001,18 the Board of Commissioners (Board) reversed said dismissal, holding that Carlos election of Philippine citizenship was made out of time. Finding Jimmys claim to Philippine citizenship in serious doubt by reason of his fathers questionable election thereof, the Board directed the preparation and filing of the appropriate deportation charges against Jimmy. On July 3, 2001, the corresponding Charge Sheet was filed against Jimmy, charging him of violating Section 37(a)(9)19 in relation to Section 45(c)20 of Com. Act No. 613, otherwise known as The Philippine Immigration Act of 1940,21 as amended, committed as follows: xxxx 1. That Respondent was born on October 25, 1952 in Iloilo City, as evidenced by a copy of his birth certificate wherein his citizenship was recorded as "Chinese";

2. That Respondent through some stealth machinations was able to subsequently cover up his true and actual citizenship as Chinese and illegally acquired a Philippine Passport under the name JAIME T. GAISANO, with the use of falsified documents and untruthful declarations, in violation of the above-cited provisions of the Immigration Act[;] 3. That [R]espondent being an alien, has formally and officially represent[ed] and introduce[d] himself as a citizen of the Philippines, for fraudulent purposes and in order to evade any requirements of the immigration laws, also in violation of said law. CONTRARY TO LAW.22 On November 9, 2001, Carlos and Jimmy filed a petition for certiorari and prohibition23 with application for injunctive reliefs before the RTC of Pasig City, Branch 167, docketed as SCA No. 2218, seeking to annul and set aside the March 8, 2001 Resolution of the Board of Commissioners, the Charge Sheet, and the proceedings had therein. In essence, they challenged the jurisdiction of the Board to continue with the deportation proceedings. In the interim, the Board issued a Decision24 dated April 17, 2002, in BSI-D.C. No. ADD-01-117, ordering the apprehension and deportation of Jimmy. The dispositive portion of the decision reads: WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Board of Commissioners hereby Orders the apprehension of respondent JIMMY T. GO @ JAIME T. GAISANO and that he be then deported to CHINA of which he is a citizen, without prejudice, however, to the continuation of any and all criminal and other proceedings that are pending in court or before the prosecution arm of the Philippine Government, if any. And that upon expulsion, he is thereby ordered barred from entry into the Philippines. SO ORDERED.25 In view of the said Decision, Carlos and Jimmy filed on June 13, 2002 a supplemental petition for certiorari and prohibition26 before the trial court and reiterated their application for injunctive reliefs. The trial court issued a writ of preliminary prohibitory injunction pending litigation on the main issue, enjoining the Bureau from enforcing the April 17, 2002 Decision.27 Later, however, the trial court dissolved the writ in a Decision28 dated January 6, 2004 as a consequence of the dismissal of the petition. Carlos and Jimmy moved for reconsideration. But their motion was likewise denied.29 Following the dismissal of the petition in SCA No. 2218, the Board issued a warrant of deportation30 which led to the apprehension of Jimmy. Jimmy commenced a petition for habeas corpus, but the same was eventually dismissed by reason of his provisional release on bail.31 Carlos and Jimmy then questioned the Decision in SCA No. 2218 as well as the Resolution denying their motion for reconsideration by way of a petition for certiorari before the Court of Appeals, docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 85143. They

imputed grave abuse of discretion by the trial court for passing upon their citizenship, claiming that what they asked for in their petition was merely the nullification of the March 8, 2001 Resolution and the charge sheet. The appellate tribunal dismissed the petition.32 It did not find merit in their argument that the issue of citizenship should proceed only before the proper court in an independent action, and that neither the Bureau nor the Board has jurisdiction over individuals who were born in the Philippines and have exercised the rights of Filipino citizens. The appellate tribunal also rejected their claim that they enjoy the presumption of being Filipino citizens. The Court of Appeals held that the Board has the exclusive authority and jurisdiction to try and hear cases against an alleged alien, and in the process, determine their citizenship. The appellate court agreed with the trial court that the principle of jus soli was never extended to the Philippines; hence, could not be made a ground to ones claim of Philippine citizenship. Like the trial court, the appellate tribunal found that Carlos failed to elect Philippine citizenship within the reasonable period of three years upon reaching the age of majority. Furthermore, it held that the belated submission to the local civil registry of the affidavit of election and oath of allegiance in September 1956 was defective because the affidavit of election was executed after the oath of allegiance, and the delay of several years before their filing with the proper office was not satisfactorily explained. The course of action taken by the trial court was also approved by the appellate tribunal. The Court of Appeals stated that the trial court necessarily had to rule on the substantial and legal bases warranting the deportation proceeding in order to determine whether the Board acted without or in excess of jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion. Moreover, the appellate court found that due process was properly observed in the proceedings before the Board, contrary to the claim of Jimmy. Unfazed with the said ruling, they moved for reconsideration. Their motion having been denied,33 Carlos and Jimmy each filed a petition for review on certiorari before this Court, respectively docketed as G.R. Nos. 167569 and 167570. Meanwhile, in view of the dismissal of CA-G.R. SP. No. 85143, Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Alipio F. Fernandez, Jr. issued Warrant of Deportation No. AFF-04-00334 dated November 16, 2004 to carry out the April 17, 2002 Decision in BSI-D.C. No. ADD-01-117. This resulted in the apprehension and detention of Jimmy at the Bureau of Immigration Bicutan Detention Center, pending his deportation to China.35 On account of his detention, Jimmy once again filed a petition for habeas corpus36 before the RTC of Pasig City, Branch 167, docketed as SP. Proc. No. 11507 assailing his apprehension and detention despite the pendency of his appeal and his release on recognizance. In an Order37 dated December 6, 2004, the trial court dismissed the said petition ruling that the remedy of habeas corpus cannot be availed of to obtain an order of release once a deportation order has already been issued by the Bureau. Jimmy moved for reconsideration of the Order, but this was also denied by the trial court in an Order38 dated December 28, 2004.

Jimmy assailed the Orders of the trial court in a petition for certiorari and prohibition before the appellate court, docketed as CA-G.R. No. 88277. The Court of Appeals granted the petition and enjoined the deportation of Jimmy until the issue of his citizenship is settled with finality by the court. The Court of Appeals held as follows: xxxx the issuance of a warrant to arrest and deport the petitioner without any proof whatsoever of his violation of the bail conditions [that he was previously granted] is arbitrary, inequitable and unjust, for the policies governing the grant of his bail should likewise apply in the cancellation of the said bail. Although a deportation proceeding does not partake of the nature of a criminal action, yet considering that it is such a harsh and extraordinary administrative proceeding affecting the freedom and liberty of a person who all his life has always lived in the Philippines, where he has established his family and business interests, one who appears to be not completely devoid of any claim to Filipino citizenship, being the son of a Filipina, whose father is alleged to also have elected to be a Filipino, the constitutional right of such person to due process cannot be peremptorily dismissed or ignored altogether, and indeed should not be denied. If it later turns out that the petitioner is a Filipino after all, then the overly eager Immigration authorities would have expelled and relegated to statelessness one who might in fact be a Filipino by blood. xxxx WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the petition with reference to the Warrant of Deportation issued by the BID is hereby GRANTED. The Bureau of Immigration and Deportation, through Commissioner Alipio F. Fernandez, Jr., Atty. Faizal Hussin and Ansari Maca Ayan, and any of their deputized agents, are ENJOINED from deporting petitioner Jimmy T. Go, a.k.a. Jaime T. Gaisano, until the issue of petitioners citizenship is finally settled by the courts of justice. SO ORDERED.39 Their motion for reconsideration40 having been denied on March 13, 2006, Hon. Alipio Fernandez, in his capacity as the Commissioner of the Bureau of Immigration, and Atty. Faisal Hussin and Ansari M. Macaayan, in their capacity as Intelligence Officers of the Bureau of Immigration, are before this Court as petitioners in G.R. No. 171946. The parties have raised the following grounds for their respective petitions: G.R. No. 167569 I. THE PROCEEDINGS HAD BEFORE THE BUREAU OF IMMIGRATION AND DEPORTATION (B.I.D.) ARE NULL AND VOID FOR ITS FAILURE TO IMPLEAD AN INDISPENSABLE PARTY IN THE PERSON OF PETITIONER CARLOS GO, SR.

II. GIVEN THE SUBSTANTIAL EVIDENCE TO PROVE HEREIN PETITIONER CARLOS GO SR.S FILIPINO CITIZENSHIP, A FULL BLOWN TRIAL UNDER THE MORE RIGID RULES OF EVIDENCE PRESCRIBED IN COURT PROCEEDINGS SHOULD HAVE BEEN CONDUCTED TO DETERMINE HIS FILIPINO CITIZENSHIP AND NOT THROUGH MERE "SUMMARY PROCEEDINGS" SUCH AS THE ONE HAD BEFORE THE B.I.D. AS WELL AS IN THE COURT A QUO. III. A FILIPINO CITIZEN IS NOT REQUIRED TO ELECT PHILIPPINE CITIZENSHIP. IV. ASSUMING CARLOS GO, SR. STILL NEEDS TO ELECT PHILIPPINE CITIZENSHIP, HE HAD COMPLIED WITH ALL THE REQUIREMENTS OF COM. ACT NO. 625. V. PETITIONER CARLOS GO, SR. ENJOYS THE "PRESUMPTION OF CITIZENSHIP." VI. RESPONDENTS "CAUSE OF ACTION" HAD LONG PRESCRIBED.41 G.R. No. 167570 I. THE PROCEEDINGS HAD BEFORE THE BUREAU OF IMMIGRATION AND DEPORTATION (B.I.D.) ARE NULL AND VOID FOR ITS FAILURE TO IMPLEAD AN INDISPENSABLE PARTY IN THE PERSON OF PETITIONERS FATHER, CARLOS GO, SR. II. THE DEPORTATION PROCEEDINGS BEFORE THE B.I.D. ARE NULL AND VOID FOR ITS FAILURE TO OBSERVE DUE PROCESS. III. THE B.I.D.S CAUSE OF ACTION AGAINST HEREIN PETITIONER JIMMY T. GO HAD ALREADY PRESCRIBED. IV. GIVEN THE SUBSTANTIAL EVIDENCE TO PROVE HEREIN PETITIONERS FILIPINO CITIZENSHIP, A FULL BLOWN TRIAL UNDER THE MORE RIGID RULES OF EVIDENCE PRESCRIBED IN COURT PROCEEDINGS SHOULD HAVE BEEN CONDUCTED TO DETERMINE HIS FILIPINO CITIZENSHIP AND NOT THROUGH MERE "SUMMARY PROCEEDINGS" SUCH AS THE ONE HAD BEFORE THE B.I.D.42

G.R. No. 171946 THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED ON A QUESTION OF LAW IN ENJOINING RESPONDENTS DEPORTATION.43 Succinctly stated, the issues for our resolution are: (a) whether the cause of action of the Bureau against Carlos and Jimmy had prescribed; (b) whether the deportation proceedings are null and void for failure to implead Carlos as an indispensable party therein; (c) whether the evidence adduced by Carlos and Jimmy to prove their claim to Philippine citizenship is substantial and sufficient to oust the Board of its jurisdiction from continuing with the deportation proceedings in order to give way to a formal judicial action to pass upon the issue of alienage; (d) whether due process was properly observed in the proceedings before the Board; and (e) whether the petition for habeas corpus should be dismissed. The arguments raised by Carlos and Jimmy in their respective petitions are merely a rehash of the arguments they adduced before the appellate tribunal and the trial court. Once again, they raised the same argument of prescription. As to Carlos, it is his position that being recognized by the government to have acquired Philippine citizenship, evidenced by the Certificate of Election issued to him on September 11, 1956, his citizenship could no longer be questioned at this late date. As for Jimmy, he contends that the Boards cause of action to deport him has prescribed for the simple reason that his arrest was not made within five (5) years from the time the cause of action arose, which according to him commenced in 1989 when he was alleged to have illegally acquired a Philippine passport. In any event, they argue that the deportation proceeding should be nullified altogether for failure to implead Carlos as an indispensable party therein. Jimmy posits that the deportation case against him was made to depend upon the citizenship of his father, Carlos, in that the Board found justification to order his deportation by declaring that his father is a Chinese citizen even though the latter was never made a party in the deportation proceedings. They argue that the Board could not simply strip Carlos of his citizenship just so they could question the citizenship of Jimmy. To do so without affording Carlos the opportunity to adduce evidence to prove his claim to Philippine citizenship would be the height of injustice. For failing to accord him the requisite due process, the whole proceeding should perforce be stuck down. While they concede that the Board has jurisdiction to hear cases against an alleged alien, they insist that judicial intervention may be resorted to when the claim to citizenship is so substantial that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the claim is correct, like in this case. Their claim to Philippine citizenship, they said, is clearly shown by the fact that they were born, had been raised and had lived in this country all their lives; they speak fluent Tagalog and Ilonggo; they engage in businesses reserved solely for Filipinos; they exercise their right to suffrage; they enjoy the rights and privileges accorded only to citizens; and they have no record of any Alien Certificate of Registration. More importantly, they contend that they were validly issued Philippine passports. They further posit that the judicial intervention required is not merely a judicial review of the proceedings below, but a fullblown, adversarial, trial-type proceedings where the rules of evidence are strictly observed. Considering that his citizenship affects that of his son, Carlos opted to present controverting arguments to sustain his claim to

Philippine citizenship, notwithstanding the fact that according to him, he was never impleaded in the deportation proceedings. Carlos takes exception to the ruling of the appellate court that the doctrine of jus soli failed to accord him Philippine citizenship for the reason that the same was never extended to the Philippines. He insists that if his Philippine citizenship is not recognized by said doctrine, it is nonetheless recognized by the laws enforced prior to the 1935 Constitution, particularly the Philippine Bill of 190244 and the Philippine Autonomy Act of August 29, 1916 (Jones Law of 1916).45 According to Carlos, the Philippine Bill of 1902 and the Jones Law of 1916 deemed all inhabitants of the Philippine Islands as well as their children born after the passage of said laws to be citizens of the Philippines. Because his father, Go Yin An, was a resident of the Philippines at the time of the passage of the Jones Law of 1916, he (Carlos) undoubtedly acquired his fathers citizenship. Article IV, first paragraph, of the 1935 Constitution therefore applies to him. Said constitutional provision reads: ARTICLE IV. Citizenship SECTION 1. The following are citizens of the Philippines: (1) Those who are citizens of the Philippine Islands at the time of the adoption of this Constitution. xxxx Even assuming that his father remained as a Chinese, Carlos also claims that he followed the citizenship of his Filipina mother, being an illegitimate son, and that he even validly elected Philippine citizenship when he complied with all the requirements of Com. Act No. 625. He submits that what is being disputed is not whether he complied with Com. Act No. 625, but rather, the timeliness of his compliance. He stresses that the 3year compliance period following the interpretation given by Cuenco v. Secretary of Justice46 to Article IV, Section 1(4) of the 1935 Constitution and Com. Act No. 625 when election must be made, is not an inflexible rule. He reasoned that the same decision held that such period may be extended under certain circumstances, as when the person concerned has always considered himself a Filipino, like in his case.47 We deny the appeal of Carlos and Jimmy for lack of merit. Carlos and Jimmys claim that the cause of action of the Bureau has prescribed is untenable. Cases involving issues on citizenship are sui generis. Once the citizenship of an individual is put into question, it necessarily has to be threshed out and decided upon. In the case of Frivaldo v. Commission on Elections,48 we said that decisions declaring the acquisition or denial of citizenship cannot govern a persons future status with finality. This is because a person may subsequently reacquire, or for that matter, lose his citizenship under any of the modes recognized by law for the purpose.49 Indeed, if the issue of ones citizenship, after it has been passed upon by the courts, leaves it still open to future adjudication, then there is more reason why the government should not be precluded from questioning ones claim to Philippine citizenship, especially so when the same has never been threshed out by any tribunal.

Jimmys invocation of prescription also does not persuade us. Section 37 (b) of Com. Act No. 613 states: Section 37. xxxx (b) Deportation may be effected under clauses 2, 7, 8, 11 and 12 of this section at any time after entry, but shall not be effected under any other clause unless the arrest in the deportation proceedings is made within five years after the cause of deportation arises. xxxx As shown in the Charge Sheet, Jimmy was charged for violation of Section 37(a)(9),50 in relation to Section 45(e)51 of Com. Act No. 613. From the foregoing provision, his deportation may be effected only if his arrest is made within 5 years from the time the cause for deportation arose. The court a quo is correct when it ruled that the 5-year period should be counted only from July 18, 2000, the time when Luis filed his complaint for deportation. It is the legal possibility of bringing the action which determines the starting point for the computation of the period of prescription.52 Additionally, Section 2 of Act No. 3326,53 as amended, entitled "An Act to Establish Periods of Prescription for Violations Penalized by Special Acts and Municipal Ordinances and to Provide When Prescription Shall Begin to Run," provides: Sec. 2. Prescription shall begin to run from the day of the commission of the violation of the law, and if the same be not known at the time, from the discovery thereof and the institution of judicial proceedings for its investigation and punishment. xxxx The counting could not logically start in 1989 when his passport was issued because the government was unaware that he was not a Filipino citizen. Had the government been aware at such time that he was not a Filipino citizen or there were certain anomalies attending his application for such passport, it would have denied his application. As to the issue of whether Carlos is an indispensable party, we reiterate that an indispensable party is a party in interest without whom no final determination can be had of an action, and who shall be joined either as plaintiff or defendant.54 To be indispensable, a person must first be a real party in interest, that is, one who stands to be benefited or injured by the judgment of the suit, or the party entitled to the avails of the suit.55 Carlos clearly is not an indispensable party as he does not stand to be benefited or injured by the judgment of the suit. What is sought is the deportation of Jimmy on the ground that he is an alien. Hence, the principal issue that will be decided on is the propriety of his deportation. To recall, Jimmy claims that he is a Filipino under Section 1(3),56 Article IV of the 1935 Constitution because Carlos, his father, is allegedly a citizen.57 Since his citizenship hinges on that of his fathers, it becomes necessary to pass upon the citizenship of the latter. However, whatever will be the findings as to Carlos citizenship will in no way prejudice him. Citizenship proceedings, as aforestated, are a class of its own, in that, unlike other cases, res judicata does not obtain as a matter of course. In a long line of decisions, this Court said that every

time the citizenship of a person is material or indispensable in a judicial or administrative case, whatever the corresponding court or administrative authority decides therein as to such citizenship is generally not considered as res judicata; hence, it has to be threshed out again and again as the occasion may demand.58 Res judicata may be applied in cases of citizenship only if the following concur: 1. a persons citizenship must be raised as a material issue in a controversy where said person is a party; 2. the Solicitor General or his authorized representative took active part in the resolution thereof; and 3. the finding or citizenship is affirmed by this Court.59 In the event that the citizenship of Carlos will be questioned, or his deportation sought, the same has to be ascertained once again as the decision which will be rendered hereinafter shall have no preclusive effect upon his citizenship. As neither injury nor benefit will redound upon Carlos, he cannot be said to be an indispensable party in this case. There can be no question that the Board has the authority to hear and determine the deportation case against a deportee and in the process determine also the question of citizenship raised by him.60 However, this Court, following American jurisprudence, laid down the exception to the primary jurisdiction enjoyed by the deportation board in the case of Chua Hiong v. Deportation Board61 wherein we stressed that judicial determination is permitted in cases when the courts themselves believe that there is substantial evidence supporting the claim of citizenship, so substantial that there are reasonable grounds for the belief that the claim is correct.62 Moreover, when the evidence submitted by a deportee is conclusive of his citizenship, the right to immediate review should also be recognized and the courts shall promptly enjoin the deportation proceedings.63 While we are mindful that resort to the courts may be had, the same should be allowed only in the sound discretion of a competent court in proper proceedings.64 After all, the Boards jurisdiction is not divested by the mere claim of citizenship.65 Moreover, a deportee who claims to be a citizen and not therefore subject to deportation has the right to have his citizenship reviewed by the courts, after the deportation proceedings.66 The decision of the Board on the question is, of course, not final but subject to review by the courts.671avvphi1 After a careful evaluation of the evidence, the appellate court was not convinced that the same was sufficient to oust the Board of its jurisdiction to continue with the deportation proceedings considering that what were presented particularly the birth certificates of Jimmy, as well as those of his siblings, Juliet Go and Carlos Go, Jr. indicate that they are Chinese citizens. Furthermore, like the Board, it found the election of Carlos of Philippine citizenship, which was offered as additional proof of his claim, irregular as it was not made on time. We find no cogent reason to overturn the above findings of the appellate tribunal. The question of whether substantial evidence had been presented to allow immediate recourse to the regular courts is a question of fact which is beyond this Courts power of review for it is not a trier of facts.68 None of the exceptions69 in which this Court may resolve factual issues has been shown to exist in this case. Even if we evaluate their arguments and the

evidence they presented once again, the same conclusion will still be reached. One of the arguments raised to sustain Carlos claim to Philippine citizenship is the doctrine of jus soli, or the doctrine or principle of citizenship by place of birth. To recall, both the trial court and the Court of Appeals ruled that the doctrine of jus soli was never extended to the Philippines. We agree. The doctrine of jus soli was for a time the prevailing rule in the acquisition of ones citizenship.70 However, the Supreme Court abandoned the principle of jus soli in the case of Tan Chong v. Secretary of Labor.71 Since then, said doctrine only benefited those who were individually declared to be citizens of the Philippines by a final court decision on the mistaken application of jus soli.72 Neither will the Philippine Bill of 1902 73 nor the Jones Law of 191674 make Carlos a citizen of the Philippines. His bare claim that his father, Go Yin An, was a resident of the Philippines at the time of the passage of the said laws, without any supporting evidence whatsoever will not suffice. It is a settled rule that only legitimate children follow the citizenship of the father and that illegitimate children are under the parental authority of the mother and follow her nationality.75 Moreover, we have also ruled that an illegitimate child of a Filipina need not perform any act to confer upon him all the rights and privileges attached to citizens of the Philippines; he automatically becomes a citizen himself.76 However, it is our considered view that absent any evidence proving that Carlos is indeed an illegitimate son of a Filipina, the aforestated established rule could not be applied to him. As to the question of whether the election of Philippine citizenship conferred on Carlos Filipino citizenship, we find that the appellate court correctly found that it did not. Com. Act No. 625 which was enacted pursuant to Section 1(4), Article IV of the 1935 Constitution, prescribes the procedure that should be followed in order to make a valid election of Philippine citizenship. Under Section 1 thereof, legitimate children born of Filipino mothers may elect Philippine citizenship by expressing such intention "in a statement to be signed and sworn to by the party concerned before any officer authorized to administer oaths, and shall be filed with the nearest civil registry. The said party shall accompany the aforesaid statement with the oath of allegiance to the Constitution and the Government of the Philippines."77 However, the 1935 Constitution and Com. Act No. 625 did not prescribe a time period within which the election of Philippine citizenship should be made. The 1935 Charter only provides that the election should be made "upon reaching the age of majority." The age of majority then commenced upon reaching 21 years. In the opinions of the then Secretary of Justice on cases involving the validity of election of Philippine citizenship, this dilemma was resolved by basing the time period on the decisions of this Court prior to the effectivity of the 1935 Constitution. In these decisions, the proper period for electing Philippine citizenship was, in turn, based on the pronouncements of the Department of State of the United States Government to the effect that the election should be made within a "reasonable time" after attaining the age of majority. The phrase "reasonable time" has been interpreted to mean that the election should be made within three (3) years from reaching the age of majority.78

It is true that we said that the 3-year period for electing Philippine citizenship may be extended as when the person has always regarded himself as a Filipino. Be that as it may, it is our considered view that not a single circumstance was sufficiently shown meriting the extension of the 3-year period. The fact that Carlos exercised his right of suffrage in 1952 and 1955 does not demonstrate such belief, considering that the acts were done after he elected Philippine citizenship. On the other hand, the mere fact that he was able to vote does not validate his irregular election of Philippine citizenship. At most, his registration as a voter indicates his desire to exercise a right appertaining exclusively to Filipino citizens but does not alter his real citizenship, which, in this jurisdiction, is determined by blood ( jus sanguinis). The exercise of the rights and privileges granted only to Filipinos is not conclusive proof of citizenship, because a person may misrepresent himself to be a Filipino and thus enjoy the rights and privileges of citizens of this country.79 It is incumbent upon one who claims Philippine citizenship to prove to the satisfaction of the court that he is really a Filipino. No presumption can be indulged in favor of the claimant of Philippine citizenship, and any doubt regarding citizenship must be resolved in favor of the state.80 As Carlos and Jimmy neither showed conclusive proof of their citizenship nor presented substantial proof of the same, we have no choice but to sustain the Boards jurisdiction over the deportation proceedings. This is not to say that we are ruling that they are not Filipinos, for that is not what we are called upon to do. This Court necessarily has to pass upon the issue of citizenship only to determine whether the proceedings may be enjoined in order to give way to a judicial determination of the same. And we are of the opinion that said proceedings should not be enjoined. In our considered view, the allegation of Jimmy that due process was not observed in the deportation proceedings must likewise fail. Deportation proceedings are administrative in character, summary in nature, and need not be conducted strictly in accordance with the rules of ordinary court proceedings.81 The essence of due process is simply an opportunity to be heard, or as applied to administrative proceedings, an opportunity to explain ones side or an opportunity to seek reconsideration of the action or ruling complained of.82 As long as the parties are given the opportunity to be heard before judgment is rendered, the demands of due process are sufficiently met.83 Although Jimmy was not furnished with a copy of the subject Resolution and Charge Sheet as alleged by him, the trial court found that he was given ample opportunity to explain his side and present controverting evidence, thus: x x x It must be stressed that after receiving the Order dated September 11, 2001 signed by BSI Chief Ronaldo P. Ledesma on October 4, 2001, petitioner Jimmy T. Go admitted that when his representative went to the B.I.D. to inquire about the said Order, the latter chanced upon the Resolution dated February 14, 2001 and March 8, 2001 as well as the Charge Sheet dated July 3, 2001. Hence on October 5, 2001, he filed a "Motion for Extension of Time to File Memorandum" and as such, was allowed by Ronaldo P. Ledesma an extension of ten (10) days to submit his required memorandum. x x x84 This circumstance satisfies the demands of administrative due process.

As regards the petition in G.R. No. 171946, petitioners contend that the appellate tribunal erred in enjoining Jimmys deportation.85 Petitioners question the remedy availed of by Jimmy. They argue that the existence of the remedy of an ordinary appeal proscribes the filing of the petition for certiorari as was done in this case. They point out that the appeal period in habeas corpus cases is only 48 hours, compared to a special civil action under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court which is 60 days. This clearly shows that an ordinary appeal is the more plain, speedy and adequate remedy; hence, it must be the one availed of.86 Since the decision of the trial court was not properly appealed, the same may be said to have attained finality, and may no longer be disturbed.87 They maintain that the dismissal of the petition for habeas corpus by the trial court was proper. A petition for habeas corpus has for its purpose only the determination of whether or not there is a lawful ground for Jimmys apprehension and continued detention. They urge that the decision of the Board dated April 17, 2002 that ordered Jimmys deportation has already attained finality by reason of the belated appeal taken by Jimmy from the said decision on April 2, 2004 before the Office of the President, or after almost two years from the time the decision was rendered. Said decision of the Board, they insist, is the lawful ground that sanctions Jimmys apprehension and detention.88 Petitioners in G.R. No. 171946 also argue that Jimmy cannot rely on the bail on recognizance he was previously granted to question his subsequent apprehension and detention. Under the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940, the power to grant bail can only be exercised while the alien is still under investigation, and not when the order of deportation had already been issued by the Board.89 Hence, the bail granted was irregular as it has no legal basis. Furthermore, they said the petition for habeas corpus necessarily has to be dismissed because the same is no longer proper once the applicant thereof has been charged before the Board, which is the case with Jimmy.90Nonetheless, they claim that the habeas corpus case is rendered moot and academic as Jimmy is no longer being detained.91 On the other hand, Jimmy counters that the instant petition for certiorari and prohibition is the most appropriate, speedy and adequate remedy in spite of the availability of ordinary appeal considering that what is involved in this case is his cherished liberty. Grave abuse of discretion on the part of the petitioners in ordering his arrest and detention, he argues, all the more justifies the avails of the extraordinary writ.92 Contrary to the petitioners stand, Jimmy argues that the April 17, 2002 Decision of the Board has not attained finality owing to the availability of various remedies, one of which is an appeal, and in fact is actually void because it was rendered without due process.93 He also insists that the bail issued to him is valid and effective until the final determination of his citizenship before the proper courts.94 Moreover, he maintains that the petition for habeas corpus was proper since its object is to inquire into the legality of ones detention, and if found illegal, to order the release of the detainee.95 As in his petition in G.R. No. 167570, Jimmy also contends that the proceedings before the Board is void for failure to implead therein his father, and that he should have been given a full blown trial before a regular court where he can prove his citizenship.96 Considering the arguments and contentions of the parties, we find the petition in G.R. No. 171946 meritorious.a1f

We have held in a litany of cases that the extraordinary remedies of certiorari, prohibition and mandamus are available only when there is no appeal or any plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law. The writ of certiorari does not lie where an appeal may be taken or where another adequate remedy is available for the correction of the error.97 The petitioners correctly argue that appeal should have been the remedy availed of as it is more plain, speedy and adequate. The 48-hour appeal period demonstrates the adequacy of such remedy in that no unnecessary time will be wasted before the decision will be re-evaluated. A petition for the issuance of a writ of habeas corpus is a special proceeding governed by Rule 102 of the Revised Rules of Court. The objective of the writ is to determine whether the confinement or detention is valid or lawful. If it is, the writ cannot be issued. What is to be inquired into is the legality of a persons detention as of, at the earliest, the filing of the application for the writ of habeas corpus, for even if the detention is at its inception illegal, it may, by reason of some supervening events, such as the instances mentioned in Section 498 of Rule 102, be no longer illegal at the time of the filing of the application.99 Once a person detained is duly charged in court, he may no longer question his detention through a petition for issuance of a writ of habeas corpus. His remedy would be to quash the information and/or the warrant of arrest duly issued. The writ of habeas corpus should not be allowed after the party sought to be released had been charged before any court. The term "court" in this context includes quasi-judicial bodies of governmental agencies authorized to order the persons confinement, like the Deportation Board of the Bureau of Immigration.100Likewise, the cancellation of his bail cannot be assailed via a petition for habeas corpus. When an alien is detained by the Bureau of Immigration for deportation pursuant to an order of deportation by the Deportation Board, the Regional Trial Courts have no power to release such alien on bail even in habeas corpus proceedings because there is no law authorizing it.101 Given that Jimmy has been duly charged before the Board, and in fact ordered arrested pending his deportation, coupled by this Courts pronouncement that the Board was not ousted of its jurisdiction to continue with the deportation proceedings, the petition for habeas corpus is rendered moot and academic. This being so, we find it unnecessary to touch on the other arguments advanced by respondents regarding the same subject. WHEREFORE, the petitions in G.R. Nos. 167569 and 167570 are DENIED. The Decision dated October 25, 2004 and Resolution dated February 16, 2005 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 85143 are AFFIRMED. The petition in G.R. No. 171946 is hereby GRANTED. The Decision dated December 8, 2005 and Resolution dated March 13, 2006 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 88277 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The December 6, 2004 and December 28, 2004 Orders of the Regional Trial Court of Pasig City, Branch 167 are hereby REINSTATED. No pronouncement as to costs. SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 156287

February 16, 2010

The COSLAP Ruling On October 25, 1999, the COSLAP issued a resolution6 (October 25, 1999 COSLAP Resolution) directing the Machados to reopen the right of way in favor of Gatdula. In so ruling, the COSLAP relied on the verification survey made by Engr. Arellano, which established that the Machados had encroached on the existing alley in Gatdulas property. The COSLAP declared the Machados estopped from questioning its jurisdiction to decide the case, since they actively participated in the mediation conferences and the verification surveys without raising any jurisdictional objection. It ruled that its jurisdiction does not depend on the convenience of the Machados. The Machados filed a motion for reconsideration which the COSLAP denied in a resolution dated January 24, 2000. On February 18, 2000, the Machados filed a notice of appeal7 with the Office of the President (OP). While this appeal was pending, the COSLAP, upon Gatdulas motion, issued a writ of execution8 enforcing the terms of the October 25, 1999 COSLAP Resolution. The Machados opposed the writ by filing a motion to quash on March 30, 2001.9 They argued that the October 25, 1999 COSLAP Resolution was not yet ripe for execution in view of the pending appeal before the OP. Since the Machados persistently refused to reopen the right of way they closed, the provincial sheriff recommended to COSLAP the issuance of a writ of demolition. The COSLAP issued the writ of demolition10 on July 12, 2001. The CA Ruling On July 31, 2001, the Machados went to the CA for relief through a Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition,11claiming that the COSLAP issued the writs of execution and demolition with grave abuse of discretion. The CA found the Machados claim unfounded and, accordingly, dismissed their petition in its decision of January 31, 2002.12 It declared that the COSLAP correctly issued the assailed writs because the October 25, 1999 COSLAP Resolution had already become final and executory for failure of the Machados to avail of the proper remedy against the COSLAP orders and resolutions. Under Section 3 (2)13 of Executive Order No. 561 (EO 561), the resolutions, orders, and decisions of the COSLAP become final and executory 30 days after promulgation, and are appealable by certiorari only to the Supreme Court. In Sy v. Commission on the Settlement of Land Problems,14 it was held that under the doctrine of judicial hierarchy, the orders, resolutions and decisions of the COSLAP, as a quasi-judicial agency, are directly appealable to the CA under Rule 43 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, and not to the Supreme Court. Thus, the CA ruled that the Machados appeal to the OP was not the proper remedy and did not suspend the running of the period for finality of the October 25, 1999 COSLAP Resolution. On the issue of jurisdiction, the CA found that the COSLAP was created to provide a more effective mechanism for the expeditious settlement of land problems, in general; the present case, therefore, falls within its jurisdiction.15Moreover, the

FELICITAS M. MACHADO and MARCELINO P. MACHADO, Petitioners, vs. RICARDO L. GATDULA, COMMISSION ON THE SETTLEMENT OF LAND PROBLEMS, and IRINEO S. PAZ, Sheriff IV, Office of the Provincial Sheriff, San Pedro, Laguna, Respondents. DECISION BRION, J.: Before this Court is the Petition for Review on Certiorari1 filed by petitioners Felicitas M. Machado and Marcelino P. Machado (the Machados), assailing the decision2 of the Court of Appeals (CA) dated January 31, 2002 and the resolution3 dated December 5, 2002 in CA-G.R. SP No. 65871. The CA decision dismissed the Machados petition for certiorari and their motion for reconsideration, and upheld the jurisdiction of the Commission on Settlement of Land Problems (COSLAP) to render judgment over a private land and to issue the corresponding writs of execution and demolition. THE FACTUAL ANTECEDENTS The dispute involves two adjoining parcels of land located in Barangay San Vicente, San Pedro, Laguna, one belonging to the Machados, and the other belonging to respondent Ricardo L. Gatdula (Gatdula). On February 2, 1999, Gatdula wrote a letter4 to the COSLAP requesting assistance because the Machados allegedly blocked the right of way to his private property by constructing a twodoor apartment on their property. Acting on Gatdulas letter, the COSLAP conducted a mediation conference on February 25, 1999; the parties then agreed to have a verification survey conducted on their properties and to share the attendant expenses. Thereafter, the COSLAP issued an Order dated March 16, 1999 directing the Chief of the Survey Division of the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office Department of Environment and Natural Resources (CENRO-DENR), to conduct a verification survey on May 9, 1999. The order likewise stated that in the event that no surveyor is available, the parties may use the services of a private surveyor, whom the CENRO-DENR Survey Division would deputize. As scheduled, a private surveyor, Junior Geodetic Engineer Abet F. Arellano (Engr. Arellano), conducted a verification survey of the properties in the presence of both parties. Engr. Arellano submitted a report to the COSLAP finding that the structure built by the Machados encroached upon an alley found within the Gatdula property. Engr. Arellanos findings corroborated the separate report of Engineer Noel V. Soqueco of the CENRO, Los Baos, Laguna that had also been submitted to the COSLAP. The Machados contested these reports in their position paper dated August 26, 1999. They alleged that Gatdula had no right of action since they did not violate Gatdulas rights.5 They further assailed the jurisdiction of the COSLAP, stating that the proper forum for the present case was the Regional Trial Court of San Pedro, Laguna.

Machados active participation in the mediation conference and their consent to bring about the verification survey bound them to the COSLAPs decisions, orders and resolutions. From this CA decision, the Machados filed a motion for reconsideration,16 which the CA subsequently denied in its Resolution of December 5, 2002.17 The Machados thus filed the present Rule 45 petition with this Court, raising two vital issues: 1. Whether the COSLAP has jurisdiction over Gatdulas complaint for right of way against the Machados; and 2. Whether the COSLAP can validly issue the writs of execution and demolition against the Machados. THE COURTS RULING We find the petition meritorious. The COSLAP does not have jurisdiction over the present case In resolving the issue of whether the COSLAP has jurisdiction over the present case, a review of the history of the COSLAP and an account of the laws creating the COSLAP and its predecessor, the Presidential Action Committee on Land Problems (PACLAP), is in order. The COSLAPs forerunner, the PACLAP, was created on July 31, 1970 pursuant to Executive Order No. 251. As originally conceived, the committee was tasked to expedite and coordinate the investigation and resolution of land disputes, streamline and shorten administrative procedures, adopt bold and decisive measures to solve land problems, and/or recommend other solutions. On March 19, 1971, Executive Order No. 305 was issued reconstituting the PACLAP. The committee was given exclusive jurisdiction over all cases involving public lands and other lands of the public domain,18 and was likewise vested with adjudicatory powers phrased in broad terms: 1. To investigate, coordinate, and resolve expeditiously land disputes, streamline administrative proceedings, and, in general, to adopt bold and decisive measures to solve problems involving public lands and lands of the public domain.19 [emphasis supplied] Thereafter, Presidential Decree No. 832 (PD 832) 20 was issued on November 27, 1975 reorganizing the PACLAP and enlarging its functions and duties. The decree also granted PACLAP quasijudicial functions. Section 2 of PD 832 states: Section 2. Functions and duties of the PACLAP. The PACLAP shall have the following functions and duties: 1. Direct and coordinate the activities, particularly the investigation work, of the various government agencies and agencies involved in land problems or disputes, and streamline administrative procedures to relieve small settlers and landholders and members of cultural

minorities of the expense and time-consuming delay attendant to the solution of such problems or disputes; 2. Refer for immediate action any land problem or dispute brought to the attention of the PACLAP, to any member agency having jurisdiction thereof: Provided, That when the Executive Committee decides to act on a case, its resolution, order or decision thereon shall have the force and effect of a regular administrative resolution, order or decision, and shall be binding upon the parties therein involved and upon the member agency having jurisdiction thereof; xxxx 4. Evolve and implement a system of procedure for the speedy investigation and resolution of land disputes or problems at provincial level, if possible. [emphasis supplied] The PACLAP was abolished by EO 561 effective on September 21, 1979, and was replaced by the COSLAP. Unlike the former laws, EO 561 specifically enumerated the instances when the COSLAP can exercise its adjudicatory functions: Section 3. Powers and Functions. The Commission shall have the following powers and functions: xxxx 2. Refer and follow up for immediate action by the agency having appropriate jurisdiction any land problem or dispute referred to the Commission: Provided, That the Commission may, in the following cases, assume jurisdiction and resolve land problems or disputes which are critical and explosive in nature considering, for instance, the large number of the parties involved, the presence or emergence of social tension or unrest, or other similar critical situations requiring immediate action: (a) Between occupants/squatters and pasture lease agreement holders or timber concessionaires; (b) Between occupants/squatters and government reservation grantees; (c) Between occupants/squatters and public land claimants or applicants; (d) Petitions for classification, release subdivision of lands of the public domain; and and/or

(e) Other similar land problems of grave urgency and magnitude. The Commission shall promulgate such rules and procedures as will ensure expeditious resolution and action on the above cases. The resolution, order or decision of the Commission on any of the foregoing cases shall have the force and effect of a regular administrative resolution, order or decision and shall be binding upon the parties therein and upon the agency having jurisdiction over the same. Said resolution, order or decision shall become final and executory within thirty (30) days from its promulgation and shall be appealable by certiorari only to the Supreme Court. [emphasis supplied]

Under these terms, the COSLAP has two different rules in acting on a land dispute or problem lodged before it,e.g., COSLAP can assume jurisdiction only if the matter is one of those enumerated in paragraph 2(a) to (e) of the law. Otherwise, it should refer the case to the agency having appropriate jurisdiction for settlement or resolution.21In resolving whether to assume jurisdiction over a case or to refer it to the particular agency concerned, the COSLAP considers: (a) the nature or classification of the land involved; (b) the parties to the case; (c) the nature of the questions raised; and (d) the need for immediate and urgent action thereon to prevent injury to persons and damage or destruction to property. The terms of the law clearly do not vest on the COSLAP the general power to assume jurisdiction over any land dispute or problem.22 Thus, under EO 561, the instances when the COSLAP may resolve land disputes are limited only to those involving public lands or those covered by a specific license from the government, such as pasture lease agreements, timber concessions, or reservation grants.23 Undisputably, the properties involved in the present dispute are private lands owned by private parties, none of whom is a squatter, a patent lease agreement holder, a government reservation grantee, a public land claimant or a member of any cultural minority.24 Moreover, the dispute between the parties can hardly be classified as critical or explosive in nature that would generate social tension or unrest, or a critical situation that would require immediate and urgent action. The issues raised in the present case primarily involve the application of the Civil Code provisions on Property and the Easement of Right of Way. As held in Longino v. General,25 "disputes requiring no special skill or technical expertise of an administrative body that could be resolved by applying pertinent provisions of the Civil Code are within the exclusive jurisdiction of the regular courts." The Machados cannot invoke Section 3, paragraph 2(e) of EO 561, which provides that the COSLAP may assume jurisdiction over complaints involving "other similar land problems of grave urgency," to justify the COSLAPs intervention in this case. The statutory construction principle of ejusdem generic prescribes that where general words follow an enumeration of persons or things, by words of a particular and specific meaning, such general words are not to be construed in their widest extent but are to be held as applying only to persons or things of the same kind as those specifically mentioned.26 A dispute between two parties concerning the right of way over private lands cannot be characterized as similar to those enumerated under Section 3, paragraph 2(a) to (d) of EO 561. In Davao New Town Development Corporation v. Commission on the Settlement of Land Problems27 where we ruled that the COSLAP does not have blanket authority to assume every matter referred to it we made it clear that its jurisdiction is confined only to disputes over lands in which the government has a proprietary or regulatory interest. The CA apparently misread and misapplied the Courts ruling in Baaga v. Court of Appeals.28 Baaga involved two contending parties who filed free patent applications for a parcel of public land with the Bureau of Lands. Because of the Bureau of Lands failure to act within a reasonable time on the applications and to conduct an investigation, the COSLAP decided to assume jurisdiction over the case. Since the dispute involved a public land on a free patent issue, the COSLAP undeniably had jurisdiction over the Baaga case.

Jurisdiction is conferred by law and a judgment issued by a quasi-judicial body without jurisdiction is void By reason of the Machados active participation in the mediation conferences and the COSLAP verification surveys, the CA declared the Machados estopped from questioning the bodys jurisdiction and bound by its decisions, orders and resolutions. We disagree with this ruling. Jurisdiction over a subject matter is conferred by law and not by the parties action or conduct.29 Estoppel generally does not confer jurisdiction over a cause of action to a tribunal where none, by law, exists. In Lozon v. NLRC,30 we declared that: Lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter of the suit is yet another matter. Whenever it appears that the court has no jurisdiction over the subject matter, the action shall be dismissed. This defense may be interposed at any time, during appeal or even after final judgment. Such is understandable, as this kind of jurisdiction is conferred by law and not within the courts, let alone the parties, to themselves determine or conveniently set aside. In People v. Casiano, this Court, on the issue of estoppel, held: The operation of the principle of estoppel on the question of jurisdiction seemingly depends upon whether the lower court actually had jurisdiction or not. If it had no jurisdiction, but the case was tried and decided upon the theory that it had jurisdiction, the parties are not barred, on appeal, from assailing such jurisdiction, for the same must exist as a matter of law, and may not be conferred by consent of the parties or by estoppel However if the lower court had jurisdiction, and the case was heard and decided upon a given theory, such, for instance, as that the court had no jurisdiction, the party who induced it to adopt such theory will not be permitted, on appeal, to assume an inconsistent position that the lower court had jurisdiction. Here, the principle of estoppel applies. The rule that jurisdiction in conferred by law, and does not depend upon the will of the parties, has no bearing thereon. [emphasis supplied] In this case, the COSLAP did not have jurisdiction over the subject matter of the complaint filed by Gatdula, yet it proceeded to assume jurisdiction over the case and even issued writs of execution and demolition against the Machados. The lack of jurisdiction cannot be cured by the parties participation in the proceedings before the COSLAP.31 Under the circumstances, the Machados can rightfully question its jurisdiction at anytime, even during appeal or after final judgment. A judgment issued by a quasi-judicial body without jurisdiction is void.32 It cannot be the source of any right or create any obligation. All acts pursuant to it and all claims emanating from it have no legal effect. The void judgment can never become final and any writ of execution based on it is likewise void.33 WHEREFORE, premises considered, we GRANT the petition for review on certiorari. The assailed Court of Appeals decision dated January 31, 2002 and resolution dated December 5, 2002 in CAG.R. SP No. 65871 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Decision of the Commission on the Settlement of Land Problems dated October 25, 1999 in COSLAP Case No. 99-59, as well as the writ of execution dated March 21, 2001 and the writ of demolition dated July 12, 2001, are declared NULL and VOID for having been issued without jurisdiction. SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 165569

July 29, 2010

UNIVERSITY OF SANTO TOMAS, GLENDA A. VARGAS, MA. SOCORRO S. GUANHING, in their capacities as Dean and Assistant Dean, respectively, of the College of Nursing of the University of Santo Tomas, and RODOLFO N. CLAVIO, in his capacity as Registrar of the University of Santo Tomas, Petitioners, vs. DANES B. SANCHEZ, Respondent. DECISION DEL CASTILLO, J.: Where a valid cause of action exists, parties may not simply bypass litigation by the simple expediency of a Motion to Dismiss. Instead of abbreviating the proceedings, it has had the opposite effect: unnecessary litigation for almost seven years. Here, in particular, where any resolution of the case will depend on the appreciation of evidence, a full-blown trial is necessary to unearth all relevant facts and circumstances. This petition for review on certiorari assails the Decision1 dated July 20, 2004 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 79404 which affirmed the denial of petitioners motion to dismiss and directed the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Dinalupihan, Bataan, Branch 5, to proceed with trial. Also assailed is the Resolution2 dated September 22, 2004 denying the motion for reconsideration. Factual Antecedents This case began with a Complaint3 for Damages filed by respondent Danes B. Sanchez (respondent) against the University of Santo Tomas (UST) and its Board of Directors, the Dean and the Assistant Dean of the UST College of Nursing, and the University Registrar for their alleged unjustified refusal to release the respondents Transcript of Records (ToR). The case was raffled to Branch 5 of the RTC of Dinalupihan, Bataan, and docketed as Civil Case No. DH-788-02. In his Complaint, respondent alleged that he graduated from UST on April 2, 2002 with a Bachelors Degree of Science in Nursing. He was included in the list of candidates for graduation and attended graduation ceremonies. On April 18, 2002, respondent sought to secure a copy of his ToR with the UST Registrars Office, paid the required fees, but was only given a Certificate of Graduation by the Registrar. Despite repeated attempts by the respondent to secure a copy of his ToR, and submission of his class cards as proof of his enrolment, UST refused to release his records, making it impossible for him to take the nursing board examinations, and depriving him of the opportunity to make a living. The respondent prayed that the RTC order UST to release his ToR and hold UST liable for actual, moral, and exemplary damages, attorneys fees, and the costs of suit. Instead of filing an Answer, petitioners filed a Motion to Dismiss4 where they claimed that they refused to release respondents ToR because he was not a registered student, since he had not been enrolled in the university for the last three semesters. They claimed that the respondents graduation, attendance in classes, and taking/passing of examinations were immaterial because he ceased to be a student when he failed to enroll during the second semester of school year 2000-2001.

They also sought the dismissal of the case on the ground that the complaint failed to state a cause of action, as paragraph 10 of the complaint admitted that: 10. On several occasions, [respondent] went to see the [petitioners] to get his ToR, but all of these were futile for he was not even entertained at the Office of the Dean. Worst, he was treated like a criminal forcing him to admit the fact that he did not enroll for the last three (3) semesters of his schooling. [Petitioner] Dean tried to persuade the [respondent] to give the original copies of the Class Cards which he has in his possession. These are the only [bits of] evidence on hand to prove that he was in fact officially enrolled. [Respondent] did not give the said class cards and instead gave photo copies to the [Petitioner] Dean. The Office of the Dean of Nursing of [petitioner] UST became very strict in receiving documents from the [respondent]. [They have] to be scrutinized first before the same are received. Receiving, as [respondent] believes, is merely a ministerial function [of] the [petitioners] and the documents presented for receiving need not be scrutinized especially so when x x x they are not illegal. Copies of the class cards are hereto attached as "F" hereof.5 After the parties filed their responsive pleadings,6 petitioners filed a Supplement to their Motion to Dismiss,7alleging that respondent sought administrative recourse before the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) through a lettercomplaint dated January 21, 2003. Thus, petitioners claimed that the CHED had primary jurisdiction to resolve matters pertaining to school controversies, and the filing of the instant case was premature. Ruling of the Regional Trial Court After another exchange of pleadings,8 the RTC issued an Order9 dated April 1, 2003 denying the Motion to Dismiss on the ground that the issues involved required an examination of the evidence, which should be threshed out during trial. Petitioners Motion for Reconsideration10 was denied in an Order11 dated August 1, 2003, so petitioners sought recourse before the CA. Ruling of the Court of Appeals The CA affirmed the denial of petitioners Motion to Dismiss, and directed the RTC to proceed with trial. Issues Petitioners seek recourse before us raising the following issues: 1) The CHED exercises quasi-judicial power over controversies involving school matters and has primary jurisdiction over respondents demand for the release of his ToR. Thus, respondent failed to exhaust administrative remedies; 2) Since respondent sought recourse with both the CHED and the RTC, respondent violated the rule against forum-shopping; and 3) The Complaint failed to state a cause of action, since respondent admitted that he was not enrolled in UST in the last three semesters prior to graduation.

Our Ruling The petition is denied for lack of merit. The doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies does not apply in this case. The doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies requires that where a remedy before an administrative agency is provided, the administrative agency concerned must be given the opportunity to decide a matter within its jurisdiction before an action is brought before the courts.12 Failure to exhaust administrative remedies is a ground for dismissal of the action.13 In this case, the doctrine does not apply because petitioners failed to demonstrate that recourse to the CHED is mandatory or even possible in an action such as that brought by the respondent, which is essentially one for mandamus and damages. The doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies admits of numerous exceptions,14 one of which is where the issues are purely legal and well within the jurisdiction of the trial court, as in the present case.15 Petitioners liability if any for damages will have to be decided by the courts, since any judgment inevitably calls for the application and the interpretation of the Civil Code.16 As such, exhaustion of administrative remedies may be dispensed with. As we held in Regino v. Pangasinan Colleges of Science and Technology:17 x x x exhaustion of administrative remedies is applicable when there is competence on the part of the administrative body to act upon the matter complained of. Administrative agencies are not courts; x x x neither [are they] part of the judicial system, [or] deemed judicial tribunals. Specifically, the CHED does not have the power to award damages. Hence, petitioner could not have commenced her case before the Commission. (Emphasis ours) In addition, the rule on primary jurisdiction applies only where the administrative agency exercises quasi-judicial or adjudicatory functions.18 Thus, an essential requisite for this doctrine to apply is the actual existence of quasi-judicial power.19 However, petitioners have not shown that the CHED possesses any such power to "investigate facts or ascertain the existence of facts, hold hearings, weigh evidence, and draw conclusions."20 Indeed, Section 8 of Republic Act No. 772221 otherwise known as the Higher Education Act of 1994, certainly does not contain any express grant to the CHED of judicial or quasi-judicial power. Petitioners also claim that even without any express grant of quasi-judicial power by the legislature, the CHED is authorized to adjudicate the case filed by respondent on the strength of the following provisions of the Manual of Regulations of Private Schools:22 (1) Section 33, which authorizes the CHED to cancel or revoke the graduation of any student whose records are found to be fraudulent: Section 33. Authority to Graduate Without Department Approval. One of the benefits which may be made available for accredited schools of the appropriate level is the authority to graduate students from accredited courses or programs of study without

prior approval of the Department, the conditions of which are as follows: a) The school head must furnish the Regional Office of the region where the school is situated a copy of its certificate of accreditation. b) Within two weeks after the graduation exercise, the school shall submit to the Regional Office concerned an alphabetical list of graduates by course, accompanied by a certification under oath signed by the school registrar certifying that the students listed (1) have complied with all the requirements of the Department, (2) were conferred their respective certificates or degrees on a specific date, (3) have complete scholastic records on file in the school, and (4) have their Form 137 for high school and Form IX for college, as the case may be, in the custody of the school. This list shall be sufficient basis for issuing special orders, if still necessary. The school will be held fully liable for the veracity of the records without prejudice to any legal action, including revocation of government recognition, as may be called for under the circumstances. The Department reserves the right to cancel or revoke the graduation of any student whose records are found to be fraudulent. (2) Section 72, which permits the school to withhold students credentials under certain specified circumstances, and authorizes the CHED to issue a students credentials in case these are unlawfully withheld by the school: Section 72. Withholding of Credentials. The release of the transfer credentials of any pupil or student may be withheld for reasons of suspension, expulsion, or non-payment of financial obligations or property responsibility of the pupil or student to the school. The credentials shall be released as soon as his obligation shall have been settled or the penalty of suspension or expulsion lifted. However, if, after due inquiry, a school is found to have unjustifiably refused to issue transfer credentials or student records, the Department may issue the same without prejudice to the imposition of appropriate administrative sanctions against the school concerned. The most cursory perusal of these provisions shows that they are inapplicable. Section 33 concerns the conditions and authority of accredited schools to authorize the graduation of students without the prior authority of the CHED. Corollarily, the CHED may cancel or revoke the graduation if it is found to be fraudulent. We are not aware that the CHED has taken any action to revoke the respondents graduation, though it is free to do so. As regards Section 72, it refers to a schools right to withhold the release of credentials due to "suspension, expulsion, or nonpayment of financial obligations or property responsibility." None of these circumstances is present, and there has been no intimation that respondents ToR has been withheld on any of these grounds.

In any event, even if we were to assume that these provisions were applicable, the CHED remains without authority to adjudicate an action for damages. Respondent is not guilty of forum shopping Forum shopping exists when, as a result of an adverse opinion in one forum, a party seeks a favorable opinion (other than by appeal or certiorari) in another, or when he institutes two or more actions or proceedings grounded on the same cause, on the gamble that one or the other court would make a favorable disposition.23 Here, there can be no forum shopping precisely because the CHED is without quasi-judicial power, and cannot make any disposition of the case whether favorable or otherwise. As we held inCabarrus, Jr. v. Bernas:24 The courts, tribunal and agencies referred to under Circular No. 28-91, revised Circular No. 28-91 and Administrative Circular No. 04-94 are those vested with judicial powers or quasi-judicial powers and those who not only hear and determine controversies between adverse parties, but to make binding orders or judgments. As succinctly put by R.A. 157, the NBI is not performing judicial or quasi-judicial functions. The NBI cannot therefore be among those forums contemplated by the Circular that can entertain an action or proceeding, or even grant any relief, declaratory or otherwise. The Complaint states a cause of action Under Rule 16, Section 1(g) of the Rules of Court, a motion to dismiss may be made on the ground that the pleading asserting the claim states no cause of action.25 To clarify the essential test required to sustain dismissal on this ground, we have explained that "[t]he test of the sufficiency of the facts found in a petition, to constitute a cause of action, is whether admitting the facts alleged, the court could render a valid judgment upon the same in accordance with the prayer of the petition."26 Stated otherwise, a complaint is said to assert a sufficient cause of action if, admitting what appears solely on its face to be correct, the plaintiff would be entitled to the relief prayed for.27 The Complaint makes the following essential allegations: that petitioners unjustifiably refused to release respondents ToR despite his having obtained a degree from UST; that petitioners claim that respondent was not officially enrolled is untrue; that as a result of petitioners unlawful actions, respondent has not been able to take the nursing board exams since 2002; that petitioners actions violated Articles 19-21 of the Civil Code; and that petitioners should be ordered to release respondents ToR and held liable for P400,000.00 as moral damages,P50,000.00 as exemplary damages, P50,000.00 as attorneys fees and costs of suit, and P15,000.00 as actual damages. Clearly, assuming that the facts alleged in the Complaint are true, the RTC would be able to render a valid judgment in accordance with the prayer in the Complaint. Petitioners argue that paragraph 10 of the Complaint contains an admission that respondent was not officially enrolled at UST. Said paragraph reads: 10. On several occasions, [respondent] went to see the [petitioners] to get his ToR, but all of these were futile for he was not even entertained at the Office of the Dean. Worst, he was

treated like a criminal forcing him to admit the fact that he did not enroll for the last three (3) semesters of his schooling. [Petitioner] Dean tried to persuade the [respondent] to give the original copies of the Class Cards which he has in his possession. These are the only [bits of] evidence on hand to prove that he was in fact officially enrolled. [Respondent] did not give the said class cards and instead gave photo copies to the [Petitioner] Dean. The Office of the Dean of Nursing of [petitioner] UST became very strict in receiving documents from the [respondent]. [They have] to be scrutinized first before the same are received. Receiving, as [respondent] believes, is merely a ministerial function [of] the [petitioners] and the documents presented for receiving need not be scrutinized especially so when x x x they are not illegal. Copies of the class cards are hereto attached as "F" hereof.28 This statement certainly does not support petitioners claim that respondent admitted that he was not enrolled.1avvphi1On the contrary, any allegation concerning the use of force or intimidation by petitioners, if substantiated, can only serve to strengthen respondents complaint for damages. We fully agree with the RTCs finding that a resolution of the case requires the presentation of evidence during trial. Based on the parties allegations, the issues in this case are far from settled. Was respondent enrolled or not? Was his degree obtained fraudulently? If so, why was he permitted by the petitioners to graduate? Was there fault or negligence on the part of any of the parties? Clearly, these are factual matters which can be best ventilated in a full-blown proceeding before the trial court. WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Decision dated July 20, 2004 and the Resolution dated September 22, 2004 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 79404 are AFFIRMED. The Regional Trial Court of Dinalupihan, Bataan, Branch 5, is DIRECTED to continue the proceedings in Civil Case No. DH788-02 with all deliberate speed. Costs against petitioners. SO ORDERED.