[G.R. No. 180882, February 27, 2013]
THE BAGUIO REGREENING MOVEMENT, INC., REPRESENTED BY ATTY. ERDOLFO V. BALAJADIA; CITY ENVIRONMENT AND PARKS MANAGEMENT OFFICE, REPRESENTED BY ITS OFFICER-IN-CHARGE, CORDELIA C. LACSAMANA; AND THE BUSOL FOREST RESERVATION TASK FORCE, REPRESENTED BY ITS TEAM LEADER, VICTOR DICTAG, Petitioners, v. ATTY. BRAIN MASWENG, IN HIS CAPACITY AS REGIONAL HEARING OFFICER, NCIP-CAR; ELIZABETH MAT-AN, FOR HERSELF AND AS REPRESENTATIVE OF THE HEIRS OF RAFAEL; JUDITH MARANES, FOR HERSELF AND AS REPRESENTATIVE OF THE HEIRS OF MOLINTAS; HELEN LUBOS, FOR HERSELF AND AS REPRESENTATIVE OF THE HEIRS OF KALOMIS; MAGDALENA GUMANGAN QUE, FOR HERSELF AND AS REPRESENTATIVE OF THE HEIRS OF GUMANGAN; SPOUSES ALEXANDER AMPAGUEY AND LUCIA AMPAGUEY; AND SPOUSES CARMEN PANAYO AND MELANIO PANAYO, Respondents.
D E C I S I O N
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.:
WHEREFORE, finding the petition in order and that grave injustice may result should the acts complained of be not immediately restrained, a Temporary Restraining Order is hereby issued pursuant to Section 69 (d) of R.A. 8371, ordering the respondents namely, the Baguio District Engineer’s Office, represented by Engineer Nestor M. Nicolas, the Project Contractor, Mr. Pel-ey, the Baguio Regreening Movement Inc., represented by Atty. Erdolfo V. Balajadia, the Busol Task Force, represented by its Team Leader, Moises G. Anipew, the Baguio City Architect and Parks Superintendent Office, represented by Arch. Ignacio Estipona, and all persons acting for and their behalf (sic) of the respondents[,] their agents and/or persons whomever acting for and their behalf (sic), to refrain, stop, cease and desist from fencing and/or constructing fences around and between the areas and premises of petitioners, ancestral land claims, specifically identified in Proclamation No. 15 as Lot “A” with an area of 143,190 square meters, included within the boundary lines, Lot “B” 77,855 square meters, included within the boundary lines, Lot “C” 121,115 square meters, included within the boundary lines, Lot “D” 33,839 square meters, included within the boundary lines, Lot “E” 87,903 square meters, included within the boundary lines, Lot “F” 39,487 square meters, included within the boundary lines, Lot “G” 11,620 square meters, included within the boundary lines, Lot “H” 17,453 square meters, included within the boundary lines, Lot “J” 40,000 square meters, included within the boundary lines, all described and embraced under Proclamation No. 15, the land embraced and described under the approved plan No. 12064 of the then Director of Lands, containing an area of 186, square meters surveyed for Gumangan, the land covered by LRC PSD 52910, containing an area of 77,849 square meters as surveyed for Emily Kalomis, that land covered by survey plan 11935 Amd, containing an area of 263153 square meters as surveyed for Molintas, and that land covered by AP-7489, containing an area of 155084 as surveyed for the heirs of Rafael.
This Restraining Order shall be effective for a period of twenty (20) days from receipt hereof.
Meantime, the respondents are further ordered to show cause on November 5, 2002 (Tuesday) at 2:00 o’clock in the afternoon, why petitioners’ prayer for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction should not be granted.2
WHEREFORE, a writ of preliminary injunction is hereby issued against the respondents, their agents, or persons acting for and in their behalves (sic), ordering them to refrain, cease and desist from implementing their fencing project during the pendancy (sic) of the above-entitled case in any portion of petitioners’ ancestral land claims within the Busol Watershed Reservation. The lands being identified under Proclamation No. 15 as lot[s] ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’, ‘D’, ‘E’, ‘F’, ‘G’, ‘H’, and ‘J’, including the lands covered by Petitioners’ approved survey plans as follows: that land identified and plotted under Survey Plan No. B.L. FILE No. II-11836, September, 1916 surveyed for Gumangan; that land covered by PSD-52910, May, 1921, surveyed for Emily Kalomis; that land covered by survey plan II-11935 Amd, 1916, surveyed for Molintas; and that land covered by Survey Plan No. AP 7489, March 1916, surveyed for the heirs of Rafael.
The writ of preliminary injunction shall be effective and shall be enforced only upon petitioners’ compliance with the required injunctive bond of Twenty Thousand Pesos (P20,000.00) each in compliance with Section 3, R.A. 8975.3
[R]espondent’s project of fencing the Busol Watershed is not in the exercise of administrative discretion involving a very technical matter. This is so since the implementation of the fencing project would traverse along lands occupied by people who claim that they have a legal right over their lands. The fence would actually cut across, divide, or segregate lands occupied by people. The effect of it would fence in and fence out property claims. In this case, petitioners invoke their constitutional rights to be protected against deprivation of property without due process of law and of taking private property without just compensation. Such situations involve pure question of law.5
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant petition is DISMISSED and the assailed orders of public respondent AFFIRMED. Nevertheless, private respondents are hereby enjoined from (i) introducing constructions at the Busol Watershed and Forest Reservation and (ii) engaging in activities that degrade the resources therein until viable measures or programs for the maintenance, preservation and development of said reservation are adopted pursuant to Sec. 58 of Rep. Act No. 8371.6
1. THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY AND PATENTLY ERRED IN SUSTAINING THE NCIP’S ISSUANCE OF A TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER AND WRIT OF PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION DESPITE CLEAR AND PATENT VIOLATION OF P.D. 1818, SUPREME COURT CIRCULAR NO. 68-94 AND SUPREME COURT ADMINISTRATIVE CIRCULAR NO. 11-2000;
2. THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY AND PATENTLY ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE ACT OF THE NCIP IN ISSUING A 20-DAYS TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER EX PARTE SANS THE MANDATORY NOTICE AND HEARING FOR THE ISSUANCE THEREOF;
3. THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY AND PATENTLY ERRED IN SUSTAINING THE NCIP’S ISSUANCE OF A WRIT OF PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION DESPITE ABSOLUTE ABSENCE OF CLEAR, UNMISTAKABLE AND POSIT[I]VE LEGAL RIGHTS ON THE PART OF THE APPLICANTS;
4. THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY AND PATENTLY ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE NCIP HEARING OFFICER HAS JURISDICTION OVER A CASE OF INJUNCTION INVOLVING A GOVERNMENT INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECT;
5. THE COURT OF APPEALS PATENTLY AND GRAVELY ERRED IN BRUSHING ASIDE SECTION 78, A SPECIAL PROVISION OF REPUBLIC ACT 8371 WHICH EXCLUDES THE CITY OF BAGUIO FROM THE COVERAGE OF ANCESTRAL LAND CLAIMS APPLICATIONS;
6. THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY AND PATENTLY ERRED IN UPHOLDING RULE XIII OF THE IMPLEMENTING RULES OF REPUBLIC ACT 8371, EVEN IF THE PROVISIONS OF SAID RULE XIII CLEARLY OVERSTEPPED AND EXCEEDED SECTION 78 OF R.A. 8371.11
Section 9. Repealing Clause. — All laws, decrees, including Presidential Decree Nos. 605, 1818 and Republic Act No. 7160, as amended, orders, rules and regulations or parts thereof inconsistent with this Act are hereby repealed or amended accordingly.
Section 3. Prohibition on the Issuance of Temporary Restraining Orders, Preliminary Injunctions and Preliminary Mandatory Injunctions. – No court, except the Supreme Court, shall issue any temporary restraining order, preliminary injunction or preliminary mandatory injunction against the government, or any of its subdivisions, officials or any person or entity, whether public or private, acting under the government’s direction, to restrain, prohibit or compel the following acts:
(a) Acquisition, clearance and development of the right-of-way and/or site or location of any national government project;
(b) Bidding or awarding of contract/project of the national government as defined under Section 2 hereof;
(c) Commencement, prosecution, execution, implementation, operation of any such contract or project;
(d) Termination or rescission of any such contract/project; and
(e) The undertaking or authorization of any other lawful activity necessary for such contract/project.
This prohibition shall apply to all cases, disputes or controversies instituted by a private party, including but not limited to cases filed by bidders or those claiming to have rights through such bidders involving such contract/project. This prohibition shall not apply when the matter is of extreme urgency involving a constitutional issue, such that unless a temporary restraining order is issued, grave injustice and irreparable injury will arise. The applicant shall file a bond, in an amount to be fixed by the court, which bond shall accrue in favor of the government if the court should finally decide that the applicant was not entitled to the relief sought.
If after due hearing the court finds that the award of the contract is null and void, the court may, if appropriate under the circumstances, award the contract to the qualified and winning bidder or order a rebidding of the same, without prejudice to any liability that the guilty party may incur under the existing laws. (Emphasis supplied.)
Section 6. Penal Sanction. — In addition to any civil and criminal liabilities he or she may incur under existing laws, any judge who shall issue a temporary restraining order, preliminary injunction or preliminary mandatory injunction in violation of Section 3 hereof, shall suffer the penalty of suspension of at least sixty (60) days without pay. (Emphasis added.)
The principle of stare decisis enjoins adherence by lower courts to doctrinal rules established by this Court in its final decisions. It is based on the principle that once a question of law has been examined and decided, it should be deemed settled and closed to further argument. Basically, it is a bar to any attempt to relitigate the same issues, necessary for two simple reasons: economy and stability. In our jurisdiction, the principle is entrenched in Article 8 of the Civil Code. (Citations omitted.)
1Rollo, pp. 48-63; penned by Associate Justice Edgardo P. Cruz with Associate Justices Fernanda Lampas Peralta and Normandie B. Pizarro, concurring.
2 Id. at 93.
3 CA rollo, pp. 38-39.
4 G.R. No. 86695, September 3, 1992, 213 SCRA 516.
5 CA rollo, p. 35.
6Rollo, p. 62.
7 Section 7. Rights to Ancestral Domains. – The rights of ownership and possession of ICCs/IPs to their ancestral domains shall be recognized and protected. Such rights shall include:x x x x8Rollo, p. 59.
b) Right to Develop Lands and Natural Resources. – Subject to Section 56 hereof, right to develop, control and use lands and territories traditionally occupied, owned, or used; to manage and conserve natural resources within the territories and uphold the responsibilities for future generations; to benefit and share the profits from allocation and utilization of the natural resources found therein; the right to negotiate the terms and conditions for the exploration of natural resources in the areas for the purpose of ensuring ecological, environmental protection and the conservation measures, pursuant to national and customary laws; the right to an informed and intelligent participation in the formulation and implementation of any project, government or private, that will affect or impact upon the ancestral domains and to receive just and fair compensation for any damages which they may sustain as a result of the project; and the right to effective measures by the government to prevent any interference with, alienation and encroachment upon these rights;
c) Right to Stay in the Territories. – The right to stay in the territory and not to be removed therefrom. No ICCs/IPs will be relocated without their free and prior informed consent, nor through any means other than eminent domain. Where relocation is considered necessary as an exceptional measure, such relocation shall take place only with the free and prior informed consent of the ICCs/IPs concerned and whenever possible, they shall be guaranteed the right to return to their ancestral domains, as soon as the grounds for relocation cease to exist. When such return is not possible, as determined by agreement or through appropriate procedures, ICCs/IPs shall be provided in all possible cases with lands of quality and legal status at least equal to that of the land previously occupied by them, suitable to provide for their present needs and future development. Persons thus relocated shall likewise be fully compensated for any resulting loss or injury;
x x x x
g) Right to Claim Parts of Reservations. - The right to claim parts of the ancestral domains which have been reserved for various purposes, except those reserved and intended for common and public welfare and service[.]
9 Section 58. Environmental Considerations. - Ancestral domains or portions thereof, which are found to be necessary for critical watersheds, mangroves, wildlife sanctuaries, wilderness, protected areas, forest cover, or reforestation as determined by appropriate agencies with the full participation of the ICCs/IPs concerned shall be maintained, managed and developed for such purposes. The ICCs/IPs concerned shall be given the responsibility to maintain, develop, protect and conserve such areas with the full and effective assistance of government agencies. Should the ICCs/IPs decide to transfer the responsibility over the areas, said decision must be made in writing. The consent of the ICCs/IPs should be arrived at in accordance with its customary laws without prejudice to the basic requirements of existing laws on free and prior informed consent: Provided, That the transfer shall be temporary and will ultimately revert to the ICCs/IPs in accordance with a program for technology transfer: Provided, further, That no ICCs/IPs shall be displaced or relocated for the purpose enumerated under this section without the written consent of the specific persons authorized to give consent.
10Rollo, p. 61.
11 Id. at 20-21.
12 AN ACT TO ENSURE THE EXPEDITIOUS IMPLEMENTATION AND COMPLETION OF GOVERNMENT INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS BY PROHIBITING LOWER COURTS FROM ISSUING TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDERS, PRELIMINARY INJUNCTIONS OR PRELIMINARY MANDATORY INJUNCTIONS, PROVIDING PENALTIES FOR VIOLATIONS THEREOF, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.
13 Section 10 of Republic Act No. 8975 provides that the Act shall take effect fifteen (15) days following its publication in at least two (2) newspapers of general circulation. Republic Act No. 8975 was published in Malaya and the Manila Bulletin on November 11, 2000.
14 532 Phil. 296, 302 (2006).
15 Section 1. No court of the Philippines shall have jurisdiction to issue any restraining order, preliminary injunction or preliminary mandatory injunction in any case involving or growing out of the issuance, approval or disapproval, revocation or suspension of, or any action whatsoever by the proper administrative official or body on concessions, licences, permits, patents, or public grants of any kind in connection with the disposition, exploitation, utilization, exploration and/or development of the natural resources of the Philippines.
16 Section 1. No court in the Philippines shall have jurisdiction to issue any restraining order, preliminary injunction, or preliminary mandatory injunction in any case, dispute, or controversy involving an infrastructure project, or a mining, fishery, forest or other natural resource development projects of the government, or any public utility operated by the government, including among others public utilities for the transport of the goods or commodities, stevedoring and arrastre contracts, to prohibit any person or persons, entity or governmental official from proceeding with, or continuing the execution or implementation of any such project, or the operation of such public utility, or pursuing any lawful activity necessary for such execution, implementation or operation.
17City Government of Baguio City v. Masweng, G.R. No. 180206, February 4, 2009, 578 SCRA 88, 96.
18 Section 69. Quasi-Judicial Powers of the NCIP. – The NCIP shall have the power and authority:x x x x19 Section 82. Preliminary Injunction and Temporary Restraining Order. – A writ of preliminary injunction or temporary restraining order may be granted by the Commission pursuant to the provisions of Sections 59 and 69 of R.A. 8371 when it is established, on the basis of sworn allegations in a petition, that the acts complained of involving or arising from any case, if not restrained forthwith, may cause grave or irreparable damage or injury to any of the parties, or seriously affect social or economic activity. This power may also be exercised by RHOs in cases pending before them in order to preserve the rights of the parties.
d) To enjoin any or all acts involving or arising from any case pending before it which, if not restrained forthwith, may cause grave or irreparable damage to any of the parties to the case or seriously affect social or economic activity.
20City Government of Baguio City v. Masweng, supra note 17 at 97-98.
21 Section 78. Special Provision. – The City of Baguio shall remain to be governed by its Charter and all lands proclaimed as part of its townsite reservation shall remain as such until otherwise reclassified by appropriate legislation: Provided, That prior land rights and titles recognized and/or acquired through any judicial, administrative or other processes before the effectivity of this Act shall remain valid: Provided, further, That this provision shall not apply to any territory which becomes part of the City of Baguio after the effectivity of this Act.
22City Government of Baguio City v. Masweng, supra note 17 at 98-99.
23 Id. at 100.
24 Id. at 99-100.
25Stare decisis et non quieta movere (Stand by the decision and disturb not what is settled).
26 G.R. No. 166562, March 31, 2009, 582 SCRA 694, 704-705.
27Tala Realty Services Corporation v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 130088, April 7, 2009, 584 SCRA 63, 79.