A.M. No. CA-13-51-J, July 02, 2013
RE: LETTER COMPLAINT OF MERLITA B. FABIANA AGAINST PRESIDING JUSTICE ANDRES B. REYES, JR., ASSOCIATE JUSTICES ISAIAS P. DICDICAN AND STEPHEN C. CRUZ; CARAG JAMORA SOMERA AND VILLAREAL LAW OFFICES AND ITS LAWYERS ATTYS. ELPIDIO C. JAMORA, JR. AND BEATRIZ O. GERONILLA-VILLEGAS, LAWYERS FOR MAGSAYSAY MARITIME CORPORATION AND VISAYAN SURETY AND INSURANCE CORPORATION.
D E C I S I O N
WHEREFORE, considering all the foregoing premises, respondents are liable to pay the following to the complainants:cralavvonlinelawlibrary
- US $82,500.00 death benefits to complainant Merlita B. Fabiana;chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
- US $16,500.00 to complainant Jomari Paul B. Fabiana;chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
- Salary differentials from July 17, 2006 to April 23, 2007 computed at US $1,038 deducting the US $424.00 monthly salaries already paid by the respondents;chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
- The difference of 1,500.00 Euro contributed by fellow Filipino seafarer and US $1,000 remitted by respondents computed at the rate of exchange at the time of payment;chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
- Sick benefits from April 23, 2007 to May 11, 2007 computed at US $1,038.00 monthly salary rate;chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
- US $331.00 guaranteed overtime pay;chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
- P7,574.00 actual damages;chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
- P100,000.00 for moral damages;chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
- P1,000,000.00 exemplary damages;chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
- Ten percent (10%) attorney’s fees computed on the total awards.2
WHEREFORE, foregoing premises considered, the appeal is MODIFIED in the sense that the award of moral and exemplary damages are reduced to P50,000.00 each while the other awards are AFFIRMED.
(a) C.A.-G.R. SP No. 109382 entitled Heirs of the late Marlon A. Fabiana, herein represented by Merlita B. Fabiana v. National Labor Relations Commission, Magsaysay Maritime Corporation and Air Sea Holiday GMBH-Stab[i]le Organizations Italia (Hotel), assailing the jurisdiction of the NLRC in entertaining the appeal of Magsaysay Maritime Corporation and its principal, and seeking the reinstatement of the moral and exemplary damages as awarded by the Labor Arbiter (first petition);4 and (b) C.A.-G.R. SP No. 109699 entitled Magsaysay Maritime Corporation, Eduardo Manese, Prudential Guarantee (Surety), and Air Sea Holiday GMBH-Stable Organizations, Italia v. Heirs of the late Marlon Fabiana, and National Labor Relations Commission challenging the propriety of the monetary awards granted to the heirs of Fabiana (second petition).5
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is partly GRANTED. Accordingly, the challenged Decision is AFFIRMED but MODIFIED insofar as interest at the rate of six percent per annum (6% p.a.) is imposed on all the monetary awards, reckoned from the Labor Arbiter’s judgment on 19 December 2007, except moral and exemplary damages to which the same rate of interest is imposed, but reckoned from the time the aforementioned decision was promulgated on 10 December 2008 by the NLRC Sixth Division. An additional interest of twelve percent per annum (12% p.a.) is applied on the total amount ultimately awarded upon finality of the decision until fully paid.
The petitioners’ motion for preliminary mandatory injunction is deemed resolved by this decision.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Acting on the petition for review on certiorari assailing the Decision dated 29 September 2009 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 109382, the Court resolves to DENY the petition for failure to sufficiently show that the appellate court committed any reversible error in the challenged decision as to warrant the exercise by this Court of its discretionary appellate jurisdiction.
A careful consideration of the petition indicates a failure of the petitioners to show any cogent reason why the actions of the Labor Arbiter, the National Labor Relations Commission and the Court of Appeals which have passed upon the same issue should be reversed. Petitioners failed to show that their factual findings are not based on substantial evidence or that their decisions are contrary to applicable law and jurisprudence.
This has reference to the motion filed by the private respondents, through their counsel, to dismiss the petition in the case at bench on the ground that it has been rendered moot and academic by the decision promulgated on September 29, 2009 by this Court in CA-G.R. SP No. 109382.
After a judicious scrutiny of the whole matter, we find the said motion to dismiss to be wanting in merit. It is not true that the petition in this case has been rendered moot and academic by the decision promulgated by this Court on September 29, 2009 in CA-G.R. SP No. 109382. The said decision rendered by this Court passed upon two limited issues only, namely, the NLRC’s jurisdiction to allow the petitioners’ appeal thereto despite flaws in their verification and non-forum shopping papers and the propriety of the reduction by the NLRC of the amount of damages awarded to the private respondents. A reading of the said decision will unmistakably bear this out. However, in the case at bench, the petitioners have assailed omnibously the NLRC’s awards in favor of the private respondents for death benefits, sickness allowance, salary differentials and other monetary claims. We have to pass upon the propriety of all these monetary awards.
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing premises, we hereby DENY the aforementioned motion to dismiss filed in this case.
We hereby give the parties a fresh period of fifteen (15) days from notice hereof within which to file memoranda in support of their respective sides of the case.
Given the nature of the judicial function, the power vested by the Constitution in the Supreme Court and the lower courts established by law, the question submits to only one answer: the administrative or criminal remedies are neither alternative nor cumulative to judicial review where such review is available, and must wait on the result thereof.
Simple reflection will make this proposition amply clear, and demonstrate that any contrary postulation can have only intolerable legal implications. Allowing a party who feels aggrieved by a judicial order or decision not yet final and executory to mount an administrative, civil or criminal prosecution for unjust judgment against the issuing judge would, at a minimum and as an indispensable first step, confer the prosecutor (Ombudsman) with an incongruous function pertaining, not to him, but to the courts: the determination of whether the questioned disposition is erroneous in its findings of fact or conclusions of law, or both. If he does proceed despite that impediment, whatever determination he makes could well set off a proliferation of administrative or criminal litigation, a possibility hereafter more fully explored.
Such actions are impermissible and cannot prosper. It is not, as already pointed out, within the power of public prosecutors, or the Ombudsman or his deputies, directly or vicariously, to review judgments or final orders or resolutions of the Courts of the land. The power of review—by appeal or special civil action—is not only lodged exclusively in the Courts themselves but must be exercised in accordance with a well-defined and long established hierarchy, and long standing processes and procedures. No other review is allowed; otherwise litigation would be interminable, and vexatiously repetitive.
In this regard, we reiterate that a judge’s failure to correctly interpret the law or to properly appreciate the evidence presented does not necessarily incur administrative liability, for to hold him administratively accountable for every erroneous ruling or decision he renders, assuming he has erred, will be nothing short of harassment and will make his position doubly unbearable. His judicial office will then be rendered untenable, because no one called upon to try the facts or to interpret the law in the process of administering justice can be infallible in his judgment. Administrative sanction and criminal liability should be visited on him only when the error is so gross, deliberate and malicious, or is committed with evident bad faith, or only in clear cases of violations by him of the standards and norms of propriety and good behavior prescribed by law and the rules of procedure, or fixed and defined by pertinent jurisprudence.
Section 3. Consolidation of Cases. – When related cases are assigned to different justices, they shall be consolidated and assigned to one Justice.
(a) Upon motion of a party with notice to the other party/ies, or at the instance of the Justice to whom any or the related cases is assigned, upon notice to the parties, consolidation shall ensue when the cases involve the same parties and/or related questions of fact and/or law. (Emphases supplied)
x x x x
An appellate court serves a dual function. The first is the review for correctness function, whereby the case is reviewed on appeal to assure that substantial justice has been done. The second is the institutional function, which refers to the progressive development of the law for general application in the judicial system.
Differently stated, the review for correctness function is concerned with the justice of the particular case while the institutional function is concerned with the articulation and application of constitutional principles, the authoritative interpretation of statutes, and the formulation of policy within the proper sphere of the judicial function.
The duality also relates to the dual function of all adjudication in the common law system. The first pertains to the doctrine of res judicata, which decides the case and settles the controversy; the second is the doctrine of stare decisis, which pertains to the precedential value of the case which assists in deciding future similar cases by the application of the rule or principle derived from the earlier case.
With each level of the appellate structure, the review for correctness function diminishes and the institutional function, which concerns itself with uniformity of judicial administration and the progressive development of the law, increases.24
1Rollo, p. 2.cralawlibrary
2 Id. at 3-4.cralawlibrary
3 Id. at 26-35.cralawlibrary
4 Id. at 42-59 (entitled Heirs of the Late Marlon A. Fabiana, herein represented by Merlita B. Fabiana v. National Labor Relations Commission, et al., respondents).cralawlibrary
5 Id. at 60-79.cralawlibrary
6 Id. at 16-25; penned by Associate Justice Apolinario D. Bruselas, Jr., with the concurrence of Presiding Justice Conrado M. Vasquez, Jr. (retired) and Associate Justice Jose C. Reyes, Jr.cralawlibrary
7 Id. at 82-85.cralawlibrary
8 Id. at 86.cralawlibrary
9 Associate Justice Renato C. Corona, Chairperson; Associate Justice Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr., Associate Justice Antonio Eduardo B. Nachura, Associate Justice Diosdado M. Peralta, and Associate Justice Jose C. Mendoza, as Members.cralawlibrary
10Rollo, pp. 14-15.cralawlibrary
11 Id. at 87-88.cralawlibrary
12 Id. at 94-95.cralawlibrary
13Dayag v. Gonzales, A.M. No. RTJ-05-1903, June 27, 2006, 493 SCRA 51, 60-61.cralawlibrary
14 In Re: Wenceslao Laureta, March 12, 1987, 148 SCRA 382, 420, where the Court stated:cralavvonlinelawlibrary
To allow litigants to go beyond the Court’s resolution and claim that the members acted “with deliberate bad faith” and rendered an “unjust resolution” in disregard or violation of the duty of their high office to act upon their own independent consideration and judgment of the matter at hand would be to destroy the authenticity, integrity and conclusiveness of such collegiate acts and resolutions and to disregard utterly the presumption of regular performance of official duty. To allow such collateral attack would destroy the separation of powers and undermine the role of the Supreme Court as the final arbiter of all judicial disputes.
15 A.M. No.93-7-696-0, February 21, 1995, 241 SCRA 405, 459-460.cralawlibrary
16 A.M. OCA I.P.I. No. 11-184-CA-J, January 31, 2012, 664 SCRA 465, 475-476.cralawlibrary
17Mataga v. Rosete, A.M. No. MTJ-03-1488, October 13, 2004, 440 SCRA 217, 221-222.cralawlibrary
18Caños v. Peralta, No. L-38352, August 19, 1982, 115 SCRA 843, 846.cralawlibrary
19Heirs of Trinidad De Leon Vda. de Roxas v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 138660, February 5, 2004, 422 SCRA 101, 116.cralawlibrary
20 Hacienda Bigaa, Inc. v. Chavez, G.R. No. 174160, April 20, 2010, 618 SCRA 559, 576.cralawlibrary
21 For civil trials, the rule on consolidation is Section 1, Rule 31, Rules of Court, which provides:cralavvonlinelawlibrary
Section 1. Consolidation. — When actions involving a common question of law or fact are pending before the court, it may order a joint hearing or trial of any or all the matters in issue in the actions; it may order all the actions consolidated; and it may make such orders concerning proceedings therein as may tend to avoid unnecessary costs or delay. (1)
For criminal trials, Section 22, Rule 119, Rules of Court states:cralavvonlinelawlibrary
Section 22. Consolidation of trials of related offenses. – Charges for offenses founded on the same facts or forming part of a series of offenses of similar character may be tried jointly at the discretion of the court. (14a)
22Mega-Land Resources and Development Corporation v. C-E Construction Corporation, G.R. No. 156211, July 31, 2007, 528 SCRA 622, 636; People v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 149495, August 21, 2003, 409 SCRA 419, 423.cralawlibrary
23Yu, Sr. v. Basilio G. Magno Construction and Development Enterprises, Inc., G.R. Nos. 138701-02, October 17, 2006, 504 SCRA 618, 631.cralawlibrary
24 Bersamin, L.P., Appeal and Review in the Philippines, 2000 (2nd Edition), Central Professional Books, Inc., Quezon City, p. 355.