G.R. No. 188913, February 19, 2014
CITY GOVERNMENT OF BAGUIO, HEREIN REPRESENTED BY CITY MAYOR REINALDO A. BAUTISTA, JR., Petitioner, v. ATTY. BRAIN S. MASWENG, Respondent.
D E C I S I O N
VILLARAMA, JR., J.:
72–Hour Temporary Restraining Order2 dated July 27, 2009, Order3 dated July 31, 2009 and Writ of Preliminary Injunction4 in NCIP Case No. 31–CAR–09 and
72–Hour Temporary Restraining Order5 dated July 27, 2009, Order6 dated July 31, 2009 and Writ of Preliminary Injunction7 in NCIP Case No. 29–CAR–09.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, a Temporary Restraining Order pursuant to Section 69 (d) of R.A. [No.] 8371 in relation to Section 83 of NCIP Administrative Circular No. 1, series of 2003 is hereby issued against the respondents namely, CITY OF BAGUIO represented by City Mayor REINALDO BAUTISTA JR., CITY BUILDING AND ARCHITECTURE OFFICE represented by OSCAR FLORES and all persons under their instructions and acting for and in their behalves are hereby ordered to stay and refrain from implementing Demolition Advice dated May 20, 2009, Demolition Order No. 33 series of 2005, Demolition Advice dated July 20, 2009 and Demolition Order No. 69 series of 2002 within Seventy Two (72) Hours upon receipt of this order on the residential houses/structures of Alexander Ampaguey Sr., Julio Daluyen Sr., Concep[c]ion Padang and Carmen Panayo all located at Busol Water Reservation, Baguio City.21ChanRoblesVirtualawlibraryIn NCIP Case No. 29–CAR–09, petitioner and the City Building and Architecture Office, represented by Oscar Flores; Public Safety and Order Division, represented by Gregorio Deligero; the Baguio Demolition Team, represented by Engr. Nazeta Banez; and all persons under their instructions were ordered to refrain from demolishing the residential structures of Magdalena Gumangan, Marion Pool, Lourdes Hermogeno, Bernardo Simon, Joseph Legaspi, Joseph Basatan, Marcelino Basatan, Josephine Legaspi and Lansigan Bawas located at Busol Water Reservation.
SEC. 3. Indirect contempt to be punished after charge and hearing. – After a charge in writing has been filed, and an opportunity given to the respondent to comment thereon within such period as may be fixed by the court and to be heard by himself or counsel, a person guilty of any of the following acts may be punished for indirect contempt:Contempt of court is defined as a disobedience to the Court by acting in opposition to its authority, justice and dignity. It signifies not only a willful disregard or disobedience of the court’s orders, but such conduct which tends to bring the authority of the court and the administration of law into disrepute or in some manner to impede the due administration of justice. Contempt of court is a defiance of the authority, justice or dignity of the court; such conduct as tends to bring the authority and administration of the law into disrespect or to interfere with or prejudice party litigants or their witnesses during litigation.26
x x x
b) Disobedience of or resistance to a lawful writ, process, order, or judgment of a court, including the act of a person who, after being dispossessed or ejected from any real property by the judgment or process of any court of competent jurisdiction, enters or attempts or induces another to enter into or upon such real property, for the purpose of executing acts of ownership or possession, or in any manner disturbs the possession given to the person adjudged to be entitled thereto;
x x x x (Emphasis supplied.)chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
The crucial question to be asked then is whether private respondents’ ancestral land claim was indeed recognized by Proclamation No. 15, in which case, their right thereto may be protected by an injunctive writ. After all, before a writ of preliminary injunction may be issued, petitioners must show that there exists a right to be protected and that the acts against which injunction is directed are violative of said right.Accordingly, the CA decision affirming the injunctive writ issued by respondent against the demolition orders of petitioner was reversed and set aside, and the petition for injunction (Case No. 31–CAR–06) was dismissed. In pursuance of the final Decision in G.R. No. 180206, petitioner issued the subject demolition advices for the enforcement of Demolition Order No. 33, Series of 2005 against Alexander Ampaguey, Sr. and Mr. Basatan, Demolition Order No. 83, Series of 1999 against Julio Daluyen, Sr., Concepcion Padang and Carmen Panayo, and Demolition Order No. 69, Series of 2002 against Julio Daluyen, Sr., Carmen Panayo, Benjamin Macelino, Herminia Aluyen and five other unidentified owners of structures, all in Busol Watershed, Baguio City. As it is, the aforesaid individuals filed a petition for injunction (Case No. 31–CAR–09) while Magdalena Gumangan, et al. filed a petition for identification, delineation and recognition of ancestral land claims with prayer for temporary restraining order and writ of preliminary injunction (Case No. 29–CAR–09). Respondent issued separate temporary restraining orders and writs of preliminary injunction in both cases.
Proclamation No. 15, however, does not appear to be a definitive recognition of private respondents’ ancestral land claim. The proclamation merely identifies the Molintas and Gumangan families, the predecessors–in–interest of private respondents, as claimants of a portion of the Busol Forest Reservation but does not acknowledge vested rights over the same. In fact, Proclamation No. 15 explicitly withdraws the Busol Forest Reservation from sale or settlement. It provides:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary“Pursuant to the provisions of section eighteen hundred and twenty–six of Act Numbered Twenty–seven Hundred and eleven[,] I hereby establish the Busol Forest Reservation to be administered by the Bureau of Forestry for the purpose of conserving and protecting water and timber, the protection of the water supply being of primary importance and all other uses of the forest are to be subordinated to that purpose. I therefore withdraw from sale or settlement the following described parcels of the public domain situated in the Township of La Trinidad, City of Baguio, Mountain Province, Island of Luzon, to wit:”The fact remains, too, that the Busol Forest Reservation was declared by the Court as inalienable in Heirs of Gumangan v. Court of Appeals. The declaration of the Busol Forest Reservation as such precludes its conversion into private property. Relatedly, the courts are not endowed with jurisdictional competence to adjudicate forest lands.
All told, although the NCIP has the authority to issue temporary restraining orders and writs of injunction, we are not convinced that private respondents are entitled to the relief granted by the Commission.30 (Emphasis supplied.)chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
On February 4, 2009, this Court promulgated its Decision in G.R. No. 180206, a suit which involved several of the parties in the case at bar. In G.R. No. 180206, the City Mayor of Baguio City issued three Demolition Orders with respect to allegedly illegal structures constructed by private respondents therein on a portion of the Busol Forest Reservation. Private respondents filed a Petition for Injunction with the NCIP. Atty. Masweng issued two temporary restraining orders directing the City Government of Baguio to refrain from enforcing said Demolition Orders and subsequently granted private respondents’ application for a preliminary injunction. The Court of Appeals, acting on petitioners’ Petition for Certiorari, affirmed the temporary restraining orders and the writ of preliminary injunction.Respondent’s willful disregard and defiance of this Court’s ruling on a matter submitted for the second time before his office cannot be countenanced. By acting in opposition to this Court’s authority and disregarding its final determination of the legal issue pending before him, respondent failed in his duty not to impede the due administration of justice and consistently adhere to existing laws and principles as interpreted in the decisions of the Court.
This Court then upheld the jurisdiction of the NCIP on the basis of the allegations in private respondents’ Petition for Injunction. It was similarly claimed in said Petition for Injunction that private respondents were descendants of Molintas and Gumangan whose claims over the portions of the Busol Watershed Reservation had been recognized by Proclamation No. 15. This Court thus ruled in G.R. No. 180206 that the nature of the action clearly qualify it as a dispute or controversy over ancestral lands/domains of the ICCs/IPs. On the basis of Section 69(d) of the IPRA and Section 82, Rule XV of NCIP Administrative Circular No. 1–03, the NCIP may issue temporary restraining orders and writs of injunction without any prohibition against the issuance of the writ when the main action is for injunction.
On petitioners’ argument that the City of Baguio is exempt from the provisions of the IPRA and, consequently, the jurisdiction of the NCIP, this Court ruled in G.R. No. 180206 that said exemption cannot ipso facto be deduced from Section 78 of the IPRA because the law concedes the validity of prior land rights recognized or acquired through any process before its effectivity.
Lastly, however, this Court ruled that although the NCIP has the authority to issue temporary restraining orders and writs of injunction, it was not convinced that private respondents were entitled to the relief granted by the Commission. Proclamation No. 15 does not appear to be a definitive recognition of private respondents’ ancestral land claim, as it merely identifies the Molintas and Gumangan families as claimants of a portion of the Busol Forest Reservation, but does not acknowledge vested rights over the same. Since it is required before the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction that claimants show the existence of a right to be protected, this Court, in G.R. No. 180206, ultimately granted the petition of the City Government of Baguio and set aside the writ of preliminary injunction issued therein.
In the case at bar, petitioners and private respondents present the very same arguments and counter–arguments with respect to the writ of injunction against the fencing of the Busol Watershed Reservation. The same legal issues are thus being litigated in G.R. No. 180206 and in the case at bar, except that different writs of injunction are being assailed. In both cases, petitioners claim (1) that Atty. Masweng is prohibited from issuing temporary restraining orders and writs of preliminary injunction against government infrastructure projects; (2) that Baguio City is beyond the ambit of the IPRA; and (3) that private respondents have not shown a clear right to be protected. Private respondents, on the other hand, presented the same allegations in their Petition for Injunction, particularly the alleged recognition made under Proclamation No. 15 in favor of their ancestors. While res judicata does not apply on account of the different subject matters of the case at bar and G.R. No. 180206 (they assail different writs of injunction, albeit issued by the same hearing officer), we are constrained by the principle of stare decisis to grant the instant petition. The Court explained the principle of stare decisis in Ting v. Velez–Ting:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibraryThe 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.)chanroblesvirtualawlibraryWe have also previously held that “[u]nder the doctrine of stare decisis, once a court has laid down a principle of law as applicable to a certain state of facts, it will adhere to that principle and apply it to all future cases where the facts are substantially the same.”32 (Emphasis supplied.)chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
SEC. 7. Punishment for indirect contempt. – If the respondent is adjudged guilty of indirect contempt committed against a Regional Trial Court or a court of equivalent or higher rank, he may be punished by a fine not exceeding thirty thousand pesos or imprisonment not exceeding six (6) months, or both. x x xFor his contumacious conduct and considering the attendant circumstances, the Court deems it proper to impose a fine of P10,000.00.
1Rollo, pp. 3–12.
2 Annex “4,” id. at 74–76.
3 Annex “6,” id. at 85–97.
4 Annex “A,” id. at 132–133.
5 Annex “7,” id. at 98–100.
6 Annex “8,” id. at 101–113.
7 Annex “D,” id. at 149–150.
8 Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 705, Section 69. Unlawful occupation or destruction of forest lands. Any person who enters and occupies or possesses, or makes kaingin for his own private use or for others any forest land without authority under a license agreement, lease, license or permit, or in any manner destroys such forest land or part thereof, or causes any damage to the timber stand and other products and forest growths found therein, or who assists, aids or abets any other person to do so, or sets a fire, or negligently permits a fire to be set in any forest land shall, upon conviction, be fined in an amount of not less than five hundred pesos (P500.00) nor more than twenty thousand pesos (P20,000.00) and imprisoned for not less than six (6) months nor more than two (2) years for each such offense, and be liable to the payment of ten (10) times the rental fees and other charges which would have been accrued had the occupation and use of the land been authorized under a license agreement, lease, license or permit: Provided, That in the case of an offender found guilty of making kaingin, the penalty shall be imprisoned for not less than two (2) nor more than (4) years and a fine equal to eight (8) times the regular forest charges due on the forest products destroyed, without prejudice to the payment of the full cost of restoration of the occupied area as determined by the Bureau.
The Court shall further order the eviction of the offender from the land and the forfeiture to the Government of all improvements made and all vehicles, domestic animals and equipment of any kind used in the commission of the offense. If not suitable for use by the Bureau, said vehicles shall be sold at public auction, the proceeds of which shall accrue to the Development Fund of the Bureau.
In case the offender is a government official or employee, he shall, in addition to the above penalties, be deemed automatically dismissed from office and permanently disqualified from holding any elective or appointive position.
9 P.D. No. 1096.
10 Republic Act No. 7279.
11 G.R. No. 180206, February 4, 2009, 578 SCRA 88.
12Rollo, p. 166.
13 Id. at 40.
14 Id. at 43.
15 Alex Ampaguey, Sr. in some parts of the records.
16 Julio Daluyan in some parts of the records.
17Rollo, pp. 114–123.
18 Id. at 31–39.
19 Id. at 74–76.
20 Id. at 98–100.
21 Id. at 75.
22 Id. at 85–97, 101–113.
23 Id. at 132–133.
24 Id. at 149–150.
25 Id. at 173–190.
26Roxas v. Tipon, G.R. Nos. 160641 & 160642, June 20, 2012, 674 SCRA 52, 62.
27Bank of the Philippine Islands v. Calanza, G.R. No. 180699, October 13, 2010, 633 SCRA 186, 193.
29Heirs of Justice Reyes v. Court of Appeals, 392 Phil. 827, 843 (2000).
30 Supra note 11, at 99–100.
31 G.R. No. 180882, February 27, 2013, 692 SCRA 109.
32 Id. at 122–125.